My MGs arrived yesterday and they’ve been glued to my ears since. Thanks again to everyone on this thread who helped me with my decision!
I’m not at all knowledgeable, but I do want to try sharing my impressions a bit in case it may help others like me when I first started doing research on the new Clears:
First, the detail and instrument separation are amazing…even with busy orchestral pieces or EDM tracks.
The punch and slam are well-implemented: present but not overbearing.
The highs are great for me, too. Nothing too fatiguing. Quite smooth.
I think where I enjoy it the most is in the mids. Vocals just shine and the soundstage makes me feel like I’m on stage with the singer.
Like I mentioned earlier, I’m pretty new to this whole thing, but I hope I was able to share my impressions well enough.
Beyond technicalities (which I’m still trying to learn), my goal has always been finding headphones that “pull me into the music” and make the songs “come alive”. These do a great job of that across all sorts of genres. I was surprised at how often I closed my eyes and became immersed in the songs, even if I’ve heard them many times before. Totally subjective, I know; but that’s just my personal objective when I listen to gear. So, yeah, I like the Clear MGs a lot! They’re a very enjoyable listen and I’m very happy!
It was the Clear Pro OG. You know, I may not have adequately reduced overall gain, so maybe it was clipping? The meters were not showing any clipping and I think there was headroom but I may not have been super meticulous about it. Like I said, it just felt to me that boosting a low shelf didn’t quite have the same slam/impact feel of a headphone that naturally had that sort of response. Even without the clipping.
I have to say, I had no idea the Arche was discontinued. Is it due to AKM chip shortages from the factory fire in Japan earlier this year? Or is it just not selling well?
I was half-convincing myself to get it just for the “this was built for these headphones” factor. I am considering Utopias to complement my Stellias (or Clear MG’s, haven’t decided, but something open is necessary because I really don’t enjoy close backed for longer than absolutely necessary). All this talk of high output impedance fixing the bass got me really interested… but if I understand you correctly, the “Clear” setting on the Arche has only a subtle bass boost, if anything, maybe not even perceptible?
I did read the whathifi review and re-read it just now but couldn’t find where you get that the low frequencies measured just a hair higher with the high output impedance mode? I couldn’t find that in the text or in any of the graphs.
But it sounds like even if it did do so, it wouldn’t be by enough to address the chief shortcoming to the Utopia. (I’m not even happy with the Clear OG’s bass, and the Utopia is supposedly worse)
It’s a shame, though. Maybe I should just get the Clear MG and be done with it… and use the Stellias when the bass is really important and I’m mixing some low end, but the Clear MG’s otherwise. Tough decisions…
I guess I’ll stick with the THX 789. I also bought a THX Onyx for mobile/not-in-the-studio-use, so I feel like I can accustom myself to “the THX amp sound” and train my ears on it, and not have to constantly switch between different sounding environments. Of course the THX Onyx has an ESS 9281Pro and my MOTU 624 has an ESS 9016, but at least it’s the same company and the amps are similar architecture.
See the Arche discussions on this site. There were numerous firmware issues. Numerous. I think Focal got sick of the development and support costs.
THX’s hard, defined edges are great for production, comparisons, and analysis. They are not great for (me) avoiding fatigue or enjoying a relaxed listening session. They are not great if they cause tinnitus. If you enjoy its delivery, that’s wonderful.
Subtle but apparent is how I’d describe it if I’m comparing by switching the Arche between Voltage and Clear modes while music is playing. If I’m just listening to another amp, say, an hour later I would not miss it. Of course it will depend on whether the music you are listening to goes that low in the first place.
See the Focal Arche topic on this forum. Torq does a comprehensive review and while he didn’t know the Arche was changing the output impedance, he did notice the differences in sound among the various modes.
Well yes, technically two issues with the USB connectivity is numerous. And it didn’t help any that fixing one of them caused another. No idea why Focal and whoever wrote their firmware could not get that straightened out. Maybe you’re right about the support headache but apparently Focal is working on a replacement for the Arche. Arche Mg perhaps?
It is, however OK to throw a diamond stylus at others. I prefer Shibata.
All seriousness aside, @TylersEclectic, aka “The Purple Commander” is right about tone. I’ve been living on the net for many years, and this place is special. I’d hate to think of it being invaded by trolls like the alt.sex.sgml newsgroup was.
In that price range, and a step up from the DFC (I have both) might be the iFi xDSD. There is a thread on this beast, and I did a review of it here:
It’s not the top of the line, but it is compact, and works well. More importantly, it has a real line-out, so if you slowly upgrade, it can be a proper DAC to a desktop amp. I used it for a good while with the Lyr 3.
