Before today, I wrote that great headphones can be simple and still impress me. I even admitted that certain headphones could be painted slime green with an insect eye on each earcup and I would continue to use them – as long as their detailed, responsive, class-leading sound persisted.
But maybe all that has changed. What if I no longer need to commit? What if now I can have it all: aesthetic beauty, portability and wireless music talent?
I’m willing to bet that Focal has just brought just that to the table. Meet the Focal Bathys, possibly the best portable hi-fi wireless headphones – definitely some of the best looking.
Not only do they offer active noise cancellation (in ‘quiet’ and ‘soft’ modes, as well as a transparency profile) that you can adjust to your liking via the EQ settings in the app, but they also include a 24-bit USB DAC. , so no more USB DAC dongles are needed to get better sound from your laptop or phone.
They are also full of technology. The 30-hour battery life can be quickly increased (just 15 minutes of charging guarantees 5 hours of life), plus you get Focal’s patented driver technology and support for voice control assistants and Clear Voice Capture, which should mean excellent sound in video meetings and phone calls.
Its Bluetooth 5.1 codec support includes aptX and aptX Adaptive for the best Bluetooth wireless resolution currently available – oh, and in case you were wondering, the name Bathys comes from the word ‘bathyscaphe’, the first underwater exploration vehicle. The embodiment of calm, depth, and absolute silence, then, which is as good a nickname for an ANC set of ears as I can think of.
Opinion: Focal’s unparalleled looks and wireless intelligence are a winning combination
For me, Focal’s typically exquisite build quality is key here – just look at them! Magnesium and aluminum combine for light weight and strength, and this real leather headband looks to everyone around the world as if it will promote extremely comfortable and luxurious listening.
Having helped test the Focal Stellia, I know that the cutaway accents of the St. Etienne will also shine and shine under the light. How’s that for an eye-catching array of high-end features in a beautifully styled design?
And while the build quality suggests expensive gems, they are far from crown-like in terms of portability. Bathys’ collapsible design means these cans fit neatly into the included carrying case, thank you very much.
How much will all this cost? $799 / £699 / €799, that’s about AU$1,210 – and most intriguingly, it’s only slightly more expensive than the new Bowers & Wilkins PX8.
Both are beautiful (I love Focal, but there’s an intrinsic, timeless beauty to the black-and-white proposition), but what will beat it in sound quality, comfort, and feature set?
Isn’t that an intriguing comparison? Check us out very soon…