Focal Clear

General Information

Specifications

Circum-aural open-back headphones

Impedance 55 Ohms

Sensitivity 104dB SPL / 1mW @ 1kHz

THD 0,25% @ 1kHz / 100dB SPL

Frequency response 5Hz-28kHz

Loudspeaker 1.6" (40mm) Aluminum/Magnesium 'M'-shape dome

Weight 0.99lb / 450g

Cables provided

3m balanced cable (XLR 4-pin)

3m unbalanced cable (1/4" TRS jack)

1.2m unbalanced cable (1/8" TRS jack)

1/8" jack to 1/4" stereo jack adapter

Hard-shell carrying case 9.8"x9.4"x4.7" (250x240x120mm)

Latest reviews

Precogvision

Reviewer at Headphones.com
Focal Clear Review - As Good As Everyone Says?
Pros: - excellent dynamic contrast and micro-dynamics
- solid bass response
- demands your attention
Cons: - treble can be fatiguing due to 11kHz peak
- intimate staging
- hints of sibilance
This review was originally published here on Headphones.com, but I am re-posting it for readers on Head-Fi.

Introduction

Based out of France and purveyor to some of the world’s finest audio transducers, Focal’s a brand that’s been on my radar for some time. The Focal Utopia, in particular, has afforded me many a moment of yearning. And angst, I should add, looking at that price tag! For mere mortals like myself, then, the Focal Clear was the clear alternative that promised comparable performance at a fraction of the Utopia’s cost. And yes, I’ll try and refrain from more bad puns going forward. Anyways, courtesy of Headphones.com, I’ve been evaluating the Clear for the last couple months.

I know I’m quite late to the party with my review. And if you’ve read any other reviews, then I think it’s already been well-established that the Clear is a pretty awesome headphone. There’s not much fun (for me, at least) in parroting those reviews, so I’m going to do what I do best: Let the critic in me run wild. This is not a review for the faint of heart; however, if you’re interested in a more critical perspective on this highly-acclaimed headphone, then I encourage you to read on.

Source & Drivability

Critical listening was done off of a Burson 3X Conductor, iFi iDSD Micro BL > Macbook Air > Audirvana > lossless FLAC files. That being said, the Clear is a remarkably easy headphone to drive due to a low impedance of 55 Ohms. I was able to listen using a number of portable sources like my iBasso DX300 without an issue. For music used, check out the end of the review where you can find some of the tracks I use for my listening.

The Tangibles

The Clear arrives in a large, black cardboard box with Focal’s branding on it. The following accessories are included:
  • Hard-carrying case w/ storage for one cable
  • 1.2 meter cable w/ 3.5mm jack
  • 3 meter cable w/ 6.35mm jack
  • 3 meter cable w/ XLR 4-pin connector
I really like the included carrying case. It also has a slot for a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter so you can get away with just bringing the 1.2mm cable. I think my biggest complaint about the included accessories would be the tactility of the cables. They are fairly...well, janky, for lack of a better word, and I would like to have seen higher quality cables included. They look like the same cables you might find off a desktop lamp from Ikea (no really, I encourage you to check out some posts in the r/headphones subReddit). Then again, you’re getting three separate cables, so maybe that’s fair.

IMG_0701.jpg


The Clear itself sports a substantial build. It has an aluminum frame, leather headband with perforations, and memory foam cups with perforations for breathability. There is some play to the yoke when moving the cups from side-to-side, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it affords a more comfortable fit when the headphone is being worn. The cups themselves also have a very cool spring system which contours the cups into place so you don’t have to worry about adjusting the headphone as much. Again, really solid stuff overall. The only thing I’m somewhat on the fence about is the lighter color of the pads. They’re prone to discoloration given time (and replacement pads are not cheap!).

For fit and comfort, the Clear is certainly not as comfortable as something like the HD800S, but it is far from being the least comfortable headphone that I have worn. I think most people would be fine, as I’m quite picky about headphones and don’t wear them often. Because this is an open-back headphone, do be aware that there is zero isolation. I wouldn’t purchase this headphone expecting to use it on public transportation or in louder environments.

