Less than three years after the launch of the Utopia open-back headphones, Focal returns to centrestage with a new product destined to become the leader among high-end closed-back headphones: Stellia. Equipped with the brand’s very best technology, incorporating numerous innovations and delivering excellent soundproofing, Stellia perfectly illustrates the renowned manufacturer’s refusal to compromise on quality. This is French-made luxury at its best.
- Closed-back headphones for home and on-the-go use.
- Exclusive full-range speaker drivers with an ‘M’-shaped pure Beryllium dome (patent pending).
- Reproduction of the tiniest sound details at both high and low frequencies.
- Exceptional tonal balance and dynamics.
- Excellent performance when connected to a portable audiophile player.
- Very good ambient noise soundproofing.
- Comfortable and ergonomic.
- High-quality materials used.
- UK SRP – £2799.00
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EXCEPTIONAL SPEAKER DRIVERS
The Stellia concept is simple: the adaptation of the Utopia headphones to create a closed-back version. Unfortunately, acoustic laws dictate that a transducer’s design depends very heavily on the associated load type and inner volume of the headphones. Stellia therefore integrates a new generation of exclusive electrodynamic speaker drivers, capable of working at low acoustic load while offering an extremely extensive frequency response (5Hz – 40kHz). The new 110-micron NBR surround offers low compliance and a geometry that is developed entirely in relation to its inner volume. The elongation of the moving part is thereby preserved and ensures exceptional dynamics for closed-back headphones.
Simultaneously, the frameless 100% copper voice coil (exclusive to Focal) offers an extremely reduced mass which, combined with its magnetic coupling to the motor, is able to reproduce the tiniest nuances with great precision, whether bass articulation or the highest frequency details. The crowning glory of these exceptional speaker drivers is the ‘M’-shaped pure Beryllium dome. Focal’s signature innovation, this cutting-edge technology offers three major benefits. Its very low mass (seven times lighter than titanium of identical rigidity) enables an extraordinary acceleration factor to be obtained, ensuring unfailing adherence to the original audio signal. Its rigidity ensures
both impressive elongation and a high sound level, while preventing distortion of the dome. Finally, the damping level provided by the Beryllium lends it a flawless neutrality, for voices and trebles of astonishing realism…
THE PUREST SOUND
Loading a speaker driver into an small inner volume makes it highly sensitive to its environment. The Stellia’s full-range speaker driver therefore includes a vent to control the balance between the bass and the midrange. A second vent, located at the back of the ear cup, picks up the rear wave coming from the centre of the motor to avoid any compression and extend the frequency response of the speaker driver. How? By ensuring the connection between the centre of the motor and the outer part of the ear cup located beneath the logo. The speaker driver’s response in the bass-reflex acoustic loudspeaker is thus extended to the lowest frequencies while providing remarkable linearity and bass articulation, all without any dynamic compression. As for the higher frequencies, these are absorbed through an EVA foam pad inside the ear cup, behind the speaker driver. Finally, the presence of acoustic diffusers inside this ear cup achieves two objectives: they break up standing waves by uniformly diffusing residual energy throughout the space. The diffusers are also an additional material, making the “cabinetry” even more rigid and, as a result, inert. As such, only the speaker driver generates the sound reproduction, without interfering, adding or removing information from the sound signal.
THE EARPADS, OR THE ACOUSTIC TREATMENT OF THE ROOM
The ideal acoustics for a listening space, beyond its dimensions, lies in its reverberation time controlled by the quantity of its absorbent materials (acoustic foam, etc.). The Stellia earpads are a perfect illustration of this: 50% of their height is designed to diffuse sound through a non-perforated full-grain leather; 50% absorbs the audio signal through an acoustic cloth which covers the memory foam. This solution also provides a linear frequency range, between 1 and 10kHz.
COMFORT AND ELEGANCE
Stellia uses the headband and yoke mechanical features originally developed for the Utopia headphones. The consistent curve between these two elements offers flawless comfort, regardless of the shape and size of the listener’s face and head. Stellia boasts two more impressive key features: its soundproofing capacity, which has been further enhanced by its closed design; and its comfort, guaranteed by the high-resilience memory foam used in the earpads. Each component has been developed with optimal acoustics in mind, without compromising on style. The two cognac and mocha finishes truly showcase each element and are testament to the meticulous attention paid to each and every detail.
EQUALLY IMPRESSIVE ACCESSORIES
For high-end headphones, a high-end pack. Stellia is presented in a cognac and mocha faux-leather case. A storage case houses two high-quality cables with the same materials and finishes. The first 3-metre cable is ideal for use at home on a high-end amplifier, thanks to its symmetrical 4-pin XLR connector. The second is designed to be portable: measuring 33/8 feet (1.2m) with a 1/8″ (3.5mm) stereo jack, it is the perfect solution for connecting Stellia to a portable audiophile player. Stellia’s voice coil offers extremely low impedance at 35 Ohms, making the headphones very easy to drive through the output of a mobile audio source. The rigid travel case, in cognac and mocha woven finishes, provides effective yet stylish protection for Stellia when you are on the move.
