Jump to content

Focal Utopia headphones...with Beryllium driver


mtoc
 Share

Recommended Posts

^ Tyll and others came to the same conclusion. My hope is that the Utopia MG or whatever the next rev. will be fixes those issues while maintaining the same detail and refinement. Although, it rarely happens that way, but we will see. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have the original Clear and only listened to the Utopia in a store a few years ago so take my impressions with a grant of salt. 

I like them both and each have their strength and weakness; Utopia is more resolving with greater micro dynamic, a bit hot with the treble and light on the bass, Clear is not as resolving and slower but more balanced tonally. 

Ultimately I would probably go for the Utopia if they both sell for the same price. The fact the Clear sells for less than half of the Utopia makes it an easy decision for me. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I finally sold my Utopia. I just wasn't using it enough. Yes it was very impressive, but it was far too fatiguing, and a $4k headphone that you could only use 30 minutes at a time wasn't worth keeping. Sadly, I think the Clear falls under the same category too, I can listen to it for longer than the Utopia (1-2 hours) but still it's not an all-day headphone. I don't know what it is about Focals, but they seem to irritate my ears in ways that other headphones don't.

Regarding the DSHA-3F, it is a very transparent and resolving amp, and if you want to max out the Utopia's resolution, go with that. But it doesn't really change what the Utopia is. And you find the Utopia borderline, the Clear with the DSHA-3F is nearly as resolving (the highs are worse, but the mids and bass are similar) and definitely less abrasive.

You could also try a bit of EQ, the Utopia does have a narrow 6khz peak and exaggerates treble past 13-14khz by about 6db or so. But to me that only mellowed it out a little bit.

So, I think I'm leaving team Focal, since my ears refuse to cooperate.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 minutes ago, catscratch said:

I don't know what it is about Focals, but they seem to irritate my ears in ways that other headphones don't.

I've never heard any of the line, but I've been reading a lot about Focals, trying to talk myself into buying a set (or maybe talk myself out of them?). But I have seen this opinion very frequently.

I get the impression that they are on the spectrum with Grados, in that they have a very light and very fast driver that can hit *hard*. Gives that energetic and forward presentation that can be really exciting. But if that energy sits a peak where you are sensitive to treble, it can be rather fatiguing.

But never having heard them, I might be completely off base.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It could be. Focal drivers use lightweight metal diaphragms with a very thin and flexible surround, and they have a very high degree of excursion so they're able to displace a lot of air despite being quite small. They do operate near the limits of excursion though and have less maximum SPL capability. But I'm non engineer and have no clue how that relates to listening fatigue.

In terms of tuning, they're rather Sennheiser HD6X0 like, though they trade off less linear highs for better extension in the bass. This tuning and overall character is why I like them in the first place.

Edited by catscratch
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

^ I concur. There is a glare to the upper midrange on the Clears. That along with the immediacy can get fatiguing. I go from these are perfect to "could you just chill out for a minute" depending on the recording. 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For the Clear, drop 1.2khz by 2db and 11khz by 5db with Q-factor 2. That goes a LONG way towards mellowing them out. Also you can drop the 6khz peak, but it is nowhere near as problematic as it is on the Utopia and I generally don't bother.

Of course, YMMV and when it comes to treble peaks, everyone will hear them in different locations and with various degrees of severity. I hear peaks at 6khz, 8.5khz, and 11khz, but it's the last one that's the major issue.

Clear reacts better to EQ than Utopia does IMO.

  • Thanks 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The other bad thing about Focals (which I brought up years ago on this thread, but worth repeating for anyone considering it): the headband creates a hotspot. It's not flat along the skull line (unlike, say, the HD800 headband, or Stax-style suspension straps), but kind of cylindrical. For me at, least, the discomfort is immediate.

One brand that I haven't seen discussed much here on HC is ZMF. Due to circumstances over the years, it's one of the few high-end headphone lines I have never had the opportunity to try out. If anyone has, opinions? (I already know if my 007 dies, I'll repair it or just get another one, but if my Audio Zenith PMx2 dies, there's no way to replace it with Oppo out of the business. So it'd be good to know what can live up to it. Focal is absolutely not a contender for me.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I feel that they are like modern interpretations of those Audio Technica woodies with their quirky sound signatures, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your taste. I would definitely try to audition them if you can because they are not for everyone. 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, K3cT said:

I feel that they are like modern interpretations of those Audio Technica woodies with their quirky sound signatures, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your taste. I would definitely try to audition them if you can because they are not for everyone. 

