Focal Bathys bring firm's high-end headphone excellence to wireless, noise-cancelling design

Over-ear headphones: Focal Bathys
(Image credit: Focal)

It was only a matter of time before a pair of premium wireless noise-cancelling headphones joined Focal’s ranks among its established high-end wired models, which include the recently released Utopia (2022). The new Focal Bathys (£699 / $799 / AU$1199) arrive as the latest Bluetooth headphones to belong to the newly evolved upper echelon of the market.

While the French brand has dabbled in lower-priced wireless over-ears before, the Bathys are its first pair with active noise cancellation. There are two ANC modes to choose from: ‘Silent’, which promises to block out sound in noisy environments, and ‘Soft’, a presumably less intense isolating mode designed to help the wearer focus at home or in the office. The almost ubiquitous ‘Transparency’ setting that lets in external sounds (such as train announcements) is also present and correct.

Over-ear headphones: Focal Bathys

(Image credit: Focal)

On the Bluetooth front, the Bathys don’t disappoint. They support the high-quality aptX Adaptive codec (backwards compatible with aptX), as well as the customary SBC and AAC. They can be listened to wired, too – and not only via their 3.5mm jack but also their USB-C port, thanks to a USB-DAC mode that enables a hi-res resolution of up to 24-bit/192kHz. 1.2m cables for both 3.5mm and USB-C are supplied in the box.

Which way you listen affects battery life: they offer 30 hours of wireless playback, 35 hours wired through the jack, and 42 hours wired over USB. A 15-minute ‘fast-charge’ provides five hours of listening, too. All in all, that's pretty good.

The familiar aluminium/magnesium ‘M-shaped’ dome drivers inside are manufactured in Focal’s Saint-Étienne workshop (the same in which its loudspeakers are created), and the sound they produce can be customised to some degree by way of the EQ adjustment within the companion app. 

Over-ear headphones: Focal Bathys

(Image credit: Focal)

Those who are familiar with the company’s wired open- and closed-back models will see that the Bathys share more than one strand of their aesthetic DNA. There’s magnesium on the yokes, real leather on the headband, the distinct grilles and curvy-centric design, and Focal’s flame symbol features at the centre of the earcup and can be backlit if desired. The chosen colour finishes for this model are black and silver.

If you’ve got this far and have read ‘Bathys’ as both “Bath-ees” and “Battys”, let us tell you that the former is correct, as the naming comes from the word ‘bathyscaphe’, the first submarine exploration vehicle. Focal says that the vessel is “the embodiment of calm, depth and absolute silence” – a metaphorical summation of its latest headphones. Well, there you go.

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Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her eight years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.