If you’re not an audiophile, the brand Focal may not ring a bell. However, this maker of audio equipment is actually quite popular worldwide, especially in France, its home country. It is so esteemed that car manufacturer Peugeot chose them to supply the car audio system for their new car, the Peugeot 3008.
Here in the Philippines, it currently offers a range of items available on Poundit. That’s why we had to grab one of their headphones, the Focal Spirit One S, to test whether the brand really lives up to the hype.
Like many mid-range and high-end headphones, the Focal Spirit One S comes in a cardboard box. But when you open it, you don’t get the headphones right away—you first see its hard-shell case, which is designed for the pair of headphones.
The case is not just big enough for the headphones. It also has a small mesh pocket for its accessories, which include a 3.5mm to .35mm jack adapter, and an airplane connection adapter. There’s also an instruction booklet, a reminder card, and even a small desiccant bag to absorb moisture and prevent damage.
The detachable cable for the headphones also has its own nook in the hard case. This cord actually has a built-in remote control and microphone that will enable you to play music or answer calls on your iPhone. To minimize tangling, the cable is held together with a thick rubber band, embossed with the Focal logo.
If you find the hard-shell case bulky, there’s also a black carrying pouch included.
Analyzing the Build
Of course, great packaging is one thing. What’s inside is important, right? Thankfully, when it comes to both build and performance, the Spirit One S did not disappoint.
While the instruction booklet and the reminder card constantly remind you not to press the two cups together, that doesn’t mean that the Spirit One S is a fragile device. On the contrary, it is actually solidly built, with a plastic-and-metal frame that can withstand some abuse.
The Spirit One S is also quite lightweight despite its solid build. Weighing at only 280 grams, it’s a great pair to wear while on your daily commute, with its understated look. While it is quite large, its streamlined design will add a level of sophistication to your look—a stark contrast to the loud colors of a Beats or Skullcandy pair.
The pads are also very comfortable. While they appear to be made of synthetic leather, they’re certainly something that won’t peel away after a few months of use.
Speaking of the pads, they fit snugly around the ears, helping shut out the sound from the outside. In general, these headphones offer a good fit—the headband portion can be adjusted. The cord attaches to the left earpiece and is just the right length for listening on your laptop or mobile device. And if you need to plug in your device to a 6.35 mm jack, just use the adapter, which screws on easily for a tight fit.
With its snug fit minimizing the amount of outside sound, we put the sound quality of the Spirit One S to the test.
When listening this pair of headphones, you’ll enjoy a rich, bass sound that doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the track you’re listening to. This means that even if you crank the volume up, you will still be able to hear the high notes and vocals of a song. In a way, it is the polar opposite of the bass cranked out by the loudspeakers on a jeepney barreling down a traffic-free highway—it may be loud, but it still sounds clear and it doesn’t drown out the rest of the track.
Because of this ability to render deep bass tracks, the Spirit One S is best for listening to classical, metal, or rock songs. The textured sound produced by these headphones make the instrumental portions of some tracks even sound like they’re being played live in the same room as you are.
However, its treble is just acceptable. You’ll actually end up realizing the thinness of the vocals on some pop tunes when you use this pair.
The same can be said for the phone calls. Voice quality remains crystal-clear, even when calling through an app. Surprisingly, the remote control button also works even when plugged into an Android phone, though it only manages to play or pause music when pressed.
With the great bass quality produced by the Focal Spirit One S, it’s a real solid choice for music lovers seeking a new pair of headphones for everyday use. While it may come with a price tag of PHP 11,700, the bass experience is definitely worth it.