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LCD-X vs. Focal Clear MG vs. HD800 S

Leen2

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I hope it is fine to ask for purchase-advice in this section. After reading and watching tons of reviews on these 3 headphones I feel absolutely lost and have less of a clue which one to get than I had before.

I am planning to purchase a 1000€+ Headphone by the end of the year as some sort of "final piece" that I will use 99% of the time for my best listening-experience.
These would be used for 90% music listening/gaming, but also for ~10% reference listening/mixing which is why I looked at ones that at least have some degree of neutral frequency response. Ended up focusing on the LCD-X, Focal clear MG, and the HD800s.

The music I listen to and mix mostly is electronic music. Mostly subbass/low-end heavy music which is why accurate and fast low end is extremely important to me. I listen to instrumental and orchestral music at times but electronic music definitely outweighs it by far. Due to this I kind of already dropped the HD800 S as I heard in tons of reviews that the bass is lacking a LOT with these. Can people here confirm this?

The LCD-X are said to have amazing low-end and sub-bass speed and detail which is why they were my prioritized choice... Until I heard in tons of reviews where some reviewers stated that the weight of the LCD-X actually was just way too much to handle and even caused headaches or made it impossible to wear them for multiple hours. Yet others say that they got used to the weight real quickly and the new version of the LCD-X (2020+ Version I think) has a headband that makes the weight acceptable. Unfortunately I don't have any store nearby that I could try the LCD-X on to check what the weight is like for me. That leaves me very unsure about the LCD-X. Sound-wise they seem pretty much exactly like what I'm looking for but the weight/comfortability makes me hesitate.

The Focal Clear MG look like they are something in the middle. Between the HD800 S and the LCD-X. Is this correct? I couldn't find too much info about how well they perform in the very low end/subbass though.


I'm really conflicted and have no clue which one to go with...
Would love if people who tried one or multiple of these could give me some advice.
Again, I hope a purchase-advice thread like this is ok here! I know they can be annoying to many people/communities but as said I feel totally lost.
 

AdamG247

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I hope it is fine to ask for purchase-advice in this section. After reading and watching tons of reviews on these 3 headphones I feel absolutely lost and have less of a clue which one to get than I had before.

I am planning to purchase a 1000€+ Headphone by the end of the year as some sort of "final piece" that I will use 99% of the time for my best listening-experience.
These would be used for 90% music listening/gaming, but also for ~10% reference listening/mixing which is why I looked at ones that at least have some degree of neutral frequency response. Ended up focusing on the LCD-X, Focal clear MG, and the HD800s.

The music I listen to and mix mostly is electronic music. Mostly subbass/low-end heavy music which is why accurate and fast low end is extremely important to me. I listen to instrumental and orchestral music at times but electronic music definitely outweighs it by far. Due to this I kind of already dropped the HD800 S as I heard in tons of reviews that the bass is lacking a LOT with these. Can people here confirm this?

The LCD-X are said to have amazing low-end and sub-bass speed and detail which is why they were my prioritized choice... Until I heard in tons of reviews where some reviewers stated that the weight of the LCD-X actually was just way too much to handle and even caused headaches or made it impossible to wear them for multiple hours. Yet others say that they got used to the weight real quickly and the new version of the LCD-X (2020+ Version I think) has a headband that makes the weight acceptable. Unfortunately I don't have any store nearby that I could try the LCD-X on to check what the weight is like for me. That leaves me very unsure about the LCD-X. Sound-wise they seem pretty much exactly like what I'm looking for but the weight/comfortability makes me hesitate.

The Focal Clear MG look like they are something in the middle. Between the HD800 S and the LCD-X. Is this correct? I couldn't find too much info about how well they perform in the very low end/subbass though.


I'm really conflicted and have no clue which one to go with...
Would love if people who tried one or multiple of these could give me some advice.
Again, I hope a purchase-advice thread like this is ok here! I know they can be annoying to many people/communities but as said I feel totally lost.
Welcome Aboard @Leen2.
 

solderdude

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HD800S needs EQ (add lows and remove remaining treble peak... Comfy, great imaging, roomy around the ears, not too hot on the ears.
LCD-X (2021) needs EQ. add some subbass, add upper midrange. A bit heavy, claustrophobic and warm pads, dynamic punchy.
Focal Clear: does not need EQ but some helps improve it. comfort between HD800S and LCD-X.

