Focal Bathys is the newest wireless headphone from Focal. Is the Bathys as high-end as the Stellia/Celestee? You can read that in this review!
Bluetooth technology®: 5.1 Multipoint
Bluetooth range®: >15m
Bluetooth frequency range®: 2402MHz – 2480Mhz
Audio codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX™ Adaptive, aptX™
30 hours Bluetooth® Noise Cancelling
35 hours Jack mode
42 hours USB DAC
Voice assistants: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa
Other features: Google Fast Pair
Speaker drivers: 40mm Aluminum-Magnesium ‘M’-shaped dome, made in France
Frequency response: 15Hz to 22kHz
Harmonic distortion rate: <0.2% @1kHz
Carrying case: 24x21x7cm
Control application: Focal & Naim, iOS and Android compatible
Connections: Bluetooth® / Jack 3.5mm / USB-C®
Portable headphones with Bluetooth and active noise canceling
Two optimized noise canceling modes + transparency mode
Patented speaker driver technology, made in France
USB-DAC mode for extra high resolution up to 24bits / 192kHz
Battery life of at least 30 hours Bluetooth with noise canceling
Fast charging: 5 hours of listening pleasure in 15 minutes
Easily configurable voice assistants: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
Clear Voice Capture microphone technology for crystal clear phone calls
Focal app for additional settings: EQ, sound control, etc.
It is time to unpack the Bathys and take a look.
Focal is of course not only focused on wireless headphones and audio for the home, but Focal also focuses on the professional branch and cars and vessels.
Fortunately, Focal always supplies a hard case with headphones, so it is no different in this case.
In addition, two manuals are included.
Once opened, you immediately notice that the ear cups can be rotated, and that is nice. For example, by removing the headphones from your head and hanging them around your neck, it is so nice that the pillows lie on your cushions and not the hard sides of the headphones.
Of course, the headphones also have some space for cables. On the other side, there is also a net to hide the cable.
To dive right in, the design of the Focal looks nice but is not completely new. The Focal Celestee that I reviewed earlier has a similar design. However, the holes here are a bit deeper than those on the Celestee or Stellia.
Two cables are included, a USB-C to USB-C (for charging and playing directly from, for example, a Windows PC/laptop or MacBook) and a 3.5mm to 3.5mm jack for playing on a phone, tablet, or the like.
The Bathys has some buttons with which the headphones can be operated. So the volume can be adjusted. In between is the Bluetooth search button. With this button, you can also pick up and hang up if you get a call.
Next to it is the off/dac/on switch. This makes it easy to switch on the headphones by switching them to ON, or by connecting the DAC to a computer (via USB). When using the DAC in combination with a device via the USB this is played at 24bits/192kHz.
Next to the on/off switch is a button to use the voice assistant (Google or Alexa). On the right are the USB-C and 3.5mm jack connections.
The other ear cup only has a button to turn the noise canceling on or off.
I must confess that I do think these are very cool headphones.
The band is flexible so that the ear cups do not press so hard on the head.
The only downside to the headband is that it cannot be replaced. Fortunately, the earcups can.
The speaker in the Bathys is slightly rotated. The reason for this is to be able to ‘blow/play’ the sound better into the ear. This makes the playback finer and more direct.
Speaking of which, the ear pads of the Focal Bathys are nice. They feel extremely soft. Because they also seal the ear well, the NC is quite nice. In addition, it is also a large area in which the speaker has room to play music.
If we put the Focal Bathys next to the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2, you can also clearly see a difference between the ear cup and how large the ‘sound box’ of the Bathys is. Ergo, the sound also feels very spacious and open.
What is of course a very cool feature is that the Focal Bathys has illuminated logos on the ear cups.
Focal & Naim share the headphone app these days, and that works quite well. The Naim app was already good. And the few extra options added for the Bathys work well. For example, the ANC can be influenced and the EQ can also be adjusted. Of the latter, I do not understand that only 3 presets are pre-programmed. I did expect to see a list of EQ presets, as with other manufacturers.
But, this doesn’t have to spoil the fun either.
Welcome to a world of musical sensation. Find your headphones. Well, let’s do that! 🙂
Of course, you can also set up Siri or Alexa right through the app.
Through the app, the firmware can be updated.
Updates don’t take very long, with just under 6 minutes the headphones were already done updating.
Over 30 hours of music, not bad!
The app is also well-arranged and works quite well. Several things can be adjusted via the app, including the EQ, noise reduction, and LED lighting! If a user does not like it so much.
Usage and sound
I’ve had the Bathys for almost 2.5 months now as a successor to a very old B&O H4 headphone. Since I listen to a lot of music, I am always looking for something cool. However, the H4 was a pair of headphones that always stuck with me (even bought a B&O H95 and got rid of it very quickly), no matter how many other headphones I kept reviewing. And that is for headphones from quite a few years ago. The B&O is already quite worn out, enough traveling with it, sitting in the sun with it, cycling with it, and much more. It was time for a successor.
