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Focal Clear headphones

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by mtoc, Oct 1, 2017.
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  1. Matro5
    OK, so I just had my Yamaha CR2020 re-serviced and got my office system up and running. I've got a modest Rega P1 w/ Nagoaka MP110 as one source. The other is a Modi 2 Uber with TIDAL from my laptop or iPhone.

    From the Yamaha I've got options. I can go straight from the excellent HP out to my Clears, or to my little Chario Terza bookshelves. At the moment, I also have my Lyr 2 hooked up with a few different tubes to choose from.

    I might be crazy, but at the moment, I think the CR2020 headphone output is outperforming the Lyr 2. There's something really satisfying about listening to vinyl on this big honking 70s receiver. They really seem to bring the Clears to life with great bass and a huge sense of space. Tonally, I think it's tied to the slight warmth of the 2020, but further testing ( which I'm more than happy to do ) is required.

    I do think the Lyr 3 looks like a massive step up, though. Great choice of tubes there.
  2. Quinto
    Can anyone comment on how the Clear does out of a Violectric V200 amp?
  3. Wildcatsare1
    If you are lookin for a reasonably priced amp for the Clear, you need to check out the Lyr 3. I’ve been impressed y the combo, and you can get different flavors via various tubes.
    Quinto, Matro5, bgbkt and 1 other person like this.
  4. asia
    I just purchased the Flac 96/24 version from prostudiomaster.com. But the clarity of the recording is really poor IMO, especially the orchestra. Is there a better version?
  5. Wildcatsare1
    The MQA versión on Tidal is pretty good.
  6. kino lau
    I really wasn't that impressed with the Tidal tracks I listened to. Excellent? Yes. As good as having the source material available on my HD? No. I also looked for the album to purchase but couldn't find it, hence listening using Tidal. Now that I know prostudiomaster.com has it available, I may pick it up.
  7. devilboy
    All of my listening sessions throughout the years was from the CD. However, I still think the Tidal version is good. Like I said, it blew my mind with the Clears and my Burson V2+.
    Wildcatsare1 likes this.
  8. crayons23
    still unable to get even try the clear at any shops in nyc. no one can get them in stock and i have been told they are on back order for the past 5 weeks with no end in sight.
  9. happy hopping
    I have a few questions on these DAC:

    1) Chord is that good? How's Chord Hugo 2 compares to Sony PHA-3? And is there any portable DAC better than Chord Hugo 2?

    2) if you were an "absolute" audiophile, why go w/ Chord Dave? Why not go w/ dCS DAC Rossinni? I believe Stereophile rated the dCS as world's no. 1
  10. bidn
    Hi happy hopping,

    Well I need to clarify two things ((A)-(C)) before going into your questions ((1)-(2)) :

    A) I didn't speak of DACs (in general) but of (integrated) DAC-amps for headphones. Evaluating DACs in relation to a kind of headphones is much more complicated because one would have to take into acount many combinations of the DACs with all amps for these headphones. As a theoretical example if there 30 separate DACs and 30 separate amps, that wou make 30 x 30 = 900 combinations to take into account. Plus one would also add the DAC and the amp taken separately of the DAC-amps combos.
    Speaking only of (integrated) DAC-amps for the Focals makes sense because they require so little power (integrated amps are in general less powerful that separate ones) and it has been reported several times that they do not combine well with some very powerful amps, especially some powerful tube amps.

    B) There is no universal agreement, just because we listen to different kinds of music, at different levels, with different tastes and different cultural backgrounds; we also have different ear-shapes, our brain priduced different FR curves, etc.
    In my case I speak many languages and can check through the internet what people say in different countries, this helps me getting an idea of what would be the more common views.

    C) All my points where only in relation to the Focal Clear, and also to the Elear and Utopia to place the Clear in the immediate context of its brothers with whom it shares many "genes".

    Now to your questions:

    1a) Chord is that good?

    Yes Chord is seen by most as "that good". First the FGPAs for their DACs have many more filters than usual, but especially their integrated DAC-amps have the advantage of not having the usual separation between the Digital to Analog Conversion stage followed by a separate amplification stage of the produced analog signal (which stage downgrades the SQ) , but of performing these both stages in one go.

