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Focal Bathys Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Reviewed Feb 09, 2023 at 11:06 am
Focal Bathys Wireless Picture
7.4
Neutral Sound
7.6
Commute/Travel
7.1
Sports/Fitness
7.2
Office
5.8
Wireless Gaming
7.1
Wired Gaming
6.8
Phone Calls

The Focal Bathys Wireless are versatile high-end audiophile headphones designed for on-the-go listening. They're Focal's first pair of noise cancelling (ANC) headphones, but they also support aptX Adaptive codec for streaming high-quality audio via Bluetooth. If you prefer a wired connection, their USB-DAC mode converts digital audio signals from your device into an analog signal up to a resolution of 24 bits/192 kHz. They even have a companion app with a graphic EQ and presets, meaning you can finetune their sound to your liking. While they straddle both the casual and audiophile markets, there are a few design and performance choices that may not completely satisfy either crowd, especially given their high price point.

Our Verdict

7.4 Neutral Sound

The Focal Bathys are decent for neutral sound. These over-ears have a bass-rich sound profile, which is well-suited for genres like EDM and hip-hop. They have extra thump, punch, and warmth to their sound, but vocals and instruments sound dull and veiled. On the upside, you can customize their sound using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets. You can also switch to the USB-DAC mode if you're looking to stream audio in high resolution, or you can use aptX Adaptive via Bluetooth if your device supports it.

Pros
  • USB-DAC mode available.
Cons
  • Poor passive soundstage.
7.6 Commute/Travel

The Focal Bathys are good for commute and travel. Although they're bulky, even in their carrying case, they have a comfortable fit suitable for long listening sessions and are well-built. They have an ANC system to help block out some of the low rumble of bus or plane engines, and their battery life easily lasts through long days on the go.

Pros
  • Very good noise isolation performance.
  • Very comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Poor passive soundstage.
7.1 Sports/Fitness

The Focal Bathys aren't designed for sports and fitness. They're bulky, heavy, and can fall off of your head with moderate head movements. On the upside, their wireless design ensures that there isn't much to snag and pull the headphones off your head.

Pros
  • Very comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Can fall off of your head with moderate movement.
7.2 Office

The Focal Bathys are decent for office use. These over-ears have a very comfortable fit, and their ANC system easily blocks background noise like coworker chit-chat so you can focus on your work. Even though they have an integrated mic, the recording quality is only passable. The headphones don't support multi-device pairing either, so you can't connect them to more than one device at a time.

Pros
  • Very good noise isolation performance.
  • Very comfortable fit.
Cons
  • No multi-device pairing.
  • Poor passive soundstage.
5.8 Wireless Gaming

The Focal Bathys are Bluetooth headphones, and their latency is likely too high for gaming.

7.1 Wired Gaming

The Focal Bathys are satisfactory for wired gaming if you don't need mic support. They can only be used via analog and have a bass-rich sound that helps emphasize sound effects like footsteps in your gameplay. They also have a comfortable fit that's well-suited for long gaming marathons. However, their closed-back design means that their soundstage won't be very immersive, natural, or spacious.

Pros
  • Very comfortable fit.
Cons
  • No mic support via analog.
6.8 Phone Calls

The Focal Bathys are okay for phone calls. These over-ears have an integrated mic, but it only offers a passable recording quality, so while you'll be understandable, your voice sounds thin and a bit unnatural. The mic can separate your voice from ambient noise, which is handy when taking a call from a noisy environment. The headphones also have an ANC system; they can reduce a very good amount of ambient noise around you.

Pros
  • Mic has decent noise handling.
Cons
  • No multi-device pairing.
  • 7.4 Neutral Sound
  • 7.6 Commute/Travel
  • 7.1 Sports/Fitness
  • 7.2 Office
  • 5.8 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.1 Wired Gaming
  • 6.8 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Feb 09, 2023: Review published.
  2. Updated Feb 03, 2023: Early access published.

