Focal Elear Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by Marvey, Aug 12, 2016.

  1. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    Focal Elear Measurements

    I finally got these in. A few unboxing photos and some comments here:
    http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...ocal-elear-and-utopia.2270/page-26#post-69425



    Subjective Impressions (pre-measurements):


    What a difference it makes to use more familiar gear and have the entirety of my recordings at my disposal. In all honesty, I don't need to use a lot of recordings. In this case, I picked selections from four albums. My initial impressions from Source AV (http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...ear-and-utopia-impressions-at-source-av.2402/) still stand; however my overall opinion is more mixed. Don't get me wrong, I still think they are good headphones with fantastic qualities. And I feel $1000 is quite reasonable given what's out there. All the positives I've noted are still there: resolution, dynamics, and speed.

    The negatives however are even more exemplified than what I initially thought I heard: too much bass and upper mid suckout. Recordings with a darker or bassier tilt (e.g., Talking Heads - Little Creatures, Sarah McLachlan - Afterglow, Natalie Merchant - Tigerlily) do not do well at all. Aggressive (but well mastered) recordings such as Rage Against the Machine (self-titled) lack bited and crunch, and even some apparent speed, because of inappropriately augmented bass. Yes, the percussion is supposed to smack and slam, but RATM is not supposed to sound like some bassy hip hop stuff. (RATM has always been one of my go-to recordings for electrostatic headphones.)

    Neutral-heads and treble-heads (Andromeda, UERM, HD800 modded) should be wary. Bass-heads or dark-heads, this may be your headphone. There is hope though for neutral-heads if one does not mind the use of digital PEQ or Utopia pads. But that's a story for later.

    Gathered Thoughts


    + Highly dynamic, lively, and responsive - possibly the most dynamic headphone I've ever heard
    + Better clarity than HD650, on par with HD800 more or less, not quite Utopia levels of clarity
    + Resolving and scales well with better gear
    + Fastest transient response of traditional dynamics short of Utopia
    + Wide stage with super open sound


    - Upper midrange suckout kills overtones of instruments
    - Upper midrange suckout kills edge, energy, aggressiveness
    - Too much bass (can be easily corrected)
    - Uneven treble (minor and not as bad as measurements might suggest)
    - Shallow headstage depth



    Focal Elear Frequency Response

    0.0 db = 100db SPL
    Focal Elear FR.png

    Elear Frequency Response Comparison
    Yellow = Elear
    Blue = HD650
    Purple = Ether Open
    Elear Comp.png


    Focal Elear CSDs
    Elear L.jpg
    Elear R.jpg

    Be sure to compare to the HD650 CSD: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/sennheiser-hd650-love-appreciation-thread.44/

    Elear Harmonic Distortion

    Taken at above levels for FR measurement
    Elear L HD.jpg
    Elear R HD.jpg

    Compare to HD650 Modded Distortion Measurement
    HD650 HD c.jpg


    Focal Elear CSD Foam Coupler (posted at request for sciency reasons)
    Elear Foam L.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016

  2. Colgin

    Colgin Friend

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    So, as someone who prefers HD600 to HD650 (including most modded HD650s I have heard), is this not likely to be a worthwhile upgrade path given price differential and sound signature difference (or at least is it fair to say I might not want to rush and preorder these without listening first).
     
  3. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    I knew this had more bass than Tyll measured. This plot looks about right to me. Bassy overall tilt with a bit of funny stuff going on in the treble.
     
  4. HitmanFluffy

    HitmanFluffy Hoping to see real genitals someday! - Friend

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    @Colgin If you like the HD600 over the 650 (as I do), I'm fairly sure you would not find these to your liking, speaking as someone who has tried the new Focals.
     
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  5. Serious

    Serious Friend

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    Bass extension looks absolutely fantastic! How's the proper midrange balance (500-2kHz)? Looks like lots of warmth bleeding into the mids from the bass. On this coupler (which I assume is V2) the 7.5 and 9kHz spot look scary. This coupled with the dip between 4 and 6kHz looks like it could shift the treble balance in a way that I wouldn't like.
     
  6. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    We''ll see on the treble. I'll run CSDs next. The treble is uneven. I hear a little bit of "ssss", but all in all, not horrible. Mainly because it's largely masked by the bass. :D This should be quick as I have all the data and just need to run it through my decombobulator program. In the meantime, I've posted an FR comparison to HD650 and Ether Open.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
  7. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    CSDs posted.

    For those who asked, yes, I wrote my own program. No, you can't buy it from me. Or I'll sell it to you for 25% the price of a G.R.A.S. No, I won't trade for a Faraday Cage either. Only a moron would cite the need for a Faraday Cage for this application. We don't need a Faraday Cage for these kinds of measurements. Maybe a tectonic plate movement isolator. I'd trade for that.
    decomb.png

    Posting distortion measurements next.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
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  8. TMRaven

    TMRaven Friend

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    Sounds like you may want to put Utopia pads on your Elear.

