Focal Bathys Review: The Ultimate

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Headphone nerds are a tricky crowd, particularly if you take away their valuable cables. Ask anybody who usually browses the r/headphones subreddit whether or not noise-canceling or wi-fi headphones are any good, and also you’re more likely to get a whole lot of people telling you that they’re high-quality for decreasing outdoors sound, however can’t method what wired headphones can provide by way of sound high quality.

So far, these voices have principally been proper. With only a few exceptions, wi-fi headphones sound worse than their wired counterparts. This has led numerous listeners to tote round cumbersome wired headphones, moveable headphone amps, and varied equipment to get the very best sound on the go.

Now a brand new technology of noise-canceling headphones from established audiophile manufacturers like Mark Levinson, Bowers & Wilkins, and Focal want to problem the long-established hierarchy, making it potential for audio nerds to make use of the identical pair whereas simple wi-fi touring as they could for wired at-home listening. Of the three manufacturers’ flagship fashions, it’s the Focal Bathys which have impressed me essentially the most.

I’ve spent just a few months with the French audiophile model’s very good noise-canceling over-ears, and so they’ve turn into my favourite pair in current reminiscence. The beautiful magnesium and aluminum cans borrow design cues and driver designs from Focal’s higher-end wired headphones, however embody cutting-edge digital-to-analog conversion, and among the most snug earpads I’ve ever worn.

If you’re a discerning listener who loves a bit of fashion you’ll be able to’t do higher on the go: Ditch the AirPods Max and go along with these. It’s like buying and selling up from a purple Corvette to a Rosso Corsa Ferrari.

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Photograph: Focal

Say it with me: Foh-Cal Bat-hees. This pair of pricey noise-canceling headphones, named after a spherical submersible from final century, appear to be one thing you’d pull from Poseidon’s desk. Spherical cutouts of various styles and sizes circle the tornado-shaped Focal “F” in the course of every earcup, like a web surrounding a dangerous whirlpool.

Thankfully, there are not any finicky contact controls for brand spanking new musical divers. On the underside of the precise earcup, you’ll discover a energy swap that permits you to choose between off, on, and DAC mode (extra on this later), in addition to a easy three-button setup for quantity up, down, and play/pause (lengthy press for BT pairing). A single button on the left earcup allows you to choose between ANC modes. I like the bezel-like wheel on the Airpods Max for novelty, however I want all headphones had been this simple to function.

Turn them on, and an excellent white LED backlights the emblem on all sides, making you appear to be some type of nautical Tony Stark. You can flip off the lights (and alter EQ and ANC settings) in Focal’s app, if you happen to don’t need everybody round you to understand how a lot you spent on headphones.

After all, gadgets like these aren’t for others to get pleasure from; they’re to assist well-heeled listeners keep their golden-eared existence outdoors of their regular listening conditions. And boy, are they snug.

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