Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Focal’s new Celestee headphones are a $990 audiophile luxury

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French audio company Focal today announced the Celestee, a new set of closed-back headphones for audio enthusiasts. At $990, they are definitely on the premium side of the price spectrum, but at a glance, the headphones at least offer a design in line with their luxury aspirations. I mean, just look at these things:

Featuring a navy blue and copper design, the Celestee sit below the company’s Stellia ($2,999)and Radiance ($1,300) headphones, but are replacing the company’s earlier Elegia.  If the Celestee is anything like Focal’s other fancy headphones, the large leather earpads should provide hours of comfort. The headphones should also provide a decent amount of isolation from ambient sounds, although with no active noise-cancellation circuitry, don’t expect these to block out sounds like a Sony or Bose.

Like the Radiance, the Celestee uses an aluminum/magnesium, 40mm driver covering the full range of frequencies. They’re also designed to be easy to drive from portable devices, meaning your phone — or more likely these days, your phone dongle — should have enough power to get decent sound from them. In terms of accessories, the headphones come with a sturdy carrying case and a 4-foot cable with a 3.5mm jack, as well as a 1/4 inch adapter.

While the Celestee is joining a family of excellent headphones — I’ve heard most of them, and I’ve liked most of them — I can’t help but wish the company would branch out with some of its portable offerings. Bluetooth technology has improved enough that differences from wired audio are often negligible, and even other high-end headphone makers have begun offering some form of Bluetooth connectivity. The company does have its Listen Wireless line, which also sound pretty swell, but don’t have noise canceling.

But if you’re the kind of audiophile who doesn’t flinch at a $990 price tag and considers the phrase “high-end Bluetooth headphone,” to be an oxymoron, the Celestee should be another welcome addition to Focal’s lineup. We’ll let you know what we think once we get our hands on it.

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Published January 28, 2021 — 22:29 UTC

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