Focal Utopia - not a fan, am I nuts or missing something?
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theMillerdave

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Well, I am going to give them a third try, after taking the advice of several folks on this thread - I picked up a Violectric V280, a Bifrost 2, and a copy of SonarWorks Reference (to EQ them - and I am betting I will still wind up tilting them 3-4db to the right to bring up the low end). Fingers crossed I don’t shove them back in their box and trade them for a pair of RAD-0 (which I might do regardless)
 
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PointyFox

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That's weird, I think mine has too much bass for me and not enough treble. My Clear has less bass. I'm driving them with an ADI-2 DAC FWIW.
 
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ubs28

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Try it with a Chord Dave and some high-end cables. Even the Hugo 2 is holding back the Utopia headphone to give you an idea.

But from the headphones you listed, I would personally just stick with the Campfire Andromeda as it sounds really good and only cost $999 (atleast that is what I paid for it) and it is portable too. I even traded in my Sony Z1R for the Campfire Andromeda.
 
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theveterans

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Try it with a Chord Dave and some high-end cables. Even the Hugo 2 is holding back the Utopia headphone to give you an idea.

But from the headphones you listed, I would personally just stick with the Campfire Andromeda as it sounds really good and only cost $999 (atleast that is what I paid for it) and it is portable too. I even traded in my Sony Z1R for the Campfire Andromeda.
Interesting that you mentioned the Andromeda IEM. I also find that when Utopia on a well paired amp has that "one more song" engaging sound that makes the Andromeda IEM very popular on IEM world. Strictly speaking about headphones, I try to find an amp pairing that will make Utopia incredibly engaging without losing its technical abilities that makes Utopia stand out from the rest of the pack. DAC matters too, but it's more of fine tuning of the sound unlike the amp choice where the engagement factor is much more dependent on the pairing.
 
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SilverEars

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Try it with a Chord Dave and some high-end cables. Even the Hugo 2 is holding back the Utopia headphone to give you an idea.

But from the headphones you listed, I would personally just stick with the Campfire Andromeda as it sounds really good and only cost $999 (atleast that is what I paid for it) and it is portable too. I even traded in my Sony Z1R for the Campfire Andromeda.
Utopia sounds avg out of Hugo 2 for some reason. Smaller sound stage than it can be, and avg imaging. I's forget out ADI-2 as well.

On the other hand, Clear perform fairly good out of Hugo 2.

So, there will be slight differences in what is heard out of different sources, therefore differing opinions. Not to mention different ears and ages
 
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halcyon

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No you are not "nuts". You trust your own ears, not somebody else's ears.
 
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Well,some time ago i bought the focal stellia,After sold my hd820.
Reading many reviews the stellia should be the best closed back headphone..sorry for focal fans.
Didn't like them at all.probably i don't like beryllium sound..
Much Better IMHO and for my ears the hd820 and the Denon 9200.
 
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gazzington

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No not nuts. I don't like the utopia much as I dont think its a good match for the music that I listen too
 
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DPardon

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I cannot comment on the Utopias, but I have long been a fan of the Clears. This year "forced" me to get a pair of closed back headphones since my family was now in the house while I worked and I settled on trying the LCD XCs. I have been loving the change and have not gone back to the Clears even though I did not think I could find something better at the price point. Focal has incredible quality and the listening expereince is great, but if they do not click, then they do not click.
 
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theMillerdave

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Update: I was wrong.... deeeaaaadddd wrong

After giving the Utopia another shot with some different sources and amps, I have come to the conclusion that the Massdrop x Cavalli liquid carbon x amp is a giant piece of junk, and I should have never judged the Utopia being feed by that thing - and the Asgard 2, while it sounded better, didn't let the Utopia shine either.

HOWEVER, even with the modest upgrade to a Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies, I totally get it now (and before you jump on the fact that the WA7 is not a great amp by any standard, it is still WAY better than the other 2 I was using - My Schiit Bifrost 2 landed the other day, and I am patiently waiting at the mailbox daily for my Violectric V280 to show up and REALLY knock my socks off). Literally all of my previous gripes immediately disappeared, and the things I love about my ZMF and Audeze cans now sound muddy in comparison (and the tinny/sibilant highs that were my primary complaint before, have mellowed out dramatically)... Although the Auteurs are fantastic at well under half the price of the Utopia.

I'm not sure how much can be attributed to break-in, as the Utopia have under 50 hours on them in total (I have put about 20 on them since first posting), but at this point - who cares? I have gotten great suggestions from you folks, and I'm still interested in hearing more of your endgame pairings for the Utopia (for me: endgame is a journey for refinement towards perfection, not the mythical destination some claim is truly attainable - there is always going to be something better). So far, I have gleaned that the Chord Hugo 2 and Dave (my heart sings to get a sick piece of equipment with my name on it... ) are marvels in and of themselves, let alone their near-perfect unity with the Utopia. And don't you worry, I'm sure I'll have more to say about these once the Violectric arrives.
 
