Focal Elear and Utopia

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

  1. crenca

    crenca Acquaintance

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    I went looking for pics for a Focal voice coil vs. Sennheiser voice coil but could find none. My understanding is basically at this level:

    https://www.innerfidelity.com/content/how-headphone-dynamic-drivers-work

    So I am trying to get a handle on what you are referencing exactly with windings...
     
  2. JustAnotherRando

    JustAnotherRando My other bike is a Ferrari

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    Um, that is pretty close to how it's pronounced in French. Seriously, Google it.
     
  3. Maxx134

    Maxx134 no one will touch his boy parts without $$$

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    This is bad.
    Abyss has a transferrable one year,
    And a " one time" transferrable 3yr warranty that I didn't even know when I sold my Diana.

    Really bad when competition like HifiMan does.

    Not really...
    Sounds like a ploy to get your money.


    WOW, I didn't realize it was that long.
    That's at least double the length of most coils (from my own experience).

    Based on what has just been stated, I would take precaution to not have the driver make excursion too much.

    I heard audible pop sound of a Focal driver when testing low frequency, which I read Marvey noted in a review as well (Not the Utopia).

    If the driver is pushed to pop, it can cause a non-linear angle of excursion,
    or excessive electromagnetic force applied to the coil.
    Either way I can envisualize possible physical harm to coil.

    I would take most caution when insertion of Headphones to amp (at zero volume so no pop),
    and not leave Headphones plugged in when turning unit on or off.

    To me,
    The cable really isnt worth more than say $80, US.
    The copper seems good quality (probably OCC) and is a thick guage, and has no painted coating on the strands,
    So its super easy to solder.

    But there is absolutely NO type of (litz) winding or braiding at all(!),
    just paralleled insulated wires inside a big rubber type cable.

    The design is very much like an AC lamp cord.
    In fact, if I didn't know better I would think this was some type AC lamp cable.

    The only saving grace was the thick guage of the cable...
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2018
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  4. marcussmj

    marcussmj Rando

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    Focal more like Faux-cal.
     
  5. Darren G

    Darren G Friend

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    @Maxx134 - Indeed, I am taking those very precautions you suggested.

    The basic idea is simple. The voice coil is just that, a coil of wire (near, surrounded by, a magnet). Just the basic electromagnetic theory we all learned in elementary school. But you can see even in that article a picture of the coil, and the support form. Focal removed the support form to reduce weight, so all that remains is just the coil, and whatever adhesive they use to keep it formed as a coil. Reducing weight makes sense. Less weight, less mass to move. The concern though is that the coil is exceptionally fragile.

    p.s. He just meant that the coil is only one layer thick; coils can be wound over the previous layer to add more layers, etc.
     
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  6. Gatucho

    Gatucho Rando

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    I had a driver failure in my Elears in January. Got it replaced by warranty, took the chance and upgraded to the Clears.

    My hypothesis is that the change in coil material from copper clad aluminum to pure copper was not only to improve sound and electrical characteristics, but rather to improve the structural resilience. Copper clad aluminium wire is much more fragile than pure copper, particularly with high temps.

    I think that Focal will start phasing out the Elears and Utopia in favor of pure copper coil versions in a near future.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2018
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  7. crenca

    crenca Acquaintance

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    Thanks. The pic of the voice coil of the Focal products appear to be a thin sliver of copper - nothing "wound". I assume if you were able to zoom the fact that it is a winding of wire would come through...
     
  8. Darren G

    Darren G Friend

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    It's a coil, wound. Whatever it looks like, it has to be a coil ;) The relationship between magnetism and electricity says so :p

    p.s. Also all he meant was with 2, 3, more, layers, you add another dimension to structural rigidity. Doesn't matter if we refer to the first winding as vertical or horizontal (though no doubt there is a standard reference), adds more layers in a 90 degree direction, which adds to the overall structural stability of the coil.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2018
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  9. nachocheese70

    nachocheese70 Almost "Made"

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    To throw more complexity into the possible Utopia failure modes, in my case it could be a bad solder joint between voice coil and signal wire that connects voice coil to lemo jack.

    When my Utopia right side driver suddenly died for first 2 weeks, an unplugging and replugging of the lemo plug fixed it (but unplugging and replugging of amp side 1/4 jack did nothing). When the driver died it was during heavy bass notes (so very large voice coil movement), and it just instantly stopped playing music (so no pops nor any aberrant sound). When unplugging/replugging brought it back to life, the sound was exactly the same as far as I could tell (I imagine a jammed voice coil that caused it to die first time would be damaged if it “unjammed”, and would audibly be different than before the first jam, especially after this occurred a few times).

