Focal Spirit Series Triple Headphones Review
Mike Piskor 2015

Focal Spirit Series Headphones Review

Today, Mike reviews and compares the new Spirit Series headphones from Focal, including the Spirit Classic, the Spirit Professional, and the Spirit One S. They are priced at $399, $349, and $279 respectively.

Disclaimer: These samples were sent to me as a loan in return for my honest opinion. Headfonics is an independent website with no affiliate links or services. Thank you to Focal and for their support.

To read up on other Focal products previously covered on Headfonics click here.

Note, that this article follows our latest scoring guidelines which you can read here. 

Focal Spirit Series Triple Headphones Review
Focal Spirit Series Headphones Review
Focal has done a great job with these new Spirit Series headphone models, I am very excited to see what they would do with a Summit-level flagship in the $1000+ tier.  Focal, make it happen!
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$399, $349, and $279

I’ve been to a lot of audio meets in my time, probably a number in the dozens somewhere.  I’ve never seen Focal headphones at a single one of these meets, yet I’ve heard of Focal headphones often and read about them often enough on various other audio-related websites. 

I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect these to be this good, a blessing in disguise for sure.


Focal is a French company that I’d previously not known had produced headphones up until about a year ago. I was very interested in a potential purchase of a Focal speaker just a few months ago and after reading positive reviews of one of their specific models. 

From there, I was introduced to Focal and what they are all about.  I think this company is on the rise. If they are capable of making portable closed-back headphones sound this good at this price range, surely this company is capable of monumental things in the future.

Focal Spirit Professional

Focal Spirit Professional


The Focal Spirit Professional is a $300 headphone that offers a unique exterior texture.  Funny and very true story, when the package was delivered, it was delivered in the rain, the box a bit soggy and a little dogeared. 

Upon opening the box and finding each of the three headphones still sealed in the plastic casing, I’d first choose the Professional model and gently cut open the box to reveal the headphones inside. 

Despite knowing full well that the headphone was protectively encased in plastic wrapping I removed the headphones and almost immediately wanted to scream and attack the delivery man who dropped off the package. It appeared like the headphones were wet, with water droplets adorning the entire exterior of these headphones. 

My anger boiled and humorously enough, it took a few moments for me to realize that this is simply the texture that normally came with the headphone. 

It is an odd choice indeed about visual appeal, however it is also very appreciated from the standpoint of an actual sound engineer. These headphones are likely to be used and abused, the shock and scratch-resistant exterior materials are well suited for the task of protecting the headphones for years to come.


The leatherette pads and headband are plenty soft and very comfortable, they also offer a great deal of give and plushness due to a thick cut of memory foam used underneath.

I found the headphones to be a bit clamp-heavy, but actually, that is to be expected for something with a headband design like this. 

Is it a big deal? Not really. Just a personal gripe.  In this case, the Focal headphones are extremely comfortable and the clamp factor is moderate. Thankfully, the headphones don’t cause pain and can be worn for hours at a time. 


Focal offers a typical 3.5 mm cable which is rubber encased, something I am not okay with anymore beyond the $300 price mark. 

At this price point I believe every cable should be fabric laced, but the cable sounds, feels, and acts fine and there is nothing wrong with it despite that. 

This becomes a bit of a higher-end flair problem with the Classic model, again for the same reasons that I found the headband to not fully match and make much sense with the design of the Classic model. 

A headband that is thick cut doesn’t match up with the slick, portable design of the Classic headphones. The Classic headphone screams high quality and the headband thickness seems out of place, in turn, so too does the cable’s generic feel and presentation. 

I can give the Professional and Spirit One S models a pass on this, but not the Classic.  That headphone should offer a higher quality cable, something tougher and more elegant, something beautiful and memorable that fits with the silver color scheme of the headphone.

Sound Impressions


Upon first listening, you should notice how dark the backdrop is in comparison to its brothers.  It is something very akin to the Philips Fidelio series and has a stark contrasting jet black experience compared to the Spirit One S and the Classic’s brighter background coloration. 

Due to this supremely black background effect, the entire audio spectrum pops more on this model than its siblings. There is no doubt that this model was specifically tuned for studio professionals and engineers alike. 

This is not at all what I would consider a musical experience, however it is highly analytic and reference in tone. Something dry that does not accentuate much, this is a clinical-sounding headphone, a real studio monitor.


The low end of this headphone is relatively more impact-heavy by comparison to the other two models, believe it or not, and I found it to be even less bass-omnipresent than the Classic. 

However, the Classic still dug a little deeper during low-end testing.  Unlike its sibling, this Professional version remains in control at lower frequencies. 

Solidity is retained noticeably deeper when pushing the limits of what the bass experience is capable of, but the quantity doesn’t change much.  The experience is more firm and focused, allowing for a wider range of low-end track types that mesh well with the headphones.

As any good studio monitor headphone should be, this version was specifically set up and explicitly tuned to allow for proper low-end retrieval without the need for an equalizer, which is something its brother the Classic needs to achieve the same thing. 

In this case, the Professional offers just the right amount of bass quantity without going overboard or feeling like it’s lacking in any way.

Unlike most other studio monitors that claim to be as such, this headphone is my pick for the best studio monitor headphones that I have heard recently in the sub $400 tier. It is a studio monitor headphone I was made with audio engineers in mind. 

The coloration of the low end is relatively neutral by comparison to more noticeably colored than the low end of its brothers, the experience is also snappier and less forgiving in a physical sense. 

The texture of this model is more pure and liquid-like than its siblings as well as of the more reference quality coloration type, which allows for accuracy during playback and is something I would highly recommend for musicians instead of avid music listeners.


Treble seems more crisp and potent than the Classic, but also less interesting.  Dare I say it is boring, but I would think that is the point and it was intended to be this way. 

There is a difference between brightness and lustrous treble, one is firm and authoritative but can be flat and lacking engaging qualities on an emotional level, and the other is sparkled with hints of high musicality and a forgiving nature. 

The Professional Focal isn’t the latter, it feels very much like the Sennheiser HD 800 and how it portrays treble: something brighter with more bite to it. 

Of course, it isn’t sibilant nor painful, just noticeably more powerful than the Classics’ more relaxed tonality on the upper end.  As with the bass texture type, the treble here is very pure and firm. 

I am not sure anyone would consider it musical, again this headphone is intended for mixers and masters in the studio, maybe even live recording sessions with musicians wearing them while they play for feedback purposes. 

When it boils down to it, the Professional sounds more spacious than the Classic concerning stage depth, this is directly due to the black background, that curtain behind the music that is so dark in comparison to the Classic and Spirit One S.  

I tried desperately to find a difference in stage width and height, even separation size between them all and I really couldn’t spot any differences at all. 

All three headphones share the same staging properties, but the Professional “seems” deeper and more vivid due to that background effect that is so just damn darkened. 

Stage enthusiasts are going to be let down for sure, so don’t expect a giant Fostex-ish stage, but do expect a highly intimate and exceptionally well-formed stage that is neither lacking width nor height.

Click on page 2 below for my impression of the Spirit Classic.

Click on page 3 below for my impressions of the Spirit One S.

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