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Focal Utopia 2022 vs. The OG Utopia: Which is Best for You?

Today, we will look at the new Focal 2022 Utopia open-back flagship headphones. This article will discuss some design features, build quality, and my sound impressions with some comparisons to the original Focal Utopia launched in 2016.


Design and Build Quality

Starting first with the design and build quality, the 2022 Focal Utopia, which is made in France, uses genuine leather for the headband, forged recycled carbon for the yokes, perforated lambskin memory foam for the ear pads, M-shaped grills following the curve of the speaker driver, beautiful honeycomb grills, with 40mm M-shaped pure beryllium dome speaker drivers and the same Lemo connectors the original Utopia used.

The impedance of the 2022 Utopia is 80 ohms, with a sensitivity of 104db SPL/ 1mW, with a THD of less than .2%, and an FR of 5Hz-50kHz.  The weight of the Utopia is 490 grams and includes a great Focal carrying case, one 5ft 3.5mm cable, one 10ft 4 pin XLR cable, and one 3.5mm to 1/4” adapter.

The combination of aluminum, genuine leather, and recycled forged carbon creates a luxurious and stunning look for the 2022 Utopia, although a bit more visually low-key than the original Utopia. 

Focal recommends at least 24 hours of burn-in for the drivers with bass-heavy music to stabilize the speaker drivers to achieve optimal sound performance.  I know burn-in is a hot topic; some feel it's a mental burn-in, while others discuss the drivers breaking in during the burn-in phase of ownership.  

Whatever school of thought you subscribe to, I highly recommend you burn them in, as the bass on my first listen was loose and not very punchy.  After many days of letting them burn in, I could hear them tighten up.

As far as comfort, I find them extremely comfortable, as I did with the original Utopia.  The clamping force of the Utopia 2022 is a bit tighter than that of the OG Utopia, but this could be due to them being brand new, and they may loosen up a bit with more use.

The perforated lambskin pads are very soft, along with the headband.  I dig the blacked-out design of the 2022 Utopia with the pop of red on the drivers and the Flame logo proudly displayed.  The forged recycled carbon yokes are beautiful and are a superb design choice compared to the standard braided carbon fiber you see used everywhere else. 

So the question many potential buyers have is whether the 2022 Utopia is worth purchasing over the OG Utopia for about one thousand more dollars. So, before we get into my sound impressions, let's discuss a few factors on this topic.  

Price Comparison

The Original Utopia, launched in 2016, was just shy of $4000, and the new utopia at the time of this article sells for $5000. So, taking inflation, cost of materials, and design and engineering budgets to develop the new Utopia, I see why Focal decided to price the headphones at a higher price point.  

Voice Coil Upgrade

On the flip side of the coin, however, pricing them on the higher end of the flagship headphone market gives the 2022 Utopia some very stiff competition with some other flagship headphones that are very competitive that sell for less, including the OG Utopia.  

In addition to the new grill designs I discussed earlier, Focal updated the voice coil on the 2022 Utopia.  The original Utopia used pure aluminum for its voice coil, allowing it to be lightweight and have extreme sensitivity.  The new voice coil in the 2022 Utopia uses a blend of 70% aluminum and 30% copper, which blend lightweight, a bit more mass and strength for what Focal says should be a longer-lived voice coil with better bass performance.  

Sound Impressions

Focal Utopia 2022Now for my favorite part of nearly every article, my sound impressions!  The 2022 Utopia still possesses much of the same strengths in sound as the original Utopia, such as highly resolving, fast, superb pinpoint imaging, with a few audible differences some will prefer, and others may still lean towards the original Utopia.  As with anything, preference is always at play.
I also think system matching will be a bit different for some users that have built expensive systems around the original Utopia, as many of my audio buddies have acquired endgame tube amplifiers, selecting their perfect complement of tubes, along with matching that amp to a DAC to get the best quality of sound for their preferences for the original Utopia.
So, if you are a current original Utopia owner thinking of grabbing the new Utopia, keep this in mind, as you may have to choose a different filter on your DAC, play with EQ, or change to a different set of tubes to get to your perfect sound as the tunings are not identical.
For my impressions, I utilized Amazon Music HD, Qobuz, and Tidal for streaming, with the latter two services being used with ROON. I listened to several amplifiers and digital-analog converters. 
For my desktop listening sessions with the 2022 Utopia and OG Utopia for tube amps, I listened to the McIntosh MHA200 with stock tubes and the Woo Audio WA23 with stock tubes; for Solid State desktop rigs, I listened to my reference Chord Hugo TT2 as well as the Chord Annie fed by the TT2.  A few other rigs I listened to around the house were the Michi X3 integrated amplifier, which uses an AKM chip for the DAC, the Audio Research I/50 integrated fed by the Michi X3 for its DAC, and lastly, the Marantz 40n, which uses a Sabre chip for its DAC. 


