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Focal Utopia headphones...with Beryllium driver


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3 hours ago, Voltron said:

Stax are earspeakers, not K1000s

f8752ead77ea31eb5673442c1d117e2e.jpeg

http://www.stax.co.jp/index-E.html

They are earspeakers, too.  But the K1000 are the epitome of earspeakers, at least in terms of form and function.  They're even intended to be run from a speaker amp, not a headphone amp.   Plus they have that flip out way that they do, so that the soundwave is coming at your ears as if from speakers.

I don't care what any of you all say.

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not going to create a new thread... figured i'd drop some simple thoughts on the Focal Elex that arrived last week. i decided to grab these after reading ample comparisons to Sennheiser and the notion

I could have said that just as easily as you did, and suspect that many other people feel the same way about it. It's like any hobby, I guess. There is that initial phase when you're all into it an

I'd suggest trying them on a Cmoy to see if a superior amplifier might help. 

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Just switched from HD800s to Utopia on the mini susy dynalo and while the soundstage is different I would definitely not call it small or a bother at all to me.  I did notice the smaller stage when i first had the headphones but i don't anymore, not sure what changed.

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2 hours ago, blubliss said:

I did notice the smaller stage when i first had the headphones but i don't anymore, not sure what changed.

You probably quit listening to the headphones and started listening to the music again. Happens all the time with me when I begin to settle in with new gear and forget about the need to analyze it all the time.

Edited by Wmcmanus
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6 hours ago, purk said:

Really though it is about impedance issues on the Utopia.  I was having similar problems with the ECP-L3 and Utopia combo but absolutely loving it with the Dynahi, GSX, and DSHA-2.  Ultimately, the smallish soundstage may lead to me selling it.

You got me thinking if my impression of the Focals were "skewed" by the gears I listened to them with. They were driven straight from a DAC which "supposedly" can also drive headphones.

My experience with the LCD2 echoes what you said about the Utopia. In my experience, the LCD2 needs an amp with low output impedance and can deliver plenty of current into a lowish load to make it perform. Given the LCD2 is rated at about the same impedance as is the Utopia, they probably exhibit the same demand on the amps.

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13 hours ago, gepardcv said:

@TMoney: What's your preferred setup these days, now that you ruled out both stats and the Utopia? Still have the HD800S?

I've been using the Sennheiser Trinity (600/650/800S) with the two ECP amps Doug made for me, the DSHA-3 (work) and DSHA-4 (home).

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36 minutes ago, mwl168 said:

 Given the LCD2 is rated at about the same impedance as is the Utopia, they probably exhibit the same demand on the amps.

LCD2's have an impedance of around 30 Ohms at all frequencies. Utopias have a nominal impedance of about 80 Ohms, but it is not constant and peaks to over 300 Ohms at 50Hz. So think of it this way, the output impedance of the amp forms a voltage divider with the load impedance. Assume you have a 20 to 20K sweep signal of 1V. If your amp has an output impedance of 0 Ohms, 100% of the signal goes into the headphones, so both the LCDs and the Focals will have 1V at all frequencies. Now assume your amp has an impedance of 20 Ohms. The LCDs will have a 0.6V signal at all frequencies (with the other 0.4V lost across the output). The Focals, however, will have 0.8V at most frequencies. But at 50Hz they'll have 0.94V. At 100Hz they'll have something like 0.91V. In the case of Focals, this makes them sound bloated.

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On 4/16/2017 at 1:42 AM, TMoney said:

What in the heck are you talking about, man?

The hobby has come quite a ways since the RS1 first came on the scene.

http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/GradoRS1.pdf

Nuff said.

I was just being a dick.  And no, not 'nuff said.

You guys realize that I don't really use the Extreme, right, because I pick up radio in my apartment, in the place where I would use it?  I've mentioned that before.