FOCAL’S INDUSTRIAL EXPERTISE
Focal strictly oversees every stage in the creation of its high-fidelity products, from the development process to manufacturing. With Stellia, the extreme light weight of the moving part composing the full-range speaker driver means it is necessary to strictly control the quantities of glue used on the surround-dome/domevoice coil connections. A new robot was developed to implement this priority, as well as bringing exceptional repeatability and stability to the production process. This is a manufacturing process where every detail matters, at all times, producing headphones equipped with speaker drivers that deliver identical frequency response curves at +/- 0.5dB. The performance tradition is a 100% Focal design, showcasing innovation in technology, materials and tools.
In less than three years, Focal has established itself as a key player in the high-end headphones market. International recognition from the press as well as users is testament to that. Today, the manufacturer continues to develop ultra high-performance solutions in the headphones sector with the launch of Arche, an audiophile DAC and amplifier that is entirely designed and manufactured in France.
AN ALL-IN-ONE SOLUTION FOR HEADPHONES
Arche is a unique electronic solution developed by Micromega for Focal. It combines a digital-analog converter as well as two pure class A amplification modes (voltage, hybrid) designed especially for headphones. Arche also offers presets for every set of Focal headphones to make sure you get the absolute best from this ultimate combination. Where Micromega brings its expertise in manufacturing high-end electronics, Focal’s acoustic knowledge shines through in the remarkable performance it delivers. Music lovers therefore get an all-in-one solution for their headphones, whilst benefiting from the performance delivered by the converter to drive their home hi-fi system.
THE ULTIMATE IN HIGH-FIDELITY
Upon entry of the digital signal, Arche offers a resolutely audiophile design through its uncompromising dual mono construction, from signal processing to amplification. This way, the design reduces crosstalk to an absolute minimum. The two Premium digital-analog balanced AK 4490 converters take care of the left and right-hand channels respectively. Each converter has a dedicated regulated power supply. Used frequently in high-end electronics, these converters have an extended operating range of 768kHz – 32bits specially designed to ensure the pure and perfect reproduction of high-resolution audio formats: Arche thus processes PCM format signals, 384kHz, as well as DSD 256. As for power, the dual mono design continues with two amplification channels equipped with a dedicated power supply. Each amplifier operates at pure class A, the ultimate in High-Fidelity, regardless of the impedance of the headphones used. With 2 x 1W, Arche powers the headphones easily, providing extremely high impedances. And in addition to the extremely low distortion, this choice means it is also outstanding in terms of transient signals.
ELECTRONICS AND ACOUSTICS: A CAREFULLY CONSIDERED COMBINATION FROM THE OUTSET
There is the option to select two amplifier types using the multifunctional rotary potentiometer located on the front panel. A pure current amplifier is available in the “Amplifier” section under the designation “Voltage”. This mode provides an output impedance of just 0.1 Ohm, which results in major listening dynamics. The second “Hybrid” integrated amplifier is similar to a power amplifier as it benefits from a higher output impedance. Here, the tonal balance slightly favours the bass, midrange and extreme treble registers. By housing these two amplifiers within a single electronic component, every user gets amplification to suit their headphones and their favourite tonal balance. Focal has also built in solutions dedicated to each of its headphones via presets with the products’ name on. Owners of Focal headphones can therefore be sure they are enjoying a combination of electronics and acoustics that is carefully thought out and specially developed from the very outset. What about the future and potential new Focal headphones? Arche will be updated by downloading new firmware onto a USB stick and inserting it into the USB port at the back of the product to automatically upload it.
PERFORMANCE, VERSATILITY AND AESTHETICS
The cherry on the cake? Arche comes with a solid aluminium headphone mount, inspired by the brand’s logo. Accessing and storing the headphones is therefore quick and easy, as well as looking incredible and saving on space! The rear panel is dedicated to the connection of sources via an analog input (RCA) and three digital inputs (USB, toslink and coaxial). Arche can also be used as a digital-analog converter to drive the signal towards a power amplifier used for powering a pair of headphones or high-fidelity loudspeakers. To do this, Focal has once again focussed on performance with an XLR format balanced output, doubled up with two RCAs for amplifiers with more traditional connectivity.
Arche’s front panel lets you connect up to two pairs of headphones via 1/4” (6.35mm) unbalanced stereo jack outputs and a balanced 4-point XLR. The multifunctional rotary potentiometer enables total control of the system. As well as the selection of inputs and volume control, the output level can also be optimised in relation to the impedance of the headphones connected.
The Arche headphone amplifier and DAC is available now with the UK SRP of £2799.00
For images, interviews and samples please contact Alan Porter email@example.com +44 7922 073208
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