Focal Clear Open-back Headphones - Official Thread

I have the original Clear Pros and remember reading that the sole difference between them and the original Clear was the pads (the former having been tweaked to deliver a slightly more ‘reference’ frequency response). I’ll see if I can find the source…

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I can’t find the original source, but did find this on headfi. It seems even Focal haven’t been consistent regarding the differences:

No explicit reference to pad differences though.

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Thanks for the help, everyone. What are the chances that, if the pads are different, the deltas between their sound are smaller than my ability to discern them?!

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@Resolve, maybe if you have the original Clear on hand you could try the MG pads on them?

I’m curious to see how that will affect the OG Clear.

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Did you ever post them?

Last month I ordered replacement pads for my Focal Clear from headphone.com because my old pads were looking a little beat/dirty.

The new pads I received are noticeably different in size, material, and density. The old pads are a good deal wider and the material is more pleasing. The new pads feel less premium to the touch.

The pads also sound a little different. It’s been really hard to make any noteworthy comparisons in terms of frequency response because it takes so long to replace the pads. There may be no difference in frequency response. But there does seem to be a difference in imaging/soundstage. The smaller new pads make the sound feel a little too close compared to my old pads that leave a little more room to breathe around the sound. This could 100% be psychological but I do believe I’m hearing a difference. Unfortunately, I have no way to measure and compare the pads objectively.

Here are some pictures of the new and old pads side by side.

Maybe the old pads have just expanded because they’ve absorbed oils from my hair over the last year or something? Let me know what you think!

I think the plan is to return the new pads and hope that I can find a pair that’s more like my current ones :grimacing: Hopefully @Resolve will measure them and compare them to the old pads when they get back to headphones.com!

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They look like the Clear MG pads (aside from color differences).

A shallower pad should smooth out the FR (minimally), but will also reduce soundstage.

My guess is that you are indeed hearing a difference.

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That is an appreciable difference in size; thank you for the great post.

I suppose the absorption of hair oils or moisture from the atmosphere, generally, might account for the difference. It might also be the microfibre material stretching or loosening up over time. But the size difference in the last two photos really is striking.

I wonder if a more likely explanation is simply that Focal switched to a new supplier for their pads?

If this is indeed a change in pad - and you mention the material feels less dense and of lower quality - then it’s depressing news if it also means a reduced soundstage for what’s already an “intimate” staging with the Clear.

And how great would it be [sarcasm cranked up to the max] if there is indeed only an inferior replacement pad now and that it still costs the price of an HD 6XX (more or less)…

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The new Focal Clear Mg has been announced. Bascially the true successor to the Grey OG Clear over the Clear Mg Pro.

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I did read that the Pro and regular Clears only differ in accessories, not in sound.

Pretty sure, that’s the case.

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Beware, very controversial opinion :boom: :bangbang:

— Focal did it again! — :raised_hands:

Since 2016, with the Elear & Utopia models, Focal has been bringing headphones onto the market with a certain degree of regularity that are “optically” at least miles ahead of all other competitors. This has also been the case in the past few months with the latest design series.

French and design, a symbiosis that has undoubtedly always been a perfect match. :+1: :heart_eyes:

BUT, now comes an argument that I noticed when I was at school and that I’ve personally questioned again and again ever since. Experience has shown that the most visually attractive person has always been the “magnet” to which many others have attached themselves without really questioning their human as well as intellectual abilities.

It was assumed that “looks good, has to be follow it to be good ”and if enough participate, it has to be right.

In my opinion, this argument also applies to Focal headphones.

— I; Music lover with hat size XXL or 65 in Europe who likes to relax and enjoy the “acoustic art” in his wing chair with a glass of wine and closed eyes and not sit analytically at the PC and every “source of error” in the recording to penetrate. —

So I; have a problem with Focal headphones, i.e. all models in the series. Of course, the following criticism is related to the called price! :euro: :thinking:

So what is objectively being offered?

It starts with unpacking, what is offered there so “shiny and noble” is, in my opinion, a total “blender”, because actually I have to buy an after market cable for every headphone, because even if I use these cables regularly even after 2 years of intensive use, they are still as bulky as an Andalusian mule.

Then I put these headphones on my “skull” and realize that even when the headband is fully expanded, it presses me hard in the middle of my head, :fearful: it pulls the earlobes inside the auricles upwards and the auricle is whole rather designed for smaller ears.

Now I can widen the headphones, for example by putting them over a couple of books, but then I’m missing a few centimeters in the depth to the ears.

Difficult! :smirk:

— Then the sound so highly praised by many — :question: :interrobang:

When you listen to music, as it is my habit, you inevitably ask yourself very quickly, why do I feel every time I close my eyes as if the musical performance is being performed in an modern industrial plant.

