Focal presents Bathys, their first wireless headphones with Active noise cancellation. Benefiting from the brand’s savoir-faire in sound and high-end headphones prowess, Bathys delivers a pure hi-fi sound, via 5.1 Bluetooth multipoint or wired connection thanks to its USB-DAC mode.
A Wireless Headphone with Audiophile Heritage
Focal of France makes headphones that cost $5,000. When their engineers were challenged with producing a great headphone for travel, they designed it to share the technology found in their best headphones. This could be the world’s best sounding portable headphone.
Outstanding Comfort & Beautiful Design
The high performance Focal headphones are known for long lasting comfort and a design that lets people know you are listening to something special. The Bathys carries both of these traditions into a wireless model. They are super comfortable and look fantastic, we especially like the way you can light up the Focal logo.
Equally at Home for High Performance Listening
With the famous M driver, built in high performance USB DACs, and a dedicated amplifier, the Bathys will not disappoint the music lover. This is the part that makes them so great, you can use them on the road in wireless mode, then switch to high performance mode for at home listening.
Product & Company History
This article is on a first time breakthrough product from Focal that has been in the works for over 3 years — Bathys Closed-Back Wireless & Noise Cancelling Headphones. They come from a company known for their uber high end audiophile headphones and add noise canceling and wireless along with their great sound and fantastic design.
Focal is headquartered in France and has been around more than 40 years. Focal makes very high end audiophile products from headphones that cost $5,000 to speakers that sell for $250,000. Any company that plays in the stratosphere of ultra high performance like Focal needs a superb team of engineers who are all driven to design the best sounding products possible.
And, when you create products in the extreme high end category, the engineers usually find a way to bring some of the great tech they discover into their much more affordable products. That is exactly the case with the new Bathys wireless headphones.
So what makes these so special? First, they are terrific travel headphones that are a step above the normal Sony and Bose models you will see people wearing on planes. Second, they double as terrific sounding home and office headphones.
Design & Build Quality
So what is with the name Bathys? It was inspired from the word bathyscaphe, which is a small submersible vessel used for deep sea dives. When you are down that deep, there is nothing but silence and calm, which is how Focal feels your experience will be when wearing these headphones.
If you have seen any of the other high performance Focal headphones you know they have a very distinctive look, which Focal carried forward with the new Bathys. They have that great curved design with the perforated aluminum back where the perforations get tighter in their pattern pushing the Focal logo towards the front. It just looks super cool. But there is a side benefit to this look — with most headphones, you have to go find the R or L to know which way to put them on. With the Bathys, you just put the logo side towards the front and don’t even have to look for the R or L, pretty cool! When you look around the airport lounge, you see lots of people with standard black travel headphones. Not these. They not only sound better, but they look the part — just like a supercar standing out in a parking lot.
The materials used in the Bathys are mostly aluminum, leather, and magnesium, with the only colors being black and a silver gray. Focal’s higher end headphones, like the Clear MG Open-Back Over-Ear Headphones, for example, are known not only for amazing sound, but a level of comfort that exceeds other brands. We have always thought their headphones were super easy to wear. This was even more important for them with the Bathys with the travel use case. These weigh only 12 ¾ ounces which is very light for a headphone of this quality level. A lot of noise cancelling headphones like Sony and Bose are more on ear than over ear, which can reduce the long term comfort.
The Bathys have very deep and wide earcups, making them a great fit for everyone. The pads themselves are ⅞” thick and almost ¾” wide. There is then a gap of about ¼” between them and the soft cover for the driver giving room for people with larger ears. The opening for your ear is also much bigger than a Sony or Bose at roughly 2 5/8” tall and about 1 ¾” wide.
The entire surface of the cups are real soft leather over a very nicely squishy memory foam.
The headband is also covered in soft leather over memory foam that is ¾” thick where it touches the top of your head. The magnesium yokes adjust quite freely and were really easy to get a comfortable fit. Like most good headphones, the adjustments in or out on the headband click in place in small increments to make it easy to fine tune them.
We wore them for several hours, and even after a long time, we did not experience much heat build up or any discomfort, which is exactly what we would expect from Focal.
Features & Technology
Looking at the features you can access from the headphones, the right earcup has the button you press to initially connect bluetooth, volume/mute, the on/off or DAC switch, a smart assistant for Google or Alexa button, a USB charging and DAC connection, and an analog cable connection. The Clear Voice Capture mic is also on the right facing towards the front. The left side has one button which controls the way noise canceling operates.
