@MRphotography I have both the Elegia and the Elear and all I can tell you is that the Elear sounds a lot better than the former. Elear has huge potential but Focal launched it prematurely to meet demand for a more affordable alternative to the Utopia which had received raving reviews. Allow me a short comment about this: how many $4,000 phones get widely reviewed? And among the very few that have had that honour, how many didn’t get raving reviews? I have yet to see one lol. If Focal wanted to sell replacements and still make money they had little choice but to ship a work in progress so to speak, they couldn’t afford the time to tune it properly. Due to the unusually pliable construction of its drivers the Elear could have been tuned 20 different ways including a few that would give it flagship status but it would have been too long to wait.
My poor dear Elears lost their online sidekick Tru-Fi yesterday when Sonarworks pulled the plug and for those like yours truly who had bought a life license well, that’s just too bad. Suck it up. But I sorta suspected this would happen because since the advent of the Reference 4 For Headphones, Sonarworks had to support mutually exclusive headphone EQ’ing and it’s sound practice not to have 2 of your products compete with each other. Tru-Fi had become redundant and had to go so they pulled it and lowered the price on Reference 4 Headphone Edition to $99 or so (they say 79 Euros so I’m guesstimating since I have no idea what’s a Euro’s worth), which is the same as Tru-Fi was. It’s a good value but what p… me off a little though is that I had bought my “lifetime” license 6 weeks ago and no one there bothered to mention that “lifetime” meant 6 weeks. Had I known I would have bought the R4HE instead.
Anyway because I was mad at Sonarworks I decided not to purchase the Headphone Edition. Instead I got in touch with an acquaintance who works at a recording studio (it’s a TV studio but I figured they’d know a bit about audio). Indeed she did. She was interested in seeing my collection so I had her for dinner last Thursday and she brought some DSP software that she proceeded to install and configure on my desktops, which took about 4 hours so I took her out to eat instead. We made an appointment for Saturday and in the meanwhile I fiddled with the software and proceeded to fry my older desktop by overloading the CPU and RAM with amounts of data they were not designed to handle. Experienced a few BSODs then poof, computer bricked. No lights, an ominous-sounding beep pattern, won’t boot, black screen. The works.
Oh well, it was old and possibly suffered from senile dementia, but I used it to surf the net and that was fine. Now since my other much newer and much more powerful desktop (i7 9th generation 64G RAM, can’t miss) is dedicated to music, and it’s at the the heart of the system, I am forced to use my Smurf computer to surf. That’s how I call my good ol’ MacBook, small screen and I dislike those. But I’ll survive.Anyway I attempted to run some of that DSP software but dammit! There were passwords that she was supposed to write down for me but we both forgot. However there was one software-plugin combo that wasn’t locked, EqualizerAPO+Peace, that I knew a little (very little as it turned out) so I played with that and my Elears sounded just meh.
When Nancy came back on Saturday she said it was good I was somewhat familiar with that program because that’s the first one she wanted to teach me. Okie doke. Then she retrieved her email and there they were: Elear’s eq settings for all sorts of eq’s: graphic, parametric, bandpass, passive and some others I forget. Passive ones I knew well from my speaker building years, except those were tiny compared with 8-feet-tall studio passive EQ’s.
Anyway she had gotten the settings from InnerFidelity (they had reversed-engineered them) and Focal Canada (they give them away when you have a friend in the place and she did), these are new and improved settings, perhpas for the newer Elears, perhaps not. It’s not from the current ones, publishing date is two months ago! Then she proceeded to tell me that from the looks of it (the looks of what?) the EQ most suited to the Elear would be a parametric EQ with shelf filters (this is supposed to tame the frequencies so they don’t eat into each other, but there’s probably other reasons as well. She had the numbers on CSV files but the other software (the one with the password, turns out it’s a compiler) was bugged or improperly configured because it’ wouldn’t accept the files and compile them. But Nancy said don’t worry you can compile those files even in Excel or Windows Shell, and on those words she left.
WTF? Has it ever crossed her mind that I wouldn’t have the slightest clue what to do with the resulting files? In any case I fired up EqAPO and Peace, took the csv from Focal, copied the long text, pasted it into Notepad, then into an EQ config file I called Focal Elear ParaEQ.txt and placed that where it goes in the APO folder. I proceeded to load this but the horror that came out of my phones (loud!) well, I can’t honestly call that music, or even noise. “Havoc” is probably what describes it best. So I surfed a while before I found someone who knew how to proceed. You have to save the text under the UTF-8 format, not ANSI, and feed such files with no more than 30 lines, which means cutting off 470 lines or so from a program that has about 500? I decided I would keep 100 files and skip 2 in-between to cover the widest freq range. It had the Q, gain and preamp settings included in the program along with seemingly 250,000 other parameters I had no clue what they are for. This time it worked and I can’t believe how good my Elears sound. Now there’s not a chance in the world my Clears will ever be able to reproduce sound that good. It’s clear, clean, sound stage vastly improved with very accurate instrument placement. Never heard phones with such SQ before, tight, articulated bass, faint brush on cymbal, people clearing their throats. I am floored, all of this was inside my Elears just waiting to bloom prompted by a dude who’s p1ssed off with Sonarworks. Well now I have my own sonarworks godammit.If people knew how (relatively) easy it is to properly tune HP’s when you have access to the manufacturer’s data you wouldn’t even think of paying for a carpet that could be pulled from under your feet any day.
Now if only I could find a way to compile that CSV file and produce something useful in the config subforlder. By useful I mean not in text format.