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Focal Utopia headphones...with Beryllium driver


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On 7/18/2016 at 1:06 AM, TMoney said:

Heard the Focal Duo at the SF HF meet yesterday on my rig.

My impressions of the Focal Utopia:

  • The $4k price is unfortunate. This is a headphone that needs to cost $2k at most for it to be a good value.

     

 

My impressions of the Focal Elear:

  • Priced at a grand, it is nice to see a step in the right direction on price. Should be $600, but at least its not $1,500.Between Utopia and Elear I lean very strongly towards Utopia.


Give Sonic electronics a call once they're out a month or so. They offered a buddy of mine 3.15k for a brand new LCD 4.

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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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Impressions from Wikia regarding the Focal line:

Focal Elear (out of Eddie Current BW SC):

  • Really well built
  • Solid feel and very comfortable
  • I have to say I did feel like this was a cleaner HD650 and slightly more detailed
  • Would probably describe it as having the best of both worlds between the HD600 and the HD650
  • Best part about it is you don't need an expensive custom tube amp to remove the HD650's veiled sound
  • At a $999 price point however I feel like another entry into upper mid-fi  will hold this headphone back

 

Focal Utopia (out of Eddie Current BW SC):

  • Another really well built headphone
  • Solid feel and very comfortable
  • Very clear and detailed with a decently wide sound stage
  • Bass is a bit lacking for me but overall good tonal balance
  • Sometimes I felt however that there was the same hyper realness that I don't like with the Stax 009 present.
  • Most impressed though with the golden headphone case @jude had these housed in.
  • Unfortunately at $4k I really feel this headphone is overpriced especially against the next headphone I am going to mention.

Sorry for any Stax 009 fans didn't mean to insult but just not my bag.  I'm a 007 MK1 fan

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about the Elear/Utopia, looks like I heard it differently than most people at the SF meet. I should mention that I did spend a *lot* of time with both headphones, particularly the Utopia as there was something amiss with the Utopia I was trying to put my finger on. Briefly, copying velvetx format:

 

Focal Elear (out of Cavalli Carbon and Crimson)

  • lots of energy (punchy bass) and speed (transient reproduction).
  • Warmish tone, closer to HD600 than HD650. Very clean mids and extended highs.
  • Good, deep soundstage.
  • In summary, the Elear reminded me more of the HE500 than the HD6x0, with a cleaner, more transparent sound.

Focal Utopia (same amps, plus Questyle dual mono stack)

  • Tight, detailed bass.
  • There is a bloom in the mids that made it sound gorgeous, but a touch artificial. Even after one hour, I was listening to the Utopia, not to the music being played.
  • Soundstage was very "enveloping", for lack of a better word. It was wide and deep, but lacking in focus (compared to the HD800 I had in tow, but also to the Elear)
  • In summary, I think Focal tried to go for the HE-90 sound and in the process lost ultimate transparency. Not worth $4K to me. Even at $2K they would face stiff competition from HE1K and Ether Flow.
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11 hours ago, calaf said:

(snip)

Focal Elear (out of Cavalli Carbon and Crimson)

First problem delineated.   :D

Focal Utopia (same amps, plus Questyle dual mono stack)

second problem delineated.   :lol:

 

Edited by wink
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On July 28, 2016 at 11:18 AM, TMoney said:

Great review, @Tyll Hertsens!

http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/enter-next-generation-focal-elear-headphone#oLrVYB1qTyI1gpvE.97

It must be nice to have the full line-up form the wall of fame to use in comparative reviews!

 

The PR people cry when I tell them I have to keep them....and then they laugh and giggle.

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21 minutes ago, Tyll Hertsens said:

The PR people cry when I tell them I have to keep them....and then they laugh and giggle.

Huh, you'd think they would see the logic in it.

If their product is a real winner it will be brought back up in your reviews over and over again as it gets compared to the latest product under review.

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7 hours ago, TMoney said:

 

Huh, you'd think they would see the logic in it.

If their product is a real winner it will be brought back up in your reviews over and over again as it gets compared to the latest product under review.

Thats why they laugh. 

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22 minutes ago, purk said:

Tyll just declared the Utopia as "World Best Headphones".  Has anyone of us actually heard them beside Tyll?  Thoughts?

Might get shredded for saying this. I take anything Tyll says with a large grain of salt after he labeled the dreadful 430HA as a "reference amp". That unit is veiled, slow and lacking in dynamics. I get more transparent and impactful performance from my 300B tube amp. Reference SQ the 430HA is NOT. Warm and musical yes. Transparent or "reference grade" - no.

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Just now, swt61 said:

You're more likely to get shredded for that stupid name. Tyll is well respected here, but you're allowed to disagree.

I was going to use "Tony" but that was taken, so DonkeyBalls was sure to be free.

I was mildly drunk at the time. That shouldn't be a surprise.

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Mike Mercer disliked the Utopia (called them sterile sounding), judging by his tastes in audio equipment (Cavalli and +1k headphone cables), Utopia might be the best headphones ever.

Really, I didn't care about them but now I want to hear them.

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I'd love to try the Focal phones but given how much I hate their speakers I'm not optimistic.  Like so many other speaker manufacturers they just try way to hard to impress people and end up with a lackluster product.  Still I really want to try the headphones. 

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3 hours ago, spritzer said:

I'd love to try the Focal phones but given how much I hate their speakers I'm not optimistic.  Like so many other speaker manufacturers they just try way to hard to impress people and end up with a lackluster product.  Still I really want to try the headphones. 

I am in total agreement with you on this. Last year, while looking for a decent floor-standing 2 channel speaker system, I auditioned several speaker systems at various stores and to my surprise I didn't like a single Focal system, but with other manufacturers I at-least liked one out of all the systems I auditioned like KEF, Klipsch,B&O. Ended up buying the Polk Audio RTI A5. 

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