Focal Elear and Utopia Review / Preview With Measurements - Head-Fi TV
Jun 14, 2016 at 7:56 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 5,630
NOTE:  If you can't see the embedded video above, please CLICK HERE to see the video.​
 ​
 


(Above) Frequency response: Focal Utopia (solid line) and Sennheiser HD 800 (dotted line). (Click on image to see full size.)
 
(Above) Total harmonic distortion (THD): Focal Utopia (solid line) and Sennheiser HD 800 (dotted line). (Click on image to see full size.)​

(Above) Frequency response: Focal Utopia (solid line) and Focal Elear (dotted line). (Click on image to see full size.)
 ​
(Above) Total harmonic distortion (THD): Focal Utopia (solid line) and Focal Elear (dotted line). (Click on image to see full size.)​
 ​
(Above) Impedance: Focal Utopia (purple) and Focal Elear (brown). (Click on image to see full size.)
 
 
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NOTE: The measurements reflect diffuse field correction applied via the APx555's input EQ.​

 
EDIT August 10, 2016: We posted measurements and first impressions of the Focal Utopia and Focal Elear with their earpads swapped. You can see that by clicking on the following link: Focal Utopia and Focal Elear Earpad Swap Measurements and Impressions.
 

 ​
Audio measurements were made using:
  1. Audio Precision APx555 audio analyzer
  2. G.R.A.S. 45CA Headphone/Hearing-protector Test Fixture
    1. G.R.A.S. KB0072/KB0073 small pinnae; G.R.A.S. RA0045 IEC 60318-4 ear simulators including G.R.A.S. 40AG microphones; G.R.A.S. 26AS 1/4" microphone preamplifier; G.R.A.S. 12AP microphone power module
  3. Audio Precision APx1701 Transducer Test Interface (pre-production)
  4. Rupert Neve Designs RNHP headphone amplifier
  5. Herzan acoustic enclosure (custom)
 ​

 ​
Produced by Joseph Cwik and Jude Mansilla
 
In this episode of Head-Fi TV, we sat down and talked with Nicolas Debard of Focal about two new flagship headphones from Focal -- the Elear and the Utopia -- and learn about Focal's loudspeaker development approach to crafting high-end headphones.
 

 
Products mentioned in the video:

 
  1. Focal Elear open, over-ear headphone
  2. Focal Utopia open, over-ear headphone
  3. Focal Spirit One S closed, over-ear headphone
  4. Focal Spirit Classic closed, over-ear headphone
  5. Focal Spirit Professional closed, over-ear headphone
  6. Focal SM9 loudspeaker
  7. Focal Grande Utopia loudspeaker
  8. Focal Sopra N°3 loudspeaker
  9. Focal Electra 1038 Be loudspeaker
  10. Focal Alpha 80 monitoring loudspeaker
  11. Focal CMS 65e monitoring loudspeaker
  12. Focal Trio6 Be monitoring loudspeaker
  13. Sennheiser HD 800 open over-ear headphone
  14. Sennheiser HD 800 S open over-ear headphone
  15. HiFiMAN HE-1000 open, planar magnetic, over-ear headphone
  16. DragonFly Red portable, USB DAC/amplifier
  17. Onkyo DP-X1 portable digital audio player
  18. Astell&Kern AK380 portable digital audio player
  19. Astell&Kern AK380 AMP amplifier for the AK380
  20. Woo Audio WA8 Eclipse portable DAC/amplifier
  21. Dragon Inspire IHA-1 tube headphone amplifier
  22. Simaudio MOON NEO 430HA headphone amplifier
  23. Cavalli Audio Liquid Carbon desktop amplifier
  24. Schiit Audio Yggdrasil Digital to Analog Converter
  25. Meridian Prime DAC/amplifier
  26. Meridian Prime Power Supply for the Meridian Prime
  27. totaldac d1-integral-headphone DAC, preamp, headphone amplifier, and music server
  28. Chord Electronics DAVE DAC, digital preamp, and headphone amplifier
 



Audio measurements in this video were made using:
  1. Audio Precision APx555 audio analyzer
  2. G.R.A.S. 45CA Headphone/Hearing-protector Test Fixture
    1. G.R.A.S. KB0072/KB0073 small pinnae; G.R.A.S. RA0045 IEC 60318-4 ear simulators including G.R.A.S. 40AG microphones; G.R.A.S. 26AS 1/4" microphone preamplifier; G.R.A.S. 12AP microphone power module
  3. Audio Precision APx1701 Transducer Test Interface (pre-production)
  4. Rupert Neve Designs RNHP headphone amplifier
  5. Herzan acoustic enclosure (custom)
     

 

We will occasionally post Q&A episodes of Head-Fi TV.  If you want to submit any questions (or comments), you can do so via email to tv@head-fi.org.

