Updated Apr 10, 2019 at 10:31 am

Focal Stellia HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.3.1
5.9
Mixed Usage
7.2
Neutral Sound
5.9
Commute/Travel
5.3
Sports/Fitness
6.2
Office
4.6
Wireless Gaming
6.4
Wired Gaming
2.2
Phone Call
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : No
Transducer : Dynamic

The Focal Stellia are premium closed-back over-ear headphones that are outstandingly well-built. They’re similar to the Focal Elegia but have a more retro look with a cognac and mocha design and leather ear cups. They come with a great hard carrying case and detachable braided cables that include a 1/4" TRS adapter and an XLR cable. Like the Elegia, they’re a bit more versatile than the Focal Elear since their closed-back design isolates a bit more noise; however, they’re still bulky headphones that aren’t the best for use on-the-go, especially since they don’t have a microphone or any in-line controls. That said, they have a well-balanced sound and are comfortable enough to wear for long listening sessions, which makes them a good choice for critical listening.

Test Results
Design 7.1
Isolation 5.9
Microphone 0
Active Features 0
Connectivity 3.8
Pros
  • Premium design and build quality.
  • Good audio reproduction.
  • Comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Bulky design.
  • Bass delivery varies across users. Sensitive to glasses.
  1. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  2. Update 11/6/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.

Check Price

7.1

Design

The Focal Stellia are high-end wired closed-back over-ear headphones. They’re outstandingly well-crafted with a premium metal and leather build. The Stellia have a more retro look than the similarly designed Elegia, which makes them stand out a bit more. They have thick padding around the ear cups and headband and are very comfortable headphones. Like the Focal Elegia, the Stellia don’t have a very breathable or portable design but do come with a great hard carrying case for traveling. Although they don’t have an in-line remote with any controls, their closed-back design makes them a bit more versatile than the open-back Focal Elear, and they come with a 1/4” TRS adapter and an XLR cable for use with various forms of audio gear.

Style

The Focal Stellia look great. They share the same design language as the Focal Elegia but have a more retro look with a cognac and mocha color scheme. The headband is well-padded and covered in full grain cognac leather. The yokes and back of the ear cups are also cognac in color but are made of metal. The ear cups are plush and densely padded with mocha leather covers. The Stellia are reminiscent of vintage leather headphones and have a design that stands out a lot more than that of the Elegia or the Elear.

8.0 Comfort
Weight : 0.98 lbs
Clamping Force
:
1.0 lbs

The Stellia are very comfortable over-ear headphones. Their headband is well-padded and their ear cups are large and deep. They’re lighter than the Focal Elear and although they are a bit bulky, they don’t feel fatiguing to wear over long periods of time. The leather ear cups feel pleasing on the skin and seal a bit better than the fabric coating of the Focal Elegia, but they may not seal as well on everyone and can create gaps around the ears.

0 Controls
OS Compatibility
:
Not OS specific
Ease of use : N/A
Feedback : N/A
Call/Music Control : No
Volume Control : No
Microphone Control : N/A
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
:
N/A
Additional Buttons : N/A

These headphones do not have an in-line remote with controls.

5.7 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 7.8 C

Like most closed-back over-ear headphones, the Focal Stellia aren’t very breathable. Their leather ear cups are comfortable but also trap a fair bit of heat around your ears. They won’t be ideal for sports as you will sweat more than usual with these headphones on. It should be noted that these headphones fit somewhat awkwardly on our testing equipment, so we had to find a way to make them fit more tightly, which means the results may be warmer than what you would experience on a normal head with a normal fit.

5.2 Portability
L : 8.5 "
W : 7.5 "
H : 4.1 "
Volume : 261 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

Like most over-ear headphones, the Focal Stellia are not very portable. They don’t fold into a more compact format and their ear cups don’t swivel to lay flat. They come with a nice carrying case to protect them when you’re out and about, but it adds additional bulk.

8.0 Case
Type : Hard case
L : 8.5 "
W : 9.5 "
H : 4.7 "
Volume : 380 Cu. Inches

The Stellia come with a large hard carrying case that helps protect the headphones against scratches, water exposure, and physical damage. The interior is molded to snugly fit the headphones and technically fits the Focal Elegia and Elear as well.

9.0 Build Quality

The Focal Stellia are outstandingly well-built headphones. They are made nearly exclusively of metal and have very few moving parts, which makes them feel durable and solid. The ear cup padding and headband have full-grain leather covers, which lends a very high-end feel to the headphones. The cognac leather finish does stain easily, but this is to be expected of a natural leather product. The headphones come with a thick detachable braided cable that can be replaced if broken, but don’t come with extra ear pads like the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO.

