Focal Clear Measurements and Impressions

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by purr1n, Dec 20, 2017.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Possibly psycho

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    31,519
    Dislikes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calabasas, CA
    I have not listened to them extensively yet. Just a little bit while I was at TSAV and a little bit more while at home. I just wanted to crank these measurements out before I go on vacation.

    These are the closest thing to a successor for HD650, at least a KISS modded HD650 (the KISS mod pushes the mid-bass bump down a bit). It's kind of funny that we've been waiting for an HD650 with closer to HD800 technicalities for five years now, and Focal beats Sennheiser to the punch, while Sennheiser releases the HD660S, which seemed to make Tyll's and our weiners go limp.

    Per my usual practice - no photos. Go to HF or the Focal site for photos.


    Focal Clear Frequency Response
    Focal Clear FR.png

    Compared to HD650K (in YELLOW)
    Focal Clear FR vs HD650K.png
     
    Vorlon, Melvillian, Sherm and 10 others like this.
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Possibly psycho

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    31,519
    Dislikes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calabasas, CA
    Even though I have not had many hours with them, I can say with certainty that the Clear's top end is subjectively more Utopia like, smoother, more refined than the Elear / Elex's high end. Let's take a look at CSDs.

    Focal Clear CSDs
    Focal Clear L.jpg
    Focal Clear R.jpg
     
    Vorlon, ultrabike and Clemmaster like this.
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Possibly psycho

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    31,519
    Dislikes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calabasas, CA
    Top view CSDs extended to 5ms
    Focal Clear L.jpg
    Focal Clear R.jpg
     
    Vorlon, ultrabike, Clemmaster and 2 others like this.
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Possibly psycho

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    31,519
    Dislikes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calabasas, CA
    Vorlon, ultrabike, zonto and 2 others like this.
  5. jowls

    jowls Never shitposts (please) - Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,522
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    42°S
    Just in time for the apparent retirement of HD650 :rolleyes:

    How close to HD800 (and Utopia for that matter) in terms of technicalities?

    I’m guessing that between the three (and with your preferences in mind) Clear wins on tone?
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Possibly psycho

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    31,519
    Dislikes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calabasas, CA
    Focal Clear harmonic distortions
    Focal Clear L HD.jpg
    Focal Clear R HD.jpg
     
    Vorlon, ultrabike and cskippy like this.
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Possibly psycho

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    31,519
    Dislikes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calabasas, CA
    Utopia is still better in technicalities (I did have a chance to compare Utopia and Clear head-to-head), and IMO the best overall among every headphone mentioned. Utopia has best midrange resolution. HD800 has better high-end resolution. Transient response, dynamics, and clarity go in this order: Utopia, Clear, HD800, HD650, with the exception that the HD800's sub bass quality is better than the rest, but the HD800 also does not seem to extend as low in the bass as the Utopia or Clear. Clear wins on tonal balance - even better than stock HD650 (which is a few db too mid-bassy for me).
     
    Vorlon, Priidik, hellwhynot and 4 others like this.
  8. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,921
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Tempe, Arizona
    Looks like the driver is better controlled. Any issue with bottoming out like the Elex at loud listening levels?
     
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Possibly psycho

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    31,519
    Dislikes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calabasas, CA
    Not at listening levels. At measurement levels, it took a bit more to bottom out. Elex bottomed out rather easily just a few db above these levels. Clear did not, until I upped the levels a few more db on top of that.
     
    Vorlon likes this.
  10. SSL

    SSL Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Likes Received:
    980
    Dislikes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Any subjective issues in this iteration with the bump at 1k? Any loss of bite from the nibble out at 4-5k?
     
  11. brencho

    brencho Good Friend (Moderator)

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2015
    Likes Received:
    4,370
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    LA
    Home Page:
    yeah they look good, but i also worry about the slight scoop between 3-5k. not as egregious as the elear though so that's good!
     
  12. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,921
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Tempe, Arizona
    I know it's down to personal preferences but I find that area a little forward on the HD650, I think @Marvey has the same thoughts, so I don't mind it being pushed a touch down. I mean, compared to LCD2C, it's still very neutral and strings should have appropriate bite and timbre.
     
    conquerator2 and brencho like this.
  13. Serious

    Serious Seriously uninformed pain in the ass

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,099
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Munich
    Supposedly it's just a shorter, stiffer, lighter voice coil moving the resonance somewhere from 22 to 24kHz, so it's still there, just not in the measurement bandwidth.

