I don’t listen with headphones much at home but when I travel, I love my Sennheiser’s. The first thing I noticed was the unique color. I like brown/bronze colored headphones, and these really had a nice look to them I’ve never seen before. It looks more high-end than the all-black finish of most cans. I also thought they looked heavy but picking them up they were much lighter than they look. While I didn’t get to spend as many hours listening as I would have liked, I still got some good impressions and opinions, so let’s dig in!
Fit and finish is very impressive, they look and feel fantastic. As I said before, they look heavy, but feel very light. They did feel a little big on my head, but that’s fine as I prefer over-the-ear headphones. The detail and build quality were top notch; I could not find anything that felt cheap, out of place, or not well-made. The machined metal on the sides looked amazing and felt perfectly smooth. The leather on the headband was soft and supple as were the earcups. I rate them 8/10 for comfort. Adjusting the headband was easy and it stayed firmly in place unlike many other headphones that slide down my ears. Even the cable that came with them was braided to match and was quite thick and well built.
I am bit sad that I didn’t get to hear these with a better DAC and amp setup, the rep only had his iPhone with a headphone dongle, which is probably one of the worst ways to listen to a pair of $3000 headphones. I felt the music sounded very good, but notably recessed and cold from the iPhone. It was immediately clear these headphones like more power. I used the best material I could find, some high-res audio streamed from Tidal, but still it didn’t make up for the poor quality of the playback hardware. The Stellias don’t have any active noise canceling and though they provide a reasonably quiet listening experience, I would not take them on a plane. I would rate the passive noise blocking of these headphones at 6/10.
Focal speaks about these being headphones for “on-the-go use” and they include a very well-made travel case. However, there is no way I would take them on the road, they are massive, and the case is gigantic. The case measures 9.8 x 9.4 x 4.7 inches and for reference the maximum size for a carry on from the TSA is 9 x 14 x 22 inches. It’s quite a big case for just your headphones. Unless you love your headphones and pack light, leave these behind, and no, they don’t fold up at all.
Great build quality meets great audio in a beautiful package and makes for a truly wonderful set of headphones. But they are best enjoyed at home as they lack active noise cancelling and are quite large. Their fit and finish sets the standard and is fitting for the $3000 price tag. The Focal Stellias are definitely worth checking out and hearing in person. I really wish however I could have listened to them on a better source to hear their full potential. If you have auditioned them in person, let me know what you think in the comments below.