Focal Elear Measurements

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

  1. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    I'm not too hopeful that hardware mods will fix the issues. Traditional dynamics don't respond as much as orthos. Also the 5kHz depression is still a little bit evident on the foam coupler measurments. The treble is already laid back, so any additional attempt to put material in front of the driver may be worse than the cure. It should be noted that the treble sounds much better than measured. Nothing nasty, just not the smoothest and most refined.

    What the Elear needs is a pad that doesnt squish down and retains good distance between the ear and driver while still retaining an abosorbative interior to prevent the 1kHz bump (as seen on Utopia). Of course the abosorbative interior might also contribute to the upper mid suckout.

    It should be easy to access the area behind the driver. Will report back later on rear damping material.
     

  2. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Friend

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    EQ to fix severe transducer problems outside of a couple decibels here and there doesn't work that well and you end up fucking with the mix too mix. Try it yourself with a good parametric equalizer and a decently-mixed recording and instrument tones will get screwy. I don't think Focal really engineered these that well but just built some great drivers and stuck them in headphones that looked nice and sounded good enough. They certainly didn't engineer the density and compression of the pads like Sennheiser has been doing since the Orpheus 1 not counting the HD 700.
     
  3. TMRaven

    TMRaven Friend

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    HE-560 comes to mind. The original pads it came with (focus-A), were all velour and soft with a good amount of give. The production mods (Focus) had pleather along the inside as well (which Marv already demonstrated the differences it makes), and had stiffer foam on the inside. Both of these contributed to a hump at 4-5khz. I'm thinking if we were to replace the softer foam on the inside of the pads with something stiffer, we could potentially relieve some of the depression around 5k.

    That said, software EQ is completely ok to me, but I usually only tend to EQ the extremities of FR. Anytime I try to EQ the midrange I fuck up the timbre.
     
  4. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I don't like EQ because not every setup I plug my headphones into will have the same, or any, EQ capabilities. That and I prefer digital signal output to be left as-is from source to DAC.

    I've had the opposite experience with dynamic and planar modding. Dynamics seem much more receptive and easy to work with when it comes to modding. Planars always seem to get funky when I try to mod them, save for a couple exceptions that just so happen to be smaller planar driver variants.

    But that's why I said, "We'll see," because it might work well, it might not. Can't know until you try all sorts of things! And I still have that $1 bet on the table with Tyll that I'll want to leave them as-is anyway, so maybe he'll be a lucky man. ;)
     
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  5. jowls

    jowls Something related to poop - Friend

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    If the HF measurements can be believed, Elear with Utopia pads could be a move in the right direction in terms of overall balance

    [​IMG]
     
  6. imac2much

    imac2much Friend

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    Haha yeah you read me too well. So what does the Utopia do better that the Elear lacks? Would you consider the Utopia with Elear pads a pretty big upgrade?
     
  7. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Friend

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    Less bass, more honk and there are still nulls.
     
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  8. jowls

    jowls Something related to poop - Friend

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    Yeah, you are probably right.

    The measurements suggest Elear are just a different flavour of warm, with caveats. I'm still trying to figure out why HF jumped on these being the supa HD650 successor; the midrange looks too screwy. Perhaps it was the simple fact that they don't start at $1500 like everything else...
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
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  9. Huxleigh

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

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    I'd like to offer an amendment, here. Rephrase the question as, "Why have so many enthusiasts, across the spectrum, become convinced that a 'Super' HD 650 is what this hobby most needs and suddenly concluded, without any direct experience, that the Elear should be it?" That's what puzzles me, honestly. o_O

    The HD 650 is a touchstone. I can certainly appreciate that many would like to see it bettered/supplanted on its own terms. And Sennheiser should get off its ass and do something about that. But what the hell would be the point if everyone and their mother devoted their time and resources toward mimicking something that is already quite outstanding in its present form? If anything, headphone designers should be trying to go beyond the 650. Slavish devotion to its virtues doesn't strike me as a particularly effective tack to accomplish that end.

    I have no idea how the Elear sounds. I won't know until I get mine. The measurements that @Marvey has diligently performed should be taken seriously as an invaluable purchasing aid to those on the fence about this new, promising headphone. But jumping to conclusions in the absence of substantive findings by the broader community of non-shills strikes me as hopelessly premature.

    Also, HD 600 fo' life. :headbang:
     
  10. GettingBuckets

    GettingBuckets Almost "Made"

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    It seems like I can continue being a cheap bastard and stick with my modded 650. Budget squad FTW!
    No money no problems!

