Focal Elear and Utopia

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by SingSing, Jun 14, 2016.

  1. Ringingears

    Ringingears Honorary BFF

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  2. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    $1100 stock cable?! That makes the $400 Moon-Audio cable look like a steal.
     
  3. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    If anyone goes to any audio show and has an opportunity to talk to a Focal person, please ask what makes the cable so special that it deserves such a high price.
     
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  4. nachocheese70

    nachocheese70 Facebook Friend

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    Holy smokes $1100 for stock Focal cables. I’d hate to see what they want to charge for an out of warranty replacement driver.
     
  5. FallingObjects

    FallingObjects Pay It Forward

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    Pt 2: Reassembly

    [​IMG]

    When in doubt, duct tape. When there's no room for doubt, gorilla tape.

    [​IMG]

    Fraken-stitching job. If you ever need sutures done up, stay the hell away from me.

    (Okay it's not actually THAT bad but it's a far cry from the invisible stitching job they do initially, but I lack the time and patience to flip it inside out twice to do that)

    [​IMG]

    Not the prettiest fix. I could have done a better job of making sure the tape aligned, but working with gorilla tape and curves isn't easy.

    [​IMG]

    Holds up to a bend test. The pressure around my ears is a lot lighter than before, and there's still a concerning amount of flex around the headband, but it sits on my head and the sound is unchanged so it's all good.

    Total time to fix: ~3 hours, excluding drives to pick up and find material/tools. Reasonably easily accomplished if you have steady hands and basic knowledge of sewing; visual aesthetics varying by skill level and patience.

    Opinion: I'm actually pretty disgusted by Focal's headband assembly in this situation. For a headphone that initially sold with a $1,000 MSRP, I'd expect a solid metal reinforcement SOMEWHERE in there - but no, plastic glued to metal on the sides is what they settled for. It's not like these things aren't already relatively on the heavy side, so that minuscule amount of weight wouldn't matter.

    The lack of customer support, secondary user support, and seemingly constructed in a way so as to make user repair/replacement as difficult as possible (the whole 'non-replaceable' headband assembly, though I saw what suspiciously looked like a way to disassemble it if you had access to proprietary tooling). Between this and reading other stories about their (lack of) customer support, I have personally lost my confidence in Focal as a producer of headphones.

    Fuck me if they don't sound good though. Buyer beware the siren song.
     
  6. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Dunning–Kruger effect poster boy

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    I have reterminated Utopia cable before,
    [​IMG]
    And it is a very thick but simple and plain cable.

    There is no fancy stranded wire or any twisting going on .

    Very very thick and plain
    copper wire with heavy insulation.

    The length is too long so I cut excess for another member here.

    Bottom line is you can buy a top grade silver wire for $1k ...
    So I would not bother getting anything stock.

    You could actually cut the wire shorter to fix it,
    As it is a very easy color coated insulation inside.
     
  7. Josh83

    Josh83 Friend

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    I wonder how much of this is preference versus inconsistent manufacturing.

    Based on some of the reviews of the Elear’s mid-to-high end frequency response, I should hate them. But I pulled the trigger on a good open-box deal, and my view aligned with Tyll’s. They permantly displaced my 6XXs, which never really excited me (and which I found to be fairly uncomfortable). OTOH, the pair of EL-8 Titaniums I tried around the same time not only suffered from a lot of the problems you describe (which their very clean response wasn’t enough to overcome), they were also the most uncomfortable pair of cans I’ve ever tried.

    Whether it’s different voicing or personal preference, it’s kind of amazing how polarizing the Elears are.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2018
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  8. Jinxy245

    Jinxy245 Vegan Puss

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    I agree how polarizing they are, but they are still better than many out there, I find them enjoyable...especially with the mods @Hands and others have detailed in the measurement thread...a good read (if you haven't already)

    http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/focal-elear-measurements.2585/
     
  9. Ringingears

    Ringingears Honorary BFF

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    All of the above has me seriously reconsidering any purchase of a Focal product. As much as I enjoy the sound of the Clears and Elex, at these prices reliability should not be an issue. And the $1090 for the Utopia cable is real. Holy shit! This is beyond insane.
     
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  10. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    Even Audeze and Stax have replacement headbands. Hopefully there's a 3rd party market to fill in this gap.

    Basically it seems like you should only buy new from Focal dealers. Sellers might even need to be open to taking the headphones back for service. At the very least, Focal needs to make ownership transferable(even with a fee) if they want to continue this ridiculous policy.
     
