Focal Elear and Utopia

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by SingSing, Jun 14, 2016.

  1. gbeast

    gbeast Mighty Moral Power Ranger

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    that naked gun seen gave me a laugh
     
  2. gbeast

    gbeast Mighty Moral Power Ranger

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    thats a tough one too, though with the Elear pads it can be possibly play all songs.
     
  3. Rotijon

    Rotijon Friend

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    Say its "beats" on the package and declare at 300USD. I know Sonicelectronics give pretty good discounts once the hype have died down abit.
     
  4. Muse Wanderer

    Muse Wanderer Friend

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    Listened to the Elear and Utopia at Canjam London today.
    My current reference besides my speaker system + Yggdrasil / Rag, is the fantastic Campfire Audio Andromeda. HD800S gets less listening time lately - Andromeda is that good. Preference: neutrality allowing acoustic instruments to be rendered in an organic natural manner. Music: Classical all the way.

    Elear - music genres were quite limited and I struggled to find acoustic classical music I am familiar with. As I listened to orchestral and chamber works I noted how the violins sounded off. As soon as I got the Andromeda out to try the same pieces, it was so evident that the Andromeda is the better sounding earphone. It was a no contest. The Elear's mids were too recessed (way more than HD800X) and the sound so way off from authentic strings. Once I realised the tonality was so V-shaped, then it was a no-go for me. Staging is 650 like, treble smooth, dynamics impactful and imaging not as strong as HD800X.

    The Utopia is another beast. Tonality is more even with less recessed mids compared to HD800X, and of course the Elear. Bruckner 5th symphony was better rendered than the HD800X with brass instruments not overpowering the violins. I enjoyed listening to Stravinsky Rite of Spring and Petrushka through these. Utopia manages to impart a textured timbre, natural sounding strings and impactful extended bass when called for. Treble is not piercing as the HD800 or sparkling (in an impressive way) as the Andromeda. Staging is more closed relative to HD800X but imaging is pinpoint. Resolution, dynamics and clarity were a highlight of this headphone.
    Does the Utopia astound me like my speakers or give me goosebumps like the Andromedas... nope.
    Is it better than HD800X? yep.
    Is it worth 4K? No way.

    P.S. Listened to a few other cans at the show:
    LCD4 - skrewed out frequency range. Where is the freakin' lower treble? Very poor tuning.
    HE1000 - beautiful smooth music that sounds a bit boring
    Ether flow C - where is the bass? Treble pierces like a nail gun shot in the eardrums
    Ether flow (out of a yet to be released Cavalli tube amp) - quite good. Sounds different from dynamics though - not my cup of tea
    Stax 009 + BHSE - excellent headphones. Mids to die for! A bit too polished at times though lacking some bite.
    HD650 (unmodded) - loved them! A bit veiled and grainier compared to the HD800X / Utopia / Elear but impressive tuning.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
  5. TwoEars

    TwoEars Friend

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    Interesting stuff. I've been traveling and away from headphones for a couple of months and out of the blue (for me at least) Focal launches this! I very much respect and like Focal's speakers so I'll definitely want to have a listen to these. Tyll did however say that the soundstage is rather small? Little bit worried about that since one of the reasons I like my modded HD800 so much is the big soundstage.

    Also - the gap between $1000 and $4000 is definitely too big. $4000 is a lot but new driver etc and maybe they can justify it. But they should definitely launch something in the $2000 range. Maybe improve the soundstage a little bit if they can? Not a good time for me to drop $4000 on headphones right now but at $2000 I might be interested.

    Should put some pressure on Sennheiser to create a real HD800 successor too. Baby Orpheus II?
     
  6. rott

    rott Secretly hates other millenials - Friend

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    Very helpful. I think the 4K price is way too steep for me to even try the Utopia - would hate to fall under its spell.

    I agree about the HE1000 (V1) - looking forward to trying V2 if/when they drop closer to $2K.
     
  7. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    I recently had some trouble with Canada customs. I had a few random items coming in a single parcel (small speakers, headphones, wireless router; all used and several years old) and they opened up the box to inspect. Because everything was in good condition, the inspector thus declared that these must be "new" items and denied my declared value. Even after several emails from the seller and shipping agent working on my behalf, the customs officer held firm that these items were new and demanded invoices which I obviously did not have. So my choices were to send the parcel back and lose out on two-way shipping for nothing, or drum up an imaginary invoice with "reasonable" prices to satisfy the customs officer and pay the schiitload of taxes and duties.
     
  8. Prydz

    Prydz Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    I was really excited about the Elear, but now im not so excited anymore...
     
  9. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    I think that the performance level of the Utopia may be a bit more significant than just a pair of pads. Possibly after the dust settles the Utopia will be "the one" that we'll all want to save for. But it's early. Let's let the dust settle and see what kind of impressions roll out with time.

    I'm on the Elear loaner list and I'll get to hear myself in about three weeks. :)
     
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  10. Prydz

    Prydz Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    I wont pay 4k for headphones. I want speakers too so... :D
    But yeah we'll see, still awhile til it gets in-stock so
     
  11. Chris F

    Chris F Boyz 4 Now Fanatic - Friend

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    Slightly off topic but I pulled my (unmodded) 650 off the shelf over the weekend while doing bulk needledrops because I needed something I could quickly put on and off for monitoring. Unfortunately I have to report that the experience made me kind of sad. I've been listening exclusively to UERR and UERM for the last 6-12 months and when I put the 650 on (from vinyl source driven balanced Rag) all I heard was really grainy treble, recessed mids and looseish bass with a bit too much bloom. Basically, the current crop of good IEMs smoke it in every way.

