The Mighty Utopia: Focal Utopia Revisted

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by purr1n, Aug 13, 2020.

  1. Failed Engineer

    Failed Engineer Facebook Friend

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    I'm not sure where all the Texas SBAFers are (I think noticed a concentration around Austin in other posts) but I'm happy to bring along my Utopia chain(s) to a meet from Houston. Dallas would be a tough one but Austin or San Antonio is definitely do-able on a weekend.

    The Utopia, more than other phones I've extensively auditioned or owned, are chameleon like particularly in regards to the DAC and a bit less so to amplification. While I've not made a change to my system in a year and have no itch I completely understand why others move on from the Utopia. With so many other good choices in the flagship bracket either you really love the inherent character of the headphones and keep and optimize for it or move along to something that aligns better with your listening preferences.

    I use a Wavelight-3F in my leisure room and Walnut-3F in my office. I'd love for others to try it out. My wife says it's overwhelming at times and I get it. She likes listening to it only after the kids are asleep and she's not working and just relaxing. And even then she's more partial to the Grado HP2 on both chains.

    Ultimately, it's too finicky a headphone to keep around if there's something nagging you about it as there's a very thin line between annoying and brilliant when it comes to its sound.
     
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  2. AdvanTech

    AdvanTech Friend

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    +1 for Wavelight-DSHA3F-Utopia setup. If you work on getting the whole chain aligned with your preferences, the Utopia can be immensely rewarding.
     
  3. Rob the Comic

    Rob the Comic Almost "Made"

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    I know some here have become disenchanted with it, but IMHO in years to come the Utopia will be looked back on as a ground breaking classic of the time, like the HD600’s.
     
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  4. JeremiahS

    JeremiahS Acquaintance

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    I am reading a bit about the DSHA 3F and is it correct to say that this amp is optimised for Focal only?

    If you guys don't mind I want to share my story a bit. Some time ago I had to sell a lot of my audio gears and Susvara because of personal reasons. I am a bit sad because Susvara was very close to my ideal sound signature but some things are more important than audio.

    So now I am trying to get a similar experience to the Susvara at a lower price point. Utopia has been doing a pretty good job in that scope but amps that seem to do well with my previous headphones don't seem to match well with Utopia so now I'm back to testing things again.
     
  5. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    The F in the DSHA-3F stands for "Focal", so this would be a good pairing with the Utopia. Depending on DAC, of course. Can't go wrong with the ECP Walnut, designed and made by the same people.
     
  6. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    I started typing up a comment regarding the issue of "fakeness" but I backed all that out upon reflection that I don't have anything insightful to add on the topic. I feel no need to defend the Utopia. Over the past few months I have been too busy rediscovering my music collection to listen in the critical audiophile style that I use when judging components. Outside of my speakers (which are mostly used for background music while doing chores), I have been living with the Utopia alone. I recovered over 300GBs of music on an old HDD that I haven't listened to since I moved out of CA 5 years ago. So I am hearing a bunch of music that I am distantly familiar with, but was nonetheless formative for me as an audiophile. Obviously these recordings are going to sound different than I remember as a noobie on a mediocre system. Do they sound markedly better? Maybe, but the bad stuff still sounds bad and the good stuff is good. As cliche as it sounds, the Utopia is letting me listen to the recording.

    I will add, and this might not be what @ColtMrFire is getting at, but the Utopia delivers a headphone experience. It doesn't aim to sound like loudspeakers, binaurial trickery, or "the real thing". It's an unabashed headphone experience. IMO, it's the best headphone experience that can be had. There might be a sense where a lot of guys are looking for more than that, and that's understandable. But for me the Utopia just has to be an awesome sounding headphone. A reference class workhorse that I can pick up and tackle any recording. And it's still delivering for me.
     
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  7. neo_the_one

    neo_the_one Rando

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    One more thing I might add (and could be controversial) - cables. If you have finalized your chain with Utopia and wish to tune just about 1%-2% final adjustments, cables can do it. I won't recommend any particular cable, you can audition some if you have the chance to see which you like.
    For me after spending close to 18 months assembling my system for Utopia, the final slight tuning I wanted came via cable change.

    I have Utopia, HE1K and LCD-4z. Only Utopia was the one which had the final slight bit of refinement I was looking for with my cable change in my system. The other two headphones always sound like they do, cable change was not audible to be using the other two.
     
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  8. Josh Schor

    Josh Schor Friend

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    Asking if there is a member who would be willing to send me there Utopias so I could audition them before saving to buy a set. I of course would pay all shipping and insurance costs. I am a new member and an old friend of Marv's in Michigan.
    best,
    Josh
     
  9. Rob the Comic

    Rob the Comic Almost "Made"

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    Agree. I picked up the OCC XLR cables from LQI for my Utopias and LCD’s and had them shipped here to Sydney. Great bang for buck and an improvement over the stock cables IMHO.
     
  10. Erroneous

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    So if I've tuned my Utopia system around the stock cables, is there a cable that will open up even more details without $1k magically leaving my pocket? DIY cabling is especially encouraged.
     
  11. Rob the Comic

    Rob the Comic Almost "Made"

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    Check the above. LQI sells on eBay but find their website; 10% cheaper. Well made braided cables with wooden splitters. Plenty of options and less than $200 USD IIRC.
     
  12. Claud

    Claud Living the ORFAS dream

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    You have spent a lot on your Utopias. Why not get a good cable for it. Get a Norne cable. Go to website and Email Trevor to find out which cables he recommends for Utopia, then order. Next wait for Trevor to make and ship your cable. Two months is about right. After all, its made to order. Less than $1000 unless you want extra long.
     
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  13. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    When I had my Utopia loaner, it had a Wywires Platinum cable that seemed to open them up nicely.
     
  14. Maven86

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    I'm using a silver\palladium cable that works really well IMO. It was also relatively inexpensive (by Utopia standards). PM for details.
     
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