Focal Elear and Utopia

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

  1. thegunner100

    thegunner100 Hentai Master Chief

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,307
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    NYC
    Yeah I agree. With so many better headphones around, why bother with the Elear? I found the soundstage to be compressed and the treble splashy.
     
    Colgin, friedrice83, Pyruvate and 3 others like this.
  2. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,449
    Dislikes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I have to say that i'm a little surprised at the impressions coming out on the Elear.
     
  3. Dr. Higgs

    Dr. Higgs Boson - Member

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2015
    Likes Received:
    769
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Jersey City/NYC
    I'm kinda torn on the Elear. Build quality & fit was excellent and worthy of the $999 price tag, but the mids sounded way too warmed over with some tracks/amps. Resolution seemed a notch above HD650 level but not comparable to HD800/Andromeda detail. Seemed to lack the clarity of its sennheiser brethren, and the soundstage was nothing to write home about. Played best with my Torpedo at low impedance, but I liked it with my Vali 2 as well. Mids sounded the weirdest played through the SE of my Ragnarok imo, might have been some weird impedance mismatch or just due to the gimped output. Wish I could have heard it balanced. Despite the extra warmth, I preferred them without Marv's EQ adapter.

    All that being said, I think I could get used to the FR after more extended listening, but it's tough to readjust after being used to Andromeda, HD650, or HD800 timbre. Much better value than most overpriced planars out there.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
    Psalmanazar, zonto, Colgin and 11 others like this.
  4. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

    Friend BWC MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,833
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    near Munich, Germany
    Gonna post now what I wrote last night. It was pretty late and I feel like my writing is incoherent overall, but I now have to focus on packing my things among other things. Here you go:

    -
    "Heard (and also measured fwiw) the loaner pair today at the small minimeet that @sphinxvc hosted. I'm flying back to Germany on monday. I will miss you guys.


    The build quality is super awesome. This looks like a 2016 HD580/HD650. Super high quality. I like how nothing feels loose. The earcups are spring loaded and move back in place. The swivel mechanism feels solid and doesn't squeak like on Tyll's Utopia. The whole thing feels high quality. The pads come off easily and they also look high quality. There are small holes on the inside of the pads for venting so they're squishier. The way you can look at the driver is just super awesome. You can even see the back, too. It moves super easily if you blow on it. The materials look very solid. It is slightly heavier than most other headphones. When on the head, no part of the cups touch my ears, like on my HD800s. Even if it's slightly heavy, it doesn't feel all that heavy on the head. Clamp is slightly high, but that's coming from someone used to the HD800. At one point I said that it looks like the HD650 and the HD800 morphed together, but that's not really true. It's really a 2016 HD650 with angled drivers. The way the cable connects to the cups and even the way the connector is connected to the driver is also super nice. The whole construction is very open.


    I tried these off the Ragnarok (SE) and T3. They sounded much better off the T3, but the Ragnarok SE sounds noticeably worse than the balanced output. I didn't really compare the Rag balanced against the T3 with my HD800, but I would still say that I would prefer the T3. More lively, more dynamic, bigger soundstage. Anyway. "Wow, these sound off. Let me grab my HD800 to see if it's someting else. Yep, HD800s sound normal here. Clearly something must be wrong with the Elear then." - literally my first impression
    The Elear just sounded like this weird mixture between a lot of bass warmth bleeding into the mids, shouty upper mids between 1-2kHz, laid back 3-4kHz region, and slightly rough but subdued treble with a problem spot at around 9kHz (and possibly 6kHz too). I wore them all the way forward and down just so my ears didn't touch the pads to try to help with the FR balance and the staging. Still, the weird midrange tonality shifts the frequency balance of guitar crunch downwards which just makes it sound weird. At the same time the upper midrange shout shifts the frequency balance of vocals upwards. The treble quality was more like that of a solid dome tweeter (makes sense), which I actually think is not really a bad thing at all, except it sounded rough in this case. In a good implementation I actually prefer solid dome tweeters over soft dome tweeters. The bass extension was really quite fantastic. When we move on from the frequency response balance the Elear is actually not too bad. It's just that the positives can't really make up for the weird midrange balance to me. Keep in mind that I seem to be super sensitive to anomalies in the midrange, especially in the critical 200Hz-2kHz band. For example I hate the SR009 (and everything else STAX makes) for its midrange. That doesn't mean that I like a recessed 2kHz region like the stock HD800 either. Of all stock headphones, the HD650 midrange is probably my favourite.

