You may not have heard of French company Focal, but it makes some very good-sounding headphones. The latest case in point is its new Listen closed-back over-ear headphone, which retails for $249. No word yet on an international launch, but that price roughly translates to £175 or AU$340.
Although this is a full-size headphone, it's designed for mobile use and works just fine with phones -- it has a one-button remote and microphone integrated into the cord, which is detachable. The single-button remote allows you to skip tracks forward and back, pause and play music, and answer and end calls (call quality was good).
Although there are no volume controls on the cord, I like that Focal separated the microphone (a decent quality omnidirectional mic) from the one-button remote, which sits lower down on the cord and is easy to access.
The Listen may not look superstylish, but it is comfortable and is a better designed headphone than Focal's earlier Spirit One, which we reviewed back in 2012. The Listen feels nice and sturdy, but -- at 9.9 ounces or 281 grams -- it isn't the lightest headphone. That weight takes a little away from its comfort level. (Bose's around-ear models and Sony's MDR-1A are more comfortable overall.)
Both Steve Guttenberg, who writes CNET's Audiophiliac column, and I really liked the way this headphone sounded. It offers well-balanced sound with excellent detail; potent, tight bass and clear mids. It also sounds pretty open for a closed-back headphone, so the sound doesn't get stuck inside your head.