Monday, May 31, 2021

Focal Listen Premium Wireless Headphones Review

I really like to take my music on the go, and so does everyone else I know.  Yet I also don’t care to be seen with the same ones most others have.  I guess I’m a bit of a Connoisseur. If you are looking for a great sound, and unique look, the Listen from Focal may be for you.  The Focal Listen came to us from a French manufacturer who knows a thing or two about high-quality sound. When you hear the brand Focal, you may think of their high-end car audio and home audio components. But they also do headphones as well. Tapping into their heritage of over 40 years in the audio industry, they are able to use their expertise in their headphones.


Features and specs:


Type: Circumaural closed-back ear-cup headphones

Bluetooth® wireless technology:  4.1

Range:  > 15m

Battery:  Up to 20h

Impedance (passive mode):  32Ω

Sensitivity (passive mode):  122dB SPL @ 1kHz – / 1Vrms

THD @ 1kHz / 100dB SPL:  < 0.4%

Frequency response: 15Hz -22kHz

Driver: 40mm Electrodynamic (137/64“) Mylar Titanium

Microphones: 2 Omni-directionals (Clear Voice Capture)

Net weight: 300g


The Focal Listen came in a great looking color printed box with images and specs of the headphones. Opening the box showed a well-protected headphone held in place in custom molded plastic. The materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some metal. Quality of materials used was excellent, as well as fit and finish. Also included was the charging cable, audio cable, manual and soft zipper case.

I really enjoyed the elegant looking design of the Focal Listen. The plastic being both a gloss as well as a matte finish, look extremely elegant together. The look gives a more high-end impression. This is a good thing, as some of the specs are a little dated, such as using Bluetooth 4.1 and not being Hi-Res Audio ready. I would have hoped to have real leather at this price point, but it is Focal. The fold in design of the earcups for more compact storage is a nice touch, as is the raised metal Focal logo on the earcups. The large memory foam earcups enclose your ears for nice sound isolation. Now let’s see how they sound.


Toto: Africa- Kick drums had really good tight clean impact with good low-end extension that played with very good authority. Congas had a really good full sound with great dynamics. Cow bell had excellent resolution of the metallic tone. Vocals were smoother than honey with loads of resolution of the timbre that yielded excellent harmonics. Soundstage was huge, not just wide but also deep, providing the realism as if you were in the recording studio. Drums had excellent dynamics and impact. Cymbals were really crisp and clean. Gong had excellent resolution of the mallet and decay. Recorder had excellent air. Piano sounded natural. Marimba’s woody texture shown through excellently.

Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody- Soundstage had to be heard to fully grasp just how good a soundstage can sound. Harmonics of the vocals were off the charts, with phenomenal resolution of texture of Freddy’s timbre. Piano sounded extremely natural, much more than it should at this price point. Cymbals were crisp and clean. Drums were extremely dynamic with great authority. Guitar sounded nice and raw. Gong had nice decay.

The HU: Sugaan Essana- The thunder sounded extremely natural. There was sufficient resolution to hear the bow slide across the strings of the lute. Drums were extremely lifelike with all of the dynamics that their being played in fury provided. The raw texture of the vocals came out in layers upon layers. There’s no way that blasting this would not get you psyched up to bring your A game.

Overall sound:

Focal is known world-wide for their high-end home and car audio speakers. They have now put that experience in their headphones. The resolution is taken to another level, with excellent huge soundstage and precision imaging. Sound signature is neutral, leaning just a hair on the bright side. Their specs may not look the best on paper, maybe a little aged. But shhh…don’t tell their drivers, because they sound like absolute champs! They have to be heard to be believed!

Bluetooth performance:

Before we get into the Bluetooth performance, let us tell you about the testing.  It’s a torture test, designed to be too much for just about any headphone.  Few go unscathed.  But that’s ok, because I know of no manufacturer who has headphones designed to go this distance. Most are rated somewhere between 50 – 100ft.  For indoor testing, using my LG V40 Thinq smartphone, I place my phone in one corner of the basement, walk all around and to the other end of the basement which is about 50ft away.  I then walk up to the main floor and walk all around the main floor. I then walk up to the second floor and walk all around the second floor.  And for outside testing, I set my smartphone on our front porch, and walk out to the corner of the street, which is around 250 ft.  It’s a test designed to get the phone to fail, but see just how far it’ll go before it does.  Now lets test the performance.

There were no problems on the same floor up to 50 feet through multiple walls. It was more glitchy on the main floor and 2nd floor, although it did work on the 2nd floor. Outside it got glitchy at around 100 feet, again at 175 feet, but did make it to around 250 feet.  So the Focal Listen performed great based on their specs, and even performed very good in distances over their specs.

The Focal Listen Wireless isn’t ANC, and was a little dated in their specs, yet they still had the best sound overall in our recent Headphone Shootout.  They are not priced for everyone’s budget, but if they are in your budget, they will provide you with excellent sound from your tunes. Based on their design, features, quality, and performance, the Focal Listen Wireless earned our Editor’s Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at