• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Focal Clear Review (headphone)

bobbooo

Major Contributor
Joined
Aug 30, 2019
Messages
1,477
Likes
1,944
It is pretty good, louder than I would listen for more than 10 minutes, with my Samsung Galaxy S9
A sensible, intelligent choice. Going by measurements on here, the S9 (the S8, S9, S10, Note8 & Note9 all use the same WCD9341 DAC/amp) has a max output of ~0.98V. Reference Audio Analyzer measured the Clear to have a sensitivity of ~111 dB SPL/V - that gives a max RMS output using the S9 of 111 - (20*log10(0.98) ~ 110.8 dB SPL. That translates to a peak SPL of 110.8 + 3 dB ~ 114 dB (factor of root 2 higher voltage, thanks @JIW for the corrections). Peaks at that level correspond to average levels of around 100-105 dB SPL, which is very loud. If anyone is comfortably/routinely listening at those kind of levels they either already have noise-induced hearing loss (or presbycusis), or they are well on their way towards it if they continue to do so.
 
Last edited:

Rottmannash

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 11, 2020
Messages
833
Likes
503
Location
Nashville
The Drop /focal pads? In what way?
Almost everyone who placed an order, ordered a pair, waited forever for their arrival only to receive one single, solitary pad. After multiple emails from Drop apologizing for the SNAFU and repeated promises we would shortly receive the 2nd pad, they finally just sent the 2nd pad for free and refunded everyone's money. This process took a long time. They even blamed Focal for the screw-up and the quality of the pads when they were finally delivered.
Screenshot_20201222-214145_Chrome.jpg
 

Rottmannash

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 11, 2020
Messages
833
Likes
503
Location
Nashville
I have had the Focal Clear for about 2 years now and I have to say I never found them to be lacking in bass. Yes, the headphones have some harshness in the treble, but it is only pronounced on music that is already a little hot. Using cables that are higher gauge, all but eliminate that harshness or at least cover it up, by filling out the sound with more low end. I suggest the Canare 4S6, which is 20awg. This being said, these are the most pleasing and neutral-sounding headphones I have ever come across, although I have not tried the ZMF Auteur, which is said to be amazing.

Also, I don't think your assessment that bottoming out when adding bass is a big demerit. Any headphones when you turn up the bass will start to crackle at normal levels. I have tried that with Sony, Denon, and Sennheiser headphones and all 3 began do distort when I pumped up the bass.

Anyone on this forum listen to or have the Auteur, care to share their impressions?
Yes I tried Amir's test track with the Senn HD 58X Jubilees as well and they distorted terribly but didn't "pop".
 

solderdude

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 21, 2018
Messages
8,318
Likes
17,224
Location
The Neverlands
I bet I can make some that change the sound too. :p
Everyone can ... my recipe for those headphone specific cables are public and freely available on the web.
One can even make one for the Utopia with an extra 10 Ohm series resistance and emulate the expensive Focal amp for peanuts.
 

Joachim Herbert

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 20, 2019
Messages
184
Likes
302
Location
Munich, Germany
Almost everyone who placed an order, ordered a pair, waited forever for their arrival only to receive one single, solitary pad. After multiple emails from Drop apologizing for the SNAFU and repeated promises we would shortly receive the 2nd pad, they finally just sent the 2nd pad for free and refunded everyone's money. This process took a long time. They even blamed Focal for the screw-up and the quality of the pads when they were finally delivered.
Glad to be not almost everyone. Ordered a pair and received two in perfect condition. Did not have to wait that long. Largest delay was customs clearance in Germany.
 

Feelas

Active Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2020
Messages
293
Likes
214
Like with speaker wire, if you use 24 gauge cable, you will have no bass. Also, the insulation used will affect the highs. If you don't believe me, try making some cables using a cable that uses cellular polypropylene/polyethylene and report back.
I'd love to see that measured out, if you don't mind doing this? We would surely love to learn something new and try to quantify the impact, if it exists.
 

Jimbob54

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
5,491
Likes
5,909
Almost everyone who placed an order, ordered a pair, waited forever for their arrival only to receive one single, solitary pad. After multiple emails from Drop apologizing for the SNAFU and repeated promises we would shortly receive the 2nd pad, they finally just sent the 2nd pad for free and refunded everyone's money. This process took a long time. They even blamed Focal for the screw-up and the quality of the pads when they were finally delivered. View attachment 101095
Whooops! Explains why they havent done it since!
 

