Focal Spirit One Measurements

Click on graphs image to download .pdf for closer inspection.

Raw frequency response plots show that the Spirit One reliably seals on the head and delivers consistent performance as position changes around the ear. Compensated frequency plots show a headphone with a gentle warm tilt to 1kHz and a mildly uneven response, which is quite common with sealed headphones of this type. The slight wiggle at 90Hz is likely due to ear cushion resonance and is not easily heard. Bass response is slightly elevated---about the right amount, it seems to me---and very well extended. Coupled with fairly good 30Hz square wave shape and lack of distortion in the low frequencies I'd expect these to have very tight, slamming bass, which was heard in listening tests.

The frequency response drops off significantly after 1kHz indicating some lowering of presence region response. I'd like to see the response remain flat to about 2kHz before dropping off. A moderate peak at 10kHz is apparent, this can be troubling accompanied by a significantly ragged 300Hz square wave leading edge, but in this case I heard some dryness or grain in the treble, but nothing terribly offensive.

300Hz square wave leading edge has a slight overshoot and some minor ringing, which can also be seen in the impulse response. But I would say these are fairly good results relative to other headphones in this category.

THD+noise is a bit elevated at 7kHz, but remains at 1% or less otherwise, which is fairly good. The 100dB THD+noise plot remains comfortable below the 90dB plot indicating a headphone with very good power handling ability.

Impedance and phase plot show a 35 Ohm headphone with little in the way of reactive influence as frequency changes. Coupled with 35mVrms efficiency, and 18dB broad band attenuation, these should perform very well as a mobile headphone attached to smart-phones and tablets.

Focal's US Distributor: Audio Plus Services
156 Lawrence Paquette Industrial Drive
Champlain, NY 12919
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Chrisknos's picture

Hi Tyll, 

I just want to know which of the 6 headphones mentioned above would you prefer the most, regardless of whether they're portable or not.

BTW You're reviews are the most accurate in my opinion.


Tyll Hertsens's picture

The Momentums for sound quality. MDR-1R for comfort and looks. The UE6000 gains a lot of ground due to their lower cost. The Spirit One is possibly the best suited for actual use under mobile condition, and maybe best sounding in loud environments.

hannakimmi's picture

I had read a lot of information and it gives me a lot of ideas and knowledge. Thank you for taking the time and effort to put this article together. Keep up writing!
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Marcello's picture

I picked these up after being impressed with the Focal XS Book computer speakers and hoped the company would also make good headphones. A little naive maybe, but I was not disappointed. I like the Spirit One almost as much as the Momentums, and the Focal's superior sound isolation makes it my portable headphone of choice. I have also been testing the Sony MDR-1R for two days now. It sounds slightly boring compared to the Focal and the Sennheiser, but still very nice. The Sony sounds absolutely non-fatiguing and the headphone is almost obscenely comfortable, it feels light as a feather. This level of comfort should be a benchmark for over-ear headphones.

Tyll Hertsens's picture

..."obscenely comfortable" is a good word for it.  Flat out gorgious as well. I'm surprised how much I can forgive somewhat poorer sonic performance in light of the comfort and good looks. It's not easy to justify how one adds up all the variables that make up headphone the end it's which headphones your hands grab for. At night, in bed, watching Netflix? Those MDR-1R are aweful tempting.

Guitarist9273's picture

Any plans to review the Sony MDR-1R?

It'd be interesting to know exactly how it compares to the recent crop of good & great closed heaphones, as far as sound quality is concerned. It's much lauded comfort & relative good looks are tempting.

For late nights in bed watching Netflix or listening to other streamed media, is the MDR-1R one's best bet? 

Currawong's picture

It was fascinating to read the back-story to the issue with these headphones. I think it was definitely worth writing up as an example of how much manufacturers have to go through in produding a new product.

Now if only I could justify a pair of their speakers.... ;)

paul's picture


Just got the site back (made exception in AdBlock)


"(T)he lipstick red Micros spoke to me" and "I think the Sony MDR-1R is a dead sexy looking… "


Winter must be long and cold in Montana.  smiley

John Grandberg's picture

Lots of companies are working on getting their first headphone product out on the market. Some of them just go to an OEM and buy an existing headphone, slap their name on it, and call it a product launch. Nothing wrong with that I guess, but it's nice to know Focal had more invested in the process.