IMG_0702.jpg


Sound Analysis


Twitter-review summary: The Clear presents a neutral-warm sound signature that’s reasonably well-balanced sans some quirks in the upper-midrange and treble. In tandem with its technical presentation, it is a forward, engaging listen that demands attention.

I actually have the venerable Sennheiser HD800S on-hand at the time of this writing. Suffice it to say that I was not impressed with the HD800S’s bass response, and switching to the Clear presented an immediate improvement. The Clear’s bass is pretty much exactly what you would expect of a higher-end, dynamic driver headphone. It is near-neutral and extends fairly deep. I would say it’s on the faster end of dynamic driver bass; neither the hardest hitting nor crazy clean like a planar, but simply...good. I would certainly prefer more sub-bass quantity; of course, that’s personal preference. Oh, and before I forget: If you're wondering about the oft-cited driver clipping, for better or worse, I don't listen remotely loud enough for it to occur.

The midrange is where things get more dicey. The Clear transitions into the lower-midrange properly - it’s dead flat - followed by a peak at roughly 1.5kHz. This part actually sits fine with me. While it certainly contributes to the Clear’s slightly boxier presentation, I immediately noticed that it flies superbly with the likes of piano. I’m no musician, but to my ears, piano tones sound incredibly exuberant and rich on the Clear. In general, the Clear is a headphone with a focus on the lower-midrange. Now, I think the Clear’s second midrange quirk will be more contentious. It is a dip at roughly 4kHz. This is not necessarily an issue standalone - in fact, many of my favorite transducers recess this region - but the Clear contrasts this with a minor peak at 6kHz in the lower-treble.

The end result is a double-whammy, as I hear substantial amounts of sibilance and grate with female vocals. If you’re not familiar with the term sibilance, it’s when certain consonances are emphasized over others with a hissing characteristic. A quick example I can point to is Girls Generation’s “Flyers” at 0:45 on the lyrics “peace sign”. It almost sounds like the “s” has shifted into an abrupt whistle. Before you say “It’s your garbage K-Pop tracks!”…well, yes, it is partially baked into the track, but I don’t hear this on any of my other transducers, or at least not to this degree. The Clear also has what I would consider a fairly textured timbre (it certainly leans more textured than, say, the Sennheiser HD6XX). To my ears, these instances of sibilance unnaturally highlight the texture to the degree of which I use the word “grate”.

You know, it’s unfortunate that the Clear’s 6kHz peak contrasted to the 4kHz dip is just enough to result in sibilance. Because despite measurements citing that fairly pronounced 6kHz peak on the Clear, the peak was barely audible based on sine sweeps I ran by ear. I want to say that the Clear’s treble response is actually more mid-treble oriented. Like so, I observed a peak somewhere at roughly 9kHz, followed by a significantly stronger one at 11kHz. After this point, the Clear slopes off not unlike the Sennheiser HD6XX; it's not a particularly airy headphone to my ears. But frequency response only tells us so much. How does this actually translate to practice?

To my ears, then, the initial impact of percussive hits are pulled out longer than they should be, and there’s a type of dirty resonance that harkens to my brief stint with the Hidition Viento-B. I don’t think it ever quite comes across as smeared - the Clear has fairly good nuance - however, it contributes to what some might describe as a “metallic” timbre. Doesn’t sound pleasant, right? But here's the thing: I have to admit that I don’t dislike it. It’s a peaky treble response to be sure, but there’s an edge of authenticity to the Clear’s treble that appeals to me. For example, when the opening cymbals of SawanoHiroyuki’s “Cage” drop, they sound oh-so-authorative; it’s almost like you’re on stage right next to the hits.