    On the other hand, at least Focal stepped up their game and hopefully forces others to do the same. Even though the HD6X0 is pretty much a staple for the price/performance, I can't understand why it's been over friggin decade, and nobody can come up with anything that competes directly with them.
     
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  11. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Friend

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    Sennheiser doesn't need to do anything given that they're the biggest headphone brand on earth and second most voluminous manufacturer. Beats sells more higher priced cans than they do but doesn't have lower cost or audiophile stuff. They decided to up their game in the late 80s, developed the Orpheus, moved some of the engineering tech down to the HD 580, took the cost reductions of the 580 out and made the originally intended design as the HD 600, and then darkened and added more extension for the HD 650. Wait another five to ten years (or for another factory fire) and maybe we'll get an HD 800X without bass distortion just like we got an unveiled HD 650 eventually. Yeah Fostex and Focal might make better drivers but so what? They need to make better headphones.

    From a business sense, it's like when people bug Dick Yuengling or Ken Grossman to brew more experimental beer and they always say "What am I doing wrong?" or asking Schiit/Emotiva to build some endgame studio amplifier using triodes designed around rare matched NOS tubes meant for Russian polar research stations in the 60s.
     
  12. Huxleigh

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

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    Fair points, all. I'll freely admit that what I'm positing is more of an "aspirational" scenario, wherein Sennheiser might feel compelled to offer new, more competitive products that build on their successful history. But I don't think that's necessarily naive to expect, or even especially unprecedented in the scheme of things. There's real money to be made by doing that, at least conceivably. And market pressure, such as might be exerted by the Elear or another headphone, could yield such an outcome. Then, Senn's response could in turn provoke Focal, etc.

    That's the sort of healthy growth I'm hoping for. To reiterate, I don't think that continually attempting to ape the HD 650 would be the best way to get there. Although I don't believe we disagree on that.

    Even when I'm not on board with you 100% @Psalmanazar, your (often hilariously ruthless) posts seldom fail to give me something worthwhile to chew on. :D
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
  13. null

    null Rando

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    It is frustrating that sennheiser chooses to rest on its laurels when it could take a serious look at doing some improvement to the hd650 and hd800. I think if sennheiser wanted to they could absolutely squash Beyer and AKG at those price points, leaving little doubt, even in head-fis mind, that sennheiser has the better cans.
     
  14. n3rdling

    n3rdling Friend

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    Hmm, so: way too midbass emphasized, bass quality that kills HD650, off mids as a result of muted harmonics, presence region suck out, no treble. I feel totally redeemed. :D



    Two quick notes:

    - Mids are definitely ruined because of that downward slope. If you want to easily hear if this is because the harmonics are muted, listen to violins. It becomes very apparent if you're familiar with the recordings on a neutralish HP/set of speakers. The violin will almost sound dead if I had to describe what to listen for.


    - There's an issue with the community IMO that not only 'more bass = better bass' but also that 'more bass impact = more accurate'. I've talked about the first point before so I won't talk about it here, but that latter part is something I've debated internally for a while. I think if you're trying to compensate for listening to a HP (ie not speakers) then sure, I guess more bass impact is in a way more accurate (to a set of speakers). However, if you're interested in what's more accurate to the signal, then this is not the case. With that reasoning it's possible to have a different version of neutral for speakers and headphones, simply due to the physics of sound coming from a distance, in a room, and hitting your entire body vs sound coming straight into your ears solely. Note that I'm not talking about upper mids compensation, but rather bass impact.

    Bass impact increases as bass SPL increases. You can easily test this with any HP by simply paying attention to the bass impact at a given volume level and then increasing the volume and noting the increase in bass impact. From this it follows that the bass impact of a headphone is largely influenced by that HP's FR. A dynamic with a 3 db bass hill will definitely have not just more bass but also more bass impact than that same dynamic if it had a flat bass region like is most common in planars and stats. Again, this is all else being equal - there are HPs that measure similar in bass SPL that have differing amounts of impact (HE6 vs lots of stuff).

    For some reason HPs that have overly emphasized bass impact don't carry the same stigma something with a hot treble does when it can be just as inaccurate. The easiest way I've found to not fall into the trap of assuming more bass impact/quantity is always better is to adjust the volume for the bass instead of for the mids as is most common. By doing this you'll be able to quickly hear that something else is way off, such as vocals being hidden underneath overpowering bass guitar/kick drums etc. If you adjust volume with the mids as the reference that's when you're likely to fall for the bass trap.
     