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Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Focal Bathys come in one color variant: 'Black/Grey'. You can see our model's label here. If you come across another variant of these headphones, please let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The Focal Bathys are high-end wireless audiophile headphones designed with casual use in mind. They have a premium design that's typical of this manufacturer's other offerings, like the Focal Celestee and Focal Clear Mg. However, they also have a noise cancelling system, aptX Adaptive codec support, and a companion app for customizing their bass-rich sound to your liking, making them more versatile than their strictly audiophile counterparts. While they don't block out quite as much ambient noise as the Apple AirPods Max Wireless, they can still reduce a very good amount of sound around you. Despite their high-end price point, they don't have features like multi-device pairing, and you can't fully turn off their ANC system.

Check out our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones, the best headphones for music, and the best audiophile headphones.

Focal Celestee

If you care about sound, the Focal Celestee are worth checking out over the Focal Bathys Wireless. The Celestee are wired headphones that are better built and more comfortable. They're more prone to inconsistencies in audio delivery but have a more neutral overall sound profile, which some users may prefer. However, the Bathys are worth considering if you're looking for something more casual-use. They're wireless headphones with a USB-DAC mode to help raise the volume of your audio. They have a mic, a companion app, so you can adjust their sound to your liking, and ANC, meaning you can block out ambient noise around you.

Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless

The Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless are better casual-use headphones than the Focal Bathys Wireless. The Sony have a better noise isolation performance, support LDAC, which is this manufacturer's proprietary codec for hi-res audio, and their mic performance is better. They also have a better overall battery performance, their app offers more features, and they support multi-device pairing, meaning you can stay connected with more than one device at a time. However, the Focal are more comfortable and better built. Some users may prefer their integrated USB-DAC design.

Focal Elegia

The Focal Elegia are a better choice than the Focal Bathys Wireless if you prioritize sound. The Elegia are wired headphones that are more comfortable, better built, and have a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer. However, if you're looking for more casual use headphones, you'll want to consider the Bathys. They're wireless headphones with USB-DAC mode, which converts a digital audio signal into an analog signal and reduces artifacts in your audio. They have a companion app so you can customize their sound to your liking and noise cancelling to help block background noise around you.

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Wireless

The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Wireless and the Focal Bathys Wireless are casual-use headphones with different strengths, and you may prefer either one. While both headphones are comfortable and have similar levels of noise cancelling, the Bowers & Wilkins are better-built and have a better overall battery performance. They also support multi-device pairing. Conversely, the Focal sound more neutral out of the box, which some users may prefer, and are more customizable. Their mic has a better overall performance, and they have a USB-DAC mode, which converts your device's digital audio signal into an analog signal and reduces distortion.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Focal Bathys look quite similar in design to other Focal headphones like the Focal Celestee. However, if you have trypophobia (or a fear of holes), you'll want to avoid looking too closely at them. They have aluminum ear cups with a circular cut-out design. In the middle of the ear cup is the manufacturer's logo, which has a white backlight when using the DAC mode. They only come in one color variant: 'Black/Grey'.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.79 lbs
Clamping Force
1.2 lbs

These headphones are comfortable. They're not as heavy as other Focal headphones like the Focal Clear Mg, and have soft padding, which feels good against the skin. This ensures you can wear them for long periods without causing a lot of fatigue. They clamp tightly on your head, and if you wear glasses or have a larger head, you'll experience more pressure from the headphones.

7.6
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Decent
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control Presets
Talk-Through
On/Off
Additional Controls Multi function + Voice Assistant

The controls are good. They have physical buttons on both ear cups that are easy to use. There are different chimes to let you know when you've registered a command, and there's also a tone when you reach max volume. However, you can't hear the max volume chime if you're already listening to music. That said, it's hard to tell the difference between chimes when switching between ANC modes. There are also no voice prompts when using the controls via USB-DAC mode.

On the left ear cup:

  • ANC/Transparency button: Cycles between 'Silent' (ANC on), 'Soft' (ANC at moderate strength), and 'Transparency' (transparency mode) when held for two seconds, so you can hear your surroundings without taking off your headphones.

On the right ear cup:

  • '+' and '-' buttons: Adjusts the volume.
  • Voice assistant button: Activates your device's voice assistant.
  • Multi-function button:

    • Single press: Plays and pauses audio.
    • Double press: Skips to the next track.
    • Triple press: Skips to the previous track.
    • Press and hold: Enters Bluetooth pairing.
    • Switch

    • Slide left or right: Moves between off, DAC (USB audio or only ANC), and on (analog or Bluetooth) modes.

