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Focal Clear headphones

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by mtoc, Oct 1, 2017.
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  1. Matro5
    MrPanda likes this.
  2. musicmaker
    If you can live with a transportable, I highly recommend the ADI-2 DAC/Pro. I owner the Hugo2 prior to it and like the ADI better.
    Liu Junyuan, alphanumerix1 and bidn like this.
  3. bidn
    Hi Matro5 and musicmaker,

    I agree with both of you. I think, and saw this often confirmed, so this would apply to most people ,
    that for the Focal Clear, Elear and Utopia, the following DAC-amps can be said to be presently delivering the "best" sound quality:

    For the "budget" audiophile owning the Clear, Elear or Utopia:
    - the Chord Mojo (€ 500)
    (the Mojo will not exhaust their capabilies)

    For the "common" audiophile owning the Clear, Elear or Utopia:
    - the RME ADI-2 Pro FS (€ 1600) or the original RME ADI-2 Pro
    - the RME ADI-2 DAC (€ 1000)
    As far as I have seen, anyone who has compared the RME to the Hugo 2 (€ 2200 - 2400) found the RME better.
    (for me the RME exhaust the capabilities of the Clear and Elear, are their best match;
    but the RME do not exhaust the capabilities of the Utopia.)

    For the "absolute" audiophile owning the Utopia:
    - the Chord Dave (€ 11000 + many will buy a € 1000 cable for the Utopia + a very expensive power supply)
    (in my case I still find the design of the Dave way too unpractical, it can't be stacked, etc., which annoyances are difficult to accept for the price the Dave costs, so I am hoping for a Chord Hugo TT-2 delivering the same SQ or another device with a design fulfilling the normal basic requirements).

    Hoping this may help you,
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018
  4. DiscoveryHead

    When I was demo'ing headphones, I did a listen comparison between the Focal Clear and Elear and indeed the Senn 800S. My kit is as follows :

    Desktop setup

    Transport :

    Apple MacBook Pro 13” (mid 2014)
    3Ghz Intel Core i7 with 16GB RAM
    512 GB SSD
    USB 3.0 direct attached Seagate 8TB (160MB/S) Music File Store
    Roon 1.4 (Build 306) 64-Bit


    Music library files encoded are a range of :
    MP3 44.1 16Bit
    AIFF 44.1 16Bit
    FLAC 44.1 16Bit through to FLAC 192 24Bit, a few higher.
    DSD 64.

    Chord Electronics Hugo 2
    The Chord Company Shawline USB Interconnect

    I wasn't at all impressed with either of the Focal headphones when paired with the Hugo 2. The bass was bloated on the Elear and the treble had no sparkle on the Clear. They just didn't sound particularly special. In the end I didn't buy any of the Focals and bought the Senn 800S due to the fact that it pairs so well with the Chord kit. It definitely pays to bring all your kit when you audition a new element of your system rather than looking at the component in isolation when reviewed.
  5. devilboy
    I'm currently using the Clear with a Burson V2+ and I'm VERY impressed. I'm using it as intended with its internal dac. Anyone else using a Burson with their Clear?
  6. musicmaker
    The Clear is a fantastic headphone. One of the best I've heard in a long time and I've tried several sub $2k headphones. Imaging is great. Soundstage is not the best, but honestly my speaker system blows away the best soundstage headphones. The tonal accuracy of the clear is also great and it is my reference headphone that I pair with other great gear. (Holo Kitsune L3 and Headamp GS-X mkII) and it excels.

    I did not care for the clear with the Hugo2. But I really like the clear with the ADI-2 Pro. Sounds fantastic !
    Wildcatsare1 likes this.
  7. hannahjherself
    I have these on loan from the shop for a few days and I am finding it very difficult to imagine not buying them right now. I am used to the rounded, musical sound from my LCD-3s but the Clears offer so much detail and tenderness particularly around strings and woodwind. Just perfectly poised.
    Liu Junyuan and MrPanda like this.
  8. Wildcatsare1
    As you all know, I’ve loved the Clear, but I’m re-learning their capabilities now that my Schiit Lyr 3 is starting to burn in (with NOS Sylvania). The headstage is much better than I’ve heard on other amps, very nice depth, imaging specificity is exceptional, tone reamains excellent. This amp is truly one of the greatest bargains in Head Fi, followed closely by the Clear.
    bgbkt and kino lau like this.
  9. Quinto
    Can anyone comment on how the Clear does classical (solo piano, string quartets & orchestral (Mahler/Bruckner)

    I love my HD800S out of Audio-GD NOS11 most of the times, but sometimes it's a bit too distant for my taste although it works great for symphonies..

    loved my Grado GS1000 with Grace m902 back in the days, brilliant for solo piano, but in the end it the treble gave me bloody tinitus
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
  10. Wildcatsare1
    @Quinto, I prefer the Clear to the HD800 with classical, enough that I sold the 800. The tonality is far superior on the Clear, with a broader array of amps, it’s far easier to drive. The string tone is goosebump inducing. The Clear’s weakness is headstage, though I’m finding that to be amp dependent, the new Lyr 3, with a Sylvania VT-231 is providing excellent depth in stage.
    CactoesGel and Quinto like this.
  11. SilverEars
    Anybody compared RME pro to the DAC? What were the differences from pro's hp out and DAC to a good amp?
  12. devilboy
    Regarding the Clear with piano, one of my reference albums is Rachmaninov's piano concerto no. 2 performed by the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre conducted by Valery Gergiev with Lang Lang on piano. The piano in the opening notes of the first movement have such a truthful, realistic tone and natural decay through the Clears it blows my mind. I've heard this through my old HD 800, current LCD 2 Fazor and multiple loudspeakers in multiple systems and nothing sounded as believable as the Clears.
    I'm using a Burson Conductor V2+ as dac and amp.
    Matro5 and Quinto like this.
  13. Wildcatsare1
    Is this the Album?
  14. Wildcatsare1
    Wow, excellent recommendation, you are spot on, rich, gorgeous tone, coupled with powerful dynamics!
  15. devilboy
    Yes, that's the one. I agree with what you said.
    Beautiful piece of music also. This with Chopin's piano concerto no 2 are my favorite piano concertos. Completely different from one another, but just sayin.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
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