I definitely look forward to their next few headphone models. 

Tyll Hertsens's picture

They commented more than once that they're in it for the long haul. The Spirit One is a great start---problems not withstanding---and I'm very interested to see what they do in future.

bobxxxbob's picture

How do they compare to DT-1350 considering only the sound quality?

Tyll Hertsens's picture DT1350 is warmer with more rolled off highs, but I hear often that the DT1350 varies quite a bit in the nature of their sound. They're both pretty good though.

Blok's picture

First of all, I'd like to say I really enjoyed reading this article. Well done Tyll!

I'm thinking about purchasing the Focal Spirit One for portable use and would like to use them in combination with the Pico DAC/Amp. Do you think this would be a good combination?

Tyll Hertsens's picture

Love the HeadAmp Pico/DAC!

ultrabike's picture

Great article Tyll, Thanks!

10DeeQ's picture

hi Tyll

compared to V-Moda M-100

which one is better for Rnb and pop top 40 music ?
and also which one is more comfortable.


another thing is that have you ever tried or reviewed the Venture craft Go-Dap ?

the DAC+amp combo for iphone ?
thank you.

DanTheMan's picture

I knew these had potential to be great cans, but all the negative reviews kept me from getting them.  These are now high on my list of headphone desires.



yupachups's picture

Hello Tyll,

it's been a while that i follow your reviews. I just wanted to share my experience with the Focal.

I also was an owner of the Focal S1 last summer, but i kept it only 2h before returning it. The reasons are simple :

They are ssimply too small for my big head and when extended to the maximum, you see that the hoop might break by putting it on your head repeatedly. 

as comparison, i had the Grado sr80, the senn HD 497, audio thechnica, akg 242 etc.. and they fitted well. 

Focal customer relation told me that they passed the word to their engineers for their next product.... hope it's true 

funambulistic's picture


Love your reviews and the site! I bought these at a discounted price last year when they were offered on Touch of Modern based on some favorable professional reviews. I loved the way they sounded (which is the most important thing, of course) but was getting worried when they started getting bashed on amateur sites (are my ears that "off"?) and reports of the problems cropping up (did I buy a lemon?). It had been many, many years since I purchased a "serious" pair of 'phones (remember the 80's Sennheisers with the yellow foam?) and thought I had maybe made a mistake (still loved the way they sounded, though). I thoroughly enjoyed this in-depth review (manufacturing warts and all) and feel a bit vindicated in my decision and my ears! If this is just the start for Focal, I can't wait to see what they have in store next.

Thanks again and keep up the excellent work!


artfuldawdger's picture

Can you give me a quick idea of how to get this guy open ? Want to get a look at the drivers and the chamber. 

Thanks !

Randy's picture

Like your style. And Gratis. We can tell you're good at what you do.

I think I'll get me a Focal, The momentum are just as you said, 

Randy's picture

Like your style. And Gratis. We can tell you're good at what you do.

I think I'll get me a Focal, The momentum are just as you said, 

NMora's picture

After reading the review I located a pair of Spirit Ones at a local dealer in Miami FL.
He carries the car audio speakers and not headphones usually.
Everything was going great, properly broken in, and slowly easing into the new cans.
Out of the blue, the right side stopped working. No sound, nothing, DEAD.
I have tried talking to Focal about this, unfortunately I cannot find a copy of the sales receipt and Focal wont help with out it.
What to do?

t3rrorbl4d3's picture

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CJ2418's picture

I want to have one
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One Dam's picture

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MarkoPolo's picture

great job, your reviews are very clear and straight to the point!

would you mind telling us if you have compared Beyerdynamic CustomOnePro vs Focal Spirit One and what is your opinion (choice)?

thx in advance!

denny's picture

As the technology enhancing there are many changes happens in head phones and all. This is the best example for that. The video which you posted here was very helpful for me to understand its use. Hope it provides a new experience to the users.