Focal Bathys - Fix for volume increments likely?

Hi forums!

Picked up a pair of Bathys at a great price. Loving the sound, comfort is pretty good and connectivity has been flawless.

Volume is my big issue and it seems wild that they are working As Designed. Each increment/step from the on-device buttons is huge compared to any other device of this nature I have used. They always just feel a touch too quiet or a touch too loud.

I have this issue on my iPhone and my A&K DAP. It is weird to watch as I can use the 150 step volume on my DAP and the Bathys just ignores the first 7 or so inputs and then adjusts the volume on the 8th by those 8 steps in one go!
Same on the iPhone when I use the volume slider on the screen…nothing happens when it moves until it reached the level at which they are willing to change volume.

Wild that such a good pair of cans would not have a more reasonable adjustment and I am hoping this is something that could be fixed with firmware, but the fact that it has yet to happen makes me a bit anxious it is not feasible or not on the roadmap at least.

I know I am not the only one as reviewers and forum users have mentioned it and I maybe should have taken these comments more seriously! I have dropped Focal support a message on this and have yet to hear back.

What say you guys? Am I fussing over nothing? Does it drive you nuts too? Any insight as to whether it will be fixed?

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Just a thought. What about a 3rd party bluetooth DAC/amp connected to your phone transmitting to your headphones? You might find they have better volume sensitivity compared to the proprietary one, although you’d have to try to be sure.

I recently bought a Fiio BTR5 bluetooth amp to connect my phone to my (wired) IEMs. It certainly has far more linear volume adjustment than just using the phone volume control. I don’t think it acts as a receiver and transmitter simultaneously though so it wouldn’t solve your issue but perhaps illustrates the principle.

Bruce

Welcome by the way!

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Hi Bruce - thanks!

Interesting thought re: the transmitter, though I don’t know if that will work as it seems the issue is on the Bathys amp side and not the source, but it could be worth trying - though introducing another device into the pocket is not ideal for my use case!

In Wired DAC mode the issue actually seems less pronounced so perhaps it is something about the way in interacts with the source in BT…

I have heard from others that it does the same thing when connected to Android devices but not had a chance to try myself

Hi HiredGoons.

I have exactly the same problem. Received my pair of Bathy’s yesterday and they are great, apart from the volume. I can either listen to them so they are too quiet, or so they are just too loud which is not good. I have actually got a headache at the moment and have had to take them off.

I have been listening via bluetooth from my Astell&Kearn Sr25 mk2 and also in dac mode from my MacBook Pro (which sounds excellent).

This is really annoying and I am seriously considering returning them for a refund.

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It does seem like a really weird miss from Focal.

Having done some more digging post-purchase, it seems like a lot of people have called this out, but I didn’t really pick up on it before buying!

Honestly I am in the same boat as you with regards keeping them. If there was an acknowledgement from Focal and a commitment to resolve in an update, then I will be happy - if not, I will likely give them up sooner rather than later.

It seems some people using Android devices have found ways to overcome it with plugins or other audio setting tweaks, but I have seen anything that would work with iPhones or DAPs yet - and frankly it shouldn’t be needed!

I have logged a ticket with Focal support to try and get some more info, but not heard anything yet. Will update here if I do.

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I can’t imagine that Focal aren’t already working on this, although it’s weird that it is still a problem quite a good few months after launch

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Looking at the Firmware history, they had a few fixes related to more disruptive issues or errors with connectivity etc, so I am hoping that it is just a matter of prioritisation and we will see something soon!

Given that there do seem to be workarounds on Android, I can’t imagine it isn’t possible - just remains to be seen if they actually address it!

Over the last few days, the more I have listened, the more I have enjoyed the sound from these cans and the minor comfort issues I have had are now gone after a few more hours on my head…it really is just this that is the glaring flaw in an otherwise good product.

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Interesting. I too am a recent Bathys owner and am similarly impressed. I just spent a very enjoyable 2 week holiday just playing downloads from the Qobuz app on an iPhone 15 Pro at CD quality wirelessly to the Bathys. They were always musically enjoyable whatever I was listening to and I actually heard details on familiar music I’d never noticed before, particularly on vocals. (Didn’t bother with a separate camera either and got some great photos from the iPhone.)

I’ve previously used an Astell & Kern SP2000 with Focal Stellias and a fancy Atlas balanced lead but didn’t feel I was lacking that much in comparison, or at least my attention wasn’t drawn to it. I will do a proper comparison at some point though.

I can’t say I’ve noticed a problem with the volume. Is this just in USB DAC mode? I haven’t even tried that yet as I’ve been so happy with the sound wirelessly.

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Have you tried the Bowers PX8 at all?

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I have not! Honestly at the moment, I am thinking I will just be happy with my AirPods Max. They are not the last word in Audio Bliss, but they are pretty good really and in terms of overall user experience in the Apple Ecosystem and ANC, they are great. Wish the battery life was a bit better though - the Bathys trounces them here.

No - this is purely in Bluetooth/Wireless mode on both devices!

Interesting it doesn’t bother you, but I suppose we all have things we are more or less sensitive to. Do you usually control volume from the On Device buttons or from your iPhone?

If you try the volume slider on the iPhone you may see what I mean - you can move the slider a fair way one way or the other without any incremental change and then it jumps.

…now if yours doesn’t do that, then that is interesting!

I control the volume on my iPhone.

Every time I press either the up or down volume button on my iPhone I definitely get a change in volume. I guess it is a slightly larger than normal change for each press than one might expect - it’s certainly not like a traditional analogue volume control - but not a huge issue for me and quite useable.

Must admit I haven’t changed the volume on the Bathys themselves and a bit scared to try now in case I make it worse!

