Focal Clear headphones
Jun 17, 2018 at 8:05 AM Post #3,961 of 10,304

doraymon

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To be honest, I'm about to unsubscribe from this thread. Not because of the last few posts but because I haven't really learned anything about the Clears since I've subscribed.

In the beginning, I looked forward to hearing the email chime on my phone, hoping it was a post about the Clears. Now, I roll my eyes realizing it's probably another post about how to clean the Clears, or their neutral tonal balance or.....my favorite.....Chord pairings.

It's the same old, same old over and over again.
Please, someone give me a reason to be happy about my email notifications again.
Interesting way to approach the problem.
Which topics would you want to read about for example?
 
Jun 17, 2018 at 6:10 PM Post #3,962 of 10,304

Phronesis

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After hours of comparison of the Clear and Utopia, I decided to buy the Clear.

In back to back comparison with quick switching, matching volume by ear, and matching music segments, I subjectively find the sound to be very similar. To my ears, the Utopia brings out detail slightly more readily, but at the expense of a treble bite which sounds a bit artificial to me. The Clear sounds a bit smoother, which it makes somewhat more versatile. I like the bass of the Utopia a little more, but the difference is small.

Listening to a wide variety of tracks, in terms of subjective preference, I preferred the Clear as often as the Utopia, and it was usually pretty much a tie. So even setting cost aside, I can't say that I prefer the Utopia over the Clear, and when cost is factored in, the Clear is obviously a much better value (for me). I actually find the Elear to sound very similar to the other two also, so that would arguably be the best value of the three, but I prefer the slightly better detail of the Clear, and the case and cables with the Clear are a nice perk.

If others are comparing and deciding between these three headphones, I encourage comparing them in various ways, including using quick switching. I was surprised at how small the differences were, compared to my expectations. I didn't have a budget limit in making the decision (and I was offered a good deal on the Utopia from an authorized dealer), and really wanted to get the Utopia in the hope that it would be noticeably superior to the other two, but my ears told me that the Clear is the best choice for me.
 
Jun 17, 2018 at 6:18 PM Post #3,963 of 10,304

rutter

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When I was listening to the three Focal headphones I was surprised how relatively small the differences were too, especially considering a bunch of people regard the Utopia as the best under $6k headphone. The bass being arguably excessive and there being a vocal issue with the Elear seems like a good enough reason in addition to somewhat more refined sound to go for the Clear, although I think equalization here is very interesting to consider and I've seen people claim that an equalized Elear sounds like a Clear. But it's really a matter of taste as I found the whole set very overrated.
 
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Jun 17, 2018 at 6:27 PM Post #3,964 of 10,304

LCMusicLover

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After hours of comparison of the Clear and Utopia ... my ears told me that the Clear is the best choice for me.
Makes sense. Only your ears can say what sounds best and represents the best value to you.
 
Jun 17, 2018 at 8:24 PM Post #3,966 of 10,304

Phronesis

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When I was listening to the three Focal headphones I was surprised how relatively small the differences were too, especially considering a bunch of people regard the Utopia as the best under $6k headphone. The bass being arguably excessive and there being a vocal issue with the Elear seems like a good enough reason in addition to somewhat more refined sound to go for the Clear, although I think equalization here is very interesting to consider and I've seen people claim that an equalized Elear sounds like a Clear. But it's really a matter of taste as I found the whole set very overrated.

When these headphones aren't compared back to back with some controls, I think it's pretty easy for the reputation and price of the Utopia to affect how its sound is perceived compared to the other two, hence my putting a lot of time and effort into this comparison. The fact that Focal provides the case and three cables only with the Clear makes me think Focal would like to see a big sales increase with the Clear - and IMO it competes with just about anything out there - but living in the shadow of the Utopia may be hurting Clear sales - "how could it possibly be anywhere near as good as the Utopia for less than half the price?!"

Regarding EQ, I've been enjoying playing with the cipher cable and EQ app of the i4.
 
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Jun 17, 2018 at 9:04 PM Post #3,967 of 10,304

rutter

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Again, what it competes with is a serious matter of taste. I literally prefer listening to an HE400i over the Clear, that's how much I dislike the strength of its sound. It is also not a combination of all the best traits in a headphone, even if you do like how it sounds. The soundstage is either mediocre or average. At some point, let's say at $6k, you also get into headphones that apparently just crush what even most users on this forum discuss.
 
Jun 17, 2018 at 10:09 PM Post #3,968 of 10,304

Luke Thomas

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Again, what it competes with is a serious matter of taste. I literally prefer listening to an HE400i over the Clear, that's how much I dislike the strength of its sound. It is also not a combination of all the best traits in a headphone, even if you do like how it sounds. The soundstage is either mediocre or average. At some point, let's say at $6k, you also get into headphones that apparently just crush what even most users on this forum discuss.
I thought I was the only one that thinks he 400i is amazing. And under $300
 
Jun 17, 2018 at 10:09 PM Post #3,969 of 10,304

koiloco

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Again, what it competes with is a serious matter of taste. I literally prefer listening to an HE400i over the Clear, that's how much I dislike the strength of its sound. It is also not a combination of all the best traits in a headphone, even if you do like how it sounds. The soundstage is either mediocre or average. At some point, let's say at $6k, you also get into headphones that apparently just crush what even most users on this forum discuss.

Agreed and I much prefer Beats Studio3 Bluetooth over HE400i. I could move freely around house while listening to God's plan and Anaconda...Try the Beats out sometimes. They are actually really good. Bass is way better than HE400i.
 
