Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Focal enters the world of wireless, ANC with Bathys headphones

Normally known for big headphones that skip out on wireless or noise cancellations, Focal’s Bathys are sure to impress.

When it comes to considering a pair of over-ear wireless noise cancelling headphones, we’d hazard a bet that French brand Focal is probably one of the options farthest from your mind, and for a reason you mightn’t expect: Focal hasn’t offered a pair of wireless noise cancelling headphones.

You’ve been able to find a pair of wireless Focal headphones, but most of what the French audio specialist has produced arrives with a cord, alongside some of the best sound rendition in a style few sound gadget makers have really gone for.

While the simple look of black or beige works for Sony, Bose opts for silver or black, Bang & Olufsen keeps things minimalist with metallic trim, and Apple’s wireless and noise cancelling AirPods Max deliver silver tinted in other colours, there’s something definitely unique about what Focal throws into the design of its headphones.

Up to this point, noise cancelling technology wasn’t part of that design, but this week that changes, as Focal readies its first pair of wireless headphones with active noise cancellation, and yes, they come with a style that makes them stand out.

With each cup looking like a spiral of circles and dots, the Focal Bathys are not your regular pair of headphones, and it’s a similar situation once you start checking out the features, as well.

There’s a combined aluminium and magnesium dome made in France, with those materials also used through the construction, as well as leather on the headband, and some understated lighting on the side, providing a bit of backlighting for the Focal logo at each side of your head.

Beyond the lighting and alloy speaker dome, the Focal Bathys offer Bluetooth 5.1 with support for aptX and aptX Adaptive, offering 30 hours of battery life and two noise cancelling modes, with a silent mode for high background noise — such as on aircraft — while a soft variation is for home and the office. You can also find a transparency mode to switch on the mics and let you hear through them.

But while all of that may well be common for any and every pair of active noise cancelling headphones, there’s one other feature you won’t find on many other pairs: a built-in DAC.

Almost going back to the days of Blue headphones, Focal has included a Digital-to-Analogue Converter built into the headphones, allowing you to plug the Bathys into either a phone or high-res media player, and get out a resolution of up to 24-bit/192kHz, handy if you listen to high-resolution audio and want to get the best sound out.

Like all Focal headphones, don’t expect the Bathys to be cheap, but priced at $1199 in Australia, it’s pretty clear Focal is looking at folks who might consider Apple’s audiophile grade AirPods Max, but want something that can get a little closer to high-res audio officially, even if it means being tethered using the included cable.

The Focal Bathys headphones are available now at specialist audio stores across Australia.

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