Focal Bathys is one of the bluetooth closed headphones from Focal, a brand renowned with its premium headphones. But Focal is originally a hifi brand that was founded in 1979 at Saint Etienne, France with only meager speakers. Past 4 decades witnessed their rise and diversity which covered home audio, professional audio, car audio and personal audio which includes headphones.
Design and box contents are simple and straightforward. Only necessary cables are included within the elegant looking white box that is carrying Bathys within a zipped cloth carrying bag.
Sound, Features and Modes
Passive isolation is good. And very comfortable when worn on. Keys are easy to press on once location and function of each are memorized. It has ANC, light weight (not foldable) and ideal as a traveling companion. 3 different ANC modes help you in different scenarios as well.
Sound performance in BT is life-like, wide and realistic. Very responsive to the equalizer on its software. However, bass doesn’t have ultimate resolution here in smooth jazz. But too spacious and almost like an open backed headphone when it comes to staging. And this airy presentation is very helpful in tracks full with electronic basses. Forget the not so magnificent layering. It’s features so far are enough for me. And you totally get what you paid with good recordings. Madonna is a perfect example of these. Diana Krall is too. Soundstage is enveloping in those and the overall warm to hot timbre of it isn’t a nuisance there. You can close your eyes and hear nothing but the music.
These words shouldn’t sound romantic and over colored to the readers ears. I know it can. If I hadn’t heard it in Slayer – Angel of Death, I would think that too. However, the track is full of electroguitar riffs and drums escorting them. Nobody is getting lost in a whirlwind of instruments. All instruments are separable with their own tonalities.
Jethro Tull is nicer with its melodic structure. Tonalities are well kept. And many of the details are portrayed even though this is non LDAC BT 5.1. You can hear every breath Ian takes in.
I didn’t hear sibilance in my sibilance test track in BT mode. Body is high on many occasions. These are sound comfort points for it. First was the soft earpads and the light weight. The only negative so far is the non excellent layering for it. I have to admit that I expect it with that price tag. but let’s leave it to it’s cabled / dac part.
BT Mode Pros / Cons
- Melody, tonality and body is conveyed
- Very nice if you don’t nitpick / on the go
- BT connection is solid till 15 meters and 3 walls
- Good software support and the ability to connect AUX / DAC mode as well
- Timbre can sound depressed if you aren’t into EU timbre
- Layering isn’t great, lower than the price
- Anti aliased sound isn’t so hifi
- Only aptX support and lack of accessories save 2 essential cables.
Sound performance in AUX connection to a source (ibasso d300 in this case)
Welcome to another side of Bathys in where 71/100 M Gain of Dx300 isn’t especially high volume. This is showing the love of power in our beloved French. First to be noticed is the timbre. certainly not dark like the clouded atmosphere EU is used to (save Spain and Portugal) And the already wide soundstage is more airy now. Treble instruments can reach piercing highs. Despite all the improvements, layering is still not a strong suite of it. So be it.
Treble resolution is higher now. This is a free card into audiophila. Madonna and such great artists / recordings are tastier too. Soundstage is both wide and enveloping. Smooth jazz of Diana Krall is truly lovely now. Angel of Death is with more treble BUT perfect so far because separation and resolution are higher now. And the attack factor is truly more satisfying now. It wouldn’t respond that well (I mean fast) to the attacks in Angel of Death, Solway Firth, All is One etc. And this fast response speed is both helping it’s 3d imaging and extensions. Amorphis’s keyboard hits are echoing in the freezing cold of the north now. And the MJ inspired The Piano Guys’ keyboard is singing like the spring birds of nature. Oh as if above isn’t so good, hearing a wonderful musical atmosphere with layering and tonality in Roscoe is the end of AUX mode.
AUX Mode Pros / Cons
- SQ elevated to a premium headphone
- Technicalities improved greatly
- Sound is comfortable despite the improvements
- Feeling the roi in %75 is just good
- Being attached to a source device is limiting
- Not being able to use some of the functions when AUX connected is puzzling
- No balanced aux connection
- Seeing this level of SQ when unlimited by BT codecs restrictions
- Charging needed to run the active amplifier within
Sound performance in DAC connection to a source (ibasso dx300 in this case)
M’god! This is its best shape so far. Everything is high res and smooth & lively but not smooth due to the darkness of its timbre. Quatro Cirrus Logic CS43198QFN DAC chip has overtaken Bathys most work now.
But even though being loaded with dac and amp power that is a little bit higher than its price, critical listening doesn’t yield an out of this world experience. Changing the ordinary usb c cable to something more beneficial would change the result (oh, here comes the endless debate of cables)
DAC Mode Pros / Cons
- SQ is sky high in this combination
- ROI is near %100 now
- Timbre and other technicalities are related with the source device now
- Great SQ off a laptop (MBA 2022 in this case)
- Getting a fancy dac for Bathys isn’t so rewarding
- Being attached to a source device is limiting
- Improvements are solid but aren’t great
- Not all sources and software support dac out. (UAPP did)
- You can’t use software sound enhancements or ANC
Focal Bathys Review Conclusions
Keywords of premium, bluetooth and headphone rarely come together. But Focal managed to combine all in an effortless fashion and we must congratulate them. Even though not great sounding in BT mode, pretty good with aux and dac modes. Hope for it’s budget variations is in the air.