    1b) How's Chord Hugo 2 compares to Sony PHA-3?
    I haven't heard personally the Sony PHA-3 not heard hardly anything about it, so I don't know how it compares to the Hugo 2 (you could ask in the Hugo 2 forum), but I wouldn't expect it to be a competitor given this "silence".

    1c) And is there any portable DAC better than Chord Hugo 2?
    The Astell & Kern SP1000 Ultima may be better than the Chord Hugo 2, some prefer its SQ to that of the Hugo 2. Some don't prefer it to the Hugo 2, especially if you require more power. Although already powerful for a DAP, it is not as powerful as the Hugo 2, so if more power is required the Hugo 2 is a better alternative. But the SP1000 has certainly enough power for most people for Focal headphones. When some can hear a difference between the SP1000cu and SP1000SS, they usually prefer the cu.

    Don't forget: as far as I could see, people will find out that RME's DAC-amps (they are quite small re. form factor) are better than the Hugo 2.
    RME has many decades of experiences of developing, manufacturing and improving audio electronics for the professional (studios) audio world. They recently developed DAC-amps directed at us amateur audiophiles and they were direct hits, and even so much cheaper than the Hugo 2, and already seen by many as reference or endgame for mid-priced DAC-amps.

    2a) if you were an "absolute" audiophile, why go w/ Chord Dave?

    Again, as far I could check (e.g. you can check out the Utopia threads on Head-Fi or google it), everyone who listened to the chain Dave --> Utopia found it the best for the Utopia. After listening to it I too wanted to buy one (but find the Dave too unpractical).

    2b) Why not go w/ dCS DAC Rossinni? I believe Stereophile rated the dCS as world's no. 1

    I don't know of reports of this with the Utopia, and this doesn't seem to have a headphone output (but it might be fine for the Susvara?).
    In general I find the German magazine Stereoplay the most reliable of all magazines I know of.
    Re. the ranking of DACs separate from an integrated amp, Stereoplay ranks this one as number one:
    #1 [ / Stereoplay] : Nagra HD DAC/MPs ( € 22500),
    but apparently they haven't tested the dCS DAC Rossinni so far.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
  11. happy hopping
    thanks for the reply. A few quick follow up:

    1) I have a peek at the Astell & Kern Sp1000 Ultima, it's no good for me. I use these portable DAC in conjunction w/ a portable CD player at the gym, the Astell & Kern is a player as well, so it doesn't apply to me

    2) I did go to the RME website, I don't see any portable DAC, I did see their desktop DAC. It's possible I miss it if they do have portable DAC. as there are so many products on their page

    3) I can't remember if Stereophile said the dCS Rossini is the no. 1 or their Vivaldi is. However, after you mentioned the above, I did double check the dCS website, there is no Headphone jack. So my mistake. Anyhoo, since we are talking about these DAC, a quick side note if I may: I went the Nagra website. As far as circuitry is concerned, dCS did a far better job


    this is their circuitry, they have no liquid capacitor. The NAgra on the other hand, has a handful of liquid capacitor. And thus, subject to capacitor plague
  12. Mark Dirac
  13. hannahjherself
    I have been listening to a lot of Rachmaninov on my loaner pair particularly Symphony No. 3 (Detroit Symphony Orchestra / 2015) and Piano Concerto No. 2 (Yuja Wang / 2014) on Qobuz and the Clears have blown me away. Absolutely stunning, so much so that I feel sorry for my LCD-3s.

    Actually having the Clears has made me learn a lot about the LCD-3s, what they are capable of and what they don't do so well.

    Needless to say I am sold. I'll be picking up my own pair later this week.
    Paulo Abreu, Wildcatsare1 and Matro5 like this.
  14. paul2qute
    Well finally got my heimdall 2 headphone cable for my clear pro,just need to plug it all in and put on repeat for a few days,I couldn't use the coiled cable it's as good as useless to me,I'll be able to finally sit down and lean back and relax and put some banging tunes by Miss Monique
    brianc0428, Wildcatsare1 and kino lau like this.
  15. hannahjherself
    I picked up my new Focal Clears this morning. Now I just have to do the burn-in vs quick-listen dance when I get home.
    BunnyNamedCraig and Wildcatsare1 like this.
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