6.0 Stability

The Stellia have a stable enough fit to remain on your head during casual or critical listening sessions but won’t be ideal for sports, as expected. If you attempt to run or work out with these headphones, they are likely to fall off. They’re fine otherwise, though, so you shouldn’t have a problem with them wiggling around too much unless you’re making exaggerated movements.

Headshots 1
Headshots 2
Top

Sound

They have deep, punchy bass, a well-balanced mid-range, and good treble. However, their bass delivery is inconsistent, especially if you wear glasses. Their mid-range is also overemphasized a bit, which brings vocals and instruments slightly to the front of the mix, and their treble sounds a little veiled. That said, their sound is still versatile for a wide variety of music genres and is particularly well-suited to more vocal-centric music.

Sound Profile
Bass Amount
:
-1.76 db
Treble Amount
:
-2.91 db
5.7 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
1.1 dB

The Stellia have sub-par frequency response consistency. Their bass delivery is quite consistent across our human subjects, with the exception of the one who wears glasses. If you have a lot of hair between the headphones and your ear, or wear glasses, then you may experience a noticeable drop in bass. The maximum deviation at 20Hz is about 8dB for our human subjects. There’s also a fair amount of inconsistency in the treble range, with up to 10dB of deviation depending on the position of the headphones on our dummy head. This means that your treble response may change as the headphones move around on your head.

8.7 Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
:
1.84 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
:
-1.06 dB
Mid-Bass
:
1.98 dB
High-Bass
:
2.22 dB

The Focal Stellia have great bass. Low-frequency extension (LFE) is at 10Hz and low-bass is within about 1dB of our neutral target, which means these headphones have deep and extended bass with an appropriate amount of thump and rumble. This makes them suitable for bass-heavy music like hip-hop, EDM, and film scores. There’s a 3dB bump that begins in mid-bass and continues into high-bass, however, which can make these headphones sound a bit boomy and muddy.

However, it is worth noting that their bass delivery varies significantly across users, and is sensitive to the quality of fit, seal, and whether you wear glasses. This represents the average bass response, and your experience may vary.

8.5 Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
:
2.03 dB
Low-Mid
:
0.36 dB
Mid-Mid
:
1.92 dB
High-Mid
:
2.64 dB

The mid-range is great. The response is even and flat throughout the range and is within about 3dB of our target curve. This suggests an overall clear and balanced reproduction of vocals and lead instruments, however, the slight overemphasis in the high-mids results in vocals and leads that may sound a bit forward.

7.8 Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
:
3.69 dB
Low-Treble
:
-0.82 dB
Mid-Treble
:
-2.51 dB
High-Treble
:
-3.91 dB

The Focal Stellia have good treble performance. The response is relatively well-balanced, which is important for producing accurate vocals and lead instruments. However, it is slightly veiled. The dip from 4kHz to 8kHz will have a small negative effect on the brightness and detail of the vocals and instruments. That said, not everyone experiences treble frequencies the same way so your listening experience may differ.

7.8 Peaks/Dips
Peaks
:
1.31 db
Dips
:
1.44 db
8.1 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.32
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
1.13
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
2.19
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
5.18

The imaging performance is very good. Weighted group delay is at 0.32, which is great. The group delay graph also shows that the entire group delay response is below the audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the left and right drivers of our test unit were well-matched in frequency, amplitude, and phase. This is important for the proper placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video game effects) in the stereo field. However, these results are only valid for our test unit, and yours may perform differently.

4.6 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
3.26 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
2.0 dB
PRTF Distance
:
6.66 dB
Openness
:
4.3
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
4.3

The Stellia have a poor soundstage. The PRTF graph shows that the response doesn’t follow our reference very closely. There’s a limited amount of pinna interaction and activation, and there is no 10kHz notch present either. Since creating a speaker-like soundstage is dependent on the amount and accuracy of pinna interaction, these results suggest the Stellia’s soundstage will be perceived as relatively small and located inside the listener's head. Also, because the Stellia are closed-back headphones, they will feel less open than the open-back Focal Elear.

