Originally Posted by chaza01
Do tell me how u get on - I returned the focal spirit classics and picked up the NAD HP50s which I'm using at the moment.
My experience with the focals was good but I found the comfort unbearable. If focal are going to use such small earcups they should at least make them as soft as those on the momentums, otherwise they're asking for trouble imo.
The NADs aren't perfect comfort-wise, but in my experience are far better than the focals. Isolation is better on the focals but that's no surprise with the calliper pressure on them.
I think sound wise I'll give the edge to the focals - they don't drive as easily as the NADs imo, but I preferred the immediacy of the focal's sound, with a wide soundstage where appropriate, and not all the time as with the NADs. That's part of the reason electronic music really does not shine on the NADs - listen to Papaoutai by Stromae on the NADs and you'll see what I mean.
I wouldn't travel with either of them. The bag that comes with the focals is pathetic, the NADs are more delicate - both are just too big for travel. This does leave me wondering...why be closed back at all?
However in the library both work well.
I'm keeping the NADs though - I did not like the momentums, couldn't put up with the focal's comfort levels, and want to spend more time enjoying my music than obsessively buying and returning headphones.
Personally, I found the comfort better on the Focals than the NADs. The NADs are lighter and have somewhat larger earcups, but the headband causes a pretty decent pressure point on the top of my head, which gives me headaches (because of the squared off headband). If I move the headband forward, it cramps my ears (because they are more oval than circle). On the Focals, I can move the headband to the comfortable spot without any earcup issues, and the larger surface area contact makes them more comfortable on the top of my head than the NADs (even with their heavier weight and stronger clamp). The earcups are certainly smaller, though just as deep. With a little shimmy after putting them on, I can get my whole ear in the headphone and they're pretty comfortable that way, though they do have a minor pressure point on the lower part of the cup on my jaw area that the NADs didn't have, it will most likely be reduced with use as the clamp lessens.
Sound-wise, they're different flavors of the same sound. Both have very similar frequency responses (which are excellent, very few dips with a nice downward slope that sounds very natural but not recessed in any way). I think Sean Olive really did a damn good job on his new frequency compensation curve, and while Focal won't admit it, I'd be willing to bet that they used Olive's curve as well, it's far too close for it to be a coincidence.
The biggest difference between the two is in internal reflections and perceived transient response. The NADs have almost no internal reflections, which is friggin amazing for a closed headphone and gives it that quick transient response you get usually from open headphones. This gives it a more aggressive sound which I really like, but can get fatiguing. The Focals on the other hand have more reflections but still do a very good job with perceived transient response for a closed headphone. They sound more relaxed than the NADs, but certainly not relaxed in the grand scheme of things. They also kick harder than the NADs, which are more of a snap, even in the bass.
Personally, I think electronic music does a pretty good job with the NADs, better than most other genres. The quick snappy sound works well with electronic and can help keep things separated during very complex songs. The Focals also do a good job with electronic and are pretty fast with a nice kick (and a bit of smoothness to reduce fatigue that you can get with that music), and I think do a bit of a better job than the NADs with acoustic and classical music because of the extra warmth and smoothness.
Portability is back and forth for both headphones, they're a reasonable size, especially for transportability IMO (remember, I'm used to Denon D7000 and LCD-2 sized headphones). Personally, while they are a bit bigger than on-ear headphones, I think over-ears sound a lot better (these perform far better than my Sennheiser Amperiors) and these are on the smaller end of full size.
The NADs have a better case and fold flat, which is awesome, but the Focals feel a lot more durable and are more comfortable around the neck for when you're not listening to music when out and about. I really *really* hope that Focal decides to release the hard case for the Focal Spirit One S as a stand alone product, since it looks like the perfect case for the Classics. Also, Focal has no excuse for not allowing the headphones to fold flat. They had to add a blocker to the ball joint to prevent it and it just adds another way for the headphones to break.
There are some very important reasons to be large and closed back, especially for people who work in offices or rooms with other people where isolation and minimal leakage is important.
The Focals also feel nicer, they feel like more expensive headphones (because they are).
I prefer the Focals for my needs and preferences. They are more comfortable on my head and the bit of extra smoothness will allow me to listen to them for longer without fatigue (I work a lot, so I listen to music for long stretches at a time). The Focals remind me of a more portable less refined D7000, which is exactly what I wanted (since I absolutely love those headphones). Unfortunately, I will be returning both because the Focals came with a broken mobile cable (sound only through the left channel, listening to the Focals with the NAD cable right now). However, I will be buying a pair of Classics to replace the ones I am returning and they will be my new portable headphone. I may look at used options to try to save a bit of cash.
Really, both headphones are excellent and which you prefer will be down to head/ear shape, needs, and sonic preferences. I wouldn't say either one is better than the other, they're two different flavors of the same sound and trade blows in just about every aspect.
Edited by Taowolf51 - 7/10/14 at 2:08pm