Jun 17, 2018 at 10:35 PM Post #3,970 of 10,304

Phronesis

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Again, what it competes with is a serious matter of taste. I literally prefer listening to an HE400i over the Clear, that's how much I dislike the strength of its sound. It is also not a combination of all the best traits in a headphone, even if you do like how it sounds. The soundstage is either mediocre or average. At some point, let's say at $6k, you also get into headphones that apparently just crush what even most users on this forum discuss.

I actually didn't like any of the three Focals the first few times I tried them, starting months ago. I didn't understand what all the fuss was about. But I figured there's so much praise for the Utopia, maybe I haven't evaluated it properly, so I borrowed one to take home and grew to really like it. I realized that for some of the music I listen to, it's not the best choice, but for well-recorded instrumental music like jazz and classical, it can be superb. So that lead me to trying the other two Focals to compare, and the decision to buy the Clear. For a sound with more weight to the bass, I really like the Audeze planar magnetic sound. I've given up trying to find one headphone that covers all the bases, but haven't yet tried anything above $4K.
 
Jun 17, 2018 at 10:44 PM Post #3,971 of 10,304

rutter

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I thought I was the only one that thinks he 400i is amazing. And under $300

Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's amazing although based on sound alone it's a steal at that price. I just think there's a big time missing perspective about Focal headphones. That sound is not for everyone, and it is not superlative in all major categories by any stretch of the imagination.

I actually didn't like any of the three Focals the first few times I tried them, starting months ago. I didn't understand what all the fuss was about. But I figured there's so much praise for the Utopia, maybe I haven't evaluated it properly, so I borrowed one to take home and grew to really like it. I realized that for some of the music I listen to, it's not the best choice, but for well-recorded instrumental music like jazz and classical, it can be superb. So that lead me to trying the other two Focals to compare, and the decision to buy the Clear. For a sound with more weight to the bass, I really like the Audeze planar magnetic sound. I've given up trying to find one headphone that covers all the bases, but haven't yet tried anything above $4K.

I think the Clear might be a great fit for people who don't listen to exciting music at louder volumes. Then I could see how Focal headphones would make your music livelier or more evocative. For me these headphones were toxic and disappointing, and lowering the volume didn't make them great. I think the bass of the Clear is quite good, by the way. Moral of the story is despite the hype these are headphones you should try before you buy, depending on your music preferences I'd say.

Agreed and I much prefer Beats Studio3 Bluetooth over HE400i. I could move freely around house while listening to God's plan and Anaconda...Try the Beats out sometimes. They are actually really good. Bass is way better than HE400i.

Funny guy.
 
Jun 17, 2018 at 10:52 PM Post #3,972 of 10,304

Phronesis

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I think the Clear might be a great fit for people who don't listen to exciting music at louder volumes. Then I could see how Focal headphones would make your music livelier or more evocative. For me these headphones were toxic and disappointing, and lowering the volume didn't make them great. I think the bass of the Clear is quite good, by the way. Moral of the story is despite the hype these are headphones you should try before you buy, depending on your music preferences I'd say.

Definitely agree with trying before buying - the perception of sound may vary from one person to another more than we realize. Generally, I do find that the Focals add a certain 'energy' to the sound which can be addictive, and works well with a lot of music. But I don't like them so much with rock at louder volumes - not sure if that fits your idea of exciting music.

Also agreed that the stage isn't big, but I don't always mind that, and I do find the stage to be coherent. Plus, headphones can't create stage like speakers anyway.
 
Jun 17, 2018 at 11:13 PM Post #3,973 of 10,304

up late

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Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's amazing although based on sound alone it's a steal at that price. I just think there's a big time missing perspective about Focal headphones. That sound is not for everyone, and it is not superlative in all major categories by any stretch of the imagination.



I think the Clear might be a great fit for people who don't listen to exciting music at louder volumes. Then I could see how Focal headphones would make your music livelier or more evocative. For me these headphones were toxic and disappointing, and lowering the volume didn't make them great. I think the bass of the Clear is quite good, by the way. Moral of the story is despite the hype these are headphones you should try before you buy, depending on your music preferences I'd say.



Funny guy.
you've made your dislike for the utopia and clear abundantly, er, clear, but toxic? really? did they make you physically ill?

if you're going to trash headphones in that way then your he400i is fair game.
 
Jun 17, 2018 at 11:20 PM Post #3,974 of 10,304

Phronesis

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you've made your dislike for the utopia and clear abundantly, er, clear, but toxic? really? did they make you physically ill?

Doesn't bother me for someone to say they dislike a headphone I own. To me, interesting to see how much preferences can vary, and how much sonic beauty is in the ear of the beholder. If someone finds a headphone I like to be 'toxic', all the more interesting.
 
Jun 17, 2018 at 11:38 PM Post #3,975 of 10,304

rutter

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I've recently stated that my HE400i sucks in comparison to other headphones in this price range. I find the Clear toxic because I couldn't tolerate the strength of its sound. It was more or less physically unpleasant. Was quite disappointed as not only did I think it would be that headphone I also got a $1200 deal for it from an authorized seller. I've actually generally been underwhelmed by all headphones I've tried - in fact, I've found them to kind of suck - and have gotten into arguments in the threads of those headphones, but I just discovered Sonarworks and what proper equalization achieves, which should give significantly better value to these purchases, which is actually making me mad at this forum for its apparent ignorance and grossly cost inefficient recommendations, along with manufacturers. Go figure expensive headphones are apparently manufactured or tuned rather poorly. Ironically, unless Sonarworks tames the sound of Focal headphones, I don't think there's anything that would redeem them in my eyes. Quite an unexpected perspective.

I don't reject that Clears are great fits for some people, but boy do I reject the implication that they are a headphone you can recommend without reservation.
 

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