Focal Radiance overview: The Bentley of headphones

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These excessive-quit cans offer high-notch supplies, clean assemble, and stunning—though no longer flawless—sound.


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Focal produces one of the most splendid headphones on this planet, with costs to check. Bentley holds a an identical space in the car industry, and Focal’s sibling company, Naim—moreover a effectively-respected luminary in excessive-quit audio—has been supplying sound programs for Bentley vehicles since 2008. So, it’s no shock that Focal and Bentley agree with teamed as much as bring a fresh headphone into the gentle of day: the Radiance.

At $1,299, the fresh mannequin sits squarely between Focal’s Elegia ($899) and Stellia ($2,990), deriving parts from both. Soundwise, it’s rather varied than its siblings, nonetheless aloof stunning.

This overview is section of TechHive’s coverage of the splendid headphones, the set up you’ll fetch opinions of competing products, plus a purchaser’s e book to the parts you ought to defend in solutions when looking out for this form of product.


Worship the Elegia and Stellia, the Radiance is a circumaural (round-the-ear), closed-relief assemble that connects to the provision system with precise wires—no Bluetooth here! It comes with a 4-foot OFC (oxygen-free copper) 24 AWG cable with a 3.5mm coast and an adapter that converts it to a 1/4-toddle coast. The assemble substances are pure Bentley, with the company’s logo on the ends of the headscarf, a diamond motif in the outer earcup grilles and the stitching of internal headscarf that’s resembling Bentley’s iconic upholstery quilting, and an clean murky-and-copper color arrangement. Also indispensable is the beefy-grain Pittards leather that covers the earpads and internal headscarf.


Focal designed its Radiance headphone in cooperation with the luxurious automobile producer Bentley Motors.

The beefy-range driver is an identical one expose in the Elegia—a 40mm M-fashioned dome made of an alloy of aluminum and magnesium. (The driver in the Stellia is an identical size and form, nonetheless it completely’s made of pure beryllium.) Why is it called “M-fashioned”? The unimaginative part of the diaphragm resembles the letter M, which is declared to give excessive tension for extra precision and much less distortion. Specs encompass a frequency response from 5Hz to 23kHz (no tolerance given) with a THD of 0.1 percent @ 1kHz/100 dB SPL and a sensitivity of 101 dB SPL/1 mW @ 1 kHz. The impedance is 35 ohms, making the Radiance slightly easy to drive.

As in the Elegia and Stellia, the earcups offer stunning isolation from ambient sound whereas providing an optimized acoustic ambiance for the drivers. No doubt, the earcups encompass two vents: one to management the balance between the bass and midrange and the opposite to evacuate the rear wave from the middle of the motor to steer clear of compression and delay the low-frequency response—in other phrases, here’s a bass-reflex headphone! At the opposite quit of the sonic spectrum, EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam in the help of the drivers absorbs excess excessive-frequency energy. Lastly, acoustic diffusers shatter up any standing waves and produce the earcups extra inflexible and inert.


Considered in unimaginative part, the motive force diaphragm resembles an “M,” which Focal says improves its tension.

Whereas the earcups expend the same assemble, Focal took a varied skill in the tuning of the Radiance. Per the company, the fresh headphone has extra bass and rather extra treble—it sounds as if, the classic “smile” EQ curve—and it’s hotter than the Elegia. Also, it is declared to agree with very extensive dynamic range.

As I acknowledged in my Stellia overview, even the packaging is noteworthy. A huge, sturdy box entails the headphone and cable of their inflexible, woven-quilt case that, in this event, glints with copper and murky threads, and the Bentley logo adorns the tackle.


Even the packaging is slightly impressive.


Inserting the Radiance on my head, it felt unbiased like the Stellia—same gigantic earpads that match without considerations over my gigantic ears, correct acoustic seal, and low clamping stress. And the leather earpads were tremendous gratified.

As odd, I listened to tracks from Tidal’s Grasp excessive-res audio library taking part in from my iPhone XS thru an iFi hip-dac, reviewed here. Also as odd for the time being, I started with a track from the fabulous Jacob Collier—in this case, his quilt of the Police classic “Every Small Thing She Does” from Djesse Vol. 1. Correct away, I seen gleaming highs and deep bass that modified into once rather overdone, significantly the low piano impress on the head, though the leisure of the bass looked rather too forward as effectively. On the opposite hand, the vocals were very obvious and expose, and the total sound modified into once subtle and effectively-integrated.

A brand fresh discovery for me is Artemis, a seven-member, all-feminine, contemporary-jazz ensemble consisting of a rhythm part and several horns. “Goddess of the Hunt” from the group’s eponymous album parts some wonderfully ingenious composing, arranging, and improvising. On the Radiance, the bass modified into once rather overbalanced, nonetheless the horn part modified into once obvious, and the soloists emerged properly.