    I wonder just how much production variance there's going on here, or if there's slightly different tuning variation from press pairs to production pairs-- Tyll said the bass was slightly for his tastes.
     
  9. Serious

    Serious Friend

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    CSDs look about like what I expected looking at the FR.

    But it looks so much nicer than anything else. Even REW with rainbow option (and there is no such option) wouldn't be anywhere as good looking as that. ARTA doesn't even compete :(.

    Distortion doesn't look bad. Maybe a bit high D2 in the midrange, especially against HD650, but would need comparable plots. (beat me to it - plots now posted). A lot of D3 and D4 below resonance frequency. I bet Utopia would look much better in the mids.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
  10. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Friend

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    This looks more like the Focal Spirit Pro meets an AKG than the HD 650. The subbass is going to cause the bass to bleed into the lower mids more than the 6X0 line and the upper mids and treble look terrible.

    Hail the Sennheiser headphone reich!

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    The PEQ I ran by ear was -3db at 80 with q of 1.2 and +4 db 5kHz with q of 4. I don't go overboard with EQ and like to keep things simple.

    As far the pads, these squishy foam ones of the Elear compress more than the Utopia. This will cause the ears to be closer to the drivers and tilt the balance toward the bass. It's really not all that complex.
     
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  12. Serious

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    This is not always true. With the HD800 the thicker pads make it bassier and peakier with more recessed upper mids.
    I believe there is a similar thing with the HD6X0 where older pads make the upper mids even more prominent than new ones.
    Diferences could be anything. Different foam inside the pads, leather being more reflective, ...
     
  13. Huxleigh

    Huxleigh Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    Sacrebleu! Ze Germans have breached ze Maginot Line! :confused: With all their shiny boots and hirsute moustaches! :eek:
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
  14. Serious

    Serious Friend

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    @Marvey Can we now get the foam coupler measurements? I don't think the resonances are a driver thing and most people don't seem to notice it as much so maybe that's just the creatology foam doing weird shit again? (That skin would most likely not do)
     
  15. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    Foam coupler CSD posted. (t=0 is the FR) As you can see, the FR quickly devolves into ringing at the 4k and 8k spots. Strangely enough, the 12kHz ringing disappears. The flat plate coupler is a combination of Creatology foam and a smaller piece of felt over a CD. This actually seemed to mimic the characteristics of a pork belly (with some ribs underneath) that I bought from Ranch 99. Yes, I actually bought a pork belly and stuck a microphone through it. For obvious reasons, I can't continue to use a pork belly.
     
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  16. Serious

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    I know. In my case I tried the same thing but with HD800 and found that the CD+creatology foam coupler+various sizes and thicknesses of felt didn't mimic what I heard with various mods. The material I'm using now showed the effects of the mods closest to how I heard them.
    When I taped a mic to my skin and compared it to various materials, the skin on my head was closest to that material in the CSDs with my modded HD800. Afaik the skin over my ribs and legs was more reflective.

    I will also try the pork belly thing when I'm back in Germany. Maybe pork skin is different from the skin on our heads? I don't know.

    Anyway, thanks for the measurements. They don't look all that hot. Let's hope the Utopia is better.
     
  17. frenchbat

    frenchbat BritishBat's arch enemy - Friend

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    @Serious, more than anything, your ears/head's skin isn't flat.

    @marv', thanks for the measurements.Confirms my personal hunch with those.
     
  18. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    The leather might contribute to the upper mid peak on the Utopia. The Elear pads are extremely squishy, which does bring the ears much closer to the driver than Elear.

    If this were an ortho, or a low Qts driver, we could vent the pads with material underneath a la Jerg pads. Since this headphone is already super open, venting pads won't do anything. I am thinking a two component circuit, a cap and a resistor to shelve the bass down 3db. That by itself does wonders, although I know many here would not be satisfied with that 5kHz suckout.

    Another possibility for reducing the bass might be as @Hands suggested: some material behind the driver for dampening.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
  19. Serious

    Serious Friend

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    True. I tried to minimize the effect of that by trying to measure where the skin was the flattest. Still, the mic will have slightly different distances from the driver. Of course my measurements weren't super scientific, but I still think that the creatology foam measurements with the HD800 show a bigger peak than I hear myself. This might be different for other people. As I said, I will do more experiments when I'm back in Germany next month. My goal is to make my own "V3" coupler before CanJam Europe 2016.
    Anyway, I will now shut up about my coupler experiments. That's stuff for another time and another thread.
    Wait, so the Utopia pads are squishier and compress more? That makes more sense with more upper mids and smaller soundstage.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
  20. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    I put some electrical tape around the inside of the pad to simulate partial leather pads. Green the pad without modification. Orange is the pad with electrical tape on the inside. The results seem consistent with the pad swap measurements from the disingenuous one (if we take into account a partial effect from partial simulated leather).

    Elear etape.png

    Typo. Fixed. Elear pads are the squishier ones.
     
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