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Update: I was wrong.... deeeaaaadddd wrong

After giving the Utopia another shot with some different sources and amps, I have come to the conclusion that the Massdrop x Cavalli liquid carbon x amp is a giant piece of junk, and I should have never judged the Utopia being feed by that thing - and the Asgard 2, while it sounded better, didn't let the Utopia shine either.

HOWEVER, even with the modest upgrade to a Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies, I totally get it now (and before you jump on the fact that the WA7 is not a great amp by any standard, it is still WAY better than the other 2 I was using - My Schiit Bifrost 2 landed the other day, and I am patiently waiting at the mailbox daily for my Violectric V280 to show up and REALLY knock my socks off). Literally all of my previous gripes immediately disappeared, and the things I love about my ZMF and Audeze cans now sound muddy in comparison (and the tinny/sibilant highs that were my primary complaint before, have mellowed out dramatically)... Although the Auteurs are fantastic at well under half the price of the Utopia.

I'm not sure how much can be attributed to break-in, as the Utopia have under 50 hours on them in total (I have put about 20 on them since first posting), but at this point - who cares? I have gotten great suggestions from you folks, and I'm still interested in hearing more of your endgame pairings for the Utopia (for me: endgame is a journey for refinement towards perfection, not the mythical destination some claim is truly attainable - there is always going to be something better). So far, I have gleaned that the Chord Hugo 2 and Dave (my heart sings to get a sick piece of equipment with my name on it... ) are marvels in and of themselves, let alone their near-perfect unity with the Utopia. And don't you worry, I'm sure I'll have more to say about these once the Violectric arrives.
I think you'll find the V280 to sound like the Liquid Carbon X. They both have a low output impedance. The WA7 has fairly high output impedance even at the low Z setting, so it should be bumping up the volume of the bass a bit.
 
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theMillerdave

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I think you'll find the V280 to sound like the Liquid Carbon X. They both have a low output impedance. The WA7 has fairly high output impedance even at the low Z setting, so it should be bumping up the volume of the bass a bit.
interesting to hear - and perhaps a bit disconcerting, as I was hoping the Violectric would be my savior. Super-glad I got this Woo, then (people rip on it, I guess for the price point and the unreal performance of their higher-end amps - but I like it, even with the stock tubes)
 
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PointyFox

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Output impedance has a similar effect on the Clear. A popular Youtuber was reviewing the Clear and used an amp with very high OI (~140 Ohms) vs. ~30 Ohms on the WA7 vs. <1 Ohm on the Liquid Carbon X, and that raised the bass by something like 14 dB. He ended up not liking them and comparing them to Beats due to the quantity of bass.
 
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theveterans

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Update: I was wrong.... deeeaaaadddd wrong

After giving the Utopia another shot with some different sources and amps, I have come to the conclusion that the Massdrop x Cavalli liquid carbon x amp is a giant piece of junk, and I should have never judged the Utopia being feed by that thing - and the Asgard 2, while it sounded better, didn't let the Utopia shine either.

HOWEVER, even with the modest upgrade to a Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies, I totally get it now (and before you jump on the fact that the WA7 is not a great amp by any standard, it is still WAY better than the other 2 I was using - My Schiit Bifrost 2 landed the other day, and I am patiently waiting at the mailbox daily for my Violectric V280 to show up and REALLY knock my socks off). Literally all of my previous gripes immediately disappeared, and the things I love about my ZMF and Audeze cans now sound muddy in comparison (and the tinny/sibilant highs that were my primary complaint before, have mellowed out dramatically)... Although the Auteurs are fantastic at well under half the price of the Utopia.

I'm not sure how much can be attributed to break-in, as the Utopia have under 50 hours on them in total (I have put about 20 on them since first posting), but at this point - who cares? I have gotten great suggestions from you folks, and I'm still interested in hearing more of your endgame pairings for the Utopia (for me: endgame is a journey for refinement towards perfection, not the mythical destination some claim is truly attainable - there is always going to be something better). So far, I have gleaned that the Chord Hugo 2 and Dave (my heart sings to get a sick piece of equipment with my name on it... ) are marvels in and of themselves, let alone their near-perfect unity with the Utopia. And don't you worry, I'm sure I'll have more to say about these once the Violectric arrives.
Utopia only gets better as you discover better pairing amps that suits your tonal preferences. I find that I really like how Utopia out of a high end 2A3 or 300B tube based SET amp with moderate OI (~8-30 ohm) gives the Utopia "ethereal musicality without compromising refinement". The BluDAVE/DNA Stellaris Special combo just elevated Utopia to a level higher than any other headphone I've auditioned including e-stats and TOTL planars
 
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