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Focal Unveils the Mimi Hearing Test and Dune Bathys

Now available in a new Dune color, our favorite wireless headphone of 2022 receive firmware and app updates enabling sound personalization.

Woman wearing Focal Bathys Headphones in Dune

Since their unveiling in October 2022, Focal’s Bathys headphones have dominated the high-end wireless headphone category. The French manufacturer has struggled to keep these award-winning headphones in stock and we consistently see them in airports, cafes, and while commuting.

When you consider the $699 USD asking price, that level of visibility is a very positive development on a lot of levels.

EIC Ian White just returned from Central America and Mexico and saw 5 people wearing them in 3 different cities. Detractors will point at the thousands of consumers walking around wearing Apple AirPods Max and remind us that Focal and the rest of the Head-Fi community represent 1% of the global headphone market and all of this is beyond niche.

Did you just figure that out for yourself? Give yourself a star.

Focal Bathys Headphone button controls on earcup

Just Who is Mimi and Why is She Wearing Dune Bathys?

I like to think that I’m a glass half-full kind of person, but have to admit that when a vendor announces they are upgrading one of my favorite products, there is this awful feeing that they are going to screw it up. And in the case of the Bathys, that feeling of dread has been circling around the drain for the past few weeks.

Focal has announced a rather significant update to the app and knowing that it could potentially make a superb product not perform at the same level troubles me.

Why the hand wringing and consternation?

The Bathys is the first wireless headphone that I could be comfortable with instead the vast majority of my wired headphone collection and that’s a huge shift for both an enthusiast and editor.

The sound quality is class leading and the ANC, while not the absolute best at total noise reduction, manages to dramatically reduce background noise without altering the sound quality which is something many of the more aggressive ANC headphones simply cannot claim.

What’s new?

In order to use the new features announced today, both the headphone firmware and the app need to be upgraded to the latest builds. For the headphone, firmware 1.5.4 is recommended (1.5.2 will work with some but not all features) whilst the app requires version 6.4.1 in order to provide the latest feature set.  

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The big additions to this latest release are a new colorway and sound personalization system.  

Focal Bathys Wireless Headphones in Dune (left) and dark gray (right)
Focal Bathys Wireless ANC Headphones in Dune (left) and black/silver (right)

New Color

Previously, you could have any color you wanted as long as it was black with silver trim, but now a Dune color scheme is available as well. The sand color of the new version gives the Bathys less of an industrial look as the mix of black and silver (gray) has a milled steel look while the tan is a bit more subtle.   

Those who think of headphones as fashion accessories will likely find the new color a bit less conspicuous; it should blend with multiple colors better than the gun-metal aesthetic of the first release.    

Focal Bathys App 6.4.1 Main Screen 2023
Focal Bathys App 6.4.1 Setup
Focal Bathys App 6.4.1 Hearing Assessment

App Update

The app upgrade is available for both new and existing customers and began to show up in the app stores (both Google and Apple) ahead of time which gave me time to try it out before today’s announcement.    

The new 6.4.1 update now incorporates Mimi sound personalization. There is about a 5 minute test that is conducted with the listener trying to discern beeps from a background of white noise.

Focal are not the first to offer sound personalization and it is a feature that is likely to become more popular as a point of differentiation. PSB has already integrated it into its latest wireless headphones and one should expect to see it from all of the major players going forward.

How it works?

Focal’s approach is slightly different from what we have seen so far and I found the exercise extremely useful and something worth discussing in greater detail because everyone’s experience will be different.    

The practice test is helpful as the mechanics are a bit unusual from the perspective that the listener is required to touch the screen when they first hear the beep and release the hold when they can no longer hear the beep above the noise.    

Focal Bathys App 6.4.1 Sound Personalization
Focal Bathys App 6.4.1 Your Personalization
Focal Bathys App 6.4.1 Playlist

This sequence is repeated for multiple frequencies and both ears are tested separately (which is useful for those of us with differences from one side to the other).    

After the completion of the test, the app displays the results and the recommended corrections. For the sake of demonstration purposes, I may have cheated somewhat and exaggerated a hearing loss in order to get the accompanying graphic of the test results.  

Bathys owners can take the test as often as they would like and once signed up on Mimi.IO, multiple profiles can be stored for different listeners (although it does require that multiple Mimi accounts be created to do so).  

This also allows users to create a profile on one device and use it on others; I was able to create a profile on my Android OnePlus 11 5G and then utilize it on my iPhone 14 later in the testing session.   

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This may be a non-event for some, but for others that ability to share it between a smartphone and tablet will be extremely convenient.

Once the test is complete, options are presented to turn the personalization on to experience the changes or one can disable it; users can also fine tune the customization by adjusting the intensity of the changes with a slider.   

I found it easy to increase the intensity and enjoyed the sound best with moderate enhancement and the intensity set at roughly 30%.

The Mimi section of the app does not allow customization of the sound profile other than retaking the exam, but the five band graphic equalizer in the app is still active with sound personalization enabled, which enables users to modify the sound to their liking.

Focal Bathys wireless headphones with cables inside carrying case in Dune

Does it work?

Users are likely to take the test and overcompensate somewhat based on the results, but it’s also an interesting exercise for consumers to discover that their hearing may not be ideal.

You should always visit an audiologist every few years for an accurate assessment of your hearing regardless of your results with the software.

The new Dune colorway looks less industrial which will positively influence the mainstream appeal of the Bathys in a category with some strong competition that is already available in a wide range of colors.

Focal Bathys Wireless Headphones in Dune

Final Thoughts

The Bathys was our top pick in 2022 in the wireless headphone category and we have still not listened to anything this year that has knocked the French headphone out of the top spot. The introduction of Mimi is not ground breaking but it does improve the overall experience and that will only enhance the appeal of these headphones.

Focal Bathys in Dune now available at $699 at Amazon and Headphones.com.

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