Headphone nerds are a tricky crowd, particularly if you take away their valuable cables. Ask anybody who often browses the r/headphones subreddit whether or not noise-canceling or wi-fi headphones are any good, and also you’re more likely to get a variety of people telling you that they’re effective for decreasing outdoors sound, however can’t method what wired headphones can provide when it comes to sound high quality.
So far, these voices have principally been proper. With only a few exceptions, wi-fi headphones sound worse than their wired counterparts. This has led numerous listeners to tote round cumbersome wired headphones, moveable headphone amps, and varied equipment to get the very best sound on the go.
Now a brand new technology of noise-canceling headphones from established audiophile manufacturers like Mark Levinson, Bowers & Wilkins, and Focal wish to problem the long-established hierarchy, making it doable for audio nerds to make use of the identical pair whereas straightforward wi-fi touring as they may for wired at-home listening. Of the three manufacturers’ flagship fashions, it’s the Focal Bathys which have impressed me essentially the most.
I’ve spent just a few months with the French audiophile model’s excellent noise-canceling over-ears, they usually’ve turn out to be my favourite pair in current reminiscence. The attractive magnesium and aluminum cans borrow design cues and driver designs from Focal’s higher-end wired headphones, however embody cutting-edge digital-to-analog conversion, and among the most comfy earpads I’ve ever worn.
If you’re a discerning listener who loves a bit of favor you may’t do higher on the go: Ditch the AirPods Max and go along with these. It’s like buying and selling up from a purple Corvette to a Rosso Corsa Ferrari.
Parlez Vous Francais
Say it with me: Foh-Cal Bat-hees. This pair of pricey noise-canceling headphones, named after a spherical submersible from last century, appear to be one thing you’d pull from Poseidon’s desk. Spherical cutouts of various sizes and styles circle the tornado-shaped Focal “F” in the course of every earcup, like a web surrounding a dangerous whirlpool.
Thankfully, there aren’t any finicky contact controls for brand spanking new musical divers. On the underside of the appropriate earcup, you’ll discover a energy swap that permits you to choose between off, on, and DAC mode (extra on this later), in addition to a easy three-button setup for quantity up, down, and play/pause (lengthy press for BT pairing). A single button on the left earcup permits you to choose between ANC modes. I like the bezel-like wheel on the Airpods Max for novelty, however I want all headphones had been this straightforward to function.
Turn them on, and a wonderful white LED backlights the emblem on either side, making you appear to be some kind of nautical Tony Stark. You can flip off the lights (and modify EQ and ANC settings) in Focal’s app, should you don’t need everybody round you to understand how a lot you spent on headphones.
After all, units like these aren’t for others to get pleasure from; they’re to assist well-heeled listeners preserve their golden-eared life outdoors of their ordinary listening conditions. And boy, are they comfy.