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Glad I could help you.
Does anyone have recommendations for purchasing a sleeve to protect the headband from discoloring?
I bought my Focal Clears from Gramaphone in the Maryland suburbs shortly after Focal released the Clears. Great headphones and a fine dealer (I've purchased a bunch of stuff from Gramaphone).
Yes that's it: Gramophone, the one in Gaithersburg. Joseph, I think his name was. Great guy to deal with. It's only about 45min drive from me but they're shipping to me for free anyway.
Previous Elear and Elex owner (current Clear owner) here. I definitely found the Clear to be a better fit for my taste and the technically better headphone. The biggest difference between the two being that the Clear is a bit more relaxed with the Elex more analytical. The Clear also does have noticeably better resolution. I'm listening via RME ADI-2 DAC -> THX 789 and the resolution of the Clear has me impressed. Bass is also slightly more elevated on the Clear vs Elex, but not bass heavy by any means.
One downside of the Clear is the color scheme in that the pads and headband can become noticeably discolored (just look at people selling used pairs).
Really appreciated feedback.
This essentially echoes my same impressions after going back to the shop. Im not sure if its just my ears or if its my pair but i just felt the clear (along with other headphones) had a more specific center image/vocal fullness. I tend to crank volume up for the fun sauce, but with the clear i felt i didnt need to.
Side note, I actually have been looking at the RME ADI-2 DAC as well, but as an all in one solution, but curious if you recommend using an amp in addition to the DAC for pairing with the Focal as my only headphone.
The RME ADI-2 DAC is phenomenal. An excellent piece of equipment. The DAC is stellar, the features/functions are great, and the amp actually holds its own. It depends on the headphones for sure, but with the Clear I find the performance of the amp portion of the ADI to be on par with the THX. With the Auteur the soundstage gets a tad bit bigger and bass a little more powerful on the THX, but marginally (ADI-2 still doing well). With the Ether2 the improvements of the THX are the most noticeable, again in stage and linearity of bass, plus increased dynamics. But overall I appreciate the ADI-2 amp enough that I will most likely opt to sub the THX out for a tube amp to pair with the Auteur since having a second solid state amp is providing quite marginal increases in performance. I'm also quite the minimalist so the less gear I can get away with the better imo and the ADI-2 fits that bill quite nice since I still get the benefit of its excellent DAC with whatever tube amp I end up with.
Let me know when you find a good tube amp that partners well with the RME. I just can’t do an OTL though as most of my cans are/will be low ohm planars that do not partner up well with them.
I just got one of these for my Utopia and really like it:
It may work for the Clear, or he may have a similar product that does.
I bought one from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01G4TWZC6/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
The gray goes very nicely with the clear. I bought the large size and the fit is still a little tight on the Clear's headband (at the top portion), but I'm happy with it.
I got that exact headband protector as well. Had it on for over a year and no issues. It's comfy and works well. Be sure to get the large size, the smaller ones won't fit.
The lack of an easily removable headband is a major issue with Focals, especially given the cost of spare parts. But this is a cheap and simple fix.
I have the same protector too. I think I have read somewhere of machine washing the ear-pads with good results. Anyone?
ABSOLUTELY NO! .....bad idea
One owner attested to using the "gentle" cycle [for hand washables] with his Clear pads with excellent results.
I will comment that my OTL Feliks Euforia pairs wonderfully with Clear. Focal used this pairing at their stand at CanJam London. The slight mid-bass boost really balances out the very slight brightness in the Clears to make them almost perfectly neutral, while also sufficiently detailed and gooey. I wouldn’t imagine all, or even most, OTLs pair as well with low-impedance cans.