New Loaner Program for Focal Radiance @TTVJAudio
Jan 12, 2021 at 4:15 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 23

Todd

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Hi All,

Today we are starting the signup of the Focal Radiance headphones loaner program. We have these in stock so if you are on the fence deciding to get one, here is your chance to hear it and get one from us.
We expect to ship to the first participant on Monday 1/18. Rules are listed under the pictures...

focalradiance1.jpg

focalradiance2.jpg


Here are the loaner rules...

Send your name and address, telephone number and your Head-Fi user name to me (Todd) at todd@ttvjaudio.com. Do NOT PM me as you will not be included in the program without an email.

You will get the loaner for 1 week to use in your home with your system. After your one week is up, you must send it to the next loaner participant. Email me (todd@ttvjaudio.com) the tracking info so I can pass it on to the recipient.

You MUST write a review and post it in this loaner thread. It must be posted in the same thread as this announcement for the loaner program. Please post the review here first and feel free to post it somewhere else if you like!

Once you have received the loaner, email me to let me know you have it and I will send the address for the next person.

Our loaner programs are USA only. We are restricted from shipping/selling outside the USA on most products.

Thanks and look forward to hearing from you!
 
TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
 
http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
Jan 12, 2021 at 5:57 PM Post #4 of 23

John Massaria

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Im in
 
Jan 12, 2021 at 8:15 PM Post #6 of 23

ngoshawk

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Thank you, Todd.
 
Jan 12, 2021 at 9:10 PM Post #8 of 23

LordBorg

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Emailed!
 
Jan 12, 2021 at 11:59 PM Post #9 of 23

Phantaminum

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Emailed and thanks Todd!
 
Jan 13, 2021 at 12:17 PM Post #10 of 23

Todd

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Hi All,

Here is the list of participants for the Focal Radiance... I have many more who signed up and will try to get a second tour going or at least add a second headphone to the loaner list. A lot of that will be determined by sales of this product here at TTVJ. Nobody has been excluded - I just don't want to have people waiting 6 months. I(f you emailed and your name is not on the list, I am going to try to get another Radiance so I can add you.
The headphone will ship out on Monday. It is currently being listened to by us and evaluated as well as being broken in.

Todd

Focal Radiance Loaner Tour Participants:

  • koven
  • sennfan83261
  • Mediahound
  • Olumm
  • Relaxasaurus
  • Corgifall
  • Patzig
  • John Massaria
  • Billheise
  • Feilong4
  • ngoshawk
  • jshaevitz
 
TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
 
http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
Feb 3, 2021 at 10:59 PM Post #11 of 23

sennfan83261

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I received them. Thank you Todd for continuing with these product tours, especially considering the current events happening in the world.

Just a few first words. I've listened to the Focal's Elex, Elegia, and the Utopia. I disliked the first two and I had insufficient time with the third to form an opinion on them. Will this be a third strike from Focal according to my ears?

Initial impressions of the Focal Radiance. As usual, Focal knows how to make lovely looking cans that are presented luxuriously. They've been hitting it out the park from the aesthetics perspective since their second act in the headphone world (their first act included the Focal Spirit). I'm about ten minutes in after listening to my HE-6 (modded 4-screw early production) for the past hour or so. I'm not expecting these closed-backs to be similar to open backs. With that in mind, here we go with some initial thoughts. Vocals are really separated from the bass, like the music vocals and the instruments sounds artificially separated from each other, less cohesive. Bass sounds bloaty, less texture and quality compared to the cans that were on my head earlier. Again, I'm just one dude on the internet, and I'm just being honest with what I'm hearing at the moment with Aaron Frazer's latest album.

Chain:
Bifrost 2 -> THX AAA 789 or Cavalli Liquid Platinum -> Focal Radiance
Bifrost 2 -> Marantz MM 7025 -> HE-6


 
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Feb 14, 2021 at 2:57 PM Post #13 of 23

sennfan83261

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RKCIAFR.jpg

cwxKTD3.jpg


I'd like to thank Todd at TTVJ for setting up yet another wonderful loaner tour that allows some of us here to try out some of the latest and greatest gear. Everything stated in this review is my own opinion. First off, this is the fourth Focal headphone that I've tried, the others being the Elex, Elegia, Utopia, and now the Radiance. I disliked the Elex, I was lukewarm with the Elegia, and I'm undecided on the Utopia given the short amount of time that I spent with it. Let's see how the Radiance stacks up.

