Focal Elegia $900 Review

February 7, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“Switching over to the A&K SR15 and its Quad-core CPU, Cirrus Logic Dual-DAC CS43198 and MasterHIFI chipsets the difference between the iPhone and the SR15’s DAC/amp and processing power was immediately laid bare. Bass weight and impact, dynamic response, transient speed, midrange detail, upper frequency extension, decay off notes, spatial separation of instruments – all of these improved by an order of magnitude. Hope’s playing on “Adagio for Violin…” suddenly seemed to come to life with timbral and tonal color through the Elegia where before things lacked similar punch and just as importantly – real depth to the sound stage, shedding it’s 3D compression that was nascent on the iPhone. High-res PCM or DSD (DSD to PCM conversion on-the-fly) files I listened to through the &norma added further to the little DAP’s impact, showing off the Focal’s transparency to source and its ability to easily translate differences in DAC, file type or codec-processing capabilities.

Moving over to the MacBook Air using Roon through the Naim DAC-V1 which is packed with a 40-bit SHARC DSP chipset, single-ended Class-A head amp and 24/384 synchronous USB input, the Elegia took the change-up in stride and gave me even more of what I was hearing through the SR15 with further perceived dynamic range at frequency extremes (coming across as deeper, more fleshed-out bass and more air around instruments and vocals reaching into the upper registers). Through the Naim the Elegia further cemented its ability to deliver emotional playback without a hint of digital artifice: something that became increasingly noticeable as I climbed the price/performance ladder during this review and the headphones delivered exactly what they were being fed from each distinct source. Where the SR15 had a slightly brighter treble-region presentation and leaner, more forward spatial imaging, the V1 added midrange pop and heft.”


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