Focal Utopia Pad Rolling

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by cskippy, May 20, 2018.

  1. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    Pad rolling with Utopia

    I want to thank @CEE TEE for sending me the Clear and Dekoni pads to try.
    All measurements taken at the same volume level to show relative differences in pad gain/sound absorption. Distortion measurements are not shown as the AC is running pretty much 24/7 which is why there is some unevenness below 200Hz from ambient noise. I'll include a stock Utopia measurement with each graph for easier digesting. The graphs are in 5dB increments and are shown in order of my personal preference.

    Dekoni Elite Sheepskin pads:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Here is a comparison to HD650:
    [​IMG]
    Very close tonally, just a touch too hot between 80Hz and 1kHz.

    Subjectively, these have less clarity than the Hybrid pads but have a better overall frequency response. These pads also have the most refined treble of all of the pads including stock pads or Clear pads as the peaks are well tamed. Do note that this no longer sounds anything like Utopia, probably darker than stock HD650, less clarity but good bass extension with just a touch too much lower mids. I do like these for a relaxed listen, kind of like a club sound. These will not disappoint with bass either. They actually really do sound like a super HD650.


    Clear pads:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Excellent balance
    Add a touch more bass and pull the presence region back just a bit making Utopia very neutral, similar to Clear. There are is no 1.5kHz bump or 10kHz peak like on Clear but unfortunately the 6kHz peak now stands out more. If you're not sensitive to this frequency then these are an easy recommendation if the changes are what you want.
    There is a perceived loss of clarity due to the little warmer presentation but for the most part, everything is better balanced. I would say this is a very neutral sound.

    Dekoni Eilte Hybrid pads:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    These definitely have more bass than stock or Clear pads. My biggest issue with these pads is they also add too much lower mids, clouding the overall sound. It's probably easier to think of the treble as shelved down than bass and mids pushed up. Vocals are pushed back into the mix and lower mids take over much of the sound. There are some treble peaks that pop up every once in a while over the cloud of mids/bass. I find these disjointed across the frequency response.

    Dekoni Elite Velour pads:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The darkest of the three. Low mids and bass take over completely. There is no real treble and music sounds like it's coming from a tunnel. These just sound dead. Not recommended.

    Here is Focal Utopia with Clear pads vs Focal Clear for reference:
    [​IMG]

    EDIT: Pad I linked was the Elite Hybrid pad, not a different variation.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
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  2. maverickronin

    maverickronin Almost "Made"

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    From the CSDs, the Elite Velour's look to have the cleanest treble. How do they sound if you EQ the bass back down to match?

    I have the Elite Velour's on my HD650 for comfort and by themselves they're way too dark, but after a little EQ they sound great and are more comfortable than stock.
     
  3. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Great job! it's really sad to see only clear pads maintain the original tonality. As an elex owner, I am starting to be concerned with the situations when I may need next pair of pads. Focal is selling their pads at fucking prices (e.g., utopia pads: $250, elear pads: $150, clear pads: probably around $200??).

    I recently tested the same material dekoni pads (fenestrated sheepskin) to different headphones (hd600 and hd800). The effects were super different - hugely dependent on how headphones were structured. Changes were positive with hd600 but meh with hd800.

    We just need some nice pad manufacturers who can reproduce the original focal pads.. oh well.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2018
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  4. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    A low shelf of -3dB @ 1500Hz would make them pretty neutral. I generally don't use EQ so I prefer the Dekoni Sheepskin pads as overall they have the better response.

    I think Dekoni is more focused on keeping a consistent design with each of the pad types across different headphones. Unfortunately, this means some headphones will work well with the pad design while others will not.

    I'm sure Massdrop will have spare Elex pads at some point. I agree, it's sad that Focal prices as a whole are high compared to other companies. The price wars need to stop.
     
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