My main cans are the HE-6, HEKv1/Arya, and the HE-500.

For this review, my listening chain is as follows:

Bifrost 2 > THX AAA 789 (HD600, Radiance) | LP with '50s Amperex D-Getter 6DJ8's(HD600, Radiance) | CTH with WE 396A (HD600, Radiance) | MM7025 (HE-6) | Bryston 3B-ST (HE-6)

For the Radiance, I used a 3.5mm dual mono Mogami W2893 cable terminated in 4-pin XLR that I personally built.
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Information / Specs:

* Type: Dynamic
* Impedance: 35Ω
* Sensitivity: 101dB SPL / 1mW @ 1 kHz
* Weight: 435g
* MSRP: $1,290 USD

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Packaging:

The Radiance comes in what appears to be leather-clad box. The design of the box is reminiscent of the Elegia except with a more premium feel to it due to the leather. Therefore, the presentation is more spartan than that of the Elex's packaging and materials. There's no foldout box displaying multiple cables a la the Elex. Instead, everything is included in the Focal's uniquely shaped carrying case: the headphones, dual mono 3.5mm cable terminating at TRS plug. A screw-on 1/4" adapter is included with the cable. Sadly, there's no balanced cable included. I would've liked to see one included at this price point. Still, this headphone is pretty sensitive, so most headphone amps (especially those with low output impendence) should drive these just fine from their SE output.

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Build / Comfort and Fit:

The build quality is definitely a step up from the Elegia. At a distance, the build is very impressive. The mostly black look is sleek (I do not care for the Bentley branding tbh), and the metal portion of the spring-loaded cups and gimbals certainly gave me an impression of a well-built and sturdy headphone. The edges of the ear cups are nicely beveled and smooth unlike that of the Focal Elex loaner pair, the latter of which was left with an unbeveled edge that was sharp enough to leave a paper cut. The Radiance pads feel like plush leather with the inner portion being a hybrid: half of which is fabric and the remaining half seems to be cushioning material with an interlacing patchwork of p(l)eather on top. The latter patchwork looks like it will be the first to deteriorate, as I can see it start flaking off before long. A cursory search for replacement pads for the Radiance yielded nothing. Given Focal's pricing for replacement pads, don't expect any replacement pads to be cheap. Still, the pads were nicely plush and provided an much improved seal over the Elegia, good job Focal. The rest of the headband is the same as the Elex and the Elegia. It doesn't squeak as much when worn as compared to the other two Focal cans though at this stage of the loaner tour.

With regards to the comfort and fit, they are adequate for my head. Weight distribution of this headband is better than the Elex (and maybe the Elegia) since the top padding has a little bit more give, which distributes the weight of the headphone better than the others where the weight seemed to be mostly centered at the top leaving a hotspot on my head. So far, the Radiance is the most comfortable Focal headphone that I've tried.

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Sound

Preamble: Yeah, I kind of poo-poo'd the Radiance during my initial listening session. My listening experience with these improved with additional sessions and driving it from amps other than the THX AAA 789.

Bass:

For a dynamic, the bass extension is rather excellent and can extend pretty low. The bass is punchy (not as punchy as the HE-6), but it is a little bit wooly and undefined. I lose some of that bass texture that I'm accustomed to hearing from my HE-6. Still, really impressive bass for a dynamic. Cleaner than my TH-X00 (TH909 pads)

Mids:

The mids are a bit forward but not as forward as I remember from the Elex. There is a little bit of the Sennheiser "shout" similar to the HD600, but I don't mind the shout too much on my HD600 except for the mids of the Radiance sounding noticeably thinner than the HD600's, too thin for my liking on the 789. The CTH and LP provided much needed thickness here.

Treble:

The treble is surprisingly on the relaxed side compared to the Elex and the Elegia. The tonal balance of the treble is far better to my ears and less grating than the Elex and the Elegia. I didn't hear the weird scoops and elevations in the Elex and Elegia respectively. I feel that I do not need to EQ the treble all that much with the Radiance.

