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Focal Clear headphones

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by mtoc, Oct 1, 2017.
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  1. CTheE
    no specific model yet. Just as a general direction - still this headphone at that price is just a damn great deal. I hate this hobby sometimes...
    Tekunda likes this.
  2. Tsukuyomi
    clear specifically.
    will f likes this.
  3. pbarach
    So what do planars in general offer that a decent quality dynamic headphone can't. Asking out of curiosity, because I am very happy with the sound qualitty from my Clear and HD600 headphones, which easily better the Hifman HE-400i planars that I wish I hadn't bought.
  4. CTheE
    from what I tested so far there seems to be nice base response, a feeling of quickness that I cant quite describe correctly yet. I would need some more extensive listening sessions that I haven't had so far. I'm not implying that dynamic hp can't be that. I'm just trying to enhance my listening experience within my budget. The Clears would definitely be a nice addition - as I said it is very tempting.
  5. will f
    From what I’ve read, both planars and dynamic drivers have their pros and cons. Either one can be great or suck depending on how well the engineer addressed those pros and cons. Below is my layman understanding:

    The planar “advantage” is size and lightness of the diaphragm, which can allow really deep, textured bass and very low distortion though they tend to be inefficient to drive. A lot of the engineering is about balancing that inefficiency against distortion, bass and transient response.

    Dynamic drivers have the advantage of generally being easier to drive, creating a more energetic sound, but because the diaphragm and voice coil have more mass, they tend to have natural resonance somewhere in the bass region which can affect distortion and bass response and there is a balancing act that occurs between treble speed and diaphragm mass. Also, because the force on the diaphragm isn’t uniform across the surface, it can flex, creating distortion and harmonics. A lot of engineering effort goes into minimizing mass and creating stiff diaphragms.

    The Hifiman 400i is a fantastic planar for the money, but it is biased towards being somewhat easy to drive and relatively inexpensive to manufacture. Those design choices put it at a pretty serious disadvantage against the Clear which is a higher end product. Against the HD600, which is better is more a matter of personal preference.
    phthora likes this.
  6. pbarach
    For me the HD600 and the Clears have something essential to my listening that the HE-400i does not: Clearly reproduced acoustic piano tone. The Hifiman adds some "fuzz" around midrange piano sound that is completely absent on the other cans. I won't assume that other planars have that problem, but on these the problem is obvious.
    bidn likes this.
  7. adydula
    Been going back and forth with the HD600's and Clears....The clears really outclass the HD600's in most everything IMO.

    Its such a difference, its awesome how well the Clears present a wondeful tonally balanced sound presentation.

    With the 600's and Eva Cassidy its like very accurate and analytical, with the Clears its like I am in the audience hearing all the "stuff"
    ambience, reverberations etc,,,the Clears out articulate them and have a nicer musical tonality to them..

    I gush all over each time I use them!
    bidn likes this.
  8. Dulcebeat
    I am using the idsd bl with the clears and am looking at the topping d70 to replace it.
    I D like to have a good suggestion for an Amp only and balanced if possible in the 500 600 euros range. What options do I have?
  9. CTheE
    Thx aaa 789 from Massdrop (with VAT ~500). Otherwise I'd look towards a used mjolnir 2, or a Feliks audio Tube amp if in Europe.
    phthora likes this.
  10. will f
    Yup, agree with you on the 400i lacking in detail and clarity. That fuzziness is something I definitely hear too. My Aeon Flow Closed planers don’t have that at all, but then they retail for a lot more than the 400i. My Clears are on the way so I won’t know until next week how the AFC compares, but I can say that the AFC isn’t quite as detailed as the Focal Stellia and is harsher sounding. The AFC also can’t come close to the Stellia’s ability to create a realistic soundstage. Considering the price difference that’s not very surprising. Compared to the Elex / Elear (which is closer in price to the AFC), the AFC is quite a bit more detailed and delivers way deeper bass, but doesn’t have the same level of slam and the soundstage isn’t as well defined. Overall though I like them both equally and it will be interesting to see if the Clears keep the positives of the Elex/Elear and add the strengths of the AFC.
    bidn likes this.
  11. KingCharizard
    The iDSD BL is an excellent all-in-one solution for the Clear (and great product in general). Any particular reason you're looking to move on?

    The THX AAA 789 is a good option, I've been liking mine (you can check for the Monoprice THX 887 as well). Maybe a Jotunheim? Been a while since I sold mine, so I can't compare unfortunately. Honestly I think I'd have been happy with just the iDSD BL but I pre-ordered the 789 on impulse a few months ago and well, I have it and use it now.
  12. ipaddy
    On the recommendations of someone in this group a number of months back, I bought the IDSD BL, and am very happy with it. Generally, the more-than-sufficient power, but specifically, the bass switch which adds that little final emphasis on bass that the Clear can use (at least for me) and the 3d can frequently add some nice space.
  13. Tekunda
    If you want to spend a bit more, take a look at the Questyle 12 CMA DAC/AMP.
    It's working with current amplification instead of the usual voltage type.
    The amp has incredible control over the Clears's bass and plays a little bit on the warm side, giving the Clear a wonderful musical touch for all music genres.
  14. adydula
    Using a Bottlehead Mainline amp with the clears. Absolutely liquid presentation. Very musical and loudspeaker like.

    I have 10 amps here and the Mainline is one of the better parings, but there are 2 SS amps that work as well.

    One of the SS amps is a DIY version of an ODA or what it might have been...2X the current of the original O2.

    The other is a Busron FUN amp with several op amps.

  15. will f
    So my Clears arrived today. Initial impression (with maybe 20 minutes of play) is very positive. Take the below with a grain of salt given my limited time, but: The overall sound profile is much in line with the Focal sound. Very neutral with impressive clarity and resolution. Going from memory, similar clarity to the Stellia, not quite as forward in the mids, not as smoothed in the treble region, but similar levels of bass. The Clear soundstage also feels a little more spacious and, well, open.

    Not as much slam as the Elear /Elex and no mid bass emphasis but deeper, cleaner and less intrusion into the mids. Detail and clarity are well ahead of the Elex / Elears. And there seems to be less of a hole in the lower treble region. Soundstage also feels more open here too.

    Compared to my MrSpeakers AFC, the Clear sound is noticeably less colored. The AFCs are warmer but a little metallic when compared to the Clear. The Clear has a more realistic rendering of mids and lower treble, if a touch dry. The Clears slam a little harder and reach a little deeper but the difference isn’t huge. The MrSpeakers bass is a little cleaner, and faster and the overall sound is a little more romantic, but not as true to the recording. Both the Clear and MrSpeakers are very detailed and resolving. Soundstage of the Clear is better. The AFC is more comfortable, though neither headphone is uncomfortable. I suspect the Clears will get more comfortable over time as the pads soften and clamping force loosens up.
    phthora likes this.
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