Focal is one of the leading headphone brands on the market, with many of their models being hallmarks among audiophiles, producers, and recording artists alike. Today we’ll be looking at a classic Focal headphone: the Stellia. Running for $2,990, these are definitely a pricey pair. I haven’t been disappointed by any of the Focal headphones so far, regardless of price, so let’s see how the Stellia holds up.
What’s in the Box
- Focal Stellia
- Hard shell carrying case
- Leather cable case
- XLR Cable
- 3.5mm Cable
- 1/4” Adapter
Look and Feel
These have the same look and fit as most Focal models, with their stylish shape and extra cushioned ear pads. Their unique circular metal backing gives them a unique retro touch, and their warm, creamy color paired with their shiny metal build and leather headband make these feel as luxurious as possible. Their fit is the same as other focal headphones, with a grip that’s tight but not uncomfortably so.
The Stellia is meant to be a closed back adaption of Focal’s Utopia headphone. The Stellia uses an electrodynamic driver that is “capable of working at a low acoustic load while offering an extremely extensive frequency response.” Similar to other Focal headphones, this driver also uses an M-shaped pure Beryllium dome, which is meant to offer increased acceleration through its low mass, improved elongation from its rigidity, and a neutral dampening level from the Beryllium. Moreover, the Stellia’s specially designed ear pads help control reverberation through their absorbent acoustic foam.
These have a frequency response of 5Hz – 40kHz and an impedance of 35 Ohms.
The soundstage on the Stellia does an incredible job at separating sounds and layering them with just the right amount of blend. If you like a lot of excess air between layers, the Stellia definitely has this to an extent, but stays away from being so holographic that songs are sonically restructured. The Stellia’s soundstage feels organic and transparent, allowing each individual composition to choose its own path, offering them the space to travel from intimate to cinematic with swiftness and ease. Despite these being closed back headphones, their width is not as far a cry as you might think from Focal open backs like the Clear MG.
The lows on the Stellia are highly natural. For those who’ve been lost in cyberspace so long they’ve forgotten what low end frequencies sound like in real life, it’s not what comes out of your subwoofer or bass boosted earbuds. The Stellia opts to convey all the small intricateness hidden in the low end rather than overshadow them with rumbling sub or beefy coloring. If you’re ok with not a ton of boom but lots of clarity and a nuanced punch, the Stellia knows how to keep the low end alive through details instead of weight.
The mids on the Stellia remind me somewhat of the Focal Clear and Celeste, they’re a bit colored and have a noticeable bite to them, especially around 1-2kHz. I never felt resonance, though there’s certainly a boost in the high mids going on to sharpen the edges of vocals and snap of percussion etc. If you have mid sensitive ears (like mine) you’ll be fine as long as you’re not a huge volume pusher. If you want a Focal headphone with a less intense high mid, check out the Clear MG. In terms of low-mid, the Stellia’s thinned out a bit to make room for the high mid to shine through. The low mid felt like a very blended piece of the tuning, one that doesn’t stand out and simply supports the high mid while helping to tie the low end in.
The Stellia’s brightness is complex and versatile. The leveling of their high end is about standard for a neutral shine, boosting the 8kHz-16kHz range conservatively to avoid making things scream too loud. The “low-highs” are given a lot of snap a some small pointed boosts throughout to bring out some pleasant grit and build upon the bite provided by the mids. If you want a shining, glistening high end, the Stellia isn’t that; it takes a more subtle approach to things. The highs on these are great for achieving a satisfying level of brightness without calling too much attention to themselves.
The Stellia has a beautiful soundstage, relatively flat tuning, paired with incredible dynamics and handling, making them as useful for reference, mixing, and recording as they are for casual listening. If you want a headphone with a bunch of frilly boosts and intense qualities, the Stellia may not be up your alley. These strikes me as a headphone that’s not looking to please the listener through any cheap tricks, instead tackling texture, space, and detail with expertise and refinement.
You can purchase the Focal Stellia at Audio46