Focal quality control?!


I recently got a pair of Focal Utopia headphones. As someone who has probably owned more than a dozen high-end headphones in the past, the Utopia was supposed to be the end-all headphone for me. Unfortunately, it has started to have problems that I believe are unacceptable at this price point.

It intermittently distorts with my amazing solid-state Class A amplifiers that are made in Japan. It does the same thing with my other headphone amp and DAC. Sometimes it will play properly for a minute or two, then go back to distorting. The lemo cables are plugged in properly; and I bought an aftermarket cable to test them with. Same problem. The distortion is in bass frequencies and the lower midrange in particular. I find the problem occurs most often with tracks that have powerful bass or forward midrange. It's like the Utopia driver crumbles when these frequencies are presented. I have never experienced this problem with any headphone I owned, borrowed, or listened to at a store. And....that's a lot of headphones over the years!

I read quite a bit about Focal's quality control (problems?) on Head-Fi and am now worried...should I buy their speakers or more of their headphones after this experience? I believe I can now send them in to be checked/serviced. However...I also read about some negative experiences where the problem wasn't solved completely. The last thing I want is to be accused of damaging them... If they suspect this, I will be forced to pay for the repair. I have always handled them with care, so this shouldn't be a problem.

I got excited because they're made in France. And a lot of nice stuff comes from France - Vodka, Givenchy etc.

I guess an accurate statement would be: "It's not where they're made, but how well they are put together that matters in the end!"  

Thoughts? Suggestions? etc. all feedback is welcome. I would love to gain some insight from fellow audio enthusiasts and audiophiles. Although I am experienced in audio, I will admit to knowing very little about Focal as a company. If you think you know something I don't, please feel free to share. I appreciate all responses and thanks in advance.

- mastering92
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Focal makes speakers, very expensive ones too. It sounds to me like the headphones are being Overdriven, try turning down the source input a little and adjust regular volume as needed. P.S. I have been listening to headphones since the 1970's and the one brand that never disappoints are Sennheiser, just saying.
Matt M
lawl thanks Matt

I know how to drive headphones...obviously not overdoing it with the volume knob.
Why all the angst? They sound defective. Return them to the manufacturer for service or replacement. Or, call your dealer and have him handle it for you.
You are not the first to post about the poor quality of Focal headphones. 
Return them to your dealer for a refund!  The thought of sending them in to be repaired sounds like the beginning of a nightmare from what I have read.  Then you can wait for the cable to fail.  There are many wonderful headphones out there--move on.
I would visit my dealer with the headphones.
Ask him to test theme.
And tells him I was thinking to buy highend Focal speakers from him
but was reconsidering my choice of brand. ( brands  he does not carry )
He would surely give you a replacement.
I have Focal Clear and they sound fine.
To all - I appreciate the feedback.

I will be sending them in to be serviced soon. Hopefully the experience won’t be a nightmare lol.
The Utopia’s were on my doorstep about 10 minutes ago.

The problem was solved. The Focal support manager was polite and helpful. I have no doubts in Focal’s ability to produce high quality audio electronics. I trust them completely now.

For anyone else who has had a problem with their gear before, you must be inherently specific about the problem. Otherwise gaps in understanding can arise...similar to how some folks on here go off on a hot air 🎈 tangent about something else *related or unrelated) and struggle to stay on topic.

Recently they released a headphone with a magnesium driver unit. This is the Focal Clear MG Professional. I think I might be getting those, too.


I have heard that Focal has issues and also poor customer service.
@stringreen 

Yes, me too. And I was worried. 

But like I said, I had this one experience with Focal. If it was positive, it's because there was solid communication between myself and the service manager.

Their stuff sounds really good.