The earcup and driver are fastidiously designed to bring stunning sound quality.

For some extra straight-ahead jazz, I turned to Diana Krall’s fresh album The Dream of You. Her rendition of “That’s All” is a straightforward quartet of piano, guitar, acoustic bass, and drums accompanying her mighty utter. The Radiance produced a clean, obvious sound alongside with her vocal formulation up front, that are in the combo. The bass modified into once rather overbearing, and the piano modified into once apt a tad congested in the low quit.

Turning to some rock, I cued up “Intercourse Shooter” from Prince’s posthumous album Originals. On this case, the vocals were slightly farther relief than I had heard to this point, whereas the synthesizer modified into once extra up front. Apparently, the synth bass modified into once no longer overbalanced, though the kick drum modified into once slightly dominant. Overall, the sound modified into once clean and obvious.

As I modified into once looking out at some level of the Tidal Grasp library, I chanced on an artist called Mozart La Para, so I listened to “Golpe De Estado” from the album Niveles. I believed it is going to be music impressed by Mozart, nonetheless no—it’s Spanish-language rap with bass you would possibly hear booming from a passing lowrider. The bass modified into once slightly pronounced and dropped nearly into infrasonic territory—if truth be told, this track advantages from the Radiance’s emphasized bass. The vocals were very obvious and formulation up front.


The headscarf and earpiece yoke mechanisms are derived from Focal’s flagship Utopia headphone, and they make a contribution to the Radiance’s excessive comfort component. Also impress the diamond pattern in the outer earcup grille and the Bentley logo.

For some classical music, I played the finale (“Pines of the Appian Scheme”) from Respighi’s Pines of Rome as recorded by Filarmonica Della Scala under the course of Riccardo Chailly. This is one of my all-time authorized orchestral pieces, which progressively crescendos from tremendous comfortable to a crashing climax. The Radiance reproduced this extensive dynamic range very effectively, excluding that the loudest section modified into once rather congested. And as sooner than, the bass modified into once rather overbalanced and apt a tad vague.

Lastly, I took self-discipline upon an album called Bach Parallels by percussionist Makoto Nakura. His affiliation of Bach’s Passacaglia in C minor, BWV 582, for six percussionists entails marimbas, xylophones, and a glockenspiel that begins with a low marimba and progressively adds instruments and complexity. The total sound modified into once rather congested on the Radiance, and the low marimba and excessive glockenspiel were extra pronounced than the midrange.


The stiff, molded case cradles and protects the Radiance and its cable.

Comparison with Focal Stellia

The splendid similar headphone I had on hand for this overview modified into once the Focal Stellia, which I reviewed here. It contains most of the same technologies as the Radiance, nonetheless its driver is beryllium in desire to aluminum/magnesium, and it’s tuned otherwise. It’s moreover higher than twice the associated fee!

I listened to every track on both headphones, and from the get-coast, the Stellia introduced a extra even, unbiased balance from the bottom to very best frequencies. Also, it modified into once rather extra start and clear.

On “That’s All” and “Goddess of the Hunt,” the bass modified into once extra tucked in because it agree with to be, and on “Intercourse Shooter,” the kick drum modified into once no longer as pronounced, and I would possibly perhaps per chance perhaps perhaps hear the secondary vocals rather better. The Stellia aloof had loads of bass on “Golpe De Estado,” nonetheless no longer slightly as noteworthy as the Radiance. Likewise, the low bass on Pines of the Appian Scheme modified into once aloof there, nonetheless in its valid self-discipline, and the climax modified into once extra start and cleaner. Also, the Passacaglia sounded extra start, and the bass and treble were better balanced with the midrange.


The cable connectors encompass the distinctive Bentley diamond motif.

Bottom Line

Overall, the sound of the Focal Radiance is extraordinarily constant at some level of genres—and in general very correct. My complaints about overbalanced bass and treble are minor, and also you would possibly if truth be told clutch the tuning. I seen it apt away potentially because I eavesdrop on a form of headphones, and it modified into once extra apparent in declare and instantaneous comparison with the Stellia, which stays the splendid headphone I’ve ever heard.

The Radiance is a sexy headphone, constructed with excessive-quality supplies that befit its Bentley co-branding. As such, it deserves its slightly excessive label model of $1,299, though that’s aloof no longer as much as half of the associated fee of the Stellia.

If you fee the finer things in existence, and also you would possibly agree with the pocketbook to search out the cash for them, the Focal Radiance is effectively fee the investment. It is miles luxurious personified.

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  • Luxurious supplies, clean assemble, and stunning sound are all hallmarks of this headphone, though its tuning overbalances the bass and treble apt rather.


    • Shimmering, subtle, effectively-integrated sound
    • Top-quality assemble supplies
    • Huge gratified
    • Shimmering Bentley-impressed assemble


    • A minute bit overbalanced bass and treble
    • Pricey

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