Ah, I see. Well that curve looks fantastic, actually. (Voltage vs Utopia settings). The difference between Voltage and Hybrid is arguably perceptible, but I think the boost between black and blue curves is substantial enough that I would want it.
Now the question is, before I read 400 pages of the Arche topic (which I will anyway), can either of you let me know why I should not bother trying to get my hands on one? Saying I could somehow obtain one. Are you having firmware issues with it?
I guess the next thing I should try is using my EQ to do a bass boost with better caution in overall gain. Unfortunately, someone just came to pick up my used Clear OG Pro’s, and my Stellias have been sent back to Focal to fix a creaky/snappy hinge, so I am without cans at the moment.
I am definitely going to want to get a pair of opens but I guess it’s down to the Clear MG (love the look! even better than the MG Pro which is super badass) or the Utopia.
I bet the curve for the Clear is even better than the Utopia in the low freqs. Has the output impedance changed between the OG and MG? I’m wondering if I should take a chance on an MG and see if I like it – there are places that accept returns, although during the pandemic who knows.
I have an Arche and I have settled on the voltage setting with my Clear Pros after a lot of comparing.
That’s because I use EQ and it’s one of two amps I rotate through, the other being the Topping A90, so I want both my amps to have a similar (low) output impedance so it doesn’t futz with the FR response of my EQ settings.
From what I’ve read elsewhere, the Voltage setting is 2.5 ohms, the Clear setting is 10 ohms and the Utopia setting is around 17 ohms.
Yes, I am having firmware issues with it. The TL;DR of the Arche firmware saga is that you should stick with the original firmware and even downgrade to it if you buy used. This version has two issues with USB connectivity: it cannot talk to Linux/Android over USB and occasionally it will not connect over USB if the host goes to sleep. I connect it to a Macbook and have had this happen a few times since buying it in November. The solution was always to unplug the USB and plug it back in again. Some have more trouble with it than others. It may not happen at all if you leave the Arche on, but as a pure Class A amplifier it gets pretty hot.
Hmm. I would use it with the TOSLINK SPDIF input in the back, since my MOTU 624 uses Thunderbolt and has optimized low latency drivers. I can basically output a digital stream over SPDIF into the Arche instead of connecting USB directly. Tbh it would be my preference for latency reasons and because then all my apps can have the same audio interface set (I use the MOTU 624 connected to a MOTU 8D over AVB ethernet to output AES-EBU to my studio monitors).
I have heard that SPDIF over toslink may have a sample rate limit, though, but I guess that only matters for high res audio which I barely ever have access to except through Tidal MQA.
Hadn’t heard about it getting hot, but makes sense. My Naim Uniti Nova is Class A and it does get damn hot.
Thanks for these tips, I may look around to see if I can find one.
“Like Focal’s other high-end headphones, the Clear Mg comes with two cables: a 3-meter (10-foot) cable with 4-pin XLR connector intended for home use with an amplifier such as the Focal Arche (discontinued, new model coming soon)”
Rumor is that it will include network streaming, which makes a lot of sense. I would take even the TechHive mention of the replacement as pretty unsubstantiated. No telling if it will ever see the light of day even if Focal is working on it. And even if it does see the light of day, will it still include Focal headphone specific settings?
Did you attempt any EQ to see if the problem is resolved?
That’s kind of the reason I was skeptical on purchasing these even at the price I was offered for the unit open box.
I really enjoyed the original clears, was hoping this would sound a bit better but not sure if that’s the case. I see you are comparing it to the Elex and others.
I find it odd that you see the top end as veiled, yet some people were saying if you[me] are treble sensitive to avoid it. Your graphs seem to show that it’s not bad on treble, yet I am no expert on graphs.
Definitely. The Elex pads are just a no brainer in my opinion. At $60 on Drop, it’s a bargain.
The Clear Mg is probably the least sounding Focal to date, at least in terms of house sound. The Elex pads bring the sound a bit closer to Clear OG, but remains smoother in the treble in my opinion. So, you’re getting much better bass slam, at the cost of… not much really.
Great headphone - build quality, and subjective appearance is beautiful IMO. Great package… but tonality was a bit off for me. Easily fixed… These headphones are capable of such detail retrieval - if you adjust the tonality.
Preamp: -6.8 dB
Filter 1: Peak Fc 17 Hz Gain 4.9 dB Q 0.59
Filter 2: Peak Fc 53 Hz Gain 1.2 dB Q 0.59
Filter 3: Peak Fc Fc 200 Hz Gain -3.1 dB Q 0.76
Filter 4: Peak Fc Fc 1245 Hz Gain -3.7 dB Q 1.05
Filter 5: Peak Fc Fc 4400 Hz Gain 5.9 dB Q 2.40
Filter 6: Peak Fc Fc 8757 Hz Gain 6.1 dB Q 1.31