    When I first tried it with the adapter on the Ragnarok, I actually kind of liked the effect. Immediately less bass. The bass just doesn't bleed into the mids anymore. One thing to note is that the channels are reversed with the adapter. After some time I realized that it just made the midrange shoutier sounding and generally even more artificial. Did not like.

    The clarity is really pretty great. Definitely comparable to HD800, though maybe slightly worse. Likewise the resolution is pretty good, most likely a step up from the HD650, but not quite at HD800 levels. Less grainy than HD600, if you really want to use that word. I felt it sounded pretty dynamic but I also feel the HD800 sounds pretty dynamic. It might be a slight step up from the HD800, but with those tradeoffs I wouldn't care. The HD800 soundstaging is far superior, no contest here. Elear is actually very close to the HD650 and not so much more precise either. HD800 has a much larger soundstage and is more precise. More 3-dimensional. More correct timbre for every instrument I can think of. Actually smoother treble, believe it or not. Really the only thing the HD800 doesn't have is awesome bass extension. There's not much you can do about that except maybe EQ.

    At the same time I wonder if I'm weird for disliking 1kHz forward "Harman target" headphones, but speakers and real instruments and voices just don't sound like that to me. Idk, maybe there is something wrong with how I hear things. I actually very much expected some shoutiness based on the measurements and impressions, but I didn't expect it to be so bad that it would be a dealbreaker to me.
    I also don't expect the Utopia to be so much different either, but I guess there is some hope if you wear them very forward based on what Tyll said.

    Let this be a lesson that you should always listen to things for yourself. I hope noone spends 1k$ without listening to a headphone first."
    -

    I have to say the 'splashy' descriptor better described the treble for me rather than 'rough' which I used. Sibilance. I mentioned it is comparable to my UERM with the wrong insertion depth (there is some wiggle room, even with customs) in that regard.
     
  5. TwoEars

    TwoEars Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2016
    Likes Received:
    2,212
    Dislikes Received:
    102
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Good to have you guys here to get me off the hype train.. need to listen myself and make up my mind.
     
  6. Gravity

    Gravity Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2015
    Likes Received:
    226
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    43
    HD800 has smoother treble than Elear? That settles it.
     
  7. Dr. Higgs

    Dr. Higgs Boson - Member

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2015
    Likes Received:
    769
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Jersey City/NYC
    It should be noted that @Serious has the smoothest HD800 mod I've ever heard, so don't think this statement really applies to a stock HD800 or even a lot of modded ones. I thought the highs were acceptable other than the 4-6k dip, but I'm not particularly sensitive to treble (coming from a UERM fan). I dig a bit of splash & sparkle.
     
  8. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

    Friend BWC MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,833
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    near Munich, Germany
    When I mention HD800, I'm always referring to my special modded ones. I also feel that in a certain way my HD800s have smoother treble than most HD600s, so take that fwiw. I can see why people wouldn't agree with me on that. Treble quantity is definitely more on my HD800 than both Elear and HD650 (not so comfortable making that judgement against HD600), but it's closer to speaker treble to my ears (B&K target, reasonably smooth tweeter).
    Also keep in mind that when we did in-ear measurements my ears always seemed to measure more than 5db lower at 6kHz compared to at least 4 other people, with very minor spectral differences otherwise. I'm fairly certain this difference wouldn't exist for speakers. In other words, it could be that I'm less sensitive to my HD800s treble peak, but a stock HD800 is still unacceptable to me, far worse than Elear. The Elear measurements also showed resonances in the treble that the HD800 didn't have.

    In the end it's of course always best to just listen for yourself.
     