8.1 Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
:
0.230
WHD @ 100
:
0.078
5.9

Isolation

The Focal Stellia have mediocre isolation performance, which makes them less ideal for use during your daily commute or while traveling than noise cancelling headphones. They will let in the low rumbles of bus and plane engines since they don’t block lower frequencies. They can block a fair amount of ambient chatter if you get a decent seal around your ears, and results will be even better when playing music. However, people surrounding you might hear what you’re listening to in quieter environments. This shouldn't be too much of a problem in moderately loud situations, though, since the overall level of their leakage isn’t too high.

5.7 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-13.77 dB
Bass
:
0.41 dB
Mid
:
-14.82 dB
Treble
:
-28.44 dB

The Stellia have mediocre noise isolation. These headphones don't have active noise cancelling and therefore don’t isolate in the bass range. This means they let in the deep rumbles of bus and airplane engines. They do alright at blocking out speech, isolating in the mid-range by about 15dB. They perform fairly well in the treble range, responsible for sharp sounds like S and T sibilants or A/C fan unit noises, isolating by about 28 dB.

6.3 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
43.49 dB

Their leakage performance is unremarkable. The significant portion of their leakage is spread between 500Hz and 5.5kHz, which is a relatively broad spectrum concentrated in the mid and treble ranges. Therefore, their leakage will sound fuller than that of in-ears and earbuds, but not as loud and full as open-back headphones. However, the overall level of the leakage is not too loud. At 100dB SPL, the average leakage at a 1-foot distance was 43dB and peaked at 61dB, which is about the average office noise floor.

0

Microphone

Integrated
:
N/A
In-line
:
N/A
Boom
:
N/A
Detachable Boom
:
N/A

The Focal Stellia are designed for critical listening and don’t have an integrated, in-line, or boom microphone.

0 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
N/A
LFE
:
N/A
FR Std. Dev.
:
N/A
HFE
:
N/A
Weighted THD
:
N/A
Gain
:
N/A

These headphones don’t have a microphone.

0 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise : N/A
Speech + Subway Noise : N/A
SpNR
:
N/A

These headphones don’t have a microphone.

0

Active Features

The Focal Stellia are passive, wired headphones that don’t have a battery nor a companion app.

N/A Battery
Battery Type
:
N/A
Continuous Battery Life
:
N/A
Additional Charges
:
N/A
Total Battery Life
:
N/A
Charge Time
:
N/A
Power Saving Feature
:
N/A
Audio while charging
:
N/A
Passive Playback
:
N/A
Charging Port : N/A

These headphones don’t require a battery.

0 App Support
App Name : N/A
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
macOS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
N/A
ANC control
:
N/A
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
:
N/A
Playback control
:
N/A
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

There is no companion app for the Focal Stellia.

3.8

Connectivity

The Focal Stellia are wired headphones that don’t support Bluetooth wireless, so you’re limited by their 4-foot long TRS cable or their 10-foot XLR cable. They can be connected to PCs and consoles with their 1/8” TRS connection, and they also come with a 1/4” TRS adapter. They have virtually no latency, which is great for watching videos or gaming without a microphone.

0 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
:
N/A
NFC Pairing
:
N/A
Line of Sight Range
:
N/A
Default Latency
:
N/A
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

The Stellia don’t support Bluetooth.

Since the Focal Stellia are wired headphones, they have virtually no latency, which is great for gaming or watching videos.

0 Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line of Sight Range
:
N/A
Non-BT Latency
:
N/A
9.5 Wired
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
No
Detachable : Yes
Length : 4 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS
Wired Latency
:
0 ms

The Focal Stellia have a 1/8” TRS connection that provides audio on consoles and PC as well. They also come with a 1/4” adapter and an XLR cable for compatibility with different amps, receivers, or other forms of audio gear.

PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC / PS4 Analog
:
Audio Only
PC / PS4 Wired USB
:
No
PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless
:
No
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Wired USB
:
No
Xbox One Wireless
:
No
0 Base/Dock
Type
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A

These headphones don’t come with a dock.

In the box

  • Focal Stellia headphones
  • 4-foot 1/8” TRS cable
  • 1/4” TRS adapter
  • 10-foot XLR cable
  • Carrying case
  • Manuals with faux leather wallet

Compared to other Headphones

The Focal Stellia are remarkably well-crafted critical listening headphones that stand out thanks to the premium materials used in their build. They have a straightforward wired design and well-balanced sound but aren’t very versatile since they don’t block much noise and are a bit bulky. They look great, but may not provide as much value as other models in the Focal lineup. If you’re looking for other high-end headphones for critical listening, check out our recommendations for the best audiophile headphones. See also our recommendations for the best closed-back headphones and the best headphones for studio use.

