Focal Celestee, to replace Elegia as Entry-Level Closed Back

Wayde Robson

Wayde Robson

Audioholics Anchorman
Last summer the Elegia was unceremoniously dropped from Focal's headphone lineup. This seemed strange considering it's one of Focal's most affordable headphones, it should be one of its hottest sellers. Well, we recently got the reason why it was dropped, it was replaced by a new improved closed back headphone, Celestee. Celestee was designed to smooth out Elegia's bass response and bring in some new design cues from its flagship closed-back, Stellia.

I had the opportunity to spend some time with Celestee and share my thoughts in this article. Focal Celestee will become available early next month.

New Focal Celestee Headphones: High-End for the Cost-Conscious
celestee.jpeg
 
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EthicalEar

EthicalEar

Audioholic Intern
Thank you for your review. I purchased the Stellia last year but could not afford the Focal Arche at the same time. This year after saving a few months I was able to get the Arche which added a lot to my enjoyment. COVID has brought many families into the headphone mode in order to spare everyone else in the house from each other. I started with average price cans, but got my high end taste first with Audeze LCD-X. But due to the weight of those things and the sound of open back still heard by my family, I added the Stellia. When I plug the Audeze through the balanced end of the Focal Arch I am thrilled at the sound. Eyes wide open WOW! To compare the Stellias which are double the price, I plug them in while listening to the same thing, and instead of saying wow that sounds great, I smile uncontrollably and have wept at just how detailed the music is. Nothing compares to them, I agree with your review. I would be happy with just the Celestee, but I'm not going to trade down now that I know just how awesome the Stelia is. I like the cognac coffee color. Comfort is crazy good. Glad they made the Celestee so that others can enjoy the marvel of Focal sound and design. I also have a pair of the Listen beyond wireless Focal. Got them for my son who loves the blue tooth function of them. The ear cup size on them is to small though.
 
J

jhrajgor

Audiophyte
Thanks for the great review. Now I'm really templated to buy these. Do you know how it compares to Sony MDR-Z1R headphones? I know they sell for almost double the price, but I'm looking for end game closed back headphones and was wondering if they are $800 worth more than the Celestee. Any recommendations/alternatives you can provide will also be appreciated.

P.S. I do not claim to be an audiophile and do not use headphones to monitor audio. I love music and just use headphones to enjoy listening to them. I currently use Denon D5200.

Thanks in advance!
 
Revelation

Revelation

Enthusiast
I would love to buy these headphones next but some reviews say the sound stage is small. Any confirmation on this?
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
I would love to buy these headphones next but some reviews say the sound stage is small. Any confirmation on this?
Headphones can not have a soundstage without a binaural recording. Those reviewers are all deeply ignorant of the way human hearing works. 99% of audio reviewers would be better off reviewing abstract art or seasonal fashion instead of sound reproduction devices. At least with those types of reviews, they won't get basic science wrong.
 
Revelation

Revelation

Enthusiast
Yeah you make a good point but headphones like the Sennheiser 800s do have a bigger sound stage than the Focal Clear MG's. The Focals sound more narrow.
 
EthicalEar

EthicalEar

Audioholic Intern
I've read all the reviews on the Stellias. There were reviews that said the Stellia's soundstage was not as big. You have a valid question. They are closed back headphones. A soundstage on an open back headphone will be bigger. So you might want to consider the Focal Utopia - an open back that you might find for around 4 grand. Stellias are 3 grand. The absence of a bigger soundstage is never in my mind with these. A live Jazz recording sounds like I'm in the front row instead of balcony. It sounds like I'm with the musicians which is where I used to be! (now I make money in a job that gives little time for much else) I believe Soundstage is also an effect and a "buzz word" that headphone reviewers will talk about to describe the character or signature sound. You can get a bigger soundstage on a Gamming headset for 100.00. Yes everything has a signature sound that is unique. But good headphones are NOT all about character in what they can do. You can get Character from a DAC or Amp or even a Spatial audio effect from an apple phone. Stellias are twice the price of Sennheiser 800s. What you get is detail. I hear sounds at 11:00 in my left ear and a tympany at 6:00 in my left ear, same time as a tiny bell in my right ear at 3:00. And if it's recorded to sound distant, it sounds distant! Reproduction that is second to almost nothing. Equivalent to possibly a10 grand+ pair of speakers in my opinion, regarding the uncompromised detail you get. But with speakers you need high end equipment. With these headphones, you really don't! It doesn't hurt, but you really don't. Have you ever wondered what music would sound like when no detail was missing? (I always think I do with every piece of equipment and speaker I bought, only to learn that it just gets better). Perhaps you prefer quality over bass booming wide sound stage gimmicks, then get Stellia. Highs, mids, even subwoofer lows are freaking amazing. Blade Runner sound track from Vangelis or Hans Zimmer's 2049 you know the boom's in the Theme Song or "Sea Wall" on 2049! the sub bass is perfect. Okay so I'm not levitating off the couch like I am with my SVS PB300's. But the sound itself on the bottom end is OMG! The resonating piano in "Joi" The hammer tone separates from the piano note and goes from 11:55 and 12:05 left and right ear positions then seems to drop down to 9:00 and 3:00 while the piano note swirls around left and right and every note changes and goes up and down with the note played. And at the same time you can hear the vocal background change then clarinet and strings then the Cello plays and turns into a synth. Ok getting carried away. There are no limits to what you will hear and how you can enjoy what you like. I have open back Audeze LCD-X which are close to the value of Sennheiser 800s. But I almost never use them. They are horrible when compared to the Stellias. If you got the money for Stellias, or can go somewhere to test them. You will find you have achieved a goal in your life of obtaining the best and clearest sound that only a very lucky very small number of people in the world will ever get to do. And I do it all day long, until I get a chance to listen to my speaker system. I got my Stellias before Gene got his. Wish I could win the lottery so I could live in a dream house like him though.
 
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Revelation

Revelation

Enthusiast
The Stellia is out of my price range. I had to push to get the Clear MGs so the Celestee is more in my price range.
 

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