Focal Elegia

Type: circumaural, closed-back, moving coil
Test sample supplied by: SCV Distribution, UK distributor
Reviewed in: Hi-Fi News, March 2019

Test Results

The test sample of this headphone was

Results Table

Uncorrected Responses  -  Confidence Limits, Left  -  Confidence Limits, Right

Corrected Responses

Leakage Responses, Left  -  Leakage Responses, Right

Log Impulse Response, Left  -  Log Impulse Response, Right

CSD Waterfall, Left  -  CSD Waterfall, Right

Impedance  -  Impedance Attenuation

Isolation, Left  -  Isolation, Right

Acoustical Crosstalk


Cheaper of the two closed-back models in the current Focal headphone range (the other being the beryllium-diaphragm Stellia), the Elegia is nonetheless quite costly. What many potential purchasers will want to know is how close it gets to matching the performance of its still-costlier stablemate. The answer is: their measured performance is quite similar.

Unfortunately one of the similarities in the early production samples we tested of both the Elegia and Stellia was that both were polarity inverting. Whether, when this came to light in the Hi-Fi News reviews, Focal fixed this problem in production I don't know – I received no feedback whatsoever. So the problem may have 'gone away' – or it may not. Oddly, all three open-back models in the Focal range – the Elear, Clear and Utopia, whose legacy results will be posted on HTL shortly – were wired correctly from the outset.

The Elegia has high voltage sensitivity of 119.7dB SPL for 1V at 1kHz, due in part to its low-medium nominal impedance of 35 ohms.

Key features of the uncorrected frequency responses are a mild shelving up in output below 200Hz from a gradually declining trend below 1kHz, and a very modest ~3kHz peak of about 5dB, which is insufficient to achieve neutral perceived tonal balance through low-treble frequencies. The outcomes for the corrected responses are that the diffuse-field trace shows mildly shelved-up bass below 160Hz while the Harman-corrected traces show a mild shelf-down. At the other end of the spectrum, all the corrected responses show a deep, wide trough in treble output. It is this which is largely responsible for the disappointing Harman PPR scores of 58/44 ≡ 50%/39% (L/R), the channel disparity arising principally because the left capsule has slightly better-maintained treble output between 3.5kHz and 6.5kHz.

As the leakage traces show, the Elegia is sensitive to compromised earpad sealing, losing principally bass output in the spectacles test and both bass and lower midrange in the 'hair' test. In the former case the Harman PPR scores are barely affected at 57/44 ≡ 50%/38%, whereas in the latter they fall to 48/40 ≡ 42%/35%.

Unevenness in the low treble of the uncorrected frequency responses suggests the presence of resonances, and this is confirmed by the CSD waterfalls. Both CSD plots also hint at some resonance below their 200Hz lower limit, and this is confirmed by the acoustical crosstalk trace which indicates a band of structural resonances between 65Hz and 115Hz. As a result of these various resonances, the Elegia's impulse responses don't decay as fast as with the best open-back headphones, it taking 4.6ms for both capsules' IRs to decay below -40dB, and the slope of the decay becomes shallower thereafter.

Impedance varies by a factor of almost 2:1 over the audible band, so the Elegia is subject to frequency response modification when used with sources having finite output impedance, to the tune of 1.12dB with a 10 ohms source and an unusually high 2.39dB with 30 ohms series impedance.

Isolation of external sound kicks in at about 200Hz and reaches about -20dB from 2.5kHz upwards. As a result, the Elegia provides useful attenuation of a range of environmental sounds.