I always got the feeling that 'pinning down' ZMF would be a fruitless endeavour. With all the different wood and pad options, I can't imagine how any two pairs sound the same. Definitely going to be some quirks in there.

I can understand how ZMF is attractive for a hobbyist who wants a statement product; something very unique and personal to 'finish' their headphone collection. But for someone like me just in the market for a set of phones? I found it all too confusing and weird, and just gave up trying to understand all the permutations.

Edited by Beefy
Brain fart
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I finally bit the bullet and placed an order for the Clear. I thank you all dearly for your enablement.

There is a definite risk that they will be too forward and trebly for me, but even in a world where we are absolutely spoiled for choice in mid-high end headphones, I can still see dealbreaking flaws in many of the direct competitors. LCD-X is just too damn heavy. HD800s too analytical and thin for my tastes. Arya too expensive for comparable quality. Auteur expensive, and while they may be amazing, the 'unknown' factor was a bit much.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congrats. What are you pairing with them (sorry if I missed)? Although they pretty quickly became my top phones, I've been critical of the Clears aggressive presentation, but after experiencing them with a little EQing I'm debating about picking up a dedicated amp to them. Just what I need, more gear. Then that's it. Forever and ever and ever. 

 

shining-twins-now-1590166272018.jpg

Edited by blessingx
  • Like 1
  • Haha 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, blessingx said:

Congrats. What are you pairing with them (sorry if I missed)?

Nope, nothing missed, I didn't say! I will be pairing them with my AMB γ2 DAC and M3 amp. Although I am currently building a new R-2R DAC with Soekris DIY modules to replace the γ2.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congrats indeed. They have worked out great for me. There isn't a painful aspect to the treble which is what I was worried about, just a kind of sheen on bad recordings. I think the only sure thing to step up to would be the 1266 TC from what I'm reading. I've looked at impressions from those that bought most of the top tier headphones, and as you mentioned, they seem to all have flaws that require you to own several of them and then EQ anyway. 

An exception seems to be the 1266 TC with an upgraded cable and an uber expensive matching amp. So, for me, the Clears seems to hit right down the middle on everything. I prefer to not EQ them. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 6/30/2021 at 3:04 PM, Beefy said:

Well, I finally bit the bullet and placed an order for the Clear.....

Clears arrived today. Now, for someone who hasn't listened to anything better than the HD650 and SR-Lambda for almost 10 years, let me just say.....Jesus fuck these things are good. And this is just from my phone! I've only got my Crack at home which is a terrible match, can't wait to get these to work to pop them on a proper/suitable amp.

But for now, I can hear visceral and crisp bass that extends down seemingly for ever, incredible detail in just about every part of the frequency response, and it's all so alive in a way that the HD650 just can't match. The overall tone is spot on to my tastes. I can completely understand where they will come across as 'too much', where there might be sheen, and I completely agree with @gepardcv that the headband comfort could use some work.

All things considered, color me very impressed. I've definitely missed a lot in my time away.

Edited by Beefy
  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, Torpedo said:

Are those silver discontinued Clear or the current Clear MG? This new vs old thing is making matters a lot more difficult just before fitting into the equation the MG pro's :frantic:

Silver discontinued. Picked them up from headphones.com at the discounted US$990, and with very reasonable duties/fees/taxes for shipping to Canada. It ended up being only about CA$100 more than getting a second hand pair locally!

Oh, and the Pro's are identical to the regular, except for the color scheme and included cables.

Edited by Beefy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I ordered the Clear Mg, waiting for it from my semi-local dealer.......looking forward to checking it out versus the original (and on the best amp I know for them, the ecp DSHA-3F)

Edited by skullguise
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also have both HD650 and the original Clear. 

In a nut shell, I think of the Clear as the “HD650 on steroid”. 

I hope I get to listen to the Clear MG soon and see if it’s worth “upgrading” to. 

I would love to hear how the comparison goes from skullguise.


 

Edited by mwl168
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

33 minutes ago, mwl168 said:

Oops! Just realized we were discussing Clear in the Utopia thread. Maybe we should move it to the dedicated Clear thread?

That's my fault, I ran with the snippets of recent Clear discussion in this thread. Mods don't seem to mind! :D

Edited by Beefy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...