One of the key differences I hear in the tuning of the new 2022 Utopia vs. the OG Utopia is a bit more emphasis on the sub-bass region and a slight reduction in the mid-bass area.  The bass still sounds tight and fast but with a bit more audible sub-bass and slightly less punch in the mid-bass. 

To clarify, there is not a significantly more sub-bass slam from Utopia 2022; it’s just that the mid-bass sounds a bit less prominent than the original Utopia.


Both headphones still sound highly detailed punchy, and dynamic. The midrange of the new Utopia and OG Utopia is similar, with a couple more notable changes.  The upper midrange sounds like it has been pulled back some on the 2022 Utopia, giving it a sense of more warmth and a slightly more relaxed sound. 

Many listeners will favor this change, but many die-hard OG Utopia fans may still prefer the original, slightly more analytical tuning.


The treble also sounds like it has been pulled back some, giving again a bit less airy and sparkly sound from the 2022 Utopia when compared to the OG Utopia.  So, depending on your level of hearing and the areas of the mid-range and treble region you are most sensitive to, you will likely love the changes or still prefer the OG Utopia.

I enjoy both headphones!  It’s all about system matching to get the result you are going for.  Let me give you some examples.  So, with the OG Utopia, I listen directly out of the TT2, and I usually prefer filter 3 or 4, which are a bit warmer, less analytical-sounding filters that allow me to enjoy the OG Utopia more.  

However, with the 2022 Utopia, I prefer filter 2, a more detailed and analytical-sounding filter.  Another example is the MHA200 Headphone tube amplifier, a punchy, detailed little tube amp with a forward-sounding and energetic upper midrange and lower treble presentation when fed by the TT2 on filter 2.

With this setup, I prefer the 2022 Utopia, with its slightly more laid-back upper-midrange and treble presentation for longer listening sessions, as I can personally become more fatigued listening for longer sessions with more forward-sounding upper midrange or treble presentations.

I also find the signature of the new 2022 Utopia lending itself more than the original Utopia to electronica, metal, rock, and other more modern genres. In contrast, the OG Utopia may still have the preferred sound for some listeners in jazz, orchestral and classical music.


The soundstage of the 2022 Utopia is still intimate sounding; however, it has a more open sound signature than the OG Utopia with enjoyable depth, which I especially noticed when listening to Wandering by Yosi Horikawa. Both headphones have precise imaging and layering; however, the OG Utopia may give a bit more razor-sharp images for instruments falling in the upper midrange and treble region.

Timbre-wise, both headphones are similar; however, due to the slightly warmer sound of the 2022 Utopia, you will hear some changes in tonal character to vocals and instruments. None of these changes bothered me, and I enjoyed the slightly fuller-sounding vocals, strings, and less sharp brass; however, this will come down to your hearing and tastes.

The new Utopia changes are positive overall for my music enjoyment preferences which align with a slightly warmer than neutral-leaning tuning.  I enjoyed them with all the amps I currently have in the house, with the TT2, WA23, and MHA200 probably my favorite amps with the new Utopia. 

Final Thoughts

So, should you side-grade if you are a current owner of the original Utopia and love its sound signature?  I say side-grade as I don’t view the new headphones necessarily as better or worse, just different.  Both are top-tier flagship dynamic driver headphones. Which headphones are better for you will be more about visual and audible preferences.

So back to that question, I think if you love the OG Utopia sound and don’t ever feel like they are a bit bright or too forward sounding in the upper mids or treble regions and are satisfied with their neutral-sounding bass presentation, then save your money and keep on trucking with the original Utopia.

However, suppose you wished the Utopia was just a bit more laid back in the upper mids and treble, with a bit more audible sub-bass emphasis, and found the original Utopia to be a bit fatiguing for some music or with your current amp and DAC. In that case, you should highly consider the new Utopia.  

Stay tuned for a future article where I will compare the new Utopia to a couple of other flagship headphones!  As always, I encourage you to listen to the 2022 Utopia and OG Utopia side by side to formulate your impressions, as we all differ on what we value or prefer in sound quality.  

We have bothFocal Utopia 2022 and OG Utopia headphones with multiple amps and DACS in our store's headphone bar, so if you are in SoCal, stop by and hang out with us and have your own listening party.  

If you are interested in trading up your old headphones or other gently used audio gear for a new set of headphones, check out ourtrade-up program, and don’t forget we will price match other authorized dealers!  

Until next time friends, remember, let the music be your guide!

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