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published: Jul-15-2017

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NO SMOOTHING is applied to the shown plots. Most measurement sites have some smoothing applied which ‘irons flat’ sharp peaks and ‘wiggles’. I do not use smoothing because some info about sound quality is lost when plots are smoothed.

Aside from a small correction of the microphone itself also some correction in the lowest frequencies is applied to the plots to compensate for the perceived loss of bass when using headphones. This is described HERE in more detail.
A ‘horizontal‘ frequency response curve on the shown frequency response plots on this website thus indicates a perceived ‘flat’ tonal signature.

ALL measurements are made with a good SEAL on a flatbed measurement rig.
The shape of your head, bone structure, pad size, pad ‘softness,  (compliance), hair or no hair and or wearing glasses may (drastically) change the frequency response of some headphones, so… your personal experience may differ substantially from these plots.

Frequency response (tonal balance) is the most sound-determining aspect of headphones. A horizontal line shows audible neutral response in the plots on this website. Deviations in different severities at different frequency bands have an effect on the sound character.
The bigger the deviation the stronger the effect.

Below an aid to help determining the sound character of headphones with relation to the frequency response.


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Focal Listen

Focal Listen Beyond

The Focal Listen is a closed over-ear dynamic headphone. It retails for around € 200.-.  The build quality is good. This one does not have the headband issues of the Spirit models. It is designed to be used on the go with portable equipment. The cups can collaps (fold) into the headband which makes it easier to take along with you. The headphone cable has an inline mic/remote.
The pads are pleather (fake leather) and have memory foam which makes them comfortable and can provide a good seal.


Type: Over ear, closed
Usage: Portable, home, office.
Driver type: dynamic, mylar with a small titanium dome.
Pads: replaceable pleather (fake leather) with memory-foam
Foldable: Yes
Headphone cup connector: locking 3.5mm TRS
Cable entry: single sided (left)
Cable: 1.4m angled 3.5mm TRRS to locking 3.5mm TRS with inline remote/mic
Driver size: 40mm
Max power rating: Not specified
Max. S.P.L.: Not specified
Impedance: 32 Ω
Efficiency: 107dB/1mW  (122dB/1V)
Weight: 273 g.
Clamping force: Medium
Accessories: soft pouch, airline adapter

Sound description:

Will be added later…


Below the frequency response of the Listen (Left, Right)

FR Listen

Channel matching is every good. It has boosted bass and extends very low (<5Hz). This boosted bass is a good thing when using it portable. The mids are considerably sloping downwards from 400Hz. The dip at 80Hz and peak at 300Hz will make the bass sound a bit unnatural and perhaps a bit muddy/boxy.
The gradual downwards slope is indicative of a warm sound signature.
As if you would be listening to music from a great distance/back of a concert hall.
The dip at 3kHz shows it lacks clarity/presence and the nicer details of instruments and voices. A bit muffled perhaps.
The upwards sloping treble will still let you have the impression of good extension and sparkle. Yet the clarity in the treble is a bit too low. The treble will be a bit ‘thin’ while the mids are exactly the opposite.
This will give it a bassy and warm character with a thin put present treble. Good extension to both ends of the spectrum but recessed in clarity/presence.

output resistance / damping-factor


As this is a low impedance dynamic headphone the frequency response might be amplifier output resistance dependent when certain higher output resistance amplifiers are used.
To test this the headphone is measured via a low impedance amplifier (0.2Ω) and a high impedance amplifier (120Ω). On a higher output resistance amplifier the output level will be considerably lower. To compensate for this the amplifier is cranked up to the same level (at 1kHz) as the low impedance amplifier. This way the plots are overlay-ed and it is easy to see how the tonal balance changes.FR Listen R 120

As can be seen the tonal balance doesn’t change when a higher output resistance amplifier is used (the output level drops of course). No problem to connect it to various desktop amps… that is after you bought a 6.3mm adapter which isn’t supplied with it.

Below the distortion plots of the Listen : (only Right channel shown)
Note that this headphone was measured at ears-unlimited-logo where  background noises were present in the demo room. As this is a closed headphone distortion levels and spectrum plot performance may thus merely be slightly better in reality than as shown on the plots as this headphone isolates ambient sounds quite well.

The distortion products are shown in dB (Right channel).Dist Listen R

The distortion is quite low for a medium sized dynamic driver. The peaks around 60Hz are almost certainly ambient sounds.
Distortion levels in the bass below 0.5% is excellent. Distortion is almost Elear quality.

Dist Listen R percent

The small increase in the 4kHz area is still at such a low level that it won’t degrade the sound quality.

Below the CSD of the Listen (Left and Right channel are superimposed)Spectr Listen R

The CSD shows a very well controlled behavior. There is some small resonance at around 900Hz and 2kHz. Bass and lower mids resonate somewhat longer than desirable perhaps.


By lack of oscilloscope shots (not enough time to measure that) below a step response plot of the Listen (Right channel)Step Listen R

The step response shows the clarity is lacking. The initial rise has some overshoot but isn’t reaching the same level as the mids. Resonances are pretty well damped and very short lived. Bass extension is excellent. The horizontal line isn’t sloping downwards at all.
The left channel (shown below) performs somewhat better. This can also be seen in the frequency response plots where the left channel has slightly (about 1dB) higher from 1kHz upwards. This is too small a difference to shift the stereo image though.

Step Listen L


This headphone is an option for those that want a portable Focal headphone.
As an alternative this headphone is also available in a wireless version. Focal still has the Spirit line-up but there seem to be mechanical issues (fragility) with the headband.
The sound signature is on the bassy/warm side and is lacking in clarity. The treble also is a little ‘dis-attached’ from the clarity and seems to ‘lie’ on top of the warm/distant mids.
I strongly recommend to audition this headphone before buying it.
For the price other, better sounding, headphones exist.

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