Focal Sphear Wireless Headphones Review
The comfortable Focal Sphear wireless headphones sound fantastic and run for over 8 hours per charge.
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The Focal Sphear wireless headphones take our favorite in-ear design and cut the cord. These may be the best earphones you will ever hear. Having previously reviewed the Focal Sphear in-ear headphones, I found them to be some of the best fit, sound, and usable earphones on the market. You can wear them for extended periods. They effectively block out ambient sounds. They also seem to hold up to extended use.
And now Focal offers them as wireless headphones.
So the one question we’re trying to answer now is simply: do the wireless Sphear headphones sound as good as the wired models?
The Focal Sphear S line of headphones has always struck a decent balance between price and quality. The wired Focal Sphear headphones retail for less than $80. That’s far less than when they debuted. Focal has the Shear wireless headphones priced around $129. For comparison, the lower-priced Focal Spark headphones sell for around $45.
Pricing aside, the other point of balance centers around bass. The Focal Sphear headphones provide ample amounts. The response has always come across as accurate, with rich, satisfying low end. This often proves difficult with headphones due to the nature of how they work. The Sphear S series simply have a nice, comfortable fit that blocks ambient noise while creating a good seal in the ear canal. This seal provides the capability for better bass.
Comfort and Fit
The fact that it does this—and now, so do the Sphear Wireless headphones—with a high degree of comfort astounds me. I have reviewed dozens and dozens of headphones and earphones, and comfort frequently detracts from otherwise great designs.
But, if you can’t wear your headphones long enough to enjoy their sound…what good are they?
The Focal Sphear in-ear headphones rest just outside the ear with silicone tips that act as invisible seals. As I did with the wireless models, I clocked several work days in a row wearing these for over 10 hours continuously. I didn’t have them outputting audio the entire time, but they never left my ears. I experienced neither weight nor discomfort in my rather sensitive ear canals. Focal also gives you options. They provide small, medium, and large silicone and memory foam tips.
Focal Sphear Specifications
- Type: In-ear headphone, bass-reflex
- Bluetooth: 4.1
- BT Audio CODECs: SBC / aptX
- Range: 10 m
- Battery run-time: 8 hours (max)
- THD (1kHz / 100sB SPL): <0.3%
- Frequency response: 15Hz-22kHz
- Driver: 1/4″ electrodynamic (sandwich diaphragm in Mylar and polyurethane)
- Microphone: Omnidirectional
- Colors: Black, Blue, Olive, Purple
- Weight: 0.53 oz. (15 g)
- Includes: 3 pairs silicone ear tips (S/M/L), 3 pairs memory foam ear tips (S/M/L), cord wrap, short USB charging cable, soft bag
Using the Focal Wireless Headphones
Like the wired models, Focal includes an omnidirectional mic for phone calls. Instead of the hidden inline “logo” remote, the new Bluetooth headphones include a standard three-button control area. You can take calls, turn the headphones on or off, skip, rewind, and even toggle between Standard and Loudness EQ modes (we preferred Standard). Focal houses the battery in a separate, centered compartment. This actually helps balance the headphones.
A standard micro-USB port lives on the side of the 3-button control. An easily-removed rubberized cover protects the port from dust.
Focal Sphear Wireless Headphones Listening Tests
My pattern for headphone reviews includes long-term listening sessions combined with travel use. Initially, I listened to several hours of classical music followed by classic rock and pop. Tracks ranged from orchestral to heavy bass, detailed guitar work, and of course, plenty of male and female vocals. I took the Focal Sphear wireless headphones on a business trip, wearing them on a plane for more than 5 hours (total). I also wore them for several days in the office. Each day they lasted for slightly over 8 hours—a little more than advertised.
Like the wired headphones, the Focal Sphear Bluetooth earphones provide a phenomenal amount of detail. Highs are crisp, but not clipped. Whether flutes or cymbals, detail pops without distorting. For classical, I always queue up Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major played by the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra. I enjoy the wide dynamic range on this piece and focusing on the multi-layered strings.
For some “denser” rock, I listened to the remastered version of Queensryche Empire. The challenge with music like this always comes down to presenting high frequencies alongside synth and bass without losing either. The Focal Sphear wireless headphones seemed to handle the challenge well. In “Best I Can”, the final guitar solo plays alongside a driving bass beat—capped with a legato multi-string slide. Immediately after, Geoff Tate picks back up with his operatic lead.
While not a lesson in finessed mixing, the combination presents a challenge for most headphones. I was able to hear everything I’m used to clearly and without additional distortion from the onslaught of sound through the single “sandwich” Mylar driver.
Another track I paid careful attention to included Disturbed’s cover of “The Sound of Silence”. While David Draiman’s voice has an incredible amount of power, he also exhibits tons of control. I always listen for the mouth and breath noises at the beginning of this track. This sort of sibilance makes for a great reveal as to whether finer details can be accurately and cleanly brought out of smaller-diameter full-range drivers. Focal did as good a job on rendering this track as any in-ear headphones I’ve heard. Rich bass, clear vocal detail, and consistent stereo imaging of the strings and piano.
For a slightly calmer listening experience, I brought up “Welcome to the Machine” from Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here album. I love the way the guitar strums through this song while the synths rage and the bass notes bounce endlessly back and forth between the left and right channels. When the strong, but minimalistic lead vocals kick in, the concurrent sub-octave lyric came through clearly and with great detail. The detail on this secondary vocal often gets lost on poorer-quality headphones.
You can get Focal Sphear Wireless headphones for $129. That’s a lower price than the original retail for the wired Sphear S headphones. These wireless headphones sound better than most I’ve tried—including models from Phiaton, Jabra, and Plantronics. While Focal does a great deal with detail and dynamics, you can also wear these headphones for a long time. They stay comfortable, and they run for more than 8 hours. That makes them more than a little noteworthy.
So, do the wireless Sphear headphones sound as good as the wired models? I’d say they get to 95% or more of the sound of the wired models. They also come in four colors—Black, Blue, Olive, and Purple—a nice touch for those wanting to add some more personality to their headphones. The one year warranty may also help influence your buying choice. For more information visit the Focal website.