Arms-on With The Focal Bathys, a $799 Wi-fi Headphones Geared toward Audiophiles


French audio firm Focal is thought for its high-end audio system and headphones. You may name it the Bowers & Wilkins of France. And now it is lastly performed what a whole lot of high-end audio firms have needed to do on this age of on-the-go wi-fi music listening: Make an lively noise-canceling Bluetooth headphone. Over three years in growth, the Bathys prices $799 (£699, AU$1199) and have not solely wi-fi connectivity however a built-in DAC (digital-to-analog converter) for USB wired listening with any laptop, smartphone or pill with USB-C. It is simply one of many best-sounding wi-fi headphones.

Focal makes some hefty wired headphones for house listening, together with the $3,000 Stellia that weighs in at 435 grams. For the Bathys — the title is impressed by the bathyscaphe, the primary submarine exploration automobile, with the headphone being the “embodiment of calm, depth and absolute silence,” in response to Focal — it created a headphone that shared the same design aesthetic however is extra compact and weighs in at extra affordable 350 grams with a magnesium yoke used to assist minimize the burden. By comparability, the AirPods Max weigh 384.8 grams. 

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Whereas they don’t seem to be fairly as snug to put on because the lighter Bose QuietComfort 45 or Sony WH-1000XM5, I did discover them snug to put on over longer listening classes and so they did not really feel too tightly clamped and the scarf did not create any strain factors on the crown of my head.


Whereas they might be extra compact than Focal’s different headphones, they’re nonetheless fairly massive.


I have never had sufficient time with the Bathys to put up a full evaluation however listed here are some fast first impressions:

  • Whereas they’re extra compact than Focal’s wired headphones, the Bathys are nonetheless massive headphones and can look that means in your head. 
  • The noise-canceling is sweet although not wonderful, with a high and low mode (“silent” and “tender”) as effectively a transparency mode. ANC tends to degrade the sound so there’s at all times a fragile stability including ANC when sound high quality is the precedence.
  • The Bathys are geared up with Bluetooth 5.1 and have multipoint Bluetooth pairing (so you’ll be able to pair them to 2 gadgets like a smartphone and laptop concurrently). I had no downside driving them with iPhone and Android gadgets and so they do help AptX Adaptive on Android and different gadgets which might be suitable with that audio codec (they use the AAC audio codec for iPhones).
  • I streamed music utilizing the Qobuz app, which does provide high-resolution information. I linked the headphones through USB-C to a few Android telephones in addition to a MacBook Professional. There’s additionally a USB-C to Lighting adapter if you wish to go wired in your iOS machine (you turn into DAC mode to go wired). 
  • Going wired offers you a slight bump up in sound high quality (it does assist to stream high-resolution audio information for optimum sound). In wired mode, the headphones ship as much as 24-bit/192kHz decision. However the headphones additionally sound fairly spectacular in wi-fi mode with wonderful readability, element, accuracy and highly effective, well-defined bass. They’ve a large soundstage and help you hear every instrument distinctly in difficult tracks the place a number of devices are enjoying on the identical time.  
  • The Bathys use Aluminum-Magnesium speaker drivers whereas Focal’s higher-end wired headphones have Beryllium drivers that supply much more readability and accuracy with the fitting arrange.  
  • The headphones fold flat (however do not fold up) into a pleasant carry case. Together with the USB-C to USB-C cable you additionally get a regular analog headphone cable to be used with in-flight leisure techniques.
  • Total, I used to be happy with the voice-calling efficiency. Callers stated I sounded good and will hear me effectively on the noisy streets of New York, the place they heard some background sound leak in however the noise discount was good. They measure up effectively to the Grasp & Dynamic MW75 ($599) for voice calling and whereas they might not be exceptionally good just like the Sony WH-1000XM5 for voice calls, you should not be dissatisfied with the telephony efficiency. That may generally be the case with headphones that tout sound high quality first. 
  • With a press of button, they provide entry to both Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or different cellphone voice assistant (Siri or Bixby, for example). 
  • An equalizer within the companion app doe iOS and Android lets you tweak the sound profile. Since these are an audiophile headphone, you’ll be able to count on a flat default sound profile. Relying on what I used to be listening to, I ended up boosted the bass a bit.
  • Battery life is stable at as much as 30 hours, with a fast cost function that provides you 5 hours of use with a 15-minute cost.
The Focal Bathys deliver rich audio

The headphones fold flat however do not fold up. A pleasant carrying case is included.

David Carnoy/CNET

In latest months, we have seen an rising variety of “high-fidelity” lively noise-canceling wi-fi headphones launched following the launch of Apple’s AirPods Max, which listing for $549 however incessantly promote for $479 or much less. There’s the aforementioned Grasp & Dynamic MW75, the Mark Levinson No. 5909 ($999) and the just-announced Bowers and Wilkins PX8, which I have never tried but however lists for $699. They’re all nice headphones however by way of pure sound high quality, the Bathys could also be one of the best of the bunch and I significantly favored the inbuilt DAC and the flexibility to modify simply between wired and wi-fi modes. 

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