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Focal Elear - Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by grizzlybeast, Jun 21, 2016.
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  1. chicken beer
    Just audited music through Focal Elear overnight and I'd like to give an impression of Focal Elear. Amp/DAC I used was a Schiit Valhalla 2/Lehmann clone amp+Schiit Gungnir original, iPod classic + Lehmann Traveler, iphone 6 + Dragonfly red. Used a Mogami 2893 cable.
     
    Take home message: Great flagship audiophile headphone. Best for modern music IMO. Versatile. What I am surprised that it does not cause fatigue at all.
     
    Good Hi-fi headphones aim to re-present the sound waves propagating back when the music was recorded in the recording room. Elear does the job very well. Very accurate sounding. Very lively sounding. Very CLEAR sounding. 
     
    To achieve the goal to present as much details as possible, there can be side affects:
    1. Some headphones tend to get bright for some people (Beyerdynamic, Hifiman, and Grado go this route. I'd like to mention that MrSpeakers handle the cocktail extremely well to my taste.).
    2. And some headphones have some peaks in the treble and resolving the peaks that could be disturbing to some people. Sometimes they can be uneasy and require modding, but the problem is hard to fix. The amp with synergy is hard to find, some cables could be expensive, and most EQ softwares/hardwares suck. Even you are a pro modder it could be uneasy to get a totally pleasant sound out of it, plus, most mods have trade offs themselves, either muffing some frequency regions or changing air flow/soundstage/sound propagation. In most cases, mods can't save a headphone.
     
    Focal Elear wins by giving all the details but not remaining fatiguing. They have Audeze-quality bass and present mids very clear highs that does not fatigue me at all. Just like a CLEAR version of HD600/650. Bass is clear, mids are clear, highs are so much clearer. 
     
    They are polite and energetic, but not aggressive. Plus they just do everything right. Soundstage is good enough, imaging is incredibly good to my ears. Compared to most other "flagships" they are not hard to drive at all. Comfortable to wear, solid-built, and they do not look ugly.
     
    To my ears, they do extremely well for classical music, and they are the king for modern music. 
     
    BrutalLegend likes this.
  2. BrutalLegend

    I'm curious as to whether you have tried them with older recordings like Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden and Metallica. What are you thoughts?
     
  3. chicken beer

    Pretty well. It's the bass.
     
    I think Elear does very good on old recordings.
     
  4. gr8soundz
    Got the Elear on my radar but some specs are missing from Focal's site and no way to contact them directly since they appear to defer everything to their dealers.
     
    Does anyone know how much clamp force (or contact pressure) the Elears exert?
     
    Can't try them in person so trying to gauge potential comfort against my current headphones. One review said the Elear were slightly less comfy than the HD800 which could put them above 4 N or so.
     
    Here are some manufacturer pressure specs for reference:
     
    HD800    3.4 N (+/- 0.5 N)
    T1.2       2.8 N
    PM-3      5 N
    Momentum M2    3.2 N
     
    The PM-3 are just past my personal limit for long listening sessions but I still have them. Would be great if the Elear were rated around 3 N but, based on impressions, I doubt they're quite that comfortable.
     
     
  5. audiophilers
    So Elear turns out to be not much better than HD650....
     
    I would go with Utopia but its price tag is too high for me.
     
  6. joeq70
    Is that what you are saying or are you summarizing other impressions?

    I personally don't quite agree. I think the Elear is more detailed and has better and deeper bass. There is a slight shoutyness in part of the lower treble that is annoying but not awful. Plus, the Elear is waaay less amp dependent.

    I'm not attacking you at all just wanted to add to the conversation and elicit more clarification from you.
     
  7. MidFiMoney
    Having previously owned the HD650's for 4 years, I tend to agree with you. I think the improvements are far more than marginal but I can see the comparability between the two. The 650's are lighter on the head and less expensive. That's about the only edge I would personally give the 650's though. The Elear is the clear winner in my opinion. Based on my preferences, I feel like Focal set out to make a HD650 on steroids, fixing everything I didn't like (veil, bass, etc.). Justifying the price is definitely a personal challenge though. 
     
  8. audiophilers
     
    Yeah, so, this Elear will not worth $999.... well I think SRH1840 from Shure beats HD650 easily. 
    I already own SRH1840 so I don't think I will need Elear. 
     
    Some people said Utopia is on par with LCD-4... I want to listen to Utopia but 4k price tag is unrealistic. 
    HD800 and LCD-4 are good but they're not good for portable use. If Utopia is durable and light enough for portable use, I would say it's better.
     
  9. xenithon
    Anyone using the Elear and an SPC cable? Trying the open it up a bit without too much loss to bass or etched highs (already have the HD800 for that :sunglasses: )
     
  10. Toolman
     
    Yes...a $999 Elear are also not worth the asking price...and Utopia are not also worth the $4K asking price (without you even listened to it) but do you think the likes of LCD-4 with the same asking price are worth it? what do you think about a Chinese made, inferior constructed HE-1000 at $2999?

