So many audio brands are out in the market and one you may not have heard of is Focal. Mind you they been around since the early 80s but are based overseas in France. Also, Focal tends to focus primarily on high-end headphones that can typically start at $900 and cap out around $3,000. While those prices may not be in your budget, their Listen Wireless headphones maybe more suited for your wallet.
Listen Wireless have been out for quite a while in Black, but they did come out with additional colors sometime later in Blue, Olive, and Purple. These are considered “Chic” colors. Focal was nice enough to provide me with the Purple colorway. They are two-toned which looks pleasant to the eye. They aren’t a super glossy candy paint color, but they still manage to stand out without looking outlandish.
Ear Cushions are a thick(22mm) heat sensitive memory foam which practically cover my ears with ease. These are considered Circumaural headphones since they cover the ears, but they can also be considered Over-Ear in some cases as well. Headband feels like a hard plastic but has some bend and flex to it if needed. Listen Beyond branding is embossed on the top. They are collapsible and fold up for easy storage in your bag and/or the included case.
All the buttons are in reach on the right side in a circular pattern. Play controls are more towards the front while volume controls are in the back. There is a Bluetooth sync button (that seems to stay lit blue all the time) and an On/Off toggle latch. At the bottom is a microUSB port while on the left side is the headphone jack.
Focal Listen Wireless comes with a carrying case, audio cable and microUSB cable.
Features / Sound
As mentioned, these headphones have been out quite a while, so they are utilizing Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX behind it. They surprisingly have NFC (on the right ear) which I have only seen on Sony headphones. They are slated for 20hrs of battery life. They do have Titanium/Mylar 40mm drivers to help achieve its sound profile. There aren’t any apps available for the Listen Wireless as you may have started to see more now with headphones.
Focal deemed these as providing CD-quality audio and it can be heard easily on these. The sound replicated on these are on point. Instruments on the background are emphasized and vocals are pushed to the forefront tohear every lyric with ease. They aren’t the most bass heavy headphones but if you aren’t looking for that and need just a bit of thud you will feel right at home.
I took these out for my daily commutes, and they fared with mixed results. Listen Wireless don’t have active noise cancelling but I figured since they covered my ears, they would do a little something. Rocking them on the usual noisy train turned into a subpar experience. Walking the streets fared better but getting in the quiet office I really got to enjoy them. They are more suited for quieter areas but can’t handle loud venues. Battery life hasn’t been bad, just make sure you remember to turn them off. Didn’t really experience much distort or disconnection with the Bluetooth either.
Not a fan of the button layout as its all too close together and it’s on a rubberized material so it can be hard to distinguish what’s what at times. They can also be a bit snug on the head especially wearing glasses at times after a period.
For a pair of headphones that came out a couple years back, they still hold their own quite a bit today. Listen Wireless provides an awesome sound quality experience in quiet settings. Seeing these are older, the design is a bit outdated and would love to see Focal release a newer version with a sleeker look and throw in things such as Type-C and possibly give an ANC option. If you are interested in checking out the Listen Wireless, they are available for $299.99.