Focal Clear

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by The Alchemist, Nov 15, 2017.

  1. Lyer25

    Lyer25 Old at heart, young in other places

    Friend
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2017
    Likes Received:
    1,517
    Dislikes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Pasig, Philippines
    Thanks for the impressions, @Sonorus! As someone not particularly sensitive to treble (save for the "tizz" area), seems to me the Clears might work well for low-volume listening. Incidentally, have you a microphone handy, or an SPL measurement app on a smartphone? I recall that Focal's drivers appear to be "designed" to break apart at higher SPLs as some sort of built-in "don't listen to music this loudly" check, discussed elsewhere on here. That might be what's causing the crapping out you hear.

    Either that or the way it's voiced really is just poorly suited to you? That'd be a shame.
     
  2. Sonorus

    Sonorus Acquaintance

    Joined:
    May 9, 2017
    Likes Received:
    45
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Greece
    Hi , sorry but i don't have an spl meter but trust me am not talking about
    high listening levels , just a little bit to enjoy classical orchestral works.
    That is my normal listening levels with HD800 for mjolnir 2 owners it's 12 o'clock
    balanced low gain.
    The clear is voiced very much to my liking and at some aspects i prefer it to my HD800
    and i was very well prepared to buy it.
    But it seems to me that this is the weak point of that headphone.
    They managed to voice it very well till moderate listening levels but then at higher volumes
    the drivers can't handle the energy and the headphone isn't dampened well enough to
    absorb the extra energy.
     
    Lyer25 likes this.
  3. Lyer25

    Lyer25 Old at heart, young in other places

    Friend
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2017
    Likes Received:
    1,517
    Dislikes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Pasig, Philippines
    Hm, that's a problem. Can't remember who but I recall there was someone else on here or Head-fi who reported the drivers beginning to break up at lower-than-expected SPLs. Something about variance in production tolerance. Perhaps you could contact Focal/your distributor and see if they can do anything about that?
     
  4. Sonorus

    Sonorus Acquaintance

    Joined:
    May 9, 2017
    Likes Received:
    45
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Greece
    Oh , that's difficult i live 500km from Athens and this unit was sent to me through the official importer here in Greece and as far as i know this is the only demo unit in the whole
    country!

    BTW - it's not like cracking or the driver falling apart like i have read above in another post.
    It's just that the headphone becomes sharp and annoying at mid to high frequencies.
    Like long lived resonances it would be better described.
     
  5. P-Car

    P-Car Rando

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2018
    Likes Received:
    15
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Boulder, CO
    +1

    I agree with this statement. The Clears sound much more transparent and detailed compared to the Senn HD-6XX. It seems there are two camps, one that likes the Senn HD-6XX and one that doesn't. Different strokes for different folks...
     
    Aeron likes this.
  6. P-Car

    P-Car Rando

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2018
    Likes Received:
    15
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Boulder, CO
    I have never heard this on my Clears and I bought one of the first production models back in October 2017. I believe the cans you were using have a problem and need to repaired / replaced. Then again, maybe I"m not listening that loudly?

    Focal's QC is pretty good but it's not fool-proof. One of my friends had a rattling sound in one of his Clear drivers right out of the box and another friend's portable Clear cable lost a channel after minimal use. This aligns with what I experienced with the Utopia. Most of the cans are great but there were a few pair that had driver issues, etc. that I heard about from friends.

    Buying used may bite you when it comes to the Focal cans unless you're buying from someone you know who can honestly tell you there's no issues with them.

    I like my Clears and the Utopia were great (if they only had more bass) but for the price of admission, Focal seems a little too proud of their products. Such is life I suppose...
     
    Sonorus likes this.
  7. Sonorus

    Sonorus Acquaintance

    Joined:
    May 9, 2017
    Likes Received:
    45
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Greece
    Unfortunately I can't test another set.
    Then maybe it's the music a listen combined with the volume.
    I don't know but after that I can't spend 1500€ and deal with potential issues and warranty etc.
    After all this is the demo unit it should be OK.
    How I am supposed to buy when I came across this issue with my first listen?
     