    Wfojas, Gravity, bazelio and 2 others like this.
  9. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

    Friend BWC Banned
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,751
    Dislikes Received:
    37
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Grand Rapids
    We're calling it the HD800X now :)
     
    Dr. Higgs and Serious like this.
  10. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Dunning–Kruger effect poster boy

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    812
    Dislikes Received:
    174
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    NYC
    I saw that Hyper hype train going way too fast and thought how it would end... :eek:

    :p:rolleyes:
     
  11. brencho

    brencho Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2015
    Likes Received:
    7,301
    Dislikes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    LA
    Every time Maxx hypothesizes about the flow's grandeur and/or the elear/utopia's limitations, an angel in heaven dies...
     
  12. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Dunning–Kruger effect poster boy

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    812
    Dislikes Received:
    174
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    NYC
    Yeah I gotta stop that!
    Who's to say the flow isn't a similar hype train?
    :confused:
    All I wanna do is rip off that rear grill..
    :p
    Edit:
    Look out for falling Angel..
    :(
     
    BillOhio and brencho like this.
  13. gbeast

    gbeast Mighty Moral Power Ranger

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,744
    Dislikes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Phoenix
    Home Page:
    The Utopia will have a bigger soundstage than the Ether
    When Tyll said image size he is talking about something totally different and that won't be fixed by mods. Its the size of the instrument.

    I tried to make this really quick so dont over analyze it... Notice how the separation is better on the Utopia though.
    [​IMG]Utopa vs HD800 (just to give an Idea... not to be taken literally please!!!!)
    [​IMG]

    Ether vs Utopia
    [​IMG]

    Ether vs Elear
    [​IMG]

    You can have small images and a large soundstage. The Utopia and Elear have medium sized soundstages and small images.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
  14. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

    Staff Member Friend JK47
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    5,432
    Dislikes Received:
    45
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    gone
    well done globules of blood red circles and asymmetry.
    serious!
    graphics such as this tell a tale more clearly than 6moon fluff and flower prose.
     
    SSL, Maxx134 and gbeast like this.
  15. FlySweep

    FlySweep Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,244
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    I'm usually hallucinating from the psychedelic script before I can click back on my browser.
     
  16. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Dunning–Kruger effect poster boy

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    812
    Dislikes Received:
    174
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    NYC
    Every reviewer should spew drops of blood on a sheet when they review a headphone.
    Its the least they can do for us.
    Truly looked like the best visual system.
    A picture is like worth a thousand drops.
    |\/|
     
  17. friedrice83

    friedrice83 Facebook Friend

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2016
    Likes Received:
    183
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    33
    @gbeast I pretty much agree with all of those pics except for the Elear vs. Ether comparison. The Elear image sizes are correct IMO but I actually felt the circles were actually slightly closer to the head/center than even the Ether - as in I felt they had a smaller soundstage compared to the Ether.
     
  18. gbeast

    gbeast Mighty Moral Power Ranger

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,744
    Dislikes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Phoenix
    Home Page:
    Right on... That's just how I remember it. I could be wrong. I actually liked the soundstage of the Elear from my gear.. pavane and th2 w/75' HG nos reflektors and heard the Soundstage of the Ether most times on a mid-fi rig. That will play a big roll in what I remember. Also which one is more scalable, I don't know.

    Most of all those images were to convey an idea due to what I thought was a misconception about Soundstage vs image size. Thats why I had to preface it.

    I will say that for sure I really liked the soundstage of the Elear. Also at the meet, quite a few people commented on how they liked the soundstage.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
    friedrice83 and brencho like this.
  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    61,140
    Dislikes Received:
    107
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Antarctica
    The NY guys are tough. But I like to see the bar upped in terms of selectiveness. I don't see any unfair criticisms. Please carry on with the thrashing...
     
    thegunner100, Dr. Higgs and Serious like this.
  20. potkettleblack

    potkettleblack Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2016
    Likes Received:
    29
    Dislikes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    18
    The numbers are officially in from Jason at headfi!

    The Utopia takes roughly 70 hours to begin opening up and 160 hours to fully open up!

    So be warned - if you think you hear changes at around 35.5 hours - well, you're mistaken - and further more, you're obviously not qualified enough to take this hobby seriously. And if you think you've heard the Utopia properly at 125.6 hours - steady on there cowboy - because you still haven't heard the best they can offer.

    Members of this site should already have these numbers in their head; so apologies if the above info comes across a little patronising.
     

Share This Page