I really don’t know any other headphones whose sound is presented so “mechanically”. And by that I really mean all Focal models, with slight cuts in the Stellia, which comes across as reasonably “musically”.

Now one could argue that the synergy to the sound chain could play a role, everything from Chord Dave, to the Cayin HA-6, Feliks Audio Euforia MK2, Focal Arche to the AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt, the sound image was steadily “mechanical” every time there was a lack of “naturalness” that every voice and every musical instrument has :man_shrugging:

These headphones undoubtedly have their “technical” qualities and, if you like, also “dreamlike” frequency curves :blush:.

Although I also find the highly praised detail representation in many songs with Clear, at best, average.

If someone wants to know, I can immediately tell them at least 2 dozen songs in which even a Koss KPH30i provides more details in the higher and middle pitches than the Clear.
PS: I’m not claiming that these are technically better than the Clear, god forbid!

In addition, few headphones tend to audio clipping as quickly as these focal drivers, you have to be very careful not to overdrive them in terms of input power and volume :exploding_head:.

So if a pair of headphones was overrated for around € 1500, then it was the Focal Clear.

I got mine for € 899 at an anniversary promotion, which seemed like a reasonable offer to me.

However, it is still one of the least used headphones in my portfolio, because it is not really a musical “enjoyment”, at least for me.

— I very much hope that all of these problems will improve significantly with the latest model series, especially with regard to the prices shown.
And this time Focal does not focus mainly on the visual appearance of these headphones. —

So, now “fire open”, beat me for my opinion, but I stand by it.

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From my brief ownership experience with an Elex i agree with your points about comfort. My ears felt pinched and I had a hot spot on top of my head. It wasn’t the most uncomfortable thing I’ve worn, but it definitely took something away from the experience.

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11 posts were merged into an existing topic: The Off Topic

Soooooooo. Anyone compare the cables of the Clear MG to the ones on the original Clear?

Also, which design /look do you prefer?

Clear vs. Clear MG design preference
  • I prefer the design of the original Clear.
  • I prefer the design of the new Clear MG

0 voters

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I will be getting something (almost) unknown next week, 4 headphones from Spirit Torino to test. It’s their whole lineup. They are an Italian company, so they are close to Switzerland where I live.

Those headphones are truly special in looks and tonality. They are surely not everyone’s cup of tee, but I am thrilled to be testing them.

I bought the Focal Clear a couple of weeks ago after a long time struggling with the purchase.
I am glad I did, because, together with my Burson amps, they are my reference point until now.

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I’ve been looking into the issue of changes to the pads over time, further to posts by @reallyoldcob and @ValentineLuke, among others.

As someone with short arms and deep pockets, as the expression goes, I was looking into pad options other than the stock ones, and have been reading up about the Elex pads. Interestingly, Drop had a tough time selling replacement pads to its customers, as one of its representatives stated last summer:

Our internal testing has confirmed that the latest batch of pads varies in weight from the “stock” pads by as much as 15%. Although we have reported these concerns to Focal, they have not offered us a substantive resolution at this time, and we’re continuing to try to work with them on a solution.

I wonder if issues of consistency have affected the pads for the Clear. If so, then the $200 price becomes even more unpalatable.

At least Clear owners have had opportunities to buy replacement pads; I feel sorry for those who purchased an Elex and hoped to enjoy it for many years; it doesn’t seem as though replacement pads are readily available.

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Is there any sense, or are there any signs, that the original Clear is being discontinued? I ask because the Elegia and Elear were sold at lower prices as they were being phased out - or sold on deep discount via Adorama - and I’ve not seen this happen yet with the original Clear.

If their sound signatures are different enough, it would be nice if the two continued to be sold alongside one another.

I’ve been thinking about this too. I think it’s unlikely that Focal would continue to produce 4 headphones at the same price point. Seems like a bad idea as far as manufacturing. So I’m hoping to get an og Clear at a reduced price at some point. Also, from what was said, it seems the redesigning of the Clear, at least in part, was to a have a cohesive design throughout their lineup.( honeycomb pattern) So does that mean a redesign of the Utopia as well??..wouldn’t surprise me.

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Actually, that would be awesome to get a Utopia at a nice discount. :crossed_fingers::crossed_fingers:

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Yes, you’re right, it doesn’t make sense to have so many headphones in production simultaneously. I wonder how many of the original Clear are still to be sold. I suppose fewer have been provided to dealers in recent months so they don’t have too much old stock to sell off.

I did a bit of sleuthing and found this on Moon Audio’s website:

If you’ve been following Focal, you know the French headphone and speaker manufacturer has been busy lately. They’ve introduced the Radiance and Celestee headphones while discontinuing the Clear and Clear Pro.

Here’s hoping the Utopia gets discounted if there’s a replacement forthcoming…

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