IMG_0706.jpg

Technical Performance

But while the Clear’s a brighter-leaning headphone, I don’t get the impression that it’s using frequency response to compensate or “fake” the perception of detail. Indeed, the Clear is a remarkably strong performer for a sense of internal detail. I would mainly point to the Clear’s microdynamics - reverb trails, decay, and the nuance of individual instrument lines. I freely admit that I struggle to hone in on this stuff, and at the end of the day, it’s mostly me acting on gut instinct. Nonetheless, most readers will know that I come from a strong IEM background where (in my opinion) microdynamics are largely non-existent. The few IEMs I have heard with the ability to scale more intimate fluctuations tend to have a certain, say, “micro-texture” to the way notes decay. The Clear definitely has this quality, and I think it pays compliment to its macrodynamic ability.

Speaking of which: the Clear’s excellent macrodynamic contrast. In any given track, there are decibel peaks and valleys; macrodynamic contrast is indicative of a transducer’s ability to scale said gradations. Pro tip? A hallmark of a headphone with good dynamic contrast is one where you find yourself turning up the volume on quiet sections of tracks and, conversely, turning down the volume on louder parts of tracks. The Clear is not a headphone for listeners who want to kick back and relax after a long day’s work; believe me, this is a headphone that demands your attention. So watch those listening volumes with the Clear!

That said, I still have bone to pick concerning the weight, the second derivative of macrodynamics to my ears, with which the Clear rides dynamic swings. What do I mean? If you have ever heard a 2-channel system - heck, even some IEMs like the 64 Audio U12t and Tia Fourte - you might notice that there is a sense of intensity, pressure, as certain tracks build. On Taeyeon’s “Make Me Love You,” for example, the opening bassline should successively wash you with a gentle, yet firm sense of authority. Then when the song transitions into the chorus at 0:50, it should be the auditory equivalent of a wave slamming into you. In this instance, the Clear’s a fairly punchy headphone with a good sense of immediacy to be sure, but I think its ability to articulate that more innate sense of body, gravity if you will, could use some work.

Of course, this is me nitpicking. For most listeners, I think the Clear’s most apparent weakness will be soundstage size. The stage of the Clear is a more intimate one. If I had to guess, this is due equal parts to the forwardness of treble and to the bump at 1.5kHz. This is particularly evident relative to the HD800S which chooses to cut the 1kHz region; instruments sound slightly squeezed on the Clear. To be fair, these headphones are going for two very different things. The Clear is certainly warmer, and I think it maintains solid imaging chops - at least on the front of positional accuracy. Like most headphones, I don't think the Clear's soundstage depth is something worth commenting on.

IMG_0705.jpg

The Verdict

The Clear was not quite what I expected it to be. In many ways, it is the antithesis of my time with the Sennheiser HD800S. I felt that the HD800S sacrificed microdynamic engagement and bass in the pursuit of a more analytical sound. By contrast, the Clear is a more visceral, energetic expression of what’s possible from a dynamic driver headphone. Here, I want to reiterate that I have been intentionally critical throughout this review. While it’s far from perfect, the Clear is still a fantastic headphone in my books, one that I once considered purchasing for myself. So if you're looking for a headphone intent on keeping you at the edge of your seat - and can live with some minor flaws - then it’s my pleasure to recommend the Focal Clear.

Reference Tracks

  • Aimer - Hakuchuumu
  • David Nail - Let It Rain
  • Everglow - DUN DUN
  • Girls’ Generation - Galaxy Supernova
  • Illenium - Broken Ones
  • Joe Nichols - Sunny and 75
  • Keith Urban - Defying Gravity (2009)
  • Keiichi Okabe - Weight of the World (NieR:Automata Original Soundtrack)
  • Sabai - Million Days
  • Sawano Hiroyuki - Best of Vocal Works Remastered (2020)
  • Taeyeon - My Voice (2017)
  • Tiffany - I Just Wanna Dance
  • Like
Reactions: descloud

sigi

New Head-Fier
For the money I can only give it 2 stars
Pros: looks, comes with a case, you can show off with your new expensive headphones on your preferred social media platform
Cons: Worse cables in the industry, extremely microphonic cable connection: bad with custom made cables, extremely bad with factory cables (worse than 100 USD headphones), very sensitive to placement
Great disappointment.