The earcups are soft and mold well around the head. The band is soft and fortunately does not give an oppressive feeling. I was also playing with the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 and I noticed how small the ear cups are. The Focal Bathys has a gigantic opening/resonance box. As a result, there is much more ‘tone’ and sound, but also space. And you can hear that in music. And yes, then…
All this together is a recipe for great headphones, only … it also has to sound good. And let me get right to the point, it certainly does. And yet … the bass could have been a bit ‘heavier/more present’ for some rougher music. The Focal Bathys is still ‘just’ too abstract. If you listen to jazz, classical, rock, etc., the Bathys is almost perfect in my opinion. The reproduction is extremely clear; sound and instruments.
The Bathys can be controlled on the following codecs: SBC, AAC, Apt-X™, and Apt-X™ adaptive codecs.
Let’s get some music in there, too. I won’t list for your scroll finger all the songs I’ve listened to with the Focal Bathys, but there are a lot of them. I’ll highlight three.
Louis Armstrong – What a wonderful world, of course, remains a beautiful song. The Bathys plays this one beautifully. Very colorful, open, and bright. The deep voice of Louis comes through beautifully. The guitar and drums in the background – I can hear it on the right (via the Tidal Master recording) sound present as well.
Above & Beyond – Miracle, this is always one of the tracks I use to measure the instruments and vocals of audio equipment. I try to listen carefully to the instruments and form of vocals. How clear it is, how flat the edges are. And the Bathys performs where it should. In this song, the bass is perfect as it should be.
Masego & FKJ – Tadow, this is another song that is really clear, full, and beautifully designed in terms of instruments and bass. When I listen to songs like that, I don’t want to wear any other headphones. Especially when the beat drops; after all, this feels so balanced.
Still, I grab the H4 and I hear an even deeper bass. And yet I hear that the H4 performs a bit less on the mids and highs.
It’s like a dance between these two… 🙂
It is clear that the H4 is an older headphone. Then again, I also want to compare it with the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2. I know that it is half the price, and hilariously it has the same features (not specifically an extensive dac in the headphones, but can be used via USB-C). The Focal has a larger sound box/ear cup, which brings the sound much more to life. The Focal is therefore also somewhat bulkier, whereas the PX7 S2 is more manageable (350g versus 310g). Where the Focal leans more toward the mids and highs, the PX7 is a bit deeper. When listening to more jazz, pop, rock, etc., I would rather lean towards the Focal Bathys. For hardstyle, hardcore, etc. combined with the previous genres, the PX7 S2 would still be at the top of my list. And they still don’t come close to the H4 in terms of deep tones.
And that was wireless too because the Bathys has another trick. The Focal Bathys can also be connected via USB-C to a PC, for example, and through the integrated DAC mode can play music up to 24bits / 192kHz, this also applies to Mac, by the way. It’s just plug-and-play in both cases.
You wouldn’t think about it that way, but it’s a very nice feature. Because the Bathys is connected via the computer, it is just a great headset for calling during an office day (I was just perfectly audibly via Teams), using ANC in a full office, and at the end of the day just switching back to wireless headphones to travel back home. In any case, that makes it an ultimate thing.
Focal Bathys vs. B&O H95
To further compare: Focal Bathys vs. Bang & Olufsen H95. The Focal Bathys sounds more refined and clearer. The H95 suffers from a very shrill beep in the ANC (according to several forums, this is a known problem), something that the Bathys does not have. It is a difference between the two. As mentioned; the Bathys is more refined and sounds good for jazz, rock, classical, etc. The H95 is (in my opinion) more focused on the harder tones/choice of music. If I have to choose between the two – although I also listen to ‘heavier’ music (with harder tones) – I prefer the Focal Bathys.
Focal has also released a good pair of wireless headphones with the Bathys. For a brand that mainly focuses on high-end audio, mainly connected, Focal has managed to release a very good wireless headphone.
I have been able to work with the Bathys on my head for days, reviewing, shopping, etc.
The Bathys fits very nicely on the head, and with the easily accessible button for noise reduction, you can quickly switch between the three levels.
The ear cups of the Bathys are very good. They are very soft and seal an ear well. And that is of course also necessary to have a good ANC. And fortunately, the ANC is fine too. I can’t say if this is up to par with the Sony’s – which I’ve never had the chance to test (who are often enough labeled as the ANC pros anyway). And yet the ANC is more than fine for me, after all, it’s also about the quality of audio, and that… that’s good. Yet there is a but, I would have liked it better if there was just a little more bass present – or at least even deeper tones. And that is mainly noticeable in ‘harder and rougher’ music. For pop, jazz, blues, rock, electro, etc. it is a perfect thing. The sound box is large which presents a clear and broad sound.
I also think that the Bathys is fairly comparable to the Stellia (the Stellia is even brighter). And to get that into a pair of wireless headphones, that’s pretty neat.
The Focal Bathys is a very good wireless headset from Focal. It is a headset with its own sound, as we are used to from Focal. Therefore, it is definitely worth testing it out. But is it the ultimate topper for the asking price of €799? I don’t think so.
The Bathys gets 4 out of 5 stars from me.