Focal Elex - Official Thread

I wouldn’t say this is a straight progression from the HD6xx. The HE-560 and Elex are technically competitive with each other, but have different characteristics. The biggest step up is build quality: HiFiMan cut every corner except the drivers while Focal spared no expense on the frame, hardware, and pads.

I’m listening to the HE-560 on the P20 as I write this – it’s really, really pleasant! This may be the best <$500 combo on the market.


Old-school HE-560 is available for $299 on Amazon, so I guess that makes this a $400 combo. Pretty nuts.

@pwjazz thanks, didn’t know that!

Guess he had in mind the $99 for the balanced DAC needed to make the Loxjie P20 shine (Behringer SRC2496 being the most unexpensive).

Here’s an EQ I’ve been working on for the Focal Elex. It’s really meant to be used with the Monolith THX-AAA Balanced Amp since it uses a combination of shelf EQ for the low frequencies and parametric for the treble.


Heck, I’ll throw my hat in the ring.

For the last couple months I’ve demoed the Elear with Clear pads, so basically an Elex. My preferred sonic signature would be more to the relaxing, smooth, and warm side of neutral without being too “sleep-encouraging”:grin: My default setup is the HE4XX’s without grills with ZMF Ori pads, coming out of the Vali 2 with a EH6922 tube. I find the HD650s a good deal too veiled and warm. The vali was used testing the Focals.

Anyways, I couldn’t have been happier when the Elear’s first arrived. I wouldn’t say I DISlike them, but–they’re not the jump up in quality I was expecting. I think a lot of it doesn’t have to do with even the 'phones themselves as it does my preferences, but I’ll get to that later.

First of all, the build is great. Not much needs to be said that hasn’t, they’re well-built and stylish.

As far as sound–they are very well-balanced overall. Good midbass impact, solid sub-bass, dry forward mids, inoffensive well-extended treble. GREAT imaging with a very well-defined if not smallish soundstage. Great detail retrieval, like you don’t feel like you’re “missing something” with these phones. It’s all there. Overall, on a purely technical basis, I wouldn’t even disagree if someone argued they soundly best the HE4XX’s in most areas.

So what’s the deal than, why not keep them?

One, the price. The Elex is $699 right? For that much, I could get 4 $169 HE4XX’s and still have $23 left over! At that metric, I just couldn’t justify keeping them.

Two, tonal preference. I fully think I can say everything positive I said above and still confidently say for the most part I prefer the Hifiman’s. The Focals helped me realize that I listen more to wind down and relax. I appreciate a sound that you can “listen to in the background but also reward you when you pay attention”, and auditioning the rather energetic and forward Elear’s, their in your face sound DEMAND you pay attention especially as compared to more laid-back phones, and I guess that’s not what I’m looking for. I used to think in my naivete that the sheer awsomeness of this or that mega-headphone would trump my sonic tastes into loving them, but I don’t think I believe that anymore. Diminishing returns probably have something to do with it as well.

Having said all that, I would recommend them for someone looking for a no holds barred aggressive sound signature with great technicalities and a tone that truthfully conforms to the rough geography of the soundscape without being artificially smooth, as compared to say the standard planar sound (man I can’t help but feel pretentious writing that! oh well).



I’d give the Elex/Elear another try with a neutral amp. Tubes and noisy amps exaggerate their already strong dynamics. Everything you say is true, but it can be managed and minimized. My Elex had too much glare or intensity until I switched to a balanced setup (and then I went balanced-bonkers).


Hi @chrolls and welcome. Nice impressions by the way. I kinda agree with your point about expecting to be blown away whenever you get some new headphones to listen to. With me there’s always that expectation bias and I do tend to always talk myself into liking something, at least in the early honeymoon stage that most of us love.

I’ve not heard the HE4XX’s but I do know they get a lot of love. Personally I like a different sound to the laid back headphone, having said that I do like my HD650. It’s great to hear from you and I hope you keep posting now that you’ve got your first one out of the way. :grin:


Good to be here. I must admit I frequent other headphone sites as well, but I appreciate the help and insight I’ve found on this particular forum. Look forward to posting more :grinning: , thx for the gracious welcome!


Well hey, thx for the advice. I might just give 'em another try!