Focal Stellia Headphones Review

January 13, 2020 § Leave a comment

“Moving on to a different genre, I played another CD rip, this time of Fritz Reiner’s 1957 recording of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition with the Chicago Symphony.  Often large dynamic orchestral recordings can easily reveal the weaknesses of headphones and speakers. With the Stellia’ I was left mostly impressed. Once again these headphones reveal a lot of detail, but they accomplish what many fail to do, keeping the detail clear while rendering loud and climactic passages.  Sometimes, when listening to big orchestral “hits”, the listener often is drowned in a “boomy” quality that blurs individual instruments and timbres. Percussion sounds very life like through the Stellia, particularly the crash cymbals. Low strings had a very open and resonant air around them. The soundstage was clear, but a bit on the close side for my taste.  I often felt like I was listening from the conductor’s podium rather than from the audience. Switching things up, I disconnected from the Arche amplifier and instead ran the Stellia unbalanced from the headphone jack on my McIntosh preamp. Listening to a few tracks over again, I did notice and ever so slight loss of refinement and details in the upper register, but also a tad more warmth and body throughout the range. I will chalk this up to difference in the amplifiers individual sonic signatures rather than any serious difference in how these headphones react to different amplification.

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