I had the meet today.  I was honestly expecting people to love the Utopias, that maybe I was just weird, and I didn't really talk about them before people started listening, as I didn't want to poison the well.  Amps included the KG reworked Squarewave XL, my nearly-maxed Headroom Desktop stack (just missing the SA) , a pretty well stacked DIY Dynalo (I guess these are all ill-suited amplifiers?), some other things, professional gear, that I can't remember, and the Extreme, and several sources.  Other people's opinions were pretty much in line with mine.  The audio engineers both agreed that they could never use the Focals to mix, as the compressed soundstage made instrument and voice separation very difficult to identify, and that placement would be difficult.  The weird aggressive honk in the midrange was also mentioned, and audio engineer friend #1, Simon, asked me if I thought violins sounded like violas on them.  He is an audio engineer at my old conservatory, and spends a lot of time listening to acoustic instruments.  Strangely, the Extreme was what most people liked the the Utopia the best on, as the honk was less obvious (it also helped that it was hooked to the Electrocompaniet that I'm borrowing from Jim, which I think is excellent).  Two peeps, JP and Simon, had previously not liked the HD-800 much, due to the mid-treble tizz, but the SuperDupont mod pretty much fixes that (after listening for the last few days, I definitely prefer the real mod to the Shure olives), and they were greatly preferred.  Even HD-600s were preferred, because instrument placement was reasonably accurate, three-blobs be damned, and instruments sounded right.   The RS-1s were enjoyed, though nobody thought they were accurate (which, of course, they aren't, but they sure get timbre right, for a lot of instruments), and they certainly have a neat way of placing instruments in space, even if the soundstage isn't very large.  I felt quite vindicated.  You can believe my report or not, I don't really give a shit.   Thank you very much, Todd, for lending them to me.  I hope that you like them as much as most people seem to. I was really expecting to. I'll get them back to you in the next couple days.

To summarize, I really just don't get it.  I think the Utopias are anti-hifi, measurements be damned.  They make everything sound the same, and it can be pleasant (the punchy bass is great), but it's not accurate, and I can't hear the room where things were recorded, because there is such a compressed and weird soundstage.  Being Mr. Empirical Evidence, it's a tough thing to say, but at the end of the day, I have to use my ears to listen to things.  These are the world's best KSC-75.  

Edited by EdipisReks1
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Honestly, at $4k you'd better be bloody happy with your purchase and if you're not, then you don't need to apologize for not liking them. Also, while Tyll's measurements are a great data point and an invaluable resource they don't completely summarize how something sounds, and dismissing something based on those measurements only (and the RS1 doesn't measure that terribly) is a mistake.

You like what you like and there's nothing wrong with that.

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3 hours ago, dsavitsk said:

LCD2's have an impedance of around 30 Ohms at all frequencies.

That's phase, man. Impedance is the other graph which hovers around 47 Ohms, tho that doesn't change anything.

After much pondering I find that my main beef with Utopias is that they don't have anything they're the best at. Orthodynamics will best them at bass, HD800 has better soundstage... and so on. The only exception might be build quality, but that's a moot-ish point.

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8 hours ago, dsavitsk said:

LCD2's have an impedance of around 30 Ohms at all frequencies. Utopias have a nominal impedance of about 80 Ohms, but it is not constant and peaks to over 300 Ohms at 50Hz. 

Intersting. Audeze lists LCD 2 as having 70 ohm impedance on their web site which is twice as high as what the measurement says.

 

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1 hour ago, mwl168 said:

Intersting. Audeze lists LCD 2 as having 70 ohm impedance on their web site which is twice as high as what the measurement says.

Firstly, the measurement says around 47 ohms like RudeWolf says. Secondly, that measurement is for the old LCD2, which the M1060 is based on. I think Audeze modified the diaphragm trace impedance to 70 around the time they introduced the Fazor elements. Finally, even though orthos have fairly flat impedance, they still really don't like high output impedance amps because they tend to have low mechanical damping. Audeze actually make this a point of pride to show how low the bass extends. Not only that, one of the claimed reasons there's so many Audeze driver failures is due to pressure on the ultra thin diaphragm from the seal. So Audeze made the design leaky which alleviates pressure but also adds that bass reflex effect.

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8 hours ago, RudeWolf said:

That's phase, man.

It sure is. That's what you get for looking at graphs at 3am. The broader point stands. however.