Focal Elegia
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Focal Stellia and the Focal Elegia are very similar closed-back critical listening headphones. They’re both very well-built, comfortable headphones. The Elegia have a more understated design whereas the Stellia have a retro look that stands out more. Some people may find the leather ear cups of the Stellia more pleasing on the skin and they also come with an XLR cable, which is a nice touch. They sound fairly similar overall, but the Stellia’s bass is a bit punchier and their treble is slightly less underemphasized. Overall, it comes down to personal preference and taste; however, the Elegia provide better value for most. That said, if you’re looking for a more premium listening experience, the Stellia may be worth the investment.

Sennheiser HD 820
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Focal Stellia are slightly better headphones than the Sennheiser HD 820. The Stellia are better-built and feel like more premium headphones. The Sennheiser are mostly made of plastic and, although they feel durable, they don’t feel quite as luxurious as the metal and leather build of the Stellia. Both headphones perform reasonably similar sound-wise, but the HD 820 sound a bit boxier. They’re similar headphones otherwise, so your decision will mostly come down to preference.

Focal Elear
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Focal Elear are better critical listening headphones than the Focal Stellia, but the Stellia are a bit more versatile. The Elear are open-back headphones that produce a more spacious soundstage than the Stellia; however, they’re a bit bass-light. Although the Elear provide better value for use in a quiet listening room, the Stellia have deeper bass and also isolate more noise, which is better for use in environments with more ambient noise.

Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO are better closed-back critical listening headphones for most people than the Focal Stellia. Their treble response is less veiled, and their bass response is slightly more balanced. They also come with additional ear cups and come with a longer, coiled audio cable. The Stellia do have a more premium look and feel, though, and come with a better carrying case. The Stellia are worth considering if you prefer their more premium design, but the DT 1770 PRO provide better value overall.

5.9 Mixed Usage

The Stellia are mediocre for mixed usage. Although they’re good, comfortable, critical listening headphones, their design isn’t versatile enough to be adequate for any other use case. Their premium build is durable but bulky, which makes these headphones difficult to grab and stash in your bag when you’re on the run to work or heading to the gym. They’re very comfortable, which is great for use at the office or while commuting but they don’t isolate very much noise, so they might not be ideal. Since they’re wired they have no latency, which is great for watching TV or gaming, but they don’t have a microphone or any in-line controls and their short TRS cable is a bit restrictive.

7.2 Neutral Sound

Good for neutral listening. The Focal Stellia have a fairly balanced sound with overall good audio reproduction. They have deep, punchy bass, an even and flat mid-range, and good treble. However, their bass response is sensitive to fit and whether you wear glasses, their mid-range is a bit overemphasized which can make vocals and leads sound slightly forward, and their treble is somewhat veiled, which can negatively affect brightness and detail. Overall, they sound versatile enough to accommodate most genres of music and are comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time.

5.9 Commute/Travel

The Stellia are subpar for commute or travel. Although they’re very comfortable headphones and come with a great hard carrying case, their isolation performance is mediocre. They isolate more noise than the open-back Focal Elear, but they still let in all the low rumbles of bus and plane engines. They’re also quite bulky and can be cumbersome to carry around. However, if you really appreciate their design and sound performance, they can be used as travel headphones as long as isolation isn’t an issue for you.

5.3 Sports/Fitness

Poor for sports and fitness. The Stellia are bulky over-ear headphones that don’t have a very stable fit and are likely to fall off if you exercise with them on. They have leather ear pads that reduce breathability and will stain if you sweat while wearing them. They’re also not wireless and their cable is quite thick, so it’ll likely get in your way and could get hooked on something which would yank the headphones off your head.

6.2 Office

Not bad for office use. The Focal Stellia are very comfortable headphones which means you can wear them for long periods of time without experiencing fatigue. They also do a fair job at reducing office chatter and noises produced by A/C systems. They’re a bit leaky, though, so you might bother your colleagues if you like to listen to your music loudly. You should be fine if you work in a quiet, uncrowded office.

4.6 Wireless Gaming

Inadequate for gaming. The Focal Stellia don’t have a microphone or any controls, which makes them less versatile than headphones with mappable buttons like the Logitech G933 or a great microphone like the SteelSeries Arctis Pro. However, if you don’t require a mic or dedicated controls, the Stellia could be suitable for single-player gaming since they’re very comfortable, have no latency, and sound alright.

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