Never never never buy headphones based on reviews, especially don't trust the major headphone reviewers, the "stars" of the headphones review world on Youtube. They are mostly just pushing gear, reviewing headphones on loan - snake oil salesmen, that is what they are.

I fell for them. And ordered the Clears.

Tonal balance:
There is a lot of blabla about how clear they sound and balanced etc etc etc .... How in the world do headphone reviewrs forget to talk about sensitivity to the placement? Yes headphone are to some degree sensitive to placement but these... these ...
You want to know about their tonal balance (frequency response)?
They don't have one - in that they have many. Especially upwards from the mids.
So there is no use talking about the tonal balance of these headphones.

Unless you screw some docking mechanism in your skull and jawbones so that they can be attached to the exactly same place on your head.... there is no point talking about tonal balance with these.

So how's the sound? Watch/read reviews and you'll get to know how these CAN sound with a caviat (placement, see above)

Cables:
Unacceptable for headphone that cost a tenth of the price.

Microphonic cable connections:
Unacceptable for headphone that cost a tenth of the price.


PS: sorry for not writing many many paragraphs about how I perceive their sound detailing mids, lows, highs, and imaging and all that stuff - I am just a mastering engineer that does not care for hi-fi folklore and the negative points I made above just make these headphones useless as a reference tool in the studio. And that is what I am looking for in headphones.

Focals, never again, no headphones, no studio monitors, nothing, never never never.
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sigi
@descloud There are many types of audio engineers speciallizing in totally different things... in the music world it is mostly: recording engineer, mixing engineer, mastering engineer, live sound engineer etc etc. Than there are many in the film/TV industry: 'sound recordist', in post production dialogue editor, mixer, etc etc etc etc
@robm321 Yawoll Herr, Kommandant! I will never talk to another person in my life again - going away in the woods to become a hermit.
@trevinthefionaapplefan yep... as the tonal balance changes so much with placement it is quite useless for reference work (granted this might be a feature for a headphone collector... more than one tonal character in one pair of headphones). Also, working in these is quite impossible because of the cable noise. And yes, two stars: as the title sais: "for the money..."
JoeTho
JoeTho
Sounds like you made up your mind in advance that you didn't like them because as you say you don't care for hifi folklore.
S
sigi
@JoeTho I don't see any logic in what you are saying

FcConstruct

Head-Fier
Focal Clear vs. Elex
Pros: Low end physicality
Resolution
Dynamics
Solid tuning
Cons: Upper mids edginess and vocal sibilance
Price/performance (vs. the Elex) and accessory cost

Introduction​

A little while ago, I posted my review of the Focal Elex thinking it wouldn't be a while until I had a chance to review another Focal headphone. Well lo and behold, the folks over at headphones.com reached out to me and asked if I'd like to review the Focal Clear after seeing a conversation I had with a friend on Discord asking if I'd compare the Elex to the Clear. Obviously, I wasn't going to say no. So here is my take on the Focal Clear vs. the Focal Elex. Do read my Focal Elex review before this one! I'm going to assume you have for this review. I also did a video version of this review on Youtube! Though the content is mostly the same, I take a more conversational style in the video that changes the dynamics of the presentation so check that one out too for a fuller picture!