55 minutes ago, mypasswordis said:

Finally, even though orthos have fairly flat impedance, they still really don't like high output impedance amps because they tend to have low mechanical damping.

I'll defer to your knowledge of the inner workings of orthodynamic drivers. My point was really about the Focals and at least one reason why, unlike some other headphones, they do not perform well when mated with an amplifier with a high output impedance. My experience says that up to about 5 Ohms is OK, but any higher is not ideal.

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41 minutes ago, dsavitsk said:

unlike some other headphones, they do not perform well when mated with an amplifier with a high output impedance

Given that same line of reasoning, why wouldn't this be the case for most if not all dynamic headphones? They all inherently have this resonance frequency hump. Not trying to be pedantic or ornery, genuinely curious as to your opinion. I haven't really owned a dynamic headphone since around 2010 and probably won't ever again. 

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I think the issue is two fold - for most phones, the resonance is considerably less pronounced and thus has less of an influence. And for Sennheisers, a little bit of impedance actually helps them sound more balanced. Indeed, my personal favorite way to drive Senns is with pentodes using the impedance as the translated load, thus giving the circuit a tad more gain in the bass and midbass. YMMV.

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Thanks. The HD6x0 already has some mid-bass bloom and poor low bass extension so more mid-bass would definitely not be my cup of tea. This compromise is largely due to a design decision by Sennheiser to use velour pads, which are leaky. If you replace them with sealing leather pads they will become bass monsters and not in a good way because of said design decision. 

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On 4/17/2017 at 11:16 AM, mypasswordis said:

Firstly, the measurement says around 47 ohms like RudeWolf says. Secondly, that measurement is for the old LCD2, which the M1060 is based on. I think Audeze modified the diaphragm trace impedance to 70 around the time they introduced the Fazor elements...

I stand corrected. I have mistaken the phase line as the impedance line when reading the measurement. 

Interestingly, I had always remembered the LCD2 impedance to be around 50ohm since I bought my LCD2 5 or 6 years ago. What you said explains the change in Audeze's current  specification.

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Chiming in a bit late, just got back from vacation; glad you got to hear them Jacob.  To some extent I agree with Jacob's impressions, there are several aspects of the sound & music that some other phones do better.  For me, Soundstage is the biggest drawback of the Utopia's...especially coming from the Senn 800's.  And the shear envelopment of a good Stax system (SR-007II and Mjolnir Carbon for me) edges out the Utopia for me.

Where my findings - and personal taste - differ are a few as well: first and foremost, transparency.  I hear things in basically all frequencies up through, say ~13-14kHz, that I have had trouble hearing with many other phones, at least dynamics.  And in many recordings I do hear into the room, at least if the recording is good.  And within that smaller soundstage, I think the ability to pick apart individual voices & instruments is still great.  Lastly, while I DO hear some possible frequency variations, I don't hear a midrange honk to the level that Jacob describes.

Where the Utopia still stays my favorite dynamic is in the total cohesive package.  It delivers transparent and pretty balanced sound to these ears, to the point that the package ends up being better than the individually-analyzed parts.  That said, my Senn 800 and 600 are both staying around as well.

FWIW, my system has been either the Exogal Comet or the Denafrips Ares driving a loaner ECP DSHA-2; great match for the Utopia, and a DSHA-3 customized for low output impedance will come next.  I still like the Mjolnir/Stax combo the best, so that is staying with the Exogal, my favorite DAC.

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I think it just comes down to what is important to the listener. I like fairly brutal honesty. The Utopia is definitely, well, Utopian. I want my shit to sound like shit! The RS-1 is a pretty major departure from that, but they just click for me. I don't know why. 

Edited by EdipisReks1
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On 2/21/2017 at 8:20 AM, Sherwood said:

Katz has a good track record, good enough to get the benefit of the doubt from me, but this flies in the face of most of what reasonable people have told me.  Basically, something is amiss.

Tyll has measured the headphones Bob Katz used for his shootout, plus another new sample of the Utopia:

http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/katzs-corner-episode-16-smoking-gun

Bob's LCD-4 appears to be more balanced in the treble range than the pair Tyll reviewed.

The new Utopias are way brighter than the pair Tyll reviewed....

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