Focal Clear amp suggestion

Can you guys recommend some amps for Focal Clear? I had the Thx AAA 789 and I’m not blown away by the synergy. Lot of people told me they scale very well with higher end gear. My budget is around under sub 2000 dollar used or new. Can also be a combo unit. (Dac/Amp)

Currently have an Aune S6 Pro as dac.

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Lyr 3 and Bifrost 2 get my vote. I’m sure many others will have better suggestions.

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I heard the Clear on a Gilmore Lite MK 2 (Gungnir MB was the dac) and thought it sounded excellent. Very smooth up top with good heft and weight down low. I love the Gilmore with neutral headphones for that reason. I also ran the Clear through my Bottlehead Crack w/Speedball, and call me crazy, but I thought it sounded pretty decent. Definitely rolled off up top and bloomy down low compared to my solid state amps, but I liked it. For reference though, I love dark headphones like the HD650 and ZMF Atticus, so huge grain of salt here. A used Focal Arche might be worth a look if you can find one within your budget.

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To my ears the Clear is so clear that it picks up or magnifies the character and flaws of the source and amp, whatever those may be. I (and others) don’t like the Clear on the THX AAA 789 either. In my experience it sounds fine with slightly less resolving amps.

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I have used Focal Clears on over 20 amps and several dacs. Most of them are really good and you can have a great experience with them.

My favorites are Schitt Jotenheim, ECP Audio’s T4, Hagerman EL 84 TUBA and the Schiit Lyr3.

The only dac I use now after many dacs is the Schitt Bifrost 2…an excellent dac.

Alex

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Yeah I’ve just sold my thx cos I didnt like the synergy there. I A-B-ed with the built in amp in my Aune s6 Pro and it was better lol, more musical and lifelike compare it to the lifeless little bit chopped of top amd bottom freqs of the thx. But the Aune cant drive hard to drive headphones and has a little bit high output impedance so im looking for a dedicated Headphone amp. (and maybe a Dac later)

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Another headphone amp I recently found out about - and have since added to my system - is the spl Phonitor X, which falls $400.00 U.S.D. above your stated price limit of $2,000.00.

What makes this headphone amp stand out for me is its analog matrix system which recreates the effect of listening to loudspeakers on your 'phones. It does this by feeding a discrete low-level, listener-adjustable, signal from the right channel to the left ear, and vice-versa, from the left channel to the right ear, to overcome the total LEFT-RIGHT separation of stereo channels that headphones otherwise impose upon our ears. When you’re listening to a pair of speakers, some of the sound from each speaker reaches the opposite ear, filling in the void headphones create. The matrix overcomes this void.

spl’s rationale for including the cross-channel matrix is based on the fact that, according to spl (Sound Performance Lab), most recordings are mastered for loudspeaker, not headphone, listening. The cross-channel matrix feature can be switched completely out of the headphones circuit, allowing you to fully compare the two ways of listening. Some recordings sound better with it off; others, far better with it turned on; I am finding that extended listening to recordings with the matrix activated is far less fatiguing to my ears.

I have had this unit for only one week, and I’m already totally taken in by how much more natural-sounding recordings are over my headphones (I have Focal’s Utopia and Sennheiser’s Model HD820 headphones). It sounds very good to my ears already - clear and transparent - and will likely improve even more after an extended break-in period.

Yet another feature the spl matrix offers is the ability to adjust the perceived angle and distancing-apart of loudspeakers when you audition a recording. The Phonitor X comes with standard and 4-pin balanced headphone jacks, and has plenty of reserve power to drive nearly any headphone.

Here is a link to one review of this unit: https://www.headphones.com/blogs/news/spl-phonitor-x-review

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Amps and Sound Kenzie//Kenzie Encore.

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Kevin Deal at Upscale Audio says Focal uses Feliks Audio amps to demonstrate their headphones.

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I bought a Phonitor e for 950 in “mint condition” off of eBay. If you’re not partial to VU meters that an excellent choice. It pairs wonderfully with the Clears

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At CanJam LA 2019 the Focal headphones were paired with SPL amps/DACs. It was a good combo auditioning.

Kevin Deal was referring to the Focal factory.

We we’re in France last summer with Focal. The setups they had at that time were with the Arche, Phonitor X And Naim DAC V1. I am sure they rotate gear.

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I can’t imagine Focal not demoing their headphones with the Arche… it is a beautiful sound pairing and simplicity on design / utility. :smiley:

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I am on the same boat. My setup is a Topping D70 + THX 789 and with the Focal Clears Pro I feel like something is missing in the sound. I recently discovered the Geshelli Erish. Do you think the Geshelli Erish will pair well with the Focal Clear?

Listening right now with a Schiit Lyr 3, Bifrost 2, Using USB from pc with JRiver Music Player 24…

Rolling stones, Hot Rocks, Paint It Black…with Focal Clears.

10/10

OMG good…I have 20 amps in the last year, this is an ideal pairing with a reasonable price tag.

Other amps are good as well. but there is magic here…

Alex

NOTE: Schiit has a few on B stock this am at their site.

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Missing compared to what? If you’re comparing Clears driven by a different amp you could just be missing the specific character of that amp. The Clears are the most revealing and amp dependent cans I’ve ever heard so you could just be missing the difference between the amps.

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I don’t like that pairing myself, and others on this forum don’t like the 789 with Clear either. Both products are extremely revealing, and in my experience quite nervous and unsettled when paired. Every single little blemish sets each one off, and thereby exaggerates any source flaws.

Try either a warmer solid state amp or a tube hybrid amp.

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^^^^ This

Too much of the same can be bad.

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I agree with @lost33, @generic, and @ProfFalkin and would add that tube hybrid amps are often recommended for the Focal Clear. You don’t mention your budget but if you’re in a place where you can purchase from Drop, the Cavalli Tube Hybrid is excellent, especially for $175. It punches well above its price. This is the amp I use with my Clear. I’m satisfied with it for the time being, and while my next purchase will be an upgrade to a superior IEM, I can see a Lyr 3 in my future. I’ve read that the Liquid Platinum is also a good option.

I spent a good amount of time reading through threads on this and other forums about amp pairings for Clear. Here are some of the other ones I’ve seen people praise (note a few of them, e.g. by ECP or Eddie Current, can only be purchased used these days):

Pricier amps: Focal Arche; ECP DSHA3F, T3 (inc. 300R setting), T4; ampsandsound Mogwai Special Edition; Schiit Ragnarok 1; Eddie Current Aficionado, S7, ZDS, ZDT, BW1 & 2, and Zana Deux (this last is a bit bassy for some).

More affordable amps: Project Horizon III; Cavalli Liquid Platinum (inc. w/ Telefunken PCC88 tubes); Woo Audio WA6-SE; Schiit Asgard 3.

Don’t forget that a DAC upgrade can also be significant; the usual advice is to prioritize upgrading the amp first, as that makes more of an immediate difference, and then the DAC.

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