Timbre:

"Metallic" and "glare" are some terms used to describe the timbre of the Focal cans, and I have to agree with that after spending time with the Elex and the Elegia. Focal has tempered this somewhat on the Radiance. While the metallic timbre is not immediately apparent on the Radiance, vestiges of it are still there. The leading edge of notes is still on the sharp side, which may contribute to the unnatural aspect of the Radiance timbre and the thinness of its mids that I noticed during my listening sessions. Out of the HD600, HE-6, and the Radiance, here's how I rank the timbre of these cans (best to worst): HD600 > HE-6 >> Radiance > Elegia > Elex. The timbre of the Radiance is an improvement over the Elegia and the Elex, but it still sounds unnatural to my ears.

Soundstage/Imaging:

Soundstage is wider than the HD600 and I was able to get a pretty good sense of where instruments were placed positionally. Solid.

Dynamics:

I guess this is a calling card of Focal cans, and the Radiance does not disappoint here. The Radiance is certainly more dynamic than the HD600, but I feel that it takes a seat to the dynamics of a properly-driven HE-6.

Driver Clipping:

I guess people observed how Focal's M-shaped dome drivers can clip on certain sub-bass frequencies. I usually listen around 70dB or below, so I am well below the 104dB mark for clipping of these drivers. When listening to "2049" from Blade Runner 2049, a popular track to test out this clipping issue, I did not notice the bass clip at my normal listening levels. Anyways, I am not going to sacrifice my hearing to seek out the supposedly lower dB clipping when it comes to a track like "2049." Furthermore, these are not my cans, so I'm not going to stress test them.

--------

Tracks:

* Lorenzo Gaetano Zavateri [2017] Bologna 1666 (KB: Schröder): 11. Violin Concerto ("Tempesta di mare"), Op.1/7: I. Allegro e con spirito-Adagio



This track will remind you that the Radiance is a closed back. The orchestra sounds a little bit muffled here versus the HD600 and HE-6 open-backs.


* Aaron Frazer [2021] Introducing...: 08. Ride with Me



This is the first track that I listened to with a Radiance driven by my THX AAA 789. The middle of the sound field sounded hollow, which could be attributed to the thinness of the mids presented by the 789. This made the vocals disconnected from the instrument track of the album. It was odd listening to this track and switching to my HD600 and HE-6 to listen to a fuller sound. Driving the Radiance from the CTH and the LP helped the Radiance tremendously. Now the mids sounded more filled in and there was a cohesion between the vocals and instruments of the track that was missing in the THX AAA 789. On these hybrids, the Radiance sounded a touch more thinner, drier than the HD600 and the HE-6. The difference was not as dramatic as when driving the Radiance from 789.


* Led Zeppelin [1971] IV (reel-to-reel) (M 7208): 01. Black Dog

During the break at 1:41, John Paul Jones' bass does not pop out from the mix and is less textured on the Radiance than the HE-6.


* Mission of Burma [1981] Signals, Calls, and Marches [2008 Remastered]: 01. Academy Fight Song



The Radiance sounds far too thin and clean here on the 789, like everything is polished to a shine. It robs the urgency and tension of this track.


* Ludwig van Beethoven [1963] 9 Symphonies (BP: Karajan): 403. Symphony No.7 in A Major, Op.92: III. Presto

This track highlights the technical capability of the Radiance. In the few opening bars, the timpani and the string instruments work in unison. On lesser headphones, the timpani and the strings would sound mushed together, not on the Radiance. The Radiance maintains the distinctiveness and clarity of these instruments, which is to be expected at this price point.


* Cantoma [2010] Out of Town: 01. Maja



Again, from the 789, the thinness of the mids of the Radiance ruins the atmospheric quality of this track. Furthermore, the female vocals sound overly sharpened and unnatural.

--------

Conclusion / TLDR:

I love how the Elex Elegia Radiance looks, shame about its sound (on a THX AAA 789). I chose the THX AAA 789 because that's what many users are probably using these days and the cleanliness and sterile sounding nature of this amp do the Radiance no favors; I assume that the same can be said of amps similar to the 789. IMO, the CTH and LP narrows the gap between the Radiance and some of my other cans (HD600 and HE-6). These hybrid amps provide much needed body to the rather thin Radiance sound.

