Get started with the Focal Bathys, high-end hi-fi headphones designed in France


With the Bathys, Focal in turn enters the market for Bluetooth headphones with active noise cancellation. Designed in France and positioned at the top of the range, can it compete with the best models in the segment?

Our detailed handling

Is it really necessary to present Focal in the preamble? Founded in 1979, the French brand cultivates “made in France” know-how with products ranging from speakers to headphones, even cars. The Bathys represents a new step for Focal, which is taking its first steps in the market for Bluetooth headphones with active noise cancellation. And for this introduction, the manufacturer has used all its expertise to offer an audiophile model, which is at the top of the range.

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Design and ergonomics

The Bathys are closed-ear headphones that can be used in Bluetooth or in wired mode using the included 3.5mm jack cable. In addition there is a USB Type C cable with which you can choose to charge it or take advantage of the integrated USB DAC. After all, both applications are not possible at the same time. On the other hand, the user can listen to music via Bluetooth or using the 3.5mm cable while charging the Bathys if they wish.

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Unsurprisingly, build quality is present with materials such as magnesium, aluminum and even leather on the headband. Note that the two headphones both have a backlit logo that we’re more used to seeing on gaming headsets, which clashes a bit with an audiophile model. That said, the mobile application allows you to adjust the intensity of the lighting or even turn it off completely.

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In any case, the headphones look robust and the headphones can be rotated 90° to store the headphones in the hard case. The latter remains cumbersome, but it is the price you have to pay to travel with such a headset. Once worn, the Bathys is quite comfortable.

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The weight is well distributed and the microfiber covered headband exerts moderate pressure on the top of the skull. The headphones benefit from memory foam and are covered in faux leather. Nevertheless, the latter exert a relatively large pressure that should be measured during the Lab’s tests. Finally, note that the pads are removable so they can be replaced if necessary.

©Driss Abdi/L’Eclaireur

The Bathys is, of course, equipped with physical buttons that we feared wouldn’t be very practical given their size. Good news, this is not the case and they are easy to handle.

Most of the controls are grouped on the right earbud. So from the front of the helmet to the back there is a button for voice assistants, the starter switch that also allows you to activate the DAC (up to 24 bits/192 kHz) to listen exclusively via the USB port, and finally the volume control which is linked to a multi-function button. In a very classic way, the latter allows you to switch from one audio track to another by pressing it twice, replay the previous track (press three times), pause playback or record and hang up during phone calls. . It is also this button that allows you to pair the Bathys in Bluetooth. The procedure is simple by holding for four seconds so that the headphones appear in the list of nearby Bluetooth devices.

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The left earbud is content with a single button to switch between active noise canceling mode and transparency mode to hear the user’s immediate surroundings.

©Driss Abdi/L’Eclaireur

listening experience

As mentioned above, the Focal & Naim companion app, available on iOS and Android, offers additional functionality. At the first start, it offers to update the Bathys. The operation is not very long and you then get to the different sections.

The interface is very clear with three main sections: the equalizer (adjustable to five bands or through two profiles, “House” and Loudness, depending on your environment), activation of active noise canceling or transparent mode, and LED control. also view the battery level and the codec of the audio source. Finally, in the absence of a presence sensor, the application allows you to activate automatic standby. This also means that the Bathys does not automatically pause playback when you stop wearing it. Too bad .

Sound quality

While listening, we are happy to find Focal’s expertise. De Bathys shows great precision in restoring the subtleties of the various pieces. Secure Come live with me Angel, Marvin Gaye’s clear voice, which has been recorded on several tracks, shows a beautiful presence and blends perfectly with the density of the instrumentation. To put the Bathys to the test in the low frequencies, nothing beats the piece hip hop from Dead Prez with his powerful bass line. The headphones here provide excellent dynamics without any distortion, despite the difficulty of the exercise. All this while maintaining the medium so as not to crush the votes. These listens were performed in Bluetooth, without using wired mode via the DAC/USB-C.

©Driss Abdi/L’Eclaireur

Insulation

In addition, we took advantage of a flight to evaluate the Bathys’ noise reduction system, a first for Focal.

The insulation is good, without competing with specialists in the field. In the plane, the sound of the reactors is forgotten and it is possible to enjoy the music without forcing the volume. Finally, we tested the Bathys hands-free kit. In a quiet environment, our interlocutor confirmed the good performance of the integrated microphone. And, good news, the quality is also there on the outside. The sound of the wind remains audible, but without really disturbing conversations. The Bathys from Focal therefore lives up to the promise if we are to believe our ears. It remains to be seen if it will shine the same way as it passes through our Lab’s benches!



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