Housekeeping​

Before I start though, there's a few housekeeping items I need to point out regarding the Clear. First, it costs $1,500 vs. the $700 Elex. That said, I'm fairly certain you could probably buy it closer to the $1,000 mark if you find a sweet deal or go the used route. Speaking of deals, most of you are probably already aware of this but the Clear is sold through Focal's dealers while the Elex can only be obtained from (Mass)Drop. I'll get to the implications of this in the conclusion but it is a distinction to keep in mind. As for the build, the Elex uses the same pads as the Clear but the same drivers as the Elear. Those concerned over the quality control over the Elex's drivers may feel more at ease with the Clear as I haven't seen reports of its failure. Of course, this is a much more complicated topic with a lot of misinformation floating out there so I won't discuss it any further.
I also want to point out the existence of the Focal Clear Pro which ALSO costs $1,500. Despite the pro moniker, there is no sound difference. The only difference is the red/black aesthetics and an extra set of pads with the Clear Pro vs. the two extra sets of cables you get in the Clear. The main cable also changes from a cloth-like fabric to a more traditional rubbery coiled cable on the Clear Pro. To be honest, I don't see why you wouldn't get a Clear Pro since those extra pads are a $200 added value.
Finally, in the time that I've written this review, it looks like the Focal Clear Pro Mg has been released at... $1,500. No word on the non-Pro version. I don't know what's going on with the Focal Clear lineup but if I were a betting man, I'd say the Mg version is meant to replace the standard Clear. This review will be focused on the regular version vs. the Elex but watch out for those Mg reviews!
Finally finally, I'd like to thank headphones.com for sending me a loaner unit of the Focal Clear to review. All they ask is that I mention their name here. As always, this review will consist of my honest thoughts.
Phew that was a lot. Let's get started.

What's in the Box​

The Focal Clear's box is a minimalist black box with a slideout design. Inside is a carrying case containing the Clear along with a 3.5 mm and a 1/4 in adapter. There's also a box that opens up like a book containing two more cables. One is a 1/4 in cable and the other is an XLR cable. They have the same lengths. Finally, there's a user manual.
The cables are the same as the cable on the Focal Elex, except with a lighter gray. It is similarly awful. The fabric sheathing introduces a ton of cable noise. There's an insane amount of cable memory and constantly kinks in the shape it was shipped in. Please get a new cable for yourself if you pick up a Clear.
As for the build itself, it's built exactly like the Elex except for a light gray color instead of all black. I did notice that the pads and headband had a more substantial feel compared to my worn-in 2-year old Elex that gave in at a fairly light touch. But otherwise, they're the same. They're hefty but comfortable for 2-3 hours before I need a break to relax my neck. I get a really nice seal with these headphones so no complaints there.


Sound​

The Clear and the Elex sound surprisingly similar in a lot of ways yet have subtle differences that give life to each individual headphone. The main difference really comes down to tuning. Though they're tuned very closely to each other, the Elex draws my attention to the top half of the frequency response while the Clear focuses my thoughts on the lower mids and bass. Where the Elex emphasizes the primary melodies of a track, the Clear reminds me not to forget about the subtleties in the background.

Bass​

The bass and lower mids of the Clear sound like they have about a 1-2 dB bump over the Elex. This elevation isn't focused around say the subbass or midbass, but rather it's an overall perception of meatiness in the low end of the Clear compared to the leaner Elex. Where the Elex's bass is tighter and lighter, the Clear's feel weightier and nuanced. The Clear's better bass resolution, rumble, and refinement is lightly reminiscent of the Utopia. This improved bass quality and elevation is what makes me consider the Clear to be more low end focused compared to the Elex. It's as if the Clear is comfortable spending time exploring the intricacies of the notes in the bass and lower mids; I'm able to more easily pickup on the trailing backend character of notes that may get passed over when the Elex slams and moves on. An simple example is the kick drum: on the Elex, I mostly hear the defined attack of the beater head. On the Clear, the body of the kick blends seamlessly in to fill and round out each note with an added layer of character. The same could be said for the toms and even the guitars, though to a lesser extent.
In some ways, the bass of the Clear sounds like what I tried to EQ the Elex to. Though I tried to increase subbass quantity for a larger impact, I wasn't pleased with my EQ as I found the Elex needed to remain lean to get the most out of its clean slam. By adjusting the bass, that cleanness would be marred ever-so-slightly, enough that I felt the tradeoff wasn't worth it. Though the Clear doesn't solve that issue, the sense of physicality and weightiness of low notes was the missing piece of the puzzle I didn't have in my EQ attempts. While the Clear didn't manage to achieve my dream of a clean, thunderous subbass slam like I was trying for on the Elex, I was met with a more mature solution. For those considering the Clear vs. the Elex, this is where I'd say the Clear has its most definite edge over the Elex unless you're a diehard fan of a lean tuning.

