Listen Professional is packed with Focal expertise. For six years now, the French manufacturer’s historic expertise in designing high-performance transducers has been directed at a new speciality: headphones. Listen Professional circum-aural closed back headphones are the essential work tool for music production. They confirm Focal’s ambition to establish itself as a leader in the professional headphone market.
Sound engineers have total control over their work, whether they’re in the studio or on a business trip. Besides their undisputable acoustic performance, they also provide maximum comfort.
Available at an affordable price, these headphones won’t fail to amaze users through their high-quality audio and dynamics, which can often only be experienced with more expensive headphones. The tonal balance and the capacity to reproduce the entire audio spectrum with acute precision make them the essential ally for monitoring transfer quality.
The comfort they provide and the accessories supplied make them even more appealing to those working during a business trip.
DESIGN: THE FAMILY HERITAGE
Like the Clear Professional headphones, Listen Professional is also equipped with a headband boasting a unique design to ensure comfort and durability. It’s curve remains consistent, regardless of the shape or size of the user’s head. Combined with the layer of silicone underneath the headband, this ensures that the weight is spread out evenly over the head, preventing the user from feeling any pressure in certain areas, which can be very uncomfortable during long working sessions.
Professional headphones are synonymous with frequent and intense use. Therefore, extensive research was undertaken prior to the design phase in order to guarantee high mechanical reliability. Proof of this is the headband’s capacity to withstand all sorts of strain on all of the 53 components. The horizontal and vertical rotation of the ear cups operate thanks to one single part: a joint integrated into each one. The ear cups also feature a black structured covering, making them resistant to impacts and scratching.
Listen Professional gives a nod to the brand’s monitoring loudspeakers when it comes to tonal balance and its colour code. The black structure combined with the burgundy on the ear cushions and under the headband mirror reminds of the famous finish of the Solo6 Be, Twin6 Be and Trio6 Be loudspeakers.
ACOUSTICS: FOCAL’S CORE EXPERTISE
Focal’s numerous exclusive patents and technologies are proof of the extreme attention the French manufacturer pays to designing its speaker drivers. The transducer in Listen Professional headphones proves this even more. They have been given a newly developed cone. The goal was to provide a solution which respects the dynamics of the original signal, while reproducing the details of the recording with precision, whether in the low end or the high end. Combining these three criteria into professional headphones in this price range was a true feat. And to succeed, Focal drew its inspiration from the research it carried out when developing its Elear and Utopia headphones on a real miniature full-range speaker driver. This time, the speaker driver has been given a 100% Mylar suspension, whereas the central dome is composed of a Mylar/ Titanium alloy to provide more rigidity and extended frequency response in the upper end of the spectrum. Thus, the moving part is extremely light, enabling the transducer to exceed 40kHz on a at ba e.
The reproduction of the bass and sub-bass registers also received a great deal of attention. The team of engineers managed to combine two factors which are diffcultly compatible: a tuning frequency which is as low as possible, and extremely low distortion (0.3% at 1kHz – 100dB). The choice of the material used for the ear cushions was also paid great care to. Microfibre soon became the obvious choice due to the material’s low resistivity. On an acoustic level, this results in extre- mely linear bass. This is a crucial aspect because one of the main intentions for these closed-back headphones is to use them for checking the bass register while freeing oneself from the acoustic constraints of the work environment.
EAR CUSHIONS: THE IDEAL ACOUSTICS
The ear cushions are to headphones what the control room is to monitoring loudspeakers. Where a pair of monitors interacts with the room’s acoustics, the same goes for the headphone’s speaker drivers and the ear cushions.
The research which went into developing Elear and Utopia headphones proved bene cial once again for more a ordable solutions such as Listen Professional. Although these are closed-back headphones, Focal wanted them to sound lively, and offer an experience similar to that with semi-open headphones, with the additional benefit of the isolation provided by closed-back designs.
The size of the ear cushions (height, width and depth) gives them a volume which makes it possible to achieve very balanced acoustics. It is also important that in order to succeed this challenge, Focal had recourse to two materials whose proportions were wisely spread out inside the ear cushions. Microfibre provides a more linear bass register and favours acoustic output, whereas the acoustic tissue, which is closer to the speaker driver, offers great absorption and linearity in the 3-9kHz register. The bass and also the lower mid-range registers benefit from remarkable tonal balance and excellent articulation: where compression and frequency response generally suffer on closed-back headphones. As for the upper mid-range, it has great precision and high definition in order to emphasise any imperfections in the equalisation or the adjustment of the levels of the various tracks in relation to one another.
Finally, comfort was once again put in the spotlight. The heat-sensitive, very high density memory foam used for Listen Professional perfectly moulds to heads of all shapes and sizes, with particular attention paid to the area under the ears. This prevents any acoustic leaks, ensuring the perfect reproduction of the bass register.
ACCESSORIES: LISTEN PROFESSIONAL, ALWAYS BY YOUR SIDE
The goal with Listen Professional was to meet the demands of sound engineers and music producers, whether every day at work or during a business trip. For this reason, a rigid carrying case is supplied with the headphones. Relatively compact, it ensures a high level of protection against impacts. There’s also room for a cable and an iLok® key. Two low impedance OFC cables are also supplied with Listen Professional. The 16ft (5m) coiled cable with 3.5mm jack plugs at each end is the ideal cable for professional use. A 3.5 mm to 6.35 mm jack adapter is also provided for using the headphones via a mixing console or other audio interfaces. A second, straight cable (4.5ft / 1.4m) equipped with a multi-function remote control and an omnidirectional microphone is supplied for using Listen Professional with a smartphone. Both of these cables feature a locking mechanism to prevent the cables from accidentally becoming disconnected.