  8. Sonorus

    Sonorus Acquaintance

    Joined:
    May 9, 2017
    Likes Received:
    45
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Greece
    I have been listening for a few hours today.
    To my ears all the high notes that are sung (played) forte (f) and above are quite piercing
    and annoying with sharp edges.
    It is as every note has a little ''echo'' tail following it....
    This is definitely a headphone with ''bad'' treble peaks worse than the HD800(sdr) to my surprise as
    the graphs suggest the opposite.
    And i don't think that it is a faulty or broken driven.
    Everything works and sounds OK , it's just the character ''voicing'' of the headphone.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
  9. Gaspasser

    Gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,856
    Dislikes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Suburban DC
    I have both HD800SDR and Clear and previously owned Mjolnir 2. The problem is the combination of an amp that has a biting, strident top end and headphones that will exacerbate this quality. There is poor synergy between these and would recommend not evaluating Clear with Mjolnir 2.
     
  10. Sonorus

    Sonorus Acquaintance

    Joined:
    May 9, 2017
    Likes Received:
    45
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Greece
    The only other amp that i have on hand is Fiio A5 but the results seem the same.
    And then i wonder why i don't get the same results with HD800 or HD58x or
    even the T1 2gen that was here one week ago?
    Well i am going to make a few phone calls to see if i can find a burson soloist sl and Dr.Dac 3
     
  11. Gaspasser

    Gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,856
    Dislikes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Suburban DC
    Synergy. I would think it is the particular headphone’s frequency response meshing well with the particular amplifier’s frequency response. Also with Mjolnir 2, there is the element of the tubes being used and it’s effect on frequency response.
    I wouldn’t think that HD800 (even SDR) would be a good match for me, but many people including you like it.

    I also thought that it is odd that Clear pairs beautifully with MCTH (especially with LPS) because the upper end of MCTH can be described as slightly harsh or metallic of which the same is said about Clear. However, they pair well for surprisingly fatigue-free listening.
     
  12. Sonorus

    Sonorus Acquaintance

    Joined:
    May 9, 2017
    Likes Received:
    45
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Greece
    Well i have also tried it with Fiio Q1 marki ii and the headphone out of Cambridge 851A
    which is of high quality.
    For me the biggest flaw of the headphone is that after a certain volume the music sounds
    like it is coming form an empty echoing room.

    P.S the tubes i am currently using are GE 5654W JAN.
     
  13. Gaspasser

    Gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,856
    Dislikes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Suburban DC
    I haven’t had that experience out of multiple headphone amps including MCTH, Lyr3, Vali 2, or S7.
    It is unfortunate because it is a really nice headphone. If I were you I would just return the loaner and stick with the Senns. At some point it might be better to explore a different headphone amp that gets the sound you want with the headphones you have.
     
  14. Sonorus

    Sonorus Acquaintance

    Joined:
    May 9, 2017
    Likes Received:
    45
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Greece
    Thank you for the input.
    Unfortunately this headphone didn't make it for me!
    The loaner would be returned on Tuesday.
    The truth is that i am very pleased with my senns especially for the music
    i am listening but i have read a bunch of raging reviews about the clears
    and how it outperforms the 800 so i wanted to try it.
    And the truth is that i liked that extra muscle in the bass but when comparing
    them i thought that they are very much alike with minuses and pluses.
    Next i am going to have an HD800s loaner because it's been almost 2 years
    since i compared the 800 with 800s and with different rig.
    Now it's going to be 800sdr with 800s comparison with my current rig and hearing!
    Unfortunately i can't stretch my budget for other high end headphones so i am
    sticking with the senns.
    The Clear were my only option for something else not necessary better but for another ''taste''.
     