Mids​

Continuing the story from the bass, the lower mids of the Clear are warmer and more coherent than the Elex. What stands out about the Clear is its coherency and nuance in that transition region between the bass and the lower mids. I find a lot of headphones and IEMs struggle getting sound across in this critical region but the Clear has no trouble at all. To be fair, the Elex doesn't have an issue in this area either. It handles it easily. But its leanness does mask some of the challenges that are often presented here.
For how good the lower mids are, it's the upper mids of the Clear that fall short. There's a bit of edginess to the upper mids that make it slightly sibilant on certain vocals. The sharp Sss sound is especially pronounced on wispy female vocals or when a sharp breath is taken. As mentioned in my Elex review, the Elex seems to always toe the line when it comes to vocal sibilance; it gets right to the threshold without ever crossing it. A similar sort of effect happens with the Clear where I can sense it stretches right up to that threshold... anddd steps over it occasionally. While the lower mids of the Clear does smooth out the sound of the mids as a whole, it isn't enough to soften the edginess of the upper mids. As such, I think the Elex does have a better tonal balance for vocals. That said, I do want to emphasize how subtle this difference in the upper mids can be between the Clear and Elex, especially depending on the vocalist. For some singers, I had to A/B test the tracks to check if it wasn't just the recording.
I find that instrument tone is slightly better on the Clear as it isn't as affected by the upper mids edginess nearly as much as vocals are. The lower mids warmth and coherency of the Clear works beautifully if you're looking for something like the emotional sounds of a moody electric guitar. The Clear's rendition of these stringed instruments really shine in quieted segments. But if you primarily enjoy high-paced rock or metal tracks, the Elex's lean mids may be advantageous. As mentioned at the start, I find the Elex is very good at bringing forth the main melodies of a recording and part of that reason is its ability to sound effortlessly clean in the mids.



Treble​

The treble of the Clear and Elex is pretty interesting. Neither is truly brighter than the other, though sometimes that upper mids edginess does make its way into the lower treble of the Clear. The Elex's treble is pervasively forward; I continuously hear the crisp sound of the hats and cymbals in tracks where they have any level of prominence. The Clear's treble are more mellow, with the warmth from the lower mids balancing the overall tone. Because it's less crisp than the Elex and has a lengthened decay, the Clear's treble oftentimes sounds just a bit more natural to me where the Elex can sometimes feel a little exaggerated. It adds a sense of musicality and emotion that leads to melancholic enjoyability. I find that the Clear is also more forgiving of poor recordings as it doesn't amplify the metallic sound of badly recorded cymbals nearly as much as the Elex does. In terms of airiness, neither headphone really has much top end air or sparkle.

Presentation​

From a staging perspective, they're extremely close. For soundstage, I'd say the Elex takes a small edge here, maybe about 5% larger at most. Imaging wise, I want to say the Clear pulls ahead though part of that perception may be because the Clear sounds just a bit more coherent than the Elex.
On a resolution level, the Clear has better resolution, mostly in the bass and lower mids where it's more nuanced. Though it is hard to tell if its simply because there's more quantity. Regardless, the low end of the Clear is more satisfying and it's where the Clear pulls ahead of the Elex. It has the ability to make subtleties in the background pop just a bit more. When I'm listening to a familiar track, background instruments and melodies are more noticeable. Especially those that play in the lower frequencies such a deep snare roll. The Clear manages to paint a clear, nuanced picture of those notes. When I listen for the same thing on the Elex, I can hear it but it's less noticeable and the overall "image" in my head is fuzzier.
Instrument separation and layering is better on the Clear as well. The overall presentation is just a little more mature on the Clear and elevates its sound compared to the Elex. I'd say that, to some extent, the sheer dynamism of the Elex, its slam and lean tuning, causes it gloss over some of the finer details that the Clear lays out. I do think the Elex is the more dynamic headphone by a small margin and sounds a bit cleaner as a whole thanks to its tuning.