The headphones come nicely packaged and include an ergonomic travel case that is somewhat hard and covered in what feels like a wool material that is light gray. A 1 meter USB C cable and ⅛” analog cable are included with the headphones.
Remarkably, these can play for 30 hours using both Bluetooth and active noise cancelling without a charge and only take 90 minutes to fully charge. There is even a quick charge mode that gives you 5 hours of life in 15 minutes which is great when you are sitting in the terminal thinking, oh no, I forgot to charge my headphones.
Ok so far, these might sound like a really nicely made pair of very comfortable headphones you can use at home or on the road. Let's look at what impressed us so much.
Focal wanted the Bluetooth aspect of these to deliver the best audio, so they chose Bluetooth 5.1 technology that works with SBC, AAC, Apt-X™ and Apt-X™ Adaptive codecs, which is a great choice on their part. It supports high-definition audio up to 48 kHz sampling rates and sample resolutions up to 24 bits. We see some headphones that do not go the Apt-X route, which makes no sense to us.
Focal has been perfecting their proprietary ‘M’-shaped dome driver for years. It is made in France from a combination of magnesium and aluminum. A version of this is used in all of their top end headphones. The Bathys gets a new version of this same driver designed to be lighter for portable use. You get that same great dynamic sound that can reveal the tiniest detail, yet has that classic Focal warmth that makes their headphones so easy to listen to for a long time.
Focal also has an app for the Bathys that lets you perform basic equalization and even save eq curves if you want to. The app lets you switch between noise canceling modes and turn the lights on, off, or dim on the earcups.
Focal Bathys Performance
This driver gives these headphones a big leg up on the competition and enables them to sound like a wonderful pair of static headphones, yet offer both bluetooth and noise cancelling. And let us tell you, they sound fantastic. We were playing some of our favorite test tracks that have very small details hidden in the background that most travel headphones just completely gloss over. On every single one, we could clearly hear the little details totally separated from the other instruments and that was using Bluetooth!
The real magic happens when you use the USB connection. This would generally be used for home or office use, but you simply slide the little switch to DAC On and this engages a great DAC that is inside the headphones. Yes, the Bathys includes a USB-DAC that can handle up to 24/192k. Standalone headphone DAC amplifiers like this can cost upwards of $500 by themselves. We tested this on a Mac Studio. This bypasses the inexpensive Digital to Analog converter in the Mac and instead uses the superior DAC in the headphones. This also engages the small amplifier inside the headphones instead of driving them passively with the Mac. The difference was fantastic. We played several tracks including the now famous Maverick: Top Gun album.
The separation of the instruments in the “Top Gun Anthem” track is incredible using the DAC. We found ourselves wanting to just listen to more and more music with the DAC engaged. As you would expect, the entire soundstage opened up and they could deliver the full symphonic dynamics without any strain. So with these headphones, whenever you are in the mood for higher performance listening, you just switch over to using the USB DAC. And that’s not it. Let’s say you just keep getting into your music and want to push these headphones to an even higher level. Well they have a mini headphone jack that you can connect to a high performance standalone headphone DAC/amplifier. We tested them with a high end desktop headphone amp and they stepped up even more.
We were also very impressed with the way they set up the noise cancelling. A small button on the left cup will turn this on or off, but the on mode has two settings. You press the button quickly to select on or off, but if you hold it down for two seconds when noise canceling is turned on, you can switch between silent mode and soft mode. Silent mode will be great for travel completely block out external noise, while soft mode lets you hear a bit more of what is going on around you. We found we liked soft mode when we used Bluetooth at home. The off position is what Focal calls Transparent mode.
These will also be great for office use. Since they are closed back headphones, very little sound escapes, so you will not be disturbing your neighbors at all.
All and all, these headphones are a killer triple play. They are the best sounding portable headphones we have heard to date, you can use them at home in USB DAC mode for audio that gets you darn close to the Focal Clear MG that costs almost 3 times as much, and you can use them at work in either of the noise canceling modes.
We have to hand it to Focal, their first attempt at a high performance, wireless, noise cancelling headphone is a huge success. There are a lot of headphones that don’t make the cut for a review from Audio Advice, so when we bring you a headphone like these and let you know how much we like them, your greatest way of supporting us is to purchase them from one of our award winning showrooms or from AudioAdvice.com. You can purchase with confidence with our price guarantee, free two day shipping, and lifetime support. We appreciate your support of Audio Advice and look forward to delivering you a great customer experience.