     
     
  11. Mbeeching
     
    I have a pair of SRH1440's though they've been sat in a cupboard for nearly 12 months (if I recall correctly they use the same driver as the 1840 with a slightly brighter sound signature?). I'll try and put together some comparisons later today though I suspect it will be a landslide victory to the Elear.
     
    Shure were pretty generous with these cans, I still can't believe they included spare cables and ear pads!
     
  12. TokenGesture
    Personally the Elear is one can I don't think is way overpriced (which is a rarity these days)
     
    heliosphann likes this.
  13. Mbeeching
    Shure 1440 vs Focal Elear
     
    Elear-1440.jpg
     
     
    Short intro:
    It was good to try the 1440 again, they slip on quite comfortably though the cups are a little shallow and I can feel my ears touching the foams.
    I do recall the headband causing hot spots after an hour or so.  I haven't used them in a while as I replaced them with the Fidelio X2 last November.
     
    I didn't put a great deal of thought into the track choices, I just fancied listening to them this morning.
     
    The Prodigy - The Day is my Enemy (24/44)
    The Shure performed very poorly on this track, the driver cannot deliver the slam.
    Overall very muddled and unable to resolve the relentless onslaught the track incessantly demands.
     
    Rick James - Super Freak (24/96)
    Surprisingly the Shure fought back a little here, perhaps due to the tighter production and reduced complexity of the track.
    It still failed on separation with the famed bass line lacking in both depth and excitement.
     
    Fleetwood Mac - Little Lies (24/192)
    No surprises here, bass and sound stage lets the Shure down.
    Mids and highs become one and the same with no room to breathe.
     
    Metallica - Sad But True (24/96)
    I really like this track on the Elear, the guitars sound so deep and powerful.
    Lars' performance on the drums is thrilling, magnificent and true.
     
    The performance is a spectacular let down on the Shure, I nearly removed them less than a minute into the track.
    I persisted to the end but it felt like I'd wasted over five minutes of my life.
     
    Snoop Dogg - Who Am I (What's my name)? (16/44)
    I've always had a soft spot for the production on Snoop's Doggystyle album, it's a great listen on the Elear.
    As with Super Freak the Shure is too bass deficient and dull and the treble is astonishingly fatiguing.  It felt like it was boring fresh holes into my skull!
     
    Outro:
    Another decisive victory for the Elear, the 1440 is inferior at all ends of the spectrum. I don't think the Elear is overpriced but I would love more people to hear them. With a little tinkering I'm sure they could release them for £500-£600 and share their creation with many more adoring fans.
     
  14. rvernon
    thought I'd chime in with regards to the HD650 vs. Elear comments - I had been using HD650 for about 3 or 4 years myself (with arcam irdac > graham slee solo srg ii), and was a bit nervous upgrading as I'd heard that the Elear may not be the massive jump in SQ I was hoping for (and I couldn't demo easily unfortunately so blind buy). I've had the Elear for about a week now, and the upgrade is very noticeable, to the point at which I'd wondered if my HD650s were under-amped (as I would almost call them anaemic in comparison). Music-wise I mostly listen to classic rock, with some classical and occasional jazz.
     
    I can't really describe the sound in audiophile terms but I'll have a go - soundstage isn't massively expanded but there's much more 'air' around instruments, would almost call it a cleaner sounding image. Bass is the most notable upgrade of me as it goes a hell of a lot deeper with more slam, I have to admit I've found myself wondering if they're too bass heavy at times but I think I'm slowly acclimatising to the sound signature. The Elears are also incredibly punchy,and I have found myself listening at lower volume levels as a result (which I'd consider a good thing - don't need high volumes to sound exciting). I'd say they're probably on par to slightly more resolving than the HD650s, some new details have come through but I wouldn't say it's revelatory. Piano is something special with the Elears, I love a bit of rachmaninoff and that's where the punchiness really comes into play - the piano can trickle along beautifully but when a key is hit hard you know it (and feel it). I would have liked to compare the Elears to the HD800S as again I have wondered if the sound may be a bit too bass heavy (or warm), but generally the sound is incredibly exciting and they are quite addictive! oh and as others have said - build quality is superb and whilst they are relatively heavy, they're comfortable enough that it's not a problem during use
     
    quick question of my own - I am thinking about upgrading my dac/amp setup and considering the Schiit Gungnir multibit + Mjolnir 2 (w/ tubes) combo, wondering if anyone had thoughts on that (or alternatives)? I am uk based which might limit my choices to some extent, considering Chord Hugo TT as well as can get that used for about the same price
     
  15. Mbeeching
     
    My first session on the Elear was 6 hours, whilst the longest (so far) is 8 hours - neither resulted in any discomfort.
    The list of complaints lies squarely with the cable length and lack of 3.5mm adapter.  If it was 3m I would reduce that to a quibble.
     
    gr8soundz likes this.
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