Focal’s latest cans offer a big sound for a big price

What’s the most you’d pay for a pair of headphones? France’s Focal could well push that limit to the max, as it’s Stellia arrives for almost $5K.

High-end sound tends to attract an equally high-end price, and we’ve certainly seen our fair share of gadgets designed to produce the best sound possible for a price that may be a little over where most are prepared to spend.

This week, there’s another one of those, as France’s Focal offers up a taste of what life is like on the premium side of the headphones, and when we say premium, we’re not just talking about the $449 section of the market.

While big noise cancelling headphones can typically sit for around that mark, Focal’s latest pair is the Stellia, and they aim to fetch around ten times that much.

There are some interesting differences here, and these aren’t noise cancelling headphones, nor are they necessarily the sort of headphones you’d be plugging into your phone. We have no doubt that you could, but Focal’s Stellia are pictured with a different kind of media player: the sort that generally costs an equally high price, and plays the digital kind of vinyl known as “high-resolution audio”.

A little harder to find in Australia — and often a little more costly, too — high-resolution audio is often pitched as the best quality you can hear music in without trying to pack up the record player and carry it with you while it’s running, an impossible feat given how record players work, to be sure. High-res audio instead packs up all that quality into a large file, and then needs either a specialised player or a phone with those capabilities.

And it also tends to work better with headphones made to support the higher quality files, too, which is exactly what Focal’s Stellia headphones targeted at, pictured with an Astell & Kern high-res media player.

The Stellia headphones include Focal’s latest take on electrodynamic speaker drivers, working with a frequency response of 5Hz to 40kHz, making them capable of recreating audio amongst the hearable range, and there’s a copper voice coil and a Beryllium dome to maintain the structure and sound, essentially ensuring the audio is pure.

Understandably, packing this technology into a pair of headphones means they won’t be small, and they’re also a closed back headphone, so you don’t have to share your sound with anyone else.

The ear padding relies on memory foam in full-grain leather ear pads — none of that vinyl here, except on the case that carries it all — ands there’s also two options for cables, with a three metre cable for plugging into an amp, while the 1.2 metre is designed for the portable high-res media player.

As for the audio, you’ll have to bring that yourself, as well as the media player, but if you happen to be spending the necessary $4499 that Focal’s Stellia costs in Australia, we bet that’ll be no trouble.

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