    Gaspasser likes this.
  15. gLer

    gLer Rando

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2017
    Likes Received:
    5
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Cape Town
    There is one other headphone you could try that you may even like better than the Senn and definitely the Clear: the ZMF Auteur. Not sure how readily available they are in Greece (probably not at all), but if you can find one, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what it can do. Then again, if your main interest is classical music, the Senn is still head and shoulders above everything else for the genre.
     
    Sonorus likes this.
  16. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Almost "Made"

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2016
    Likes Received:
    153
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Europe
    You are not alone, i also disliked the clears (a lot might I say) as did my girlfriend.

    Like stated above the Auteur are, currently, my only "hope" of having something that I like as much as the hd800m just in a different way. Unfortunately i dislike zmf policies and I have yet to try the headphones so I won't just buy it blindly. The wait for a EUR loaner continues. :)
     
    Sonorus likes this.
  17. I_want_all_the_tacos

    I_want_all_the_tacos Almost "Made"

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2017
    Likes Received:
    192
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    Michigan
    You and @Sonorus would probably really like Auteur. I also have Elear and Elex (and have auditioned Clear) so I know that Focal sound well and I agree that they tend to get fatiguing at high volumes over extended listening. I actually really love the sound and think Elex/Clear are excellent headphones, but I just wouldn't use them as my only headphone. If I am doing a longer listening session I'll swap around to other headphones to help avoid fatigue. I also have HD800 (SDR) and I agree that it is less fatiguing than the Focals. And then I also have Auteur, and that is really the goldilocks headphone that sits right in between HD800 and Clear. It is less macrodynamic focused like Clear and has a smoother and more cohesive sound like HD600/650. Like those it is just really easy to listen to as I don't detect any sharp peaks or unevenness. Soundstage is wider than Clear, less than HD800, and it is less analytical sounding compared to HD800 and more natural sounding than Clear. I actually find Auteur, HD800, and Elex (Clear) to be an awesome trio that all complement each other in different ways.

    What is it about ZMF's policies that you don't like? If you haven't done so yet, it is worth starting a conversation with Zach and just see what options are available. He is always happy to chat with people and try to work with them. Also since Aornic has recently become a ZMF distributor there is more ZMF presence in Europe.
     
  18. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Almost "Made"

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2016
    Likes Received:
    153
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Europe
    A small reason is kind of private but the others are that i don't feel that any of the headphones that i tried from ZMF, to this date, is nowhere deserving the ridiculously high price and yes i understand the part about the woodwork. The other is the warranty policy, which i have strong views against.
     
    Ray dislikes this.
  19. rott

    rott Secretly hates other millenials - Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2015
    Likes Received:
    403
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Nation's Capital of failure
    I wish I had already tried out the HD800/S and Clear, then I could argue from experience that the Auteur is worthy of competing at that price point. Others seem to think so. I can say they definitely compete with and in some ways are better than the LCD-3/X.

    I think mostly everything in this hobby is overpriced and the Clear & Auteur reach the upper limit of what I felt comfortable spending. The specific criticisms of the Clear soundstage, potential fatigue at higher volume and headband issues steered me toward ZMF. Still hope to try the Clear (or its successor) one day to hear the Focal magic. Really should sign up for a loaner some time...

    Are you referring to ZMF's non-transferability of the lifetime driver warranty? Or the fact that Focal, based in Europe, would provide better warranty support for you (e.g. shipping charges)?
     
  20. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Almost "Made"

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2016
    Likes Received:
    153
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Europe
    I feel that any questions regarding other brands maybe should kept in PM not to disturb the purpose of the topic. So I will answer those, and more, via PM but regarding Focal (going to topic), yes it has some advantages, as a buyer, in Europe.

    Back on track i thought u were NA based? I think Clear is something to try as much as the Utopia. You get a better, and wider, perception of their vision/objective.
     
    cskippy likes this.

Share This Page