5.7
Design
Portability
L 7.9" (20.0 cm)
W 7.9" (20.0 cm)
H 2.4" (6.0 cm)
Volume 140.90 inยณ (2,308.90 cmยณ)
Transmitter Required No

The Focal Bathys aren't very portable. Although the ear cups can swivel to lay flat, you can't fold them into a more compact form.

8.0
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 9.0" (22.8 cm)
W 8.2" (20.9 cm)
H 2.6" (6.7 cm)
Volume 140.90 inยณ (2,308.90 cmยณ)

They come with a great carrying case. It's smaller than other Focal cases, which helps make them a bit more portable, although it doesn't feel as premium. The case also feels sturdy and will protect the headphones from water and impact damage. Inside the case is a storage space and a mesh pocket to securely place the cables.

8.0
Design
Build Quality

These headphones have great build quality. Although they look cheaper than other Focal headphones like the Focal Clear Mg or Focal Celestee due to their more plasticky ear cup housing, a few of their design choices reflect their premium build. What aligns them with their audiophile counterparts is that their aluminum-magnesium dynamic drivers are made in France, even though the headphones are made in China. There's leather padding on the ear cups and on top of the headband. The headband is also reinforced with metal and has a soft fabric bottom that's well-padded. Each ear cup has a mesh vent and the Focal centerpiece lights up when connected via DAC.

7.0
Design
Stability

These over-ears have decent stability. If you're casually listening to music, they won't move around much. That said, if you like to headbang to your favorite tunes, they can fall off if you're not careful.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Focal Bathys headphones
  • 1/8" to 1/8" TRS audio cable
  • USB-C to USB-C cable
  • Hard case
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
1.75 dB
Treble Amount
-1.59 dB

Using them via Bluetooth, the Focal Bathys have a bass-rich sound profile. They deliver extra boom, punch, and warmth to mixes. That said, vocals and instruments are nudged a bit back in the mix and sound veiled. Sibilants like cymbals are also dull. Luckily, if you prefer a different sound, you can adjust them to your liking using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets to your liking.

You can also use these headphones wired via 'DAC' mode. Many users have reported that this connection results in the best audio quality. You can see a comparison between the Bluetooth, DAC, and analog frequency responses here. Overall, there isn't a difference in measured frequency responses between the different modes. However, one of the notable changes is in volume. The DAC connection delivers a higher volume than Bluetooth. Before firmware update 1.4.2, the headphones would automatically default to 100% volume on PCs when switching to DAC mode, which is very, very loud. It seems like this issue was fixed with this firmware update, but if you encounter it, please let us know in the discussions. In addition, we also experienced a small rattling sound coming from the right driver when connected via analog. It was only audible when using this connection and with low to no audio content playing. This issue could be limited to our unit, though.

8.1
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.38 dB

The Focal Bathys' frequency response consistency is great. They deliver bass very consistently but are more prone to deviations in treble delivery due to positioning and fit. Once you get a good fit, you'll achieve more consistent audio delivery.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
9.6
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
0.49 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
12.42 Hz
Low-Bass
-0.78 dB
Mid-Bass
-0.46 dB
High-Bass
-0.12 dB

The bass accuracy is outstanding. The range is very flat and neutral, resulting in accurate thump, punch, and boom. Songs with a rumbly bassline, like 2020 by SUUNS, sound full-bodied and warm.

7.4
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.43 dB
Low-Mid
0.02 dB
Mid-Mid
-4.47 dB
High-Mid
-3.18 dB

These headphones have decent mid accuracy. The low-mid is pretty flat and neutral, which ensures that vocals and instruments are present. The mid to high-mid are underemphasized, pushing vocals and instruments to the back of the mix and weakening them.

5.5
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
6.39 dB
Low-Treble
-4.33 dB
Mid-Treble
-2.61 dB
High-Treble
-6.92 dB

The Focal Bathys' treble accuracy is sub-par. The whole range is underemphasized, veiling vocals and instruments and hurting their detail. Sibilants like S and T sounds are also dull.

