Focal Bathys BT ANC headphones – far-out French (AV first look)

I am unsure whether I love the new Focal Bathys BT ANC over-the-ear, closed-back headphones because of their individuality or that it took a French company famous for far-out designs to bring them to life. Oh, and they sound fantastic too.

The French have some of the most beautiful (in the eye of the beholder) industrial designs. Remember the iconic, quirky, strangely beautiful Citroen Pallas or the cute Citroen 2CV. Let’s not forget Cheese, Pate, Wine, and Pierre Cardin. OK, I am a closet Francophile.

The Focal Bathys name 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.

This is a first look, out-of-the-box without the benefit of the App, firmware updates or an EQ.

Price and Availability

A$1199 from Addicted To Audio (online and in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Auckland) from 5 October.

First impression – Quirky but distinctive

Magnesium yokes, genuine leather headband and robust Aluminium construction. The external earcup grilles reflect Focal’s distinctive headphones design code. This is a big headphone.

Focal’s flame symbol is at the centre of the earcup, incorporating a white backlight system (if turned on), giving an understated, chic visual effect. All in an elegant and timeless Black/Silver colourway. The design flows to the meticulously finished carrying case supplied with the headphones.

Battery – 30 hours and quick charge

It has a 3.7V/1.06A/4W lithium-ion battery and is compatible with and 5V/.9A/4.5W USB charger or USB-C PD charger. It gives 30 hours of use (TBC) and has fast-charging – 5 extra listening in 15 minutes. Charge time depends on the wattage charger. Ours took just 1.5 hours.


BT 5.1 allows for quick pairing to Google Android and Windows 11. It should multi-point pair to a smartphone and PC. BT has SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX adaptive (we will check for other codecs in the review).

It has a USB DAC (digital to analogue converter), allowing it to both play music and charge at the same time. A 1.2m USB-C cable is inbox. The USB-DAC mode has up to 24-bit/192kHz hi-res music. Don’t underestimate the value of charging and listening at the same time. Sony and Bose cannot – Sennheiser can.

A 1.2m 3.5mm 3-pole stereo cable is inbox. It will work either passively or with ANC.


  • Silent mode optimised for journeys with high background noise (planes, trains, etc.)
  • Soft mode to help with focus at home, in the office, etc. I
  • Transparency mode allows you to hear sounds around you when needed.

We have not run tests yet, but it seems to block up to 100Hz very well.

Hands-free Mics/ANC

It has six microphones for ANC and two beam-forming microphones for clear voice calls. We will test it further in the review, but it seems to have good hands-free characteristics.


The drivers are made in France and have an Aluminium/Magnesium dome. Size/impedance/THD unknown.

App and EQ

The Focal & Naim App (not yet tested) has an EQ, pre-set preferences, and other settings. 

Voice Assistants 

It supports Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa (and we presume Siri) via a push button.

Travel case

It folds flat into the case, but it takes up quite a lot of room. Weighs 355g with a 280g case.


While they are superbly comfortable, I am used to my Sennheiser PXC-550 II, which weighs 227g and has a light fold-in case for travel.

These have luxurious deep and wide ‘vegan leather’ memory foam ear cups and a reasonably light head clamping weight.

How does it sound?

This is the initial out-of-the-box test without the benefit of an App and using the SBC codec.

It has a Neutral signature: The audiophile standard is a flat (good) response that neither adds nor subtracts from the original music! The better the music quality, the better it sounds.

There is loads of deep bass from 40Hz building strongly to 100Hz before it flattens for clear mid and crisp treble offering an extremely precise, well-controlled sound.

The sound stage is wider than regular closed-back headphones. When tested with Dolby Atmos content, the sound stage was far wider again.

You can read how we test How to tell if you have good music (sound signature is the key – guide).

CyberShack’s view – Focal Bathys BT ANC headphones are worth strong consideration

At $1199, these BT ANC Headphones won’t be for everyone because they are about twice the price of Sony WH-1000XM4, Sennheiser Momentum 4/PXC-550-II, Bose QC 45/700 etc.

A first look cannot give you a definite answer, but initial tests indicate this may be the class leader.