    My point being there could be multiple different modes of failure that all add up to a much higher rate of failure.

    Btw I didn’t measure how loud I listened to the Utopia but I did just measure with my Abyss. My normal listening level with the Abyss is a peak of around 83 dBA while a loud listening (for just 1-2 tracks) would peak at 88 dBA, and maybe on certain classical music a few second crescendo would hit 90 dBA max (but rest of piece is in 78-85). I should have been listening to the Utopia at the same volume, so when I say heavy bass note, it should still be a reasonable volume level.
     
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  10. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

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    If I recall correctly the Utopia already uses a pure copper coil.
     
  11. Gatucho

    Gatucho Rando

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    You may be right, do you have a link in this regard?
    I'm sure I saw somewhere that the voice coil of the Utopia was also aluminum, but it may have been an unreliable source. I can't find a reliable source regarding the material of the Utopia voice coil!

    Since both Elears and Utopia have a similar impedance I just assumed that this was a confirmation of both having the same material. Specially since the voice coils of both looks very similar in shape in the photos I have seen.

    For the Utopia to have the same higher impedance as the elears and still being made of copper it would require either:
    *an even smaller wire gauge. This could result in more fragility; alas, compensated a bit with the improved copper durability?
    *about double windings, which would result in a larger (in heigth) voice coil if only one layer is used=more fragile. Or, if more layers are used, a more robust voice coil.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
  12. netforce

    netforce MOT: TSAV

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    From what I understand from the early batch of initial Utopia/Elears, it had a solder joint issue which was corrected in later runs. Waiting to hear back from Focal if they can last me know what the material of the voice coil is, be it pure copper or something else.
     
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  13. netforce

    netforce MOT: TSAV

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    Heard back, voice coil is copper and does not use a "former" which is the tube copper is warped around in a traditional design of a voice coil.
     
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  14. Artasia

    Artasia Friend

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    Thank you. Do you know if there is there a serial-number cutoff for the "early batch" vs. the later runs?
     
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  15. netforce

    netforce MOT: TSAV

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    Unfortunately I don't, the solder issue was within the first production run so it was very early units.
     
  16. themystical

    themystical Rando

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    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018
  17. Darren G

    Darren G Friend

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    What has been a recent discovery for me, after updating Yggdrasil's analog boards, and giving them 2-3 days to warm up, I've removed the equalization I was using. The metallic harshness that was annoying me is gone. Perhaps that just speaks to how clear the Utopias are. Anything upstream is going to come through.
     
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  18. dubharmonic

    dubharmonic Friend

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    As a Utopia listener with the original Yggdrasil analog boards, I've been on the fence about the A2 upgrade since the release. It's that much of an improvement? Maybe I'll try to get the new boards while Focal is looking at my dead cable. I told myself I wasn't going to spend anymore on audio this year!
     
  19. sheldaze

    sheldaze Friend

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    The A2 upgrade wasn't an upgrade I thought I needed. However, once I made the change, I enjoyed it immensely. Two things of note though - I'm not using a Valhalla 2 into my Utopia. I'm using a ZDS. I do not know precisely how revealing of the source the Valhalla 2 is. My guess is ZDS is considerably more revealing, considerably more rewarding of the change from the analog upgrade. Second, I'm no longer using the RCA output from Yggdrasil. I'm using a transformer to convert from XLR to RCA. When I was initially listening to the Yggdrasil analog update, through RCA, I just was not enjoying it - it sounded a little piercing on the highs, and just not very involving in the mids to lows (lost some of the Moffat engagement). Changing to XLR output immediately fixed the balance. True - I made this change while Yggdrasil was warming up, but I have no desire to go back to RCA. I was happily using RCA from the original Yggdrasil.
     
  20. Darren G

    Darren G Friend

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    @dubharmonic - Of course we are talking about that final bit of polish, so it depends on what traits you are particular about. I've been listening all day, and all my HPs sound better. The big differences I'm hearing is a blacker background (not that A1 was terrible, just that there was always a touch of grey), and the most important difference is everything sounds sweeter, smoother, less metallic. Those minor differences come through clearly over the Utopia. Fortunately the lively slam and dynamics of the A1 board is still there.

    @sheldaze - The A2 sounded flat, mediocre, blah to me when I first received it (to the point I was worried it was a mistake to upgrade). It took a good full 3 days+ of warm-up, and some say a full 3 weeks. The lack of warm-up was likely related, but even so many here agree it sounds better using the balanced out.
     
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