7.0
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.79 dB
Dips
2.01 dB

The peaks and dips performance via Bluetooth is satisfactory. The bass range is pretty flat, indicating there isn't much deviation from the sound profile in this range. A small bump in the low-mid slightly muddies vocals and instruments, while a dip in the mid-mid pushes them to the back of the mix. There's another peak in the high-mid, which makes vocals and instruments sound harsh, but the uneven low-treble both veils and brightens these sounds. The low-treble is also very uneven, so sibilants like hi-hats are lispy and piercing.

If you switch to the USB-DAC mode, you can expect similar peaks and dips performance. However, there's a slight mismatch between the left and the right drivers in the Bluetooth's high-mid, which shifts to the DAC's low-treble range and is a bit more noticeable. The right driver is more emphasized, making vocals and instruments harsher than the fairly neutral left driver. However, the rest of the DAC's peaks and dips response is largely the same as the Bluetooth response.

9.0
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.14
Weighted Phase Mismatch
2.12
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.49
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.57

The Focal Bathys have outstanding imaging via Bluetooth, which isn't surprising. This manufacturer is known for their driver's craftsmanship, and most of the products we've tested from them have well-matched drivers. Our unit is no exception, and the L/R drivers are matched in group delay, ensuring tight bass and transparent treble. They're also well-matched in phase, amplitude, and frequency response, which results in the accurate placement of objects like voices in the stereo image. Even if you switch to the USB-DAC mode, you can expect imaging to perform similarly compared to Bluetooth.

4.5
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
4.83 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
6.91 dB
PRTF Distance
7.44 dB
Openness
2.1
Acoustic Space Excitation
3.6

The passive soundstage performance via Bluetooth is poor. Since they have a closed-back design, their soundstage doesn't feel very open or spacious. It also feels wide but a bit unnatural. Sound seems like it's coming from inside your head rather than from speakers placed in the room around you, which doesn't create a very immersive audio experience.

Using the USB-DAC mode, the passive soundstage results are very similar. Their soundstage feels a bit less open and more like sound is coming from inside your head.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No
7.8
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.306
WHD @ 100
0.115

The weighted harmonic distortion performance via Bluetooth is very good. There's a small peak between the low to mid-treble at normal volumes. However, it can be hard to hear in real-life content. The rest of the frequencies fall within good limits, resulting in fairly clear and pure audio reproduction.

Using the USB-DAC mode, you can expect a similar weighted harmonic distortion performance. Audio is reproduced fairly clearly, although there's still a minor peak in the low to mid-treble range. This peak, like the one found in our Bluetooth results, is hard to hear with real-life content.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
1.4.2
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 5.0
Codec
aptX, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
Silent
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
Integrated

These are the settings used to test these headphones. Our results are only valid when used in this configuration. Although they support aptX Adaptive and this codec is backward-compatible with aptX HD, our test instrument would only alternate between SBC and aptX codecs.

Isolation
7.9
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-22.71 dB
Noise Cancelling Yes
Bass
-13.95 dB
Mid
-20.49 dB
Treble
-34.2 dB

Unlike most audiophile headphones, the Focal Bathys have a noise cancelling (ANC) system and have very good noise isolation. Although blocking out the low rumble of car engines isn't their strong suit, they can reduce ambient chatter and the high-pitched hum of computer fans well. The ANC has a couple of settings: 'Silent', which is ANC on at full strength, 'Soft', which is moderate noise cancelling, and 'Transparent', which is the transparency mode. You can also use ANC while using the DAC mode, though it performs similarly to ANC via Bluetooth. That said, you can see a comparison of all the modes here. Also, our 'ANC Off' measurements are conducted with the headphones turned off.

These headphones have a noticeable noise floor when the ANC is on. This unwanted noise can be annoying for some users, especially if you're already sensitive to this kind of sound.

6.9
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
39.93 dB

The Focal Bathys' leakage performance is alright. Leakage is spread across the frequency spectrum but is slightly worse from the mid to treble range. This means the audio bleed sounds somewhat thin. If you're listening to audio in a quiet environment, others around you will hear it. It shouldn't be too noticeable in a busier space like an office.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
Mic Yes
6.4
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
364.41 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
5.86 dB
HFE
4,763.35 Hz
Weighted THD
0.526
Gain
18.34 dB

The mic has a passable recording quality via Bluetooth. Your voice is understandable, but it sounds thin and a bit unnatural.