 
Jun 14, 2016 at 7:57 AM Post #2 of 5,630

Stillhart

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EXCITING!
 
I got to hear both of these already as I reviewed the Elear over at Audio Head.  I'm happy to answer any questions people may have.
 
Jun 14, 2016 at 8:43 AM Post #8 of 5,630
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I had the opportunity to audition these for hours on end, on my own rig, and I wholeheartedly concur with Jude... with the one exception that I find the Utopia to be far more exciting than the Elear.  
smile.gif
  Yes, at $3,999, it's not what would typically be considered affordable, but I can tell you guys that I find it superior (by far) to another $4k flagship that comes to mind.
 
Jun 14, 2016 at 8:46 AM Post #9 of 5,630

mscott58

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Very cool! Ready to try them sometime soon. Too bad I can't get to Jason's event at AVSource this weekend. Cheers
 
Jun 14, 2016 at 8:59 AM Post #11 of 5,630
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I had the opportunity to audition these for hours on end, on my own rig, and I wholeheartedly concur with Jude... with the one exception that I find the Utopia to be far more exciting than the Elear.  :smile:   Yes, at $3,999, it's not what would typically be considered affordable, but I can tell you guys that I find it superior (by far) to another $4k flagship that comes to mind.


Sunday makes more sense now haha. :wink:
 
Jun 14, 2016 at 9:00 AM Post #12 of 5,630

conquerator2

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Hmm...
I was not expecting this :xf_eek:
 
Jun 14, 2016 at 9:16 AM Post #13 of 5,630

moedawg140

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It will be very nice to see everyone who can make it to The Source AV in Torrance, CA on Saturday for the new Focal headphone lineup listening event!
 
Jun 14, 2016 at 9:22 AM Post #14 of 5,630

Stillhart

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  I had the opportunity to audition these for hours on end, on my own rig, and I wholeheartedly concur with Jude... with the one exception that I find the Utopia to be far more exciting than the Elear.  
smile.gif
  Yes, at $3,999, it's not what would typically be considered affordable, but I can tell you guys that I find it superior (by far) to another $4k flagship that comes to mind.

 
I think Jude is spot on that HD800 folks looking for an upgrade will be interested in the Utopia.  I got an HD800 relatively recently and I've been completely enamored with it off my rig.  Listening to it off the Liquid Gold (or Liquid Tungsten) was a magical experience in transparency for me.  But damn if the Utopia doesn't sound even MORE transparent off the Liquid Gold!  I didn't think it would happen this quickly, but I am ready to upgrade from the HD800 to the Utopia.  Now, what to sell...
 
Jun 14, 2016 at 9:24 AM Post #15 of 5,630

Greggo

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  EXCITING!
 
I got to hear both of these already as I reviewed the Elear over at Audio Head.  I'm happy to answer any questions people may have.

 
...and for the rest of you that have heard them as well:
 
1) Difference between these two models besides the price?
2) How does the Elear compare in sound and comfort to HD800S and/or Ether?
3) For the Utopia, besides comparison to the only other 4k flagship I know of (Audeze), how would it compare to HD800S and HK1000?
4) Not sure I could ever get myself to the point of spending 4k on headphones... but I always assumed the best path beyond HD800S would be electrostatic headphones, especially with Mr. Speakers coming out with something that will probably price in between the SR007 and SR009... Do you feel the Utopia is a solid alternative to going the electrostat route? This seems fairly critical to me as a second dedicated amp is also involved which then adds much more cost to a home headphone rig overall.
 
Thanks for any and all feedback, always very interesting when the market sees new entries with serious cred and targeting the flagship ranks.
 

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