American manufacturer Fluid Audio presents a budget-friendly headphone mixing system called Focus. Focus combines a pair of semi-open studio headphones and an optimized version of the dSONIQ Realphones software for room and monitor speaker simulation. The package is sold at an eyebrow-raising USD / EUR 69. That’s about half of what you’d pay for a pair of decent headphones alone!
Focus Audio Focus headphone mixing system
The headphones don’t look fancy and they don’t promise some sort of luxury listening experience. They look like the typical “workhorse on a budget” model offered by most headphone makers, and they probably sound accurate enough to not be a hindrance. Don’t mistake this for a lack of enthusiasm. I actually like the unpretentious approach – it’s high time we let go of the notion that producing a pair of reliable, useful studio headphones takes some sort of grand technical and design wizardry. Convincing you to pay USD 999 instead of USD 99 for one of these is marketing, not engineering. Rant over.
As for the Realphones software – it’s not the stock dSONIQ app/plug-in, but a Fluid Audio edition where the manufacturer’s FX/FPX studio monitors have been profiled for simulation using the Focus headphones. Like most of its kind, the software uses a combination of frequency alignment, virtual space simulation, and psycho-acoustic modeling to trick your brain into perceiving a speaker-like stereo image from the headphones.
I don’t have any experience with Realphones, but I know the software has been around for a while and it seems remarkably easy to use. Considering the stock Realphones starts at EUR 67 for the Lite version (regular price), the Focus system becomes the kind of bargain that makes one a little sceptical. To that, you can trial Realphones for 41 days, using either generic or brand-name headphones to get a feel for how it plays out. Have a look at the DSONIQ website.
Fluid Audio Focus – Price and availability
The Focus system is available now from Fluid Audio dealers, priced USD/EUR 69.
Fluid Audio Focus – More information