Focal Elear with Case plus choice of Utopia or Clear Pads for $699

Hey all, this hasn’t been officially announced yet, but I wanted to share it with the community first.

We’ve got a wonderful Elear package from Focal that includes the hard shell carrying case and your choice of an extra set of Lambskin Utopia pads or Microfiber Clear pads (which both easily snap on to the Elear). The whole package is $699.

We’re announcing it to the rest of the world on Monday but we thought The HEADPHONE Community should be the first to know. The product page is now up, here is the link!

And some photos of what they look like with the different pads.

Focal Elear with Utopia pads

Focal Elear with Clear pads

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That’s a pretty impressive deal … the case is $149 on it’s own (and really nice) and the extra pads are $198 (Clear) or $248 (Utopia) … with two different signatures to play with …

That winds up quite a bit better deal than the Elex, even.

For fun, here’s how the Elear’s FR looks with it’s stock pads, the Clear pads, and the Utopia pads (with the Elex included for good measure):

What cables are going to be in that package? The stock Elear ones, or one of those for the Clear/Elex?


Note on the measurements … done with a miniDSP EARS, calibrated at 84 dB, matched at 1kHz, 1/12th octave smoothing, microphone calibration only (no headphone compensation curve). So these are only directly comparable to themselves and not to the measurements from other people/rigs.

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Thanks for posting measurements @Torq!

This ships with the LONG stock Elear cable

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No problem!

And this might be a perfect opportunity to start on the cable-building/modifying articles I keep meaning to get to …

For those that want a balanced cable on the Elear and/or to shorten it, the stock cable is very easy to work with and was specifically designed by Focal for easy re-termination.

Maybe I’ll have someone (that can live without their cable for a week) send me their stock cable to re-terminate with a 4-pin XLR (since I’ll need to document the process photographically - can’t do it with my own cable as that’d require time travel) and convert the remaining 1/4" TRS as an extension/single-ended adapter (i.e. stick a female 4-pin XLR on it). Could even make it a 3-piece assembly to facilitate different lengths.

Then perhaps I’ll do a ground-up build for something like this:

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I have an older Cardas “smurf” cable I’d like reterminated to balanced 4pin and was hoping to be able to lop off 6" (from a 9’ cable) to make a short SE–> 4pin BAL adapter/cable but it’s needed for Sennheiser HD58X/600 cans :frowning:
Cardas wire isn’t the easiest to work with, so I will need to have someone do it unless /until your instruction video gets posted! (I’ll probably need someone to do it regardless of your instructions, due to a severe case of procrastinitis)!

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Do you just need the pin layout for 4-pin XLR? Outside of that, it’s a matter of chopping it to size, stripping back the rubber/silicone to expose a small lead of copper wire and soldering it to the XLR connector. It’s not hard but can be frustrating working in a confined space.

For reference, a 4-Pin XLR cable connection for balanced is:

1 - left channel +
2 - left channel -
3 - right channel +
4 - right channel -

I should probably finish one of my cables I have 50% done and take some photos. :slight_smile:

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Just a note … my tutorial will not be a video.

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Thanks for the replies guys.

My comment re Cardas being somewhat more difficult to work with referred to the coating they use on their individual bare copper wire during the manufacturing process.
Apparently it needs to be burned off off before soldering.
I’m not sure as to the purpose of the coating but apparently it’s something that prevents corrosion or provides some other purported benefit.

I’ve mentioned elsewhere on the forum that I’m quite familiar with soldering, flux, temperature regulation etc. but it was with stained glass.
Electronic/cable soldering work is going to require a new iron and some other items to work with. I’ve been vacillating for awhile as I don’t have a need for many items going forward. The cost of getting set up would likely be more than paying someone to adapt the Cardas cable for me (once I found someone).

It really is a matter of finding someone, as I live in Canada and there are very few options here (unless you know someone personally of course).

When you mentioned “borrowing” a cable to use for your intended demo, Torq (and described making a BAL-> SE adapter from extra cable length) I didn’t know if it was essential that it be a specific headphone cable.

I’m in no hurry, would be happy to have you use mine if suitable and I could pay shipping both ways if it would in any way be appropriate, helpful (or possible).

The coating on the Cardas wire might be something some shy away from dealing with. But in a demo, it could be a good reference for others to work/experiment with. I just need to find someone trustworthy to pay to do the work, as Cardas charges a fortune to alter their cables (I checked ;).

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Their litz-stranded cable uses individually enamel-insulated strands. That enamel needs to be removed so you can tin and solder the wire. The easiest way to do that is to dip the strands into a solder-pot for a few seconds, which will burn off the enamel.

A suitable solder pot can be had for $25 or so.

I was specifically referring to doing it to someone’s Focal Elear cable as part of this deal, and making that first tutorial a special-purpose one (simpler, shorter, quicker and very specific).

