French high-end audio brand Focal has unveiled its first pair of wireless ANC headphones in the form of the oddly named Bathys. The snappy cans come with proprietary drivers, feature two optimized ANC modes, support aptX Adaptive, and promise long battery life.
So what is this rather strange name? Focal says its roots are in the bathyscaphe, a deep-diving submarine, and is meant to represent “the embodiment of calm, depth and utter silence”.
The company has won a strong following among audiophiles and industry experts over the years for superior sound reproduction, and Bathys headphones feature Focal’s own patented 40mm drivers that rock a design Aluminium/magnesium M-dome for a “detailed, precise and dynamic sound” over a fairly wide frequency response from 15Hz to 22kHz, with total harmonic distortion of less than 0.2%.
For wireless operation, Bluetooth 5.1 technology has been selected with support for AAC, aptX and aptX Adaptive audio codecs – the latter opening up CD-quality streaming potential. Android device users benefit from built-in Fast Pair, and the headphones can connect to two source devices simultaneously, for easy switching of tracks between them.
Two optimized active noise cancellation modes have been included. A quiet mode offers the highest level of noise isolation and is tuned for journeys such as planes and trains, while the soft mode still reduces low frequency noise, but isn’t as strict with ambient sounds high frequency, with Focal saying it’s designed for moderately noisy environments such as the home or office.
In common with most modern ANC headphones, there’s also a Transparency mode that lets the outdoors in when needed, like chatting with friends without having to remove the headphones or listening to travel announcements at the hub of transportation.
Focal says users can expect over 30 hours of wireless listening per charge with ANC enabled, and fast charging can provide five hours of listening time from just 15 minutes of charging.
The headphones come with eight built-in microphones and use Qualcomm’s Clear Voice Capture noise cancellation technology for clarity during voice calls via a paired smartphone. A dedicated mobile app allows for five-band EQ adjustment, custom settings, and access to Alexa and Google Assistant.
The Bathys over-ear headphones come with two cables for connection to a music source via a 3.5mm audio jack or USB, and feature a built-in 24-bit/192kHz digital-to-analog converter (DAC). Battery life in non-wireless operation is also extended to 35 hours in audio-jack mode and 42 hours in USB.
Of course, the headphones are also very pleasing to the eye, with a classic black/silver color theme and distinctive earcup grilles featuring the company’s flame logo in the center which may or may not be backlit.
The Bathys headphones go on sale this month for US$799 and come with a hard travel case. Cheaper options from other manufacturers include Sony’s excellent WH-1000XM5 headphones, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 wireless head candy, Bose’s QC 45 model and, of course, Apple’s AirPod Max.
Product sheet: Bathys