Russ Long takes a close look at the Focal Spirit Professional headphone.
I’m a long-time fan of Focal and their studio monitors. I’ve been mixing on the Focal SM9 monitors for nearly two years and before that, I was a regular user of their Twin6 Be monitors. When I heard that Focal was going to enter the high-end headphone market I couldn’t wait to hear their design.
The Focal Spirit Professional Headphone ($349 street) is a 0.6 lb., 32-Ohm closed-back model that utilises custom 40 mm transducers featuring polyester/titanium-composite membranes and neodymium magnets. According to Focal, these transducers combine rigidity, lightness and high-damping properties to preserve the dynamics of the audio signal and to provide remarkably neutral sound without any distortion.
The Spirit has a sleek yet classic and stylish look, not particularly contemporary, making it unlikely that they’ll be taking any consumer business from the Beats phenomenon even though they sound drastically better. To ensure maximum comfort and isolation, the ear cups and headband utilise memory foam and they are comfortable indeed—one of the most comfortable headphones I’ve worn. I also found them to do an admirable job isolating the user from external sources. The package includes a detachable coiled cable and a detachable straight cable. The straight cable includes a cable-mounted remote control and microphone, allowing the headphones to be used in conjunction with a mobile phone. Also included is a quarter-inch adapter, allowing the headphone to be used with a full-sized headphone jack, and a drawstring carry bag.
The Spirit are extremely neutral sounding with a remarkably broad frequency response: perfect for enjoying a favourite album or critically evaluating a mix. While I wouldn’t recommend mixing solely with headphones, these are still a valuable reference tool and the Spirit perform wonderfully in this application. Additionally, anyone mixing in a workspace of limited size knows the challenge of accurately mixing low-frequency content. I’ve found the Spirit have exceptional low-frequency precision making them an ideal reference for anyone mixing in a limited acoustical space needing to rely on their headphones to reveal mix defects. They also make listening a pleasure. Whether it’s Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Steely Dan’s Aja or Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, I’ve had hours of audio bliss escaping into the sound of the Focal Spirit Professional Headphone.
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