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  15. Ryanr1987

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    I think from the impressions the Elear won't be for me it will have to be a demo and maybe a purchase in the future but for now I'm going back to the 650 AGAIN.

    I think that speaks a lot about the 650 when you've have sold it to try other gear to always return to it. Some call it the comfortable blanket that makes you feel safe but I just think it's better than everything out there in tonality. Everyone talks about low distortion, bass extension and treble air but what really matters is how it makes you feel. There's not one headphone that has connected me emotionally to the music like the 650. When I first heard a 650 and Crack I was stunned. I've not had that experience much even headphones like the HE10000 and LCD-4 have given me that reaction and sounded boring, and honestly shite for the price.

    I think if Sennheiser made an improved 650 changing it's "Faults" willchange the character many love. It's already resolving enough and has the best tone you can find IMO.
     
  16. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    Well, I would agree that excessive downward slope, particularly if that slope starts super low from 20Hz, is not a good thing. However, I believe that a slight downward slope starting from a few hundred Hz is a good thing. Both the HD600 and HD650 exhibit this behavior and I find their FR must truer than planar type headphones which tend to be flat from 20Hz upwards, or even SR-009 which has a tiny bit of upward slope toward the mids. As an aside, the HD6X0 rolls off going the other direction toward the deep bass, but this is much preferable than the bass continuing to rise (TH-900).

    One way to get better slam and punch is to shove the EQ up in the midbass. It's true, more bass does equate to more impact. However this doesn't mean that certain headphones won't inherently slam better than others. Slam / impact seem to correlate well to efficiency / power and driver mass / magnet strength as well as elevated midbass.

    FWIW, I've been running a bass shelf EQ to tone down the bass, and the Elear doesn't lose its macrodynamic capability one bit.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
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  17. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    - Many (too many) prefer bass from closed cans, even from those with neutral levels. I can hear it too, more impact. Like from speakers in non ideal room. It kind of makes every bass instrument sound the same. Quantity is neutralish, distortion even lower than open cans. So what gives ? Delay ? I bet it's delay. I don't really understand why is it so.

    - Entirely different game is note weight or body. Again not related to fr response or distortion. Imo HD800 best's everything in this so far, HD650 is close. Maybe the Focals are the new kings here, will see.

    - And then there is the dynamics capability, again not directly related to fr response or distortion. Note weight and dynamics might have something in common. (Here planars suck, imo)

    Edit: the bass balance thing and which coloration to choose is very recording dependent in my experience. Lacking DR makes me chose closed can instead of open
     
  18. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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  19. gbeast

    gbeast Mighty Moral Power Ranger

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    Its not as much about the 650 as it is people wanting smooth but present and extended treble, extended and present but not overly bloated bass, a full mid range proper, present upper mids, micro and macro dynamics, open sound, and no grain to go along with the details. A lot of people like me are tired of the audiophile bright and lean tunings and the first thing that comes to mind as an ideal reference is the HD650.

    The 650 is used in this context a lot because on the right gear it can do most of those things, except to me it still sounds a little grainy... though totl gear makes it a non issue.

    I think companies should battle it out to make that super hd650, even Sennheiser. I am very confused as to why it hasn't been done yet. After all these freakin years and still believe the Elear is the closest.

    I am also thinking that people shouldn't just give up on the Elear because Marv is posting the negatives about it.
    *ducks rotten tomatoes * :eek:


    This is all relative and in his opinion. Some of these negatives will be less bothersome to a lot of us. I for one like the bass where its balanced and didn't feel the need to trim it. Though I spent a heck of a lot more time with the Utopia because I felt the mid range was more clear and realistic by a whole lot so the Elear ended up just sitting there a part from a total of maybe 2 hours.

    Even with its negatives its tuning and balance, to my ears and tastes - Elear >>>>Ether,He-560,HEK, THX00 (don't like its treble), HD800, Beyer t1 and so on

    So I encourage people to look at it relatively before you check it off. I just think Marvs posts are just proving that there is still compromise and it can be done better. I agree.
     
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  20. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    I am so glad you brought these points up.

    Sometimes readers who are unfamiliar with this site feel that we like to unnecessarily bash things. This is not the case. It's just a matter of being totally honest and comparing each specific aspect of performance to the best of any headphone. To date, there is no headphone that encompasses the best of everything.

    As implied, this was a headphone that I knew @imac2much would love, so I recommended it to him. But I also know that the members here have different tastes: this is why we will break things down to give everything a better idea. I also feel that the positives should not be forgotten. The transients are impressive; and I don't think I've ever heard a more dynamic and explosive can. And we are not talking about just bass either.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2016

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