Essentially they’d get the balanced cable they wanted and I wouldn’t have to spend $200 to buy another Elear cable to illustrate the work on - as I’ve already re-terminated my own.

I appreciate the offer, but this is really just about the Focal Elear cable.

It’s easy … as long as you have a solder pot. Cardas have a video on their site demonstrating how to deal with it.

Though once I’ve done a couple of articles on the basics, I could see doing one on different cable types (included litz-stranded/insulated stuff like the Cardas and Norne wire).


As a rule, I don’t work on cables built/modified by anyone else. There are far too many variables that its not worth being “the last person to touch it”.

I either do full-custom builds or one of my own line of high-end designs.

Very occasionally I will re-terminate a stock cable - but generally only for myself, and even then not something I’ve done since developing my own modular cable setup.

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Thanks for the detailed reply Ian.

As I said…I’m in no hurry and will find a way when I get around to it.
I was honestly unclear about the offer/cable/demo connection so probably should have read the thread more carefully.

I like the Cardas with the 580/600 so might break down and send it in to Cardas. I will probably wait until our dollar is worth more than a US dime but that could be awhile! :wink:

Thanks again

Tony

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No worries at all!

While not super expensive, it’s probably not worth buying the gear to do the re-termination properly yourself unless you’re going to do the same to other cables, build your own, or build other projects. Something further complicated by the soldering-station I generally recommend for such things (Hakko fx888d) not really being the best choice if you wind up doing cable builds on smaller connectors or fine-PCB work.

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Anyway, the offer stands.

Specifically, the first active forum participant that buys one of these sets and wants their stock cable re-terminated for 4-pin XLR, with the standard 1/4" TRS connector converted to an adapter, and can be without their cable for a week, just needs to message me.


The Elear with the Utopia pads is a very sharp looking package! Aesthetically the Elear are still my favorite model in the Focal line-up, excepting the Utopia - and the addition of the soft leather pads just makes them look even better.

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This is extremely generous @Torq. Agreed that the 13’ Elear Cable is a good candidate to be shortened!

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I’ve been looking at this deal for a few days now. It’s such a tempting deal with beautiful case, extra pads, and the headphones. It’s hard to pick between these and clears. It’s also tough because both Elears and Clears are very polarizing. But such a great deal!

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The Elears with the Clear pad option are tonally just about identical to the Clears (they’re effectively the same as the Elex, but better looking and effectively even cheaper). The Clear itself has a slight advantage in resolution and micro-dynamics, if the rest of your chain is up to the job.

Here, though, you get both the bassier presentation of the Elear with it’s stock pads, and a quick-change option to get the Clear’s tonality as well with the extra included pads.

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Thank you so much. Great feedback.

I’m torn between these and going with the Open Box Clears. I love the look of the Clears, though I must confess I’m concerned about how it will stand up to dirt over time.

I’m newer to the headphone community. What things would I need in the rest of my chain to take advantage of the clear over the elear?

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The biggest thing is the quality of your source material. If you’re playing CD or records, then that’s good usually. If you’re playing files, there’s a bit difference between a 128Kbps MP3 and a 320Kbps MP3 and a smaller difference between that and lossless FLAC/ALAC.

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A highly resolving source and a suitably transparent amplifier.

So … lossless source material is a good starting place. The Clear are more than capable of revealing the differences between a Spotify stream and lossless TIDAL streaming or local FLAC files/lossless CD-rips.

Hardware wise, it does not have to be particularly expensive, but it’ll need to be good micro-dynamically, have excellent resolution and be free of grain, in order to really let the Clear’s do “their thing”.

A decent DAC, which could be something like the Schiit Modi 3 or Massdrop x Grace SDAC, or a decent DAC/amp, such as the AudioQuest Dragonfly Red or the iFi Nano iDSD Black Label will be sufficiently resolving. The DACs/amps built into phones are rarely very good in terms of micro-dynamics for some reason, even though they often fare quite well in other areas.

If you’re using a separate DAC/amp combination then lean towards amps like the JDS Labs Atom, Cavalli Liquid Spark or the Schiit Vali 2 or better. I would specifically avoid the O2 in this instance as the Clear tend to reveal some roughness/grain in its upper-mids and treble.

The Clears scale well and will definitely pay dividends when used with even more capable sources/amplifiers. They’ll readily show the differences, for example, between an iFi Micro iDSD Black Label, a Schiit Bifrost MB + Jotunheim, RME ADI-2 DAC and a Chord Hugo 2.

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Thank you gents very much! I currently used the Tidal HiFi (Master or HiFi) with a FiiO E17k or a Topping VX1. With your feedback, I think I’ll pull trigger on the Clear.

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With either of those DAC/amps … I’m not sure I’d personally go with the Clear … at least not unless I was “future proofing” and expecting to switch to something rather smoother sounding in reasonably short order.

While it’s rarely a bad idea to invest most heavily in one’s transducers, sometimes doing so can wind up revealing upstream flaws you weren’t previously aware of.

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