Focal Clear

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by The Alchemist, Nov 15, 2017.

  1. oldschool

    oldschool Acquaintance

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    On a side note - after 6 months waiting, I finally received a replacement for my Clears which suffered from severe distortion at mid-high volume on certain bassy songs. Drivers are changed, and the serial number is lower by 50 digits, so not sure what Focal did there.. put older stock? My overall experience with the local distributor has also been beyond horrible..

    Anyways, the new drivers have exactly the same problem. Simply incompatible either with my amp (Jotun 1) or certain types of music/songs. Severe mechanical distortion in certain songs at mid to high listening volume. Biggest offender is Daft Punk - Get Lucky. That song is pretty much unlistenable at any volume besides mid-low to low. The Clears distort, pop and creak like a broken engine. No such issue with my HD600s.. oh well, guess I'll have to get used to listening at lower volumes but in any case such defects should not be present in a $1500 headphone.
     
  2. animus

    animus Almost "Made"

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    [​IMG]
    Focal leaked their next headphone in a video
     
  3. oldschool

    oldschool Acquaintance

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    An all-magnesium Clear? Interesting.
     
  4. oldschool

    oldschool Acquaintance

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    Then there is also this. Seems they've been busy

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Jonny

    Jonny New

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    Look like: You got a defective returned unit in refurbised condition - not a new one or a repaired one.
     
  6. oldschool

    oldschool Acquaintance

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    Probably. Very disappointed in their service. Not sure how it is for folks in the US but waiting 6 months without a word just to get similarly defective drivers is horrible. They didn't even issue a servicing report of any sort.
     
  7. oldschool

    oldschool Acquaintance

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  8. elwappo99

    elwappo99 Friend

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    That is absolutely awful. You waited 6 months for a replacement from a warranty? Then the unit they send is defective?

    The after sale care from Focal is the reason I won't purchase a pair of Clears or Utopias from them. Last I heard you were out of pocket nearly $3k to get driver repairs for the Utopias.

    Compare that to ZMF who is offering lifetime warranties on drivers? Audeze and Hifiman charge a few hundred bucks to repair drivers on on a complete headphone. Focal, you've made your R&D money on the original sale, there's no way it costs you $1500 a driver to replace these.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2021
  9. will_f

    will_f Friend

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    Can’t dissagree. At those price points (and associated per unit margins) good customer service should be part of the deal.
     
  10. oldschool

    oldschool Acquaintance

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    And here is the new Clear MG:

    [​IMG]
     
  11. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    My opinion of this headphone completely changed when paired with a vinyl source. Before, plugged into EC 445/Gungnir Multibit A2, something sounded weird... a kind of fake-ness I couldn't put my finger on, and the metallic sheen in the uppermost registers bothered me. I now realize most of this probably came down to the digital source... as good as the Schiit stuff is, it is still digital.... and these headphones really benefit from a true analog source IMO, at least for me to enjoy them.

    They do scale quite noticeably with better sources too, and the "speaker like" presentation becomes much more obvious with vinyl in the chain. The imagining is much more precise than on the 800S. With the balanced tonality being clearly superior. 800S still wins out in that last bit of resolution and nuance. I think the speaker like presentation is a result of the extremely distinct imaging with there literally being no background... no blackness, no greyness, just nothingness... so the experience become more speaker like in presentation.

    But listening to the HD800S it becomes obvious how vastly better the timbre is. They simply sound more realistic and more natural. A voice sounds like a voice, a piano like a piano, a guitar like a guitar, etc... the Clear seems to impart this weird/same-y timbre on every sound it produces. While those sounds are more distinct than on the 800S, they sound far less natural to me and that's kind of a deal breaker. I wouldn't mind them as a second headphone though, as the extremely balanced tonality really is special, and the speed and punch is fun.

    But I am kind of scared off by the Focal horror stories I hear about more often than I should.
     
  12. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    The Utopia moves the needle much closer to "natural" timbre and nuance, but it still is a touch thin when it comes to that inner note weight and "naturalness". I go back and forth on this, but I wonder how much of the Sennheiser and especially the ZMF's "naturalness" is not in fact coloration and it is the Focal's that are more honest. I don't think it is an accident how most folks sooner or later come to the conclusion that this "metallic" timbre is not an inherent part of the Focal sound but their upstream gear/sources. Just thoughts...
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
  13. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Interesting point. I don't care how something does what it does, as long as the result is pleasing to my ear. If the Senns/ZMF have some sort of coloration, it sounds more like actual music to me than the Clear and that's ultimately all that matters to me. I would even categorize the HD600 (black screen ver. especially) even more natural than the 800S because it doesn't have the weird cup interactions.
     