Bathys offers a detailed, precise and dynamic sound, showcasing the high-fidelity sound responsible for Focal’s reputation for over 40 years, both in France and worldwide.
It offers two noise-cancelling modes for a total escape into your music: a “Silent” mode optimised for journeys with high background noise (planes, trains, etc.) and a “Soft” mode to help with focus at home, in the office, etc. It also features a “Transparency” mode that allows you to hear sounds around you when needed.
Easily accessible control buttons and Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistants are provided for effortless use. It also has an adjustable EQ to customize the sound. The voice assistants, EQ and other settings are available in the dedicated app developed by Focal.
Compatible with SBC, AAC, Apt-X™ and Apt-X™ Adaptive codecs, Bathys provides an extensive choice of connectivity modes (Bluetooth®, Jack, USB). It also has a Clear Voice Capture microphone technology for crystal clear telephone conversations.
In terms of battery life, Bathys offers over 30 hours of use, with its fast-charging function giving you 5 extra listening hours in just 15 minutes. Finally, two cables (4ft (1.2m) 3.5mm Jack and 4ft (1.2m) USB-C) are supplied with the headphones for optimal wired listening to suit all uses.
MADE IN FRANCE SPEAKER DRIVERS
Manufactured in Saint-Étienne at the Focal workshops, the speaker drivers inside the Bathys headphones benefit from the expertise of a brand that constantly innovates to improve its products, providing the ideal solution regardless of how you want to listen. With their Aluminum/Magnesium dome, the Bathys speaker drivers deliver a deep bass, soft trebles and a clear mid-range, for an extremely precise sound. The integrated USB-DAC mode offers a resolution of up to 24 bit / 192kHz for even more impressive performance.
A REFINED AESTHETIC SIGNATURE
The Bathys design is inherited from Focal’s open and closed-back headphones. These ergonomic headphones combine refined materials, such as Magnesium on the yokes, real leather on the headband and Aluminum for a robust construction, resulting in outstanding comfort for any head shape. The earcup grilles reflect Focal’s distinctive headphones design code, with its highly aesthetic curves. Focal’s flame symbol features at the center of the earcup, incorporating a white backlight system to be activated if desired, for an understated, chic visual effect. Another standout feature of Bathys is its elegant and timeless Black Silver colorway. Designed to be lighter, more compact and with superior staying power, it is the ideal travel companion. A meticulously finished carrying case is supplied with the headphones.
BATHYS: WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Bathys comes from the word ‘bathyscaphe’, the first submarine exploration vehicle. The embodiment of calm, depth and absolute silence, this vessel is the inspiration behind the name of these ANC headphones.
- Portable headphones with Bluetooth and active noise cancelling
- Two optimised noise-cancelling modes and a transparency mode, ideal for any journey
- Patented speaker driver technology, made in France
- USB-DAC mode enables a resolution of up to 24bits / 192kHz
- Battery life of over 30 hours in Bluetooth and active noise cancelling mode
- Fast charging-compatible: 5 extra listening hours in 15 minutes
- Easily enabled voice assistants: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- Clear Voice Capture microphone technology for crystal clear telephone conversations
- App for accessing more custom settings: equaliser, sound contols, etc.
|Type||Closed-back wireless headphones with active noise cancelling|
|Bluetooth technology||5.1 Multipoint|
|Bluetooth range||Up to 50 ft|
|Bluetooth frequency range||2402MHz - 2480Mhz|
|Battery life||30 hours Bluetooth® Noise Cancelling
35 hours Jack mode
42 hours USB DAC
|Voice assistants||Google Assistant
|Other features||Google Fast Pair|
|Speaker drivers||1-5/8" (40mm) Aluminium-Magnesium ‘M’-shaped dome, made in France|
|Frequency response||15Hz to 22kHz|
|Harmonic distortion rate||less than 0.2% @1kHz|
|Carrying case supplied||9-7/16"x 8-1/4"x 2-3/4" (24x21x7cm)|
|Control application||Focal and Naim, iOS and Android compatible|
|Accessories||Rigid carrying case supplied
2 cables supplied: one 4ft (1.2m) Jack cable; one 4ft (1.2m) USB-C cable
Quick start guide