Focal has been making high-quality audio equipment for 40 years now and recently we were lucky enough to be sent the Focal Sphear Wireless Earbuds for review.
At first glance, you may look at the Focal Sphear Wireless Earbuds and think, how retro. These days, in a world of mostly true wireless earbuds, the Focal Sphear stands out by having both buds connected by a wire.
Hanging from the left bud are the in-line controls that allow you to adjust the volume and control music playback. It’s also where the micro USB charging port resides. I’ve never been a fan of the micro USB port and it’s unfortunate that Focal didn’t go with USB-C instead. However, on the plus side, at least all the buttons are clicky and work well.
Since the battery and other components are housed on the cable portion of the Focal Sphear Wireless Earbuds, it helps take a lot of pressure off your ears that you typically experience with true wireless buds. This makes them comfortable to wear and Focal includes a set of silicone and memory foam ear tips in the box giving you even more options when it comes to comfort.
It’s not all good news though, since there is more weight on the cable, I found it tugged on the earbuds and kept pulling them out of my ear. To solve this, I used the included handy magnetic clip to hold the wire in place. It was the first time I’ve ever seen a magnetic clip like this and I really liked the extra bit of design and how premium it felt compared to boring plastic clips that other headphone makers usually use.
Unlike many other high-end Bluetooth headphones, Focal doesn’t have an app for its earbuds. I was really disappointed there was no way to customize the equalizer and no Google Assistant or Alexa support built-in.
While I know Focal focuses mostly on providing high-quality audio in its products, at this price point I’ve come to expect more from the user experience, such as a fully-featured app or active noise cancellation.
Focal puts a focus on precision sound and makes use of the aptX codec from Qualcomm for a high-quality connection between the Sphear Wireless and your phone.
I’d describe the sound signature of the Sphear Wireless as neutral, bright, and crisp. These aren’t buds for bass lovers, although the Sphear Wireless does provide a nice tight punch of bass. There’s even a different sound profile you can enable by long-pressing the volume up and down buttons with a bit more in the low-end.
However, overall, I found the bass to be lacking in both modes for my tastes, but if you prefer your audio with a flatter more neutral sound then the Sphear Wireless won’t disappoint.
Focal rates the Sphear Wireless Earbuds for up to eight hours of continuous playback. In my experience, that was very close to accurate, however, I wish it were longer. Many true wireless earbuds these days offer several hours of listening time, some matching the eight hours of the Sphear Wireless, with even more when combined with the charging case.
While the Focal Sphear Wireless sound good for those who prefer a more neutral sound signature, I felt they came up a little short for the $250 asking price. I wish there had been a way to tweak the EQ with an app and that they offered longer battery life.
When you can get a pair of true wireless pair of buds with similar acoustics for $200 or less, along with having more battery life and more features–such as the Klipsch T5 True Wireless II–the Focal Sphear Wireless is a bit of a hard sell. And for a little more, you can also snag a pair of Sony’s fantastic WF-1000XM4 ANC earbuds for $280.
Taking that into account, it makes the Focal Sphear look like not much of a bargain and you really have to be a Focal fan to choose them above some of the true wireless competition.