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Shootout Focal Utopia, Focal Clear, Akg K812 on the Dave

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by Tekunda, Feb 16, 2019.
  1. Tekunda
    I apologize upfront that my post will not be very eloquent since English is not my first language.
    Today I went to my local dealer for a short test of above mentioned headphones on a Chord Dave.
    The source was Quobuz via my Samsung S9 USB-OTG and USB AUDIO PLAYER PRO directly fed into the Dave by an USB cable.
    The Utopia was plugged in first and I streamed Queen's Bohemian Rapsody.
    After the song stopped I was kind of flabbergasted. I admit I didn't like what I heard and gave the Utopia a second chance at the same song.
    The same feeling I had before set in.
    It was too much of everything. These headphones overwhelmed me. Maybe my ears are off, but the Utopia had too much bass, too much clarity, too much tonal presence. I already felt fatigued after only two songs.
    Next was the Clear. It was like night and day. I really enjoyed this headphone from the first moment. For me it was like wow these HP do everything right. A tight base, later when the piano set in it was a lush full bodied piano sound with the notes having a great decay. The same feelings later when the guitars set in. They just had the correct strong presence which I like some much in electrical guitars, but it was never overwhelming like with the Utopias.
    The last headphone of course was the AKG K812.
    I would say it came very close to the Clear, at times I thought it might even have a better resolution, but compared to the Clear the AKG was lacking some of the musicality, some of the body, the Clear had.
    It had a lesser musical presence when compared to the Clear, the sound was a bit "thinner", but other than that I liked the AKG812 a lot.
    But in my little shootout, for me the Focal Clear was the clear winner. And the friend who accompanied me and who is not at all an audiophile but just a casual music listener his verdict was the same. He liked the Clear the best.
    So here you have it, just my personal thoughts on three "audiophile" headphones.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019
  2. teqshea
    very interesting comparison. Your English is very good - better than many in the United States. I purchased a pair of Clear's this week and am enjoying them very much - quite balanced and smooth. Great build quality.
  3. Tekunda
    Thanks for your kind words. :)
    I would have never thought that after auditioning the Clear yesterday I would become a proud owner of the Clear today.
    But when I returned home from my little shootout I discovered an ad at a German audiophile market for a pair of Clear.
    The owner gave me a great price, the Clear are just 5 months old and the reason the former owner sold the Clear was because he plans to buy a pair of Sonoma.
    Whatever his reason, for me it was a no-brainer, because the Clear are looking like brand new and I saved around 40% off the retail price.
    I will thoroughly test the Clear and will be back in a few days with a little update.
    wje likes this.
  4. SonyFan121
    Isn't that a good thing? that is a sign of the true potential of the drivers.
  5. Tekunda
    I guess it must have to do with psycho acoustics.
    For me the level of "presence " getting through was just too much. By this I do not mean the level of detail. It is hard to describe.
    For my brain the Utopia sound made it more difficult for me to distinguish between the single instruments, it was more like a wall of sound, like a big wave of sound coming directly at me.
    The Clear was more relaxed, it was easier for me to listen to the music with all the instruments playing in harmony and creating the soundstage.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
  6. SonyFan121
    Ahh I see. What you said about your experience with the Utopia reminded me of my experience with Sennheiser HD700's with a Cyrus system I used to have. It was like information overload. Even though i'm happy with my humble Sony MDR7510 and Ultrasone Pro 1480i, you have me interested in the Clear or the AKG K812 now lol (Utopia is way above my budget). Thank you for your impressions.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
    wje likes this.
  7. Sonic Defender Contributor
    Yes, it is entirely possible to have too much of a good thing. I had the Clear and Elear here for a few weeks each and while neither worked for me I did certainly find the Clear the more engaging of the two.
  8. wje
    I could see where someone with "young" ears and the capability to hear a more extended frequency range could be put off the Focal Utopia. Those of us with "older" years and limitations on our ears due to age and too many concerts, might feel like what the Utopia offers would be just right.
    SonyFan121 likes this.
  9. pataburd
    The detailed spectral, tonal and dynamic richness of the Utopia has never seemed over reaching to my ears/psyche. For all they excel at technically--which is much, I find the Utopia ultimately and intimately musical.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019

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