    Can we say what exactly is causing the FR differences between the Elex and Clear? I thought the pads were supposed to be the same. What if you want the brighter tonality, but with the improved Clear driver? Is that when you save up for the Utopia?
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Possibly psycho

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    31,519
    Dislikes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calabasas, CA
    The pads are similar but not exactly the same between Elex and Clear. The inside foam feels the same, but Clear pads have thicker material and perforations. Also smell and feel better. Elex pads are fuzzy fuzz micro fuzz cloth things. My hunch is that the differences are in the drivers. and not in the pads. Let me explore more with a V2 measurement tonight.

    Again, the Clear high end seems more refined, Utopia like. The Elex high-end doesn't sound as smooth and still has a hint of that Elear tizz.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
    Vorlon and FlySweep like this.
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Possibly psycho

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    31,519
    Dislikes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calabasas, CA
    The HD650 are indeed slightly forward in that area and even moreso with Sennheiser's latest 2017-2018 formulation of the HD660 / HD6XX. The 3-5kHz scoop on Clear is minor and I didn't note anything out of place subjectively, but I haven't had time to listen to a lot of different recordings yet since I just got them last night. I fell asleep with them on when I intended to change up some CDs.
     
    cskippy likes this.
  16. purr1n

    purr1n Possibly psycho

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    31,519
    Dislikes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calabasas, CA
    So finally gotten more time with the Clear and I am more convinced that the Clear is the closet thing to an upgrade to the HD650.

    Resolution / microdetail / plankton / microdynamics are better than the Elear / Elex but does fall short of the Utopia. I'd say it sits a bit closer to the Elear, say at the 40% point between Elear and Utopia.

    Going back to an old standby, the HD650, the HD650 seems absolutely mid-fi in comparison: foggy bass, lacking bass extension, smeared, and veiled. The Clear is just so much clearer, with blacker backgrounds. Sure on a high end chain, we can hear how resolving the HD650 is resolving past this greyish film; the Clear makes it that much easier. To add, the transient response of the Clear is on another level. We are not talking about insignificant changes like how HD660S is "better" than HD650.

    The Clear's bass also performs on another level, having deep extension that the HD650 cannot approach. I would emphasize that the bass sounds much better than the what the distortion measurements would suggest.

    Of the recent headphones (the good ones) I've had auditioned (Atticus, Auteur, HP-3, HE5, LCD2C) only the LCD2C beats the Clear in terms of bass quality, that is being able to differentiate pitch, extend low, and posses "fast" or "Moffat bass". The HE5 can get close with a power amp, but still falls behind in pitch differentiation.

    The top end of the HD650 might be just a bit smoother, but it also lacks some of the sparkle and air that the Clear can pull off. The Clear's high end is tonally similar and just as smooth as the Utopia's, just not quite as fast or resolving. Macrodynamics are better than anything Sennheiser.

    This one I really like and should serve as a good reference headphone.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
  17. Lyer25

    Lyer25 Old at heart, young in other places

    Friend
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2017
    Likes Received:
    901
    Dislikes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Manila, Philippines
    Bit of a silly question, but with the HD800 being the absolute monster in soundstage and imaging it is (as far as headphones go anyway), how does the clear stack up? The channel matching is close to scary perfect, but with the Elear/Utopia being the claustrophobic cans they are, I'm just hoping the Clear improves on that somewhat.

    Thanks for the measurements! My upgrade "shortlist" has so many damn running changes lately it isn't even funny, haha!
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2017
    ipm, obsiCO and Sherm like this.
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Possibly psycho

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    31,519
    Dislikes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calabasas, CA
    Stage width is slightly wider than HD650, not significant. Depth is the same as HD650, but stronger center image. Sense of openness is better than HD650.

    If you want HD800 depth and staging, get an HD800.
     
    Vorlon, JK47 and Dino like this.
  19. purr1n

    purr1n Possibly psycho

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    31,519
    Dislikes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calabasas, CA
    One more note. Cable is too short. Seems like 2.5' to the split. While Elear 10' cable was too long and too thick, Clear cable is too short. I can't hand the Clear over to my wife on the other side of the bed so she can listen. Also cable is nice, but too stiff and inflexible. Good cables don't need to be this stiff.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2017
    cskippy and Cellist88 like this.
  20. brencho

    brencho Good Friend (Moderator)

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2015
    Likes Received:
    4,370
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    LA
    Home Page:
    That's really too bad. How would I do autoerotic asphyxiation while listening to them. Seriously though I was in the minority of loving the long ass stock cable of yore. It's useful when you have stuff on a rack.
     
    zonto likes this.

Share This Page