With the Listen Professional Focal, you’re assured of value for money. The strengths start with a quality design that goes beyond good workmanship and, as expected, impressive sound levels. These headphones are well suited as an analytical listening instrument that can reveal tonal details in all areas of the frequency spectrum. Those who classify the Listen Professional as pure studio headphones will, however, fail to appreciate its suitability for mobile use. Thanks to a relatively short straight cable with microphone and remote control, low impedance, closed design and folding mechanism, the Listen Professional is an almost perfect companion on the go. Only its high contact pressure will cause some issue with the a few users. If you want to invest your money in good sound and practical headphones, the Focal Listen Professional is an almost perfect choice of headphone.
Focal unveil a foldable studio headphone to the market in the form of the Listen Professional, which has scarce competition in terms of value for money.
With the Focal Listen Professional, the French headphone manufacturer wants to offer high quality at an affordable price. To achieve this end, it is deploying studio headphones into the race that make a good first impression in terms of aesthetics and technical capabilities. In this test, we look at the sound, ease of operation and scope of equipment.
Design and scope of equipment
The closed headphones in an ear-enclosing design come with a handy carry box. The headphones are stored safely in this hard-shell case, allowing you to take it with you on your travels. This is ensured by pre-punched recesses, a double zipper and a hardy fabric loop that serves as a carry handle. spiral cable, which extends to a length of 5 metres, and a 1.2-metre long cable are also included. The latter cable is equipped with a remote control which works with mobile devices with Windows, Apple or Android operating systems. A Focal cable tie made of Velcro tape is also included. The transport box offers pre-formed compartments for both audio leads, the headphones and an iLok (not supplied). The obligatory 6.35 mm jack adapter is also included.
Appearance, Processing & Haptics
The Focal Listen Professional is great to hold. The super-soft microfibre ear cushions feel great against the ears, while the overall weight is also impressively light. In fact, it weighs in at a mere 284 grams without a cable. Its burgundy and black colour scheme definitely evokes its bigger brother, the Focal Clear Professional. Although you can’t expect high-end materials throughout for the sales price these headphones go for, the choice of materials here are a good choice and the workmanship demonstrated with the List Professional is top notch. There are no weak elements or breaking points. The entire casing is scratch-resistant and therefore perfectly suited to everyday use.
The 40 mm drivers feature Mylar membranes, with a cone made from Mylar and titanium. The cone shape was newly designed by Focal and is intended to provide particularly high levels of transparency and dynamics. According to the manufacturer, the selection of the ear pad material and the fabric that protects the outlets of the ear cups has been optimised for the best sound possible. This is to ensure high absorption and a largely linear reproduction of mids. According to the manufacturer, the audio transmission range extends from super-deep 5 Hz to 22 kHz. Thus, the frequency range extends far beyond the typical hearing range of the human ear. In the test setup, we were able to elicit sound pressure levels of 102.12 dB SPL from the Listen Professional. This makes it loud, but not to riotous. Thanks to its low impedance levels, for which we measured only 26.75 Ohm, it is excellent for ensuring loud playback even on mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.
The cables of the Focal Listen Professional are plugged in on one side so there is sufficient freedom of movement in the studio. This makes it even easier to stow the cable when you’re out and about. By turning the plug a quarter, the cable snaps firmly into the left earpiece. Slipping out is therefore impossible, even when you’re on the go. Equally well equipped for mobile use, the headphones also boast a folding mechanism for easy storage within the carry case.
Although it makes some noise when adjusting, the headphones easily adjust to individual head size. You can lock the headband into place when you’ve identified your optimal size. Once adjusted, I really liked the feel of the Listen Professional. The reason for this higher level of comfort soon become apparent. Its ear cups are not rigidly mounted but have a certain amount of room to move thanks to a jointed design. This allows them to adjust optimally to the shape of the head. Worth pointing out is that the memory foam used in the ear pads reacts to heat, but this is an essential material choice as the headphones have a relatively high contact pressure. A silicone inlay on the headband ensures the headphones sit softly and securely and that their weight is evenly distributed.
While the spiral cable is long enough for larger studio rooms, the straight cable ensures little cable clutter on the go. The integrated microphone is conveniently located at mouth level, and there’s no need fret when it comes to operating the remote. When the integrated remote button is pressed, it acts as a call answer and hang-up button when a call dials in. When listening to music, it works as a Play/Pause, Track Forward/Back button, depending on whether the button is pressed once, twice or three times. Since the button is integrated into the cable is a good size, it all works rather well indeed.
Focal promise a balanced, precise sound image and high dynamics with the Listen Professional. During the listening test, I noticed that point precision can be quickly ticked off as a win. In this respect, the Focal is particularly well suited for treble and high frequencies. It looks similar on the other side of the frequency spectrum. The bass reproduction is contoured and differentiating. I am really impressed by the sub-basses that this headphone delivers when playing EDM and Urban music genres. Nothing at all seems overdrawn in this respect.
If you want to look for a slight weakness of these headphones, it’d be the middle in my option. The emphasis of the frequency response at 2 and 210 kHz is slightly exaggerated. Depending on the music production, this leads to a slight lisping distortion, because S-sounds are converted somewhat sharply. Even with guitar-heavy music, this nuance can stand out quite significantly. We’re talking about minor details, however. On the other hand, the headphones sound pleasantly clear in the high-frequency range.
Interestingly, I did not necessarily have the impression that I was wearing closed headphones, as the otherwise typical compressed sound is not to be heard with this model. Instead, the closed and ear-enclosing design provides solid shielding against outside noise, without negatively affecting the sound reproduction itself. The stereo stage of the headphones is “only” at an acceptable standard level, with equally good signal dynamics and fine detail. All of this combined delivers a convincing depth of scale.
Suitability & Application
The manufacturer sees sophisticated monitoring as the main field of application for the Listen Professional. I can’t argue the relevance of these headphones for this task. Here, they can utilise their strengths, particularly those in analytical signal evaluation. Whether it’s recording or the right sound selection when arranging, the Focal has a richness of detail that ensures plenty of subtlety can be heard via these headphones.
Additionally, music enjoyment on the go can be assured with these headphones. These Focal headphones are both rich in sound delivery and practical for listening on the go, with the convenient carrying case ideal for storage.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)5 - 22.000 Hz
- Impedance26,75 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)102,12 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head822 g
- Weight with cable390 g
- Weight without cable284 g
- Cable length500 cm
What's in the box
- 6.35mm stereo jack
- Coiled cable (5m)
- cable with remote control and mic (1.4m)
- Travel case