Ever wonder what the world’s most expensive headphone is? Perhaps the Sennheiser Orpheus 2 at $55,000? Nope; according to Focal, it’s the Utopia by Tournaire. Focal is a French audio brand that makes some of the best speakers and headphones in the world, and the Utopia is at the top of its headphone heap. It’s an open-back, over-ear design with 1.75″ full-range speaker drivers with pure beryllium M-shaped dome diaphragms. The lambskin and memory-foam ear cushions are designed to optimize the acoustics surrounding your ears while swaddling them in comfort, and the carbon-fiber yoke with lambskin headband keeps them firmly seated where they should be.
At $4000, the Utopia is pretty pricey, but nowhere near the world’s most expensive headphones. That’s where Tournaire comes in. Focal approached the top French jeweler to design a pair of headphones that would be a true work of art without compromising sound quality. They started with the Utopia and replaced the outer mesh with seven ounces of 18K gold in a cutout pattern that duplicates the area of open space found in the original Utopia. They also added a total of 6.5 carats of diamonds arranged in a repeating pattern called “the Trilogy,” the symbol of Tournaire that represents the evolution of life with a square, triangle, and circle.
At CanJam SoCal 2017, I started by listening to the “standard” Utopia being fed from Tidal HiFi on a laptop through a Naim DAC-V1 DAC/headphone amp. Listening to Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years,” the sound was clean, clear, and smooth, but I thought it was just a bit thin and lacking in bass.
Moving over to the Utopia by Tournaire, the source was another computer running Tidal HiFi, and the electronics were all from Questyle, including the Golden edition of the CAS192D DAC, CMA800P preamp, and two CMA800R headphone power amps running in fully balanced mono mode. I listened to “Reelin’ in the Years” again, and this time, the sound was fuller and richer. I was told that the two versions of Utopia sound identical, so the difference must have been due to the electronics.
Okay, so how much are the Utopia by Tournaire headphones? A cool $120,000. And if you want the gold head stand, that’ll be another $12,000. Then there’s the Questyle electronics, which will set you back $12,500 for the Golden edition of the system I heard. Must be nice to have that kind of money to spend on audio bling!