GADGETS | Quickie review: Focal Listen

Our rating

"Almost perfect!"

What is it?

A premium headphones that you could also use in any smartphone.

It’s obvious what Focal’s main objective here: bring their extremely good sound quality to a wider range of consumers who are willing to pay the price.

The Focal Listen is a pair of cans that you can use on any iOS- or most Android-based smartphone, and yes, it is quite a bit on the expensive side, but then again Focal has always been a brand name that says… “hey, I’m not cheap”.

To give you an example, the Focal Elear is a pair of high-end headphones that cost almost $1,000 (P50,000) while the ultra high-end Focal Utopia is tagged at US$4,000 (P200,000). So, if you think hard about it the Focal Listen, selling locally at P11,900, is not bad after all. In fact, with the sound quality and the build quality you’ll get, the Listen is already a bargain.

The Listen is a closed back over the ear headphone designed in France equipped with a large 40mm drivers producing tight bass and a tonal balance that sounds accurate and remarkable.

Who is it for?

Although it doesn’t have an active noise-cancelling feature, the Listen still has an excellent noise isolation feel. Those acoustic engineers at Focal really did a great job in providing a superb closed back design and large comfortable ear cushions on a pair of headphones that deliver exceptional acoustics qualities.

The Focal Listen is probably the best option for people who have later-on experienced ear-fatigue with active noise-canceling headphones. It is also the better choice when it comes to premium mid-end headphones if you’re tired of what the usual suspects are offering in the same price range.

The good

Superb audio quality
Balanced sound output
Sturdy design
Mobile phone compatible

The bad

Bass is tight but maybe lacking for some people
A bit pricey for those on a tight budget

Our verdict

Focal Listen is the best pair of premium headphones you can buy in this price range. The great-sounding Sony MDR-1A is we believe the closest we can compare it when it comes to sound quality. But then again, the Sony is a bit more expensive, so the Listen is naturally a better option. Not to mention it also provide a much better isolation from outside noise provided by the thick ear cushion wrapped around inside by a thermo-sensitive memory foam.

While the built-in multifunction remote and omnidirectional microphone make the Listen ideal choice for many smartphone users, the headphones itself is easy to drive to produce the excellent sound the large 40mm speakers put out. No need for an external headphone amplifier for this one.

So, why not a Five Star rating? Price. Price is always a factor for most consumers, especially those on a tight budget. A dealbreaker indeed.

But if you’re looking for pair of headphones and got some money to burn, then you have found what you’re looking for with the Focal Listen. You just have to believe us on this one.

Quick specs:

Type: Closed headphones, circum-aural
Impedance: 32 Ohms
Sensitivity: 122dB SPL @ 1kHz – / 1Vrms
THD: <0.4% @ 1kHz / 100dB SPL
Frequency response: 15Hz – 22kHz
Driver: 137/64“ (40mm) Mylar/Titanium
Weight: 0.60lb (273g)
Cable length: 4.60ft (1.4m)
Connector: 09/64“ (3.5mm) Jack 4 conductors
Dimensions: 239mm x212mm x 111mm

SRP: P11,900