    Now before the pitchforks come out I want to put this back in perspective... I can listen to the 650 without EQ and it works with every genre. That puts it ahead of 95% of all other headphones and is why the 600/650 are the bar against which all are compared. It's also $300 which again makes it the price/performance king. A current top tier IEM (UERM/UERR, Andro etc..) is ~$1k but for your extra $$$ you do actually get significantly better sound.

    Bringing it back to the Elear (and Utopia) what I am saying is that for me to even consider purchasing the Elear it needs be at least as good as the IEM competition at the same price and for the Utopia it would have to be clearly better then the IEM competition. From the impressions so far this is not the case...

    Still, very much looking forward to hearing them. :)
     
  12. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    I agree with you on many points. Not many headphones can compare with the great IEMs in terms of proper natural frequency response and sub-bass extension imo. At the same time the BA IEMs often have a lot of 3rd order distortion in the lower mids which limits maximum volume to me and most BA IEMs don't extend to 20kHz (except maybe TWFK, etc.). Many people say that IEMs always sound in-the-head. I disagree and find my UERM to project a larger stage than even a well-driven HD650.

    At the same time I do think the best open headphones sound better than IEMs.

    Based on impressions and measurements I doubt that the Elear will have a FR as agreeable or as neutral as the Andromeda.
     
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  13. The Life

    The Life Almost "Made"

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    Just because some random dude on the internet heard them at a show for a few minutes and did not like them? Everything in the world that you love, there is some random dude on the internet who hates it.
     
  14. Prydz

    Prydz Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    Its more about how Marvey described them
     
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  15. TwoEars

    TwoEars Friend

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    For me personally I'd say IEM's have their place and headphones have theirs. I love IEM's when I'm traveling or outdoors but for me personally I don't like the sensation of sitting with IEM's in my ears for several hours while at home.

    For me the idea that you're not interested in the Elear because your in-ears sound better is like saying that you're not interested in a car because your motorcycle is faster. It's just different things to me. YMMV.
     
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  16. Xecutor

    Xecutor Rando

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    The MSRP of Elear is quite attractive, although I will be auditioning them and conducting a head to head with the Final Pandora Hope VI, before considering purchase. I have my doubts about them sounding better than the Sony MDR CD 3000, but I am hoping it will be able to go toe to toe with the FPHVI.

    On the IEM part, as time has gone I've shifted from On Ear portables to UIEMs to now CIEMs. But mid to hi-fi headphones have a lot more advantages compared (sonically & comfort wise) to IEM/CIEMs and this is also considering the obvious benefits of the IEMs.

    Convenience and form factor are something headphones will never be able to address in the portable segment, but at home, I also prefer listening to full sized headphones/ear-speakers, with the exception of Ocharaku Nami, which is not anything short of a headphone in the overall presentation of the sound.
     
  17. GTABeancounter

    GTABeancounter Friend

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    I share your point of view but also agree with the notion that you should not let one (or even two) opinions sway you.

    I really want to like this headphone too, and I feel that $1000 SHOULD be more than enough to have an exceptional audiophile headphone (that doesn't look like it could have been designed in the 90's... sorry hd6X0 that was meant for you). Anything more than $1000 would have ME questioning whether the $$ were worth it rather than just enjoying the music. For some folks this "threshold" is $100 and I'd guess its probably $250 for a majority of the public. I can't speak for other posters but I bet there are at least a few here for which $1000 represents the "threshold" and its a price range that had no real stand-out product until the Elear came out (still TBD?).

    Back on topic, Tyll's comment about having some difficulty setting the right volume level was very telling for me. And it has me wondering whether the "v-shaped" sound signature related criticisms should be taken with a grain of salt. Perhaps the sound takes on a more V-shaped characteristic because the sound is so dynamic. Tyll was borderline gleeful during the review video of the Elear and I have a very hard time reconciling that general impression with the idea that the elear has a v-shaped signature... The Elear sounds like a different beast and may be an acquired taste... ie; it is so dynamic that at certain volumes it gives the impression of being v-shaped. Damn, I cannot wait to hear it for myself.
     
  18. mkozlows

    mkozlows Friend

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    Keep in mind that Tyll is a vocal proponent of the Harman curve, which is not V-shaped but is bass-boosted. So someone who wants a pure-neutral headphone could easily think that the bass was too prominent while Tyll would praise it for having the proper amount of bass.
     
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  19. TwoEars

    TwoEars Friend

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    Yeah - I love Tyll's work but he's definitely a bit of a closet bass head. If he calls a headphone "neutral" or "just the right amount of bass" don't always take his word for it.

    I have the exact same modding experience when it comes to placing different kinds of materials in front of the driver. You can probably up your bet to a whole fiver.

    Also - I have the Elear on pre-order now. Ooops.

    Seems like the obvious choice of the two. No overly long connectors, no squeaky carbon, I prefer velour over leather, a little bit less resolution will be better on some of my poor recordings, same design principles, largely the same response curve.... and there was something about the price too. :p

    Could probably afford the Utopia... but yeah. $4000 on headphone is a lot. I can buy a new top-of-the-line laptop and a holiday vacation for the price difference!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  20. BleaK

    BleaK Friend

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    Marv: "I heard: too much bass"

    Tyll: "Bass is slightly low for my tastes"

    Me: "Looks like the perfect amount of bass!"
     

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