Final thoughts and conclusions.
So, after about a month with the Stellia, how do I feel about it? Well, for starters, incredibly sad to be sending it back to where it came from. More than any other pair of headphones, I’ve been excited to simply want to make time to sit down and play music with them. They’re addictive in a way that needs to be experienced – they manage to combine detail, dynamics, and tonal balance with aplomb. And, they just so happen to be close-backed. Not once did I find myself missing the air and sound stage of an open-back pair of headphones – if anything I grew to appreciate the ‘cocoon’ the Stellia formed around my head.
But, of course, there’s the cost factor and there’s no getting around it. And, of course, a lot of the Stellia’s cost includes paying for its sumptuous build and its absolutely decadent aesthetics. There’s clearly a market for this kind of headphone, and if it gets more people to take notice of high-end personal audio and want to experience something truly remarkable – well that’s just great. I appreciated the build and craftsmanship as someone only spending a brief amount of time with the Stellia, but in all honesty, they’re simply too ostentatious-looking for this reviewer. I’d feel simply too conspicuous if I left the house with them, and honesty, probably too conspicuous if I looked at myself in the mirror wearing them at home. If Focal managed to package that driver in a low-key black plastic metal body, with Alcantara instead of leather – and delivered at a lower price-point – then I’d be at the front of the queue.
And here’s the other thing – the Stellia, to me, is the perfect headphone for someone who’s prepared to pay top-dollar to have the best of something. They’re absolutely a ‘desert island’ pair of headphones – if you could only have one pair, then they might just be that pair. They impress beyond anything else I’ve heard. But audio enthusiasts, myself included, enjoy mixing things up from time to time – and for me, that means using a range of several, less expensive pieces of equipment.
The Stellia feels like the flagship for the person who’s perhaps not quite the traditional hobbyist who’s looking to add something to their collection and enjoy the nuances between different headphones. Rather, the Stellia feels like it’s been created for someone who’s a) able to afford it, and b) wants to go straight to the ‘end-game’ and own one pair of headphones for bragging rights that screams ‘BEST’ in every regard – more leather…more detail…more bass…more accessories…more everything.
The Stellia reminds me of another ostentatious French flagship from another industry – the Bugatti Veyron. It was, at one point, the fastest and most expensive production car ever made, and it certainly looked like it too. You wouldn’t exactly take a Veyron out for your daily commute nor would you leave it parked on the street, it’s more the kind of vehicle you keep garaged as a ‘trophy’. You’re also more likely to find a Veyron driving in first gear on Rodeo Drive than hammering around the Nordschleife.
But, at the end of the day, it’s all about priorities. What ‘sparks joy’ for you? If it happens to be music, and you plan to listen to a lot of it with something that’s exquisitely designed and manufactured, then what’s stopping you? I can promise you unreservedly that the Focal Stellia is a 10/10 listen – there’s nothing like it. If this gives you a little inspiration to work harder or deprioritize something else in your life that’s not making you happy, then I’m pleased to have been of service. The Stellia is now added to our list of Recommended headphone buys!