If you're using the DAC setting, your voice seems a little muffled and thin. It's still understandable, though. You can here the recording speech file using this mode here.

7.0
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
26.83 dB
Noise Gate
Always On
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
7.0
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
7.0
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample

The mic's noise handling performance via Bluetooth is satisfactory. The mic can capture speech, even in noisy environments like a busy street, and it does a better job in this regard than competitors like the Sony WH-100XM4 Wireless. However, there's some vocal distortion present.

When using the DAC mode, the noise handling performance is somewhat similar. Your voice doesn't get completely lost in background noise, but it's a bit quieter and harder to hear than via Bluetooth. You can hear the pink noise audio sample here and subway noise audio sample here.

Active Features
7.9
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
29.1 hrs
Additional Charges
0.0
Total Battery Life
29.1 hrs
Charge Time
2 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Standby mode
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port USB-C

The Focal Bathys have a very good battery performance. The manufacturer advertises them to last 30 hours continuously via Bluetooth, and we measured a similar playtime. While you can use them wired, they still use the battery to power their ANC system, which you can't turn off. Even though the headphones also seem like they can charge and play audio simultaneously, since the LED indicator lights up and suggests that they're charging, the manufacturer notes that you're not supposed to use them this way.

7.0
Active Features
App Support
App Name Focal & Naim
iOS Yes
Android Yes
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
Graphic + Presets
ANC Control
Presets
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

The Focal & Naim app is decent, and you can see a video of how it works here. The app is fairly basic, but it offers a 5-band graphic EQ and presets to help you adjust their sound. You need to be playing audio to adjust the EQ, though. In addition to sound customization, you can also check the battery life and audio format as well as adjust noise cancelling modes and update the firmware. You can even adjust the LED logo light's brightness. Keep in mind that if you made changes in the app in Bluetooth mode, they'll apply in DAC mode, even though you can't use this connection with the app.

Unfortunately, some users have experienced issues when using the app to update their headphones. When updating to firmware 1.4.2, the app would freeze once the installation had reached 100%. After encountering this issue a couple of times, we uninstalled the app, restarted the phone, and installed the app again, which seemed to solve our issue. If you encounter this issue, please let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Connectivity
7.2
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.1
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
334.65 ft (102.00 m)
PC Latency (SBC)
271 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
254 ms
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
48 ms
Android Latency
69 ms

These headphones have a satisfactory Bluetooth performance. Unfortunately, they don't support multi-device or NFC pairing, so you can't connect them with more than one device at a time. They support aptX Adaptive, which is backward-compatible with aptX HD. These codecs are designed for streaming hi-res audio content with better audio quality. However, we don't currently have a way to test for aptX Adaptive, and we can't isolate aptX HD latency either. That said, they have high latency on PCs, whether by SBC or aptX codecs, and you'll notice your audio and visuals fall out of sync. Their latency is lower on iOS and Android devices, making this connection a solid choice for streaming audio. Latency varies as some apps compensate for it, though.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
8.5
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
USB-C
Detachable Yes
Length 4.17 ft (1.27 m)
Connection
1/8" TRS
Analog/USB Audio Latency
55 ms

The Focal Bathys come with a 1/8" to 1/8" TRS cable as well as a USB-C to USB-C cable. The USB cable supports audio passthrough and has somewhat low latency, reducing lip sync issues.

Connectivity
PC Compatibility
Analog
Audio Only
Wired USB
Audio + Microphone
Non-BT Wireless
No

The Focal Bathys can connect to PCs via Bluetooth with full audio and mic compatibility. They can also connect to PCs via analog, but they only support audio using this cable. If you're using wired USB, you'll get full audio and mic compatibility.

Connectivity
PlayStation Compatibility
PS4 Analog
Audio Only
PS4 Wired USB
No
PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
PS5 Analog
Audio Only
PS5 Wired USB
No
PS5 Non-BT Wireless
No

These headphones can only connect to your PlayStation console via analog, and you'll only receive audio. If you try to use the DAC mode on PS5, you can't receive audio or use the mic.

Connectivity
Xbox Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio Only
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
Xbox Series X|S Analog
Audio Only
Xbox Series X|S Wired USB
No
Xbox Series X|S Non-BT Wireless
No

These headphones support audio only via analog.

0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

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