Rottmannash

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 11, 2020
Messages
833
Likes
503
Location
Nashville
Glad to be not almost everyone. Ordered a pair and received two in perfect condition. Did not have to wait that long. Largest delay was customs clearance in Germany.
The pads we received were noticeably different than the pads that came on the Elex. That was the biggest issue- the wait was ludicrous but receiving thinner pads was the deal- breaker for most. Go to the Drop site and look at the discussion thread for an entertaining read.
 

Joachim Herbert

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 20, 2019
Messages
184
Likes
302
Location
Munich, Germany
Go to the Drop site and look at the discussion thread for an entertaining read.
My firsthand experience was different. Received two pads identical to those on my headphone. What can I say.
 

JIW

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2019
Messages
305
Likes
445
Location
Germany
A sensible, intelligent choice. Going by measurements on here, the S9 (the S8, S9, S10, Note8 & Note9 all use the same WCD9341 DAC/amp) has a max output of ~0.98V. Reference Audio Analyzer measured the Clear to have a sensitivity of ~111 dB SPL/V - that gives a max output using the S9 of 0.98 * 111 ~ 109 dB SPL. Peaks at that level correspond to average levels of around 95-100 dB SPL, which is very loud. If anyone is comfortably/routinely listening at those kind of levels they either already have noise-induced hearing loss (or presbycusis), or they are well on their way towards it if they continue to do so.
The relation between voltage and SPL is logarithmic rather than linear. A 2% decrease in voltage level gives only a 0.2 dB decrease in SPL (20*log10(0.98) = -0.1755 dB).

Also keep in mind that the maximum output of the S9 is given as the RMS voltage for a sine wave. The peak voltage is thus greater by a factor of square root of 2, i.e. ~1.41 or 3.01 dB, i.e. peak voltage is ~1.4 V. This gives peak SPL at max output of ~2.8 dB above sensitivity at 1 V, i.e. 113-114 dB.

Depending on the music, average levels could thus be well above 100 dB SPL. As discussed above, however, the frequency distribution of the signal is crucial in determining how loud this is. A 30 Hz tone at 114 dB SPL is as loud as a 1 kHz tone at 80 dB SPL (80 phon) whereas even a 40 Hz tone at 114 dB SPL is as loud as a 1 kHz tone at 100 dB SPL (100 phon). Further, 100 dB SPL average at 50 Hz is as loud as 80 dB SPL average at 1 kHz whereas 100 dB SPL average at 200 Hz is about as loud as 100 dB SPL average at 1 kHz. The former, I would still consider only loud while the latter would be very loud indeed.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lindos1.svg
 

Joachim Herbert

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 20, 2019
Messages
184
Likes
302
Location
Munich, Germany
I am indeed. Except my first Elex was broken, and the replacement had to go through drop. Insane shipping cost, double import tax and customs duty (about 20 percent). So lucky I not always am.
 

fieldcar

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 27, 2019
Messages
177
Likes
255
I may as well report that the Monolith M570's beat down the test tracks with ease. I can max out the THX 789 on full gain, and I'm sure I could go further if my D50S put out more voltage. I only hear a fair amount of mid-bloat at high levels, but no clipping or any nastiness. Heh, my ears feel the rush of air like a subwoofer port. I don't really care to listen to these kind of levels. I'm happy with 40-50% volume on high gain. I guess the whole point of a torture test here is to see how much room you have between typical listening levels and coloration/distortion.

I'll suggest another track to pump out tons of sub bass.

 

Joachim Herbert

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 20, 2019
Messages
184
Likes
302
Location
Munich, Germany
Public service announcement: Please leave listing at these levels to qualified machines. It will impair your hearing within minutes.
 

Noodles

Active Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2018
Messages
198
Likes
114
Location
Netherlands
Oh my ... i knew it wasn't just me that had a problem with this headphone. On my A90 and previously on the 789 it sounded so weird ... metallic, slightly crunchy and shouty AF.
I think i will stick to the HD800 for now :)
 
Top Bottom