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  11. geniekid

    geniekid Facebook Friend

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    I recently had the opportunity to test Focal's warranty process after one of my Clear drivers developed problems four months after purchase. The most annoying thing is how they make you go through the dealer, slowing everything down. I finally received a replacement 5 weeks after contacting the dealer (Audiolab Stereo & Visual Center). I'm glad I bought these new because I have no idea how someone who bought these secondhand would be treated if they tried to contact Focal directly.

    I thought about quickly reselling the replacement pair, but I think I'll keep them for now - partially because I love how they sound, but also because I don't want to screw over anyone who buys these from me.
     
  12. FallingObjects

    FallingObjects Pay It Forward

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    Or include a "Sewing kit not included" disclaimer.
     
  13. murphythecat

    murphythecat Self Imposed Exile

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    I dunno
    but they have lost my business. ill never by another focal product, speakers or headphones
     
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  14. dubharmonic

    dubharmonic Friend

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    Yeah, it's real. European luxury car makers play this same game.

    The dead Utopia cable should arrive at Woo Audio tomorrow for inspection.

    So far Woo Audio have been very helpful. I'll let you guys know how it goes. No way am I paying $1100 out of pocket for a stock replacement.
     
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  15. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    I gotta say, who the frack cares how much a cable, that no one wants, BTW, costs?
     
  16. Skyline

    Skyline Double-blindly done with this hobby

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    Indicator of a larger problem...
     
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  17. murphythecat

    murphythecat Self Imposed Exile

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    my cable is still working but in bad shape.

    they should sell the damn orig cable for 100$

    I wiill simply decide to not support a company that ask 1100$ for a orig cable
     
  18. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    I agree. Don't buy a replacement cable from them. There are so many other ways to get a cable.

    Hell, I never paid $300-$400 for the HD800 balanced cable. That was too much. I agree that Focal's profit margin not he cable is probably very very high, and I agree with you not to buy it. But to say you won't get their other products because of how much one product cost? That I do not agree with. Judge each product by it's value to you.

    Support, customer service, parts availability, those are other things to judge by too. Pricing on one replacement part? naw.
     
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  19. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    ^ @AllanMarcus I do feel you are entitled to your own opinion, but turning a blind eye to Focal's charging through the nose (hell, through the Prince Albert piercing more like) for a replacement cable that, upon closer inspection, was revealed to be nothing particularly special won't serve to do anything except enable this sort of behaviour.

    Look, I agree that there are any number of excellent third-party cable manufacturers that one could take one's business to, and that it's a great thing to support cottage industries and artisans like these, but as Skyline mentioned above this is indicative of a larger problem in the luxury audio space.

    Also, unless my reading comprehension's tanked again, FallingObject's experience does seem to indicate that their CS may be somewhat lacking as well. Yes, he is not the original owner and it's only fair to assume that warranties should be voided upon purchase of a used unit, but I fail to see why Focal can't simply adopt the same business model as EC or iFi (and others) where one can pay a fee to have the warranty information transferred to their name. Heck, charging a $300 transfer for a $1k product (e.g. Elear) would be fine if it meant that the current owner would have some sense of security. I mean, charging a third the price of a product would be kinda dickish, but given how there have been enough documented cases of Focal headbands failing to warrant attention, I feel it'd be a necessary expense that people would be happy to swallow in lieu of having to buy a new unit, if they're not as talented a seamstress/seamster(?)/tailor as FallingObjects.

    I admit I'm biased because I buy most of my gear used. Had I the capacity to purchase new and support brands I like more directly, then I would, but that's an aside. The fact of the matter is that the used audio market is a thriving entity, one that brands could still stand to earn profits from but choose not to. It's understandable, as sales volumes don't look nearly half as impressive when you only count new activations and ignore used goods getting passed around, but it's a viable revenue stream nonetheless. There's a lot more I can say about this letting companies pare back volume of production, but also how this'd actually raise the CoP due to the price of tooling, salaries, variations in demand etc., but that's too much to bother typing out all at once and I've rambled for long enough as is.

    TL;DR Yes it is worth talking about, if only as a means to gauge the company's character. I like the aesthetic of lots of European things, but fuck that "we're holier than thou" sort of hubristic cockwaggling.
     
  20. marcussmj

    marcussmj Rando

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    For that price could get yourself a Dana Lazuli Reference cable. On another note, I am glad I sold off my Focal Utopia last month. This company does not deserve another sale from me.
     

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