Should You Buy It?​

Yes, if you want something a little thicker than the Elex and have deep enough pockets for it. Let me be the first to say that the Clear will NOT beat the value the Elex brings to the table. For all the compare and contrast I've given in this review, both headphones honestly sound quite similar to each other. Diminishing returns and the like; the truth is when headphones are this good, differences are often partially exaggerated (unintentionally) just to be able to illustrate them. At $700, the Elex is pretty much the best value Hi-Fi headphone you can currently get IMHO. The HD600 is nice but the Focal Elex and Clear are truly in a different league from it.
At $1,500, the Clear is more than double the price of the Elex. So what does it bring to the table? Ultimately, it really comes down to that layer of musicality in the low end. Its coherency and nuance brings this tactile physicality to the lower mids and bass that cannot be said of the Elex. Combined with better instrument tone and a more mellow treble, the Clear has an overall more mature sound than the aggressively slammy Elex. But its greatest flaw is the slight upper mids edginess and sibilance on vocals. For those who are extremely sensitive to vocal sibilance no matter how small or infrequent, that may be enough to prefer the Elex. Otherwise, I think the warmer, bassier signature of the Clear should appeal to more people.
Going back to the question of worth: one of the bigger justifications for paying the huge premium is quality control and dealer support. In my Elex review, I touched briefly on the potential concerns over the Elex's driver failure. The Clears do not have this issue (or at least, nowhere near the same extent). Furthermore, with the Clear you get 3 years of warranty from Focal instead of 1 year from Drop with the Elex. Obviously, how good this warranty will be would partially depend on how good your dealer is but in general, aftermarket support from dedicated audio dealers like headphones.com or similar companies should be better than Drop. While I don't think it's worth more than double the price of the Elex, it is something to consider.
And make no mistake, not every new Clear sells at $1,500. If you message a dealer and ask nicely, they may give you a sweet little deal on them. Or if you're lucky and there's an open box Clear in stock, you might get a pretty good discount on that too. Or even a used set since the 3-year warranty transfers. All that to say, I wouldn't be surprised if you could find a Clear for around $1,000 or less with a little bit of luck, making the value proposition much better.
To conclude then, I suppose I should tell you which I prefer. It's actually a pretty simple decision. Since I own an Elex, I'll stick with it for now. If you follow my reviews, you'll know that I like a lean tuning and forward treble so the Elex is right in my wheelhouse. But if I owned neither and assuming the price difference wasn't an issue, I'd probably get the Clear. While I will absolutely miss the superior vocal balance and lean cleanness of the Elex, the physicality and coherency in the low end of the Clear is quite hard to beat.

Written by Fc-Construct
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tarikuz
Still happy with elegia but curious about the sound of open back focal sound!
descloud
descloud
Looks like we both share similar findings to the Clear's treble region. They can get peaky depending on how a track is mastered. It doesn't seem to bother most, but it was enough for me to eventually let them go. They're overall great sounding though, but it looks like Focal changed up the tuning a bit in the MG series.

Nicely written review overall!

@tarikuz the Elegia in stock form does not sound like the Clear. I've had the Clear previously and currently own the Elegia. If you EQ the Elegia, you can get a similar sound to the Clear, but the two aren't alike in stock tonality from my experience.
FcConstruct
FcConstruct
@descloud Yup the treble on the Clear has a bit more edginess at times than the Elex like the upper mids but I do find it generally more mellow instead of in-your-face like the Elex was.

Comments

Ekul61

500+ Head-Fier
I had a good 10 day. 20 hours of listening to the Utopia. I found the level of detail. Too much,fatiguing. Aggressive trumpets like in big band music, are over powering. The Utopia is a interesting headphone, for about 15 minutes. Then I found myself turning the volume down.
After 4 days of listening to the Clear. I've not experiences the fatiguing nature of the Utopia. So far I'm a big Clear fan.
Tomorrow will be my first listen to the Clear with the balanced cable via Violectric 280 amp. Should be fun.
 
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