Ok I tried the volume buttons on the Bathys and this seems to work in exactly the same way as the iPhone buttons and in fact you see the volume indicator change in the same way as changing the volume on the iPhone so the two seem to be synced.

What do you mean by the ‘volume slider’?

Steve

I did get this after only a few hours use at the start of my holiday and not particularly loud use. Good job they didn’t know me when I was younger!

What apps are you using to play music? I use neither Focal headphones nor Bluetooth, but in general the iPhone volume buttons give quite large jump which may be fine on a basic setup, but don’t work well when casting to a Naim streamer for example. The size of the volume jumps vary between apps, with a single click of the iPhone button giving anything between 2 and 10 steps up on an Atom. Chromecast was particularly bad, and unusable in some apps such as Qobuz.
Naim said at the time that this was down to poor Chromecast implementation by some app developers, although they may have improved things since I tried. Perhaps they have done no better with Bluetooth? This is one of the reasons I prefer to use a dedicated portable music player for headphone listening rather than a phone.

Maybe I am just fussy or “particular” then, but I find the jumps intolerably large to the point that it always seems a little too loud or a little too quiet for the track I am listening to!

By “slider” I mean if you run your finger up and down the volume bar on the iPhone when it appears (either by pressing a button or accessing from the control panel) you can make very, very fine adjustments to volume…on most devices. On the Bathys however it ignores the fine increments and just jumps to the fixed steps when it decides to finally respond. My APM, my Bluetooth speakers (Sonos etc) and my wife’s Sony’s do not jump but adjust sightly.

I get you re: phone Vs player, but they do the same thing when using Bluetooth on my A&K SR35. I have 150 volume increments on the DAP, but the Bathys ignore 8 out of 10 volume presses and then jump by 8 “increments” all in one on the 9th adjustment!

What I haven’t tried is wired to my DAP in Bathys DAC mode via USB C which I will do and report back.

It does just seem like some failing or poor implementation in the Bluetooth standards somewhere in the Bathys then.

I’m a fairly new Bathys owner also, though admittedly I haven’t really used them much….
But I hadn’t noticed the Vol control issue that you mention when I did initially set them up….

Have just had a play to see:

Was using the Qobuz App on the iPhone – I presumed there would be a Volume slider within the App, but there actually isn’t…

Yes, using either the iPhone’s physical Vol buttons or the Bathys (seem to be the same), there is perhaps a slightly large jump on the scale…but nothing I’d say as drastic and no difference to what I have ever really noticed with any other BT earphones or BT devices….As @ChrisSU says, the iPhone buttons do give relatively large increments….
You can see the Vol vertical bar appear on the left when the physical buttons are pressed and notice the amount the ‘progress’ each press produces – It’s definitely slightly ‘stepped’

However – As there was no Vol slider within the Qobuz App, I was wondering how/where I could get that control…Then thought of the Widget screen on the phone…Whilst using the Bathys, if you go to the Widgets, you’ll see the Bluetooth widget displaying the current volume…Touch this to enlarge, and this gives a very fine level of control, sliding up and down with the finger, stop anywhere you like….
Admittedly it’s not as convenient to use as a quick press of the buttons (though perhaps the BT Widget could be put on the iPhone Home Screen, I’m not sure), but it does give good volume control….


Touching the above BT Widget, enlarges to full screen on the iPhone and the slider as below –

Another way, is via the Apple Watch, if you have one. When playing to a BT device, the watch will automatically display the current playing info and volume control is possible by turning the Watch Crown – Volume indicated by the green vertical bar…again, this gives very fine volume control – too much so actually, as I find you have to spin the Crown a couple of times to really ramp up or down….
incoming-F04104A7-50A8-4760-9484-D95210691DD3

Hope this may help…
SC

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I am just listening in Dac mode using Audirvana. The problem is there, but not as bad. There are jumps in volume and the size of the jump depends on the volume. It’s not as extreme as the jump I get using bluetooth though.

Starts from lowest volume which has a symbol -(infinity) and you can hear it but it is very low.
Then it goes to -54db, -40db, -32db, -26db, -21db, -18db, -15db, -12db and then I don’t want to push it any further. So there are about 5 clicks or realistically useable volume. That is when the volume control is set to DAC only. If I change it to software only then I do get 1db changes all the way up the scale, but it does seem a lot quieter overall and maximum volume is not quite loud enough.

Now I’m trying them wired through Audirvana using an Audioquest Dragonfly Cobalt headphone DAC and I get 1db volume change all the way up the scale, which is what I want in every mode. Haven’t tried them wired into my Audiolab DAC yet but would assume I will get the same 1db volume scale.

If they can sort this issue out then I will be very happy with these headphones.

Please post in here if you hear back from Focal support @HiredGoons . Thanks

Hi - thanks for taking the time to reply and for the screen shots - but this is already what I have been doing or trying and your experience doesn’t match mine or many other Bathys users.

As I have said in my previous posts, mine do not respond to the “infinite” slider controls with fine adjustments and that is my whole point!

When connected by Bluetooth to either my phone or my A&K DAP, the Bathys completely ignore the fine adjustments and only actually change volume when the slider hits a point which tracks with the default volume increments and matches the adjustments made by the buttons.

None of my other Bluetooth audio devices function this way and if my Bathys behaved the way you report yours do, then I wouldn’t have an issue with them - I accept that both my iPhone and the Bathys have a given “default step” associated with the button press and it may not be to my liking.

The whole issue is that these are the only increments that the Bathys will respond to and not amount of gently caressing the slider or using any one of the 150 individual steps on my DAP make any difference to this. It effectively only has about 16 volume settings at fixed DB level in total and will not adjust to anything in the middle of those.