I understand that others may point out that I compared the Radiance against mostly open-backs. In my defense, I only brought one closed-back with me to the countryside while I WFH; the other closed backs in my collection (Modern Retros and M&J GL2's) are nothing to write home about anyways. My TH-X00's are flavor cans and are not for my day-to-day listening, which is why they are my least listened can from those that I brought with me. I've been looking for a closed-back for general listening and the Radiance comes closest to the few closed-backs I've tried. Having said that, I personally did not find the Radiance to my liking due to the thinness in its mids and its unnatural timbre. Others may disagree and that's perfectly fine.

Just my 2c

These on are their way to @Mediahound
 
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Feb 24, 2021 at 12:44 AM Post #15 of 23

Mediahound

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A big thanks to Todd for doing this loaner program. I really appreciated the chance to give the Focal Radiance a try!


MY REVIEW

I purposely did not read any other reviews of these headphones nor look at any frequency response charts or anything- I wanted to have a blank slate and blank state of mind for these.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

I like that these are made in France and not China. Focal also makes and designs their own drivers versus just buying some off the self drivers, which is nice.

My first impression out of the box is that these sure are photogenic!:

preview_L1000104.JPG (w/ Chord Hugo TT2 & M Scaler)


With styling cues from Bentley, they look very much like ‘primo’ headphones perhaps costing more than they actually cost. The colorway of them is really nice and lush and the grills on the outside of the earcups has a MUCH more luxury look and feel than on the Focal Clear (just a wire mesh) or Focal Elegia’s (just a pitted hard plastic).

Focal has also been listening to us regarding their included cable! The cable on the Radiance is not as thick or stuff as prior Focal models so is a definite improvement. It is however still a bit too short at 1.2M. That’s fine for portable listening, but at home, you would want probably at least 2 to 3 meters. It’s almost like Focal over-compensated since with the Utopia, the included cable was insanely long and too thick and heavy, and now with the Radiance, the cable is too short to be usable for anything but connected to a portable player…

The clamping force seems a bit high and the headphones are not super comfy, at least when comparing to other headphones that weigh a bit less and have a built in comfort strap such as my Hifiman Arya’s. That said, these are by no means uncomfortable to wear.


SOUND

The Radiance have a fun sound signature right out of the box. I purposely did not EQ them at all in order to get a good sense of their stock sound signature which I can say is fun and involving. The bass is boosted (these have way more bass than the Elegia for example), yet not overly so like the Sony Z1R. To me, bass is about right. I find with many other headphones, I need to use some bit of bass boost to make them more to my liking but with the Radiance, not necessary!

The mids and highs are certainly very resolving. I would put them about equal in this respect to the HD800 series, although not quite has peaky in one frequency as the Sennheisers. That said, these do sound a bit thin in the upper mids with a bit of brittleness in the treble as well.

This fact had a tendency to make vocalists sound a bit thin and as if they were singing from one floor above the rest of the band, not in terms of volume, but in terms of height position in the soundstage. In fact, vocals are ever so slightly recessed when comparing to my Hifiman Arya’s which are planar magnetic headphones, so overall smoother sounding in general. That said, the overall sound signature is actually quite similar between the Focal Radiance and the HifiMan Arya. You could almost say the Radiance are like closed-back Arya’s although the Arya’s do have better mid and highs with an overall smoother tonality.

As with all Focal headphones, the treble on the Radiance can at times seem too harsh and can be seemingly over-driven when playing music loudly. You get the sense at times that they are almost too resolving in the highs. This was most noticeable for me when listening to old recordings where the vocalist may have been over modulating the microphone for example. The aluminum-magnesium drivers probably have something to do with this as the metallic driver material does play a part in a headphone’s sound. That being said, all dynamic driver headphones exhibit some level of distortion (typically in the highs) just based on the limitations of traditional drivers. This is a minor quibble on my part because I do feel this could be compensated for using a bit of EQ.

By the way, my sources are the Chord Hugo TT 2 with M Scaler. I also listened portable with the Chord Hugo 2. The 35 Ohm Radiance’s were driven perfectly well with each.


CONCLUSION

All in all I feel that the Focal Radiance are actually one of the better closed-back headphones available today at this price point, and certainly much better than the Focal Elegia that I've tried before.

The Radiance offers a much more engaging listen and stylish look and feel. In fact, I think they are the best looking Focal headphones so far.
 
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