  14. Gazny

    Gazny MOT: ETA Audio

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    When I had a pair of clears it made many things down stream obvious. It will just tell you, this source SUCKS. Loved it with some vinyl, I just couldn't take them off. I don't normally sit down and listen to 10 records but the clears made some magic happen.

    The Focal headphone felt unnatural to me because it did not have the same kind of timbre accosted with the wood housings. While honest and high performing, I felt I was limiting it by my sources.

    In short it gave me nervosa to upgrade everything because I was hearing more than I wanted to admit to myself.
     
  15. animus

    animus Almost "Made"

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    Honestly, I think all driver materials have their own inherent timbre to them, and none of them are necessarily "correct". It simply comes down to preference, and upstream components as well, though the degree of that would depend a lot on the headphones in question.

    FWIW, I think the Clear's timbre is worse than the Utopia's, assuming both are well sourced. Mushy and a little overly gooey in the bass and lower mids with a weird hash and sandiness in the lower-mid treble. I don't think HD800 is much better either, unnaturally thin and plasticky throughout. And wood cans like the ZMFs sound excessively dampened and wet to me, far more colored than any of the aforementioned in my eyes. But that's just my opinion.
     
  16. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    I can't remember his name off the top of my head but one of the longtime Stereophile writers has asserted this for years. I am going to go out on a limb and say this is probably not true. Like SS vs. tube, this vs. that, Batman vs. Superman, it is rather all in the implementation. Now sure materials have different properties that are relevant in the implementation (say breakup behavior and resultant IMD at the top of audioband of a metal vs. silk dome tweeter being an example) but I don't really believe you can "hear" the molecular structure and material directly.

    I think I will start a seperate thread on this since this is largely off topic...
     
  17. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    It would make sense there's a non-Pro version of the Mg. Can't seem to find anything official about this, only a couple of Euro resellers listings. They match the new Focal headphone design language (and would look snazzy next to my Stellia), but can't see that they'd sound that much different. At least the brown pads and headband won't get greasy so quickly. Seems they learned a thing or two at least.
     
  18. ksat90

    ksat90 Acquaintance

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    Just adding my impressions on Dekoni pads.

    Stock pads are the Clear Pro pads which I assume are the same as the regular Clear pads but with different colors.

    I first bought the Velours based on the pad rolling article posted on headphones, and didn't like them that much. They were uncomfortable since they were firmer and taller than the stock pads, which is a big deal for a relatively heavy headphone. Sound wise sure some treble parts are smoother, but in general I feel like the decay/absorption is kinda messed up and it sounds weird to me. I'm also sensitive to angled drivers and I notice the issue more with these pads, and makes me dislike the upper mids. Maybe they'll soften over time, but I'm kinda meh with the sound. I then switched to stock pads, until last week.

    I tried the Perforated Sheepskin just a week ago and it sounds warmer in the bass to mids than both the Velour and stock pads, but treble/texture is better than the Velours, though a bit behind the stock ones (unlikely to be bass masking this since I also notice it on some relatively bass-light tracks). Now it's a bit warmer than the HD650 I have (though to me my HD650 sounds pretty neutral). Comfort wise, it's way softer and pliable than the Velours even though it's brand new, though a bit less than the stock pads. We'll see after some more use. Sweat/oil may be a concern if you use them for long hours.

    Overall, recommend trying the perforated sheepskin as an alternative if you're looking for a warmer sound, also potentially as a replacement for stock pads since they're way cheaper (~80) than the ridiculously priced stock pads (~200).

    Stock pads still feel the best and sound great but I dread when I have to replace them. Another + point for getting the Pro version of Focal Clears since they give you 2 sets of pads. I think you lose the case for that, but I use my headphones every day, not much value in a case.
     
  19. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    I picked up the Dekoni Velours for the same reasons as you it sounds. I eventually went back to stock and just hope Focal will eventually lower the price. (wishful thinking yay)

    The velours didn't completely destroy the sound, but they were not as comfortable as stock and muddled with the SQ enough to bother me. It felt stuffier on the whole and really only brought about an extra laziness that wasn't needed. I can throw on my Senny's if I want a little more laid-back.
     
  20. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I guess $80 for the Dekonis is better than stock from Focal. I'm so glad I got a pair of the Elex pads when they were still available. I've been using them since shortly after getting the Clears, and have yet to wash them yet, though I probably should to extend their life. Focal supposedly recommends Savon de Marseille, which luckily is our regular bath soap.

    Guess we can start a campaign to have everyone hammer the Request button.
    https://drop.com/buy/focal-pads-for-elex-headphones
     

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