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Focal Bathys Wireless ANC Headphone Review

Focal Bathys Headphone Review

Just a few weeks after releasing the Utopia 2022 edition, the revered French audio company Focal has collaborated with British hi-fi company VerVent Audio to release a new, closed-back, wireless ANC headphone: the Focal Bathys. This is the company’s first new wireless release since the Focal Listen Wireless was released in 2018. We’ll get into some of its special features below, as well as what you’re really here for: what does the Bathys sound like?

What’s in The Box?

-Focal Bathys wireless headphones

-Coaxial Headphone/Audio cable with 3.5mm jack

-USBC cable

-Semi Firm Carrying Case

-Quick Start Guide

 

Look And Feel

Readers familiar with Focal might have already noticed that the Bathys looks a whole lot like the Stelia. A musical-looking asymmetrical cellular pattern decorates the outside of the cans, which follow a chic black and gray color code. The cans can swivel 90 degrees backward and about 45 degrees forward, allowing it to rest around the neck very comfortably. This feature, coupled with its particularly thin headband, make the Bathys pretty portable and ergonomic, despite not being able to fold in on itself like the Listen did. The sliders are a high quality plastic that are reinforced with what looks like steel, and seem to give the Bathys a durable build.

 

The earcups are cushy yet firmly padded and encased in a soft, skin-friendly leather. Though the padding felt great, the headband tension was a bit much for my head. I get that insulation and isolation are key in any premium ANC headphone, but Focal perhaps could’ve taken it a little easier in this department. I will say, though, that the Bathys will likely make for a perfect, well-isolated fit for listeners whose heads aren’t as wide as mine.

 

ANC, Bluetooth, Battery, and USB DAC

The ANC on the Bathys is pretty great and delivers a satisfying vacuum-sealed quietness. I also felt like its cancellation effects crept up a bit higher in the frequency spectrum than most ANC headphones. The transparency mode was well balanced and not too loud or sensitive, and I heard myself speaking at just the right volume even when I had music playing.

 

The Bathys’ has an impressive 30-hour battery life, which is quite a significant step up from the Listen’s still respectable 20-hour battery. The codecs available are up to date to ensure high-quality Bluetooth streaming, taking both AAC and aptX adaptive.

 

Of special note is the inclusion of DAC USB audio that can be transmitted through the included USBC cable. The cable can transmit a sample rate and bit depth goes as high as a 192 kHz and 24 bit.

 

Specs

Driver: 40mm Aluminum Magnesium

Frequency Range: 15Hz – 22kHz

Battery: 30 hours (Wireless), 38 hours (Coaxial), 42 hours(USBC) 

Bluetooth 5.1

Codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX adaptive

Focal Bathys wireless ANC over-ear headphones

Sound Stage

The left-right imaging really delivered, sending hard-panned rhythm guitars and drum fills flying way down the side of the stage. The width of the Bathys impressed me more than its depth, which though present, seemed separately constrained to the left and right sides and didn’t quite meet in the middle to create an ideal dome-like image. That being said, left-right movements end up sounding very dramatic, and provide quite a bit of intrigue to a listen.

 

There’s some distinct coloration in the EQ balance of the Bathys, which doesn’t pretend to be the most natural-sounding headphone but rather opts for a warm and heavy sound conducive to easy listens.

 

Lows

The low-end expression reminds me of a more balanced, less drastic version of the Sennheiser Momentum 4; though not as boomy and in your face, there is a considerable boost that adds smooth and accurate mass that coats a listen. The bassy decay of tom-toms had an extra heaviness, and kick drums were given the green light to drive mixes. Electric basses had an extra solid presence and retained their unique harmonic and tonal characteristics without muddying the mix. I found this boost to be prominent but not too overdone, avoiding masking and blending well with the rest of the Bathys’ timbre.

 

Mids

There is what sounds like a scoop right in the very center of the mids that goes into the high mids, with a slight boost in the low mids. A drawback of this characteristic was that snare drums and strings could at times sound a little muted. Acoustic guitars could sound a little empty and percussive when there was a high-pass filter EQ already applied to them in a mix. Vocals, however, sounded great and seemed to get smoothed out as a result of the mid balance, with a clearly present fundamental and tamed sibilants. Hand claps and similar sounds had an interesting timbre that had more warmth and less snap, which I found to have a chewy, somewhat analog texture.

 

Highs

High frequencies are still present enough to adequately express all parts of a mix, but seem to taper off after a slight boost around 10 kHz, and begin diving 12 kHz and up. This isn’t an unfamiliar characteristic in ANC headphones, which are pursuing casual comfort and, I suppose, frequently trading brightness to avoid harshness. I still think Focal could have risked a little more treble in the Bathys to better balance out its predominantly low-heavy timbre. That being said, this is more of a personal preference since the high-end still “made sense” to me; the Bathys still comes across as a well-balanced headphone that isn’t at all at risk of sounding muffled. Hi-hats, cymbals, and reverbs were plenty present, though had a softer, less pointed personality. Vocals retained airiness and fry. Though I generally like a bright headphone, the Bathys is undeniably smooth and I’m sure plenty of listeners are will appreciate the cautious handling of its higher frequencies.

 

Overall

With its diverse connectivity options, great ANC and isolation, and tastefully smooth HiFi sound catered to pleasant and casual listens, the Focal Bathys emerges as a top-of-the-line contender for those looking for a versatile, high-quality wireless headphone for their commutes and/or time at the office. My only real complaint is the tight clamp pressure that my big head was subjected to, which in the greater context of everything these headphones offer, is a rather minor and anatomy-specific grievance. Focal brought a warm and soothing tone to the Bathys as well as consumer convenience without sacrificing the accuracy and quality that the company is rightfully known for.

 

The Focal Bathys is available for purchase at Audio46.

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