Gaming HD800, mixing Focal.
 

KeithPhantom

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I hope it is fine to ask for purchase-advice in this section. After reading and watching tons of reviews on these 3 headphones I feel absolutely lost and have less of a clue which one to get than I had before.

I am planning to purchase a 1000€+ Headphone by the end of the year as some sort of "final piece" that I will use 99% of the time for my best listening-experience.
These would be used for 90% music listening/gaming, but also for ~10% reference listening/mixing which is why I looked at ones that at least have some degree of neutral frequency response. Ended up focusing on the LCD-X, Focal clear MG, and the HD800s.

The music I listen to and mix mostly is electronic music. Mostly subbass/low-end heavy music which is why accurate and fast low end is extremely important to me. I listen to instrumental and orchestral music at times but electronic music definitely outweighs it by far. Due to this I kind of already dropped the HD800 S as I heard in tons of reviews that the bass is lacking a LOT with these. Can people here confirm this?

The LCD-X are said to have amazing low-end and sub-bass speed and detail which is why they were my prioritized choice... Until I heard in tons of reviews where some reviewers stated that the weight of the LCD-X actually was just way too much to handle and even caused headaches or made it impossible to wear them for multiple hours. Yet others say that they got used to the weight real quickly and the new version of the LCD-X (2020+ Version I think) has a headband that makes the weight acceptable. Unfortunately I don't have any store nearby that I could try the LCD-X on to check what the weight is like for me. That leaves me very unsure about the LCD-X. Sound-wise they seem pretty much exactly like what I'm looking for but the weight/comfortability makes me hesitate.

The Focal Clear MG look like they are something in the middle. Between the HD800 S and the LCD-X. Is this correct? I couldn't find too much info about how well they perform in the very low end/subbass though.


I'm really conflicted and have no clue which one to go with...
Would love if people who tried one or multiple of these could give me some advice.
Again, I hope a purchase-advice thread like this is ok here! I know they can be annoying to many people/communities but as said I feel totally lost.
First of all, for mixing/mastering, it is better to have speakers, but you already know that. If your only solution is to do this using headphones, you have to EQ every single one of them to have acceptable results in speakers and other equipment that other people may be using. The three headphones you listed are great choices in terms of the objective qualities of the transducers used, but their stock sound is not fully correct, to say the least for mixing/mastering.

To formally answer your question, for the bass in the HD 800S you will need EQ to find them 'correct', the good thing is that they don't distort as much as other headphones, so you can EQ this area up. Also, this headphone has some issues in the high-frequency territory that make them a bit of a chore to listen to them (a bit 'bright' and 'piercing').

I agree with @solderdude's description of the LCD-X, also they need EQ. The weight is noticeable and even annoying depending on how well you handle it.

The Focal, I had the original Clear Professional. I can tell you that their upper-midrange (1 to 4 kHz) is not neutral and always bothered me. Also, they are known for the clipping issues and I don't know if they have solved this to this day. They perform well enough in the bass region, but still too light compared to a sub in a speaker setup. You need to be careful when EQ'ing these since they can clip if you increase the level of the bass too much or you listen to them loudly.
 

nerdoldnerdith

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Get a used or B-stock Hifiman Arya. If you want bass, you're going to want a planar. I dont recommend Audeze. Their tuning is really wonky and would not be good for mixing music. The Focal Clear has inbuilt mechanical clipping that sounds like crap if you are trying to play loud bass.
 
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Leen2

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HD800S needs EQ (add lows and remove remaining treble peak... Comfy, great imaging, roomy around the ears, not too hot on the ears.
LCD-X (2021) needs EQ. add some subbass, add upper midrange. A bit heavy, claustrophobic and warm pads, dynamic punchy.
Focal Clear: does not need EQ but some helps improve it. comfort between HD800S and LCD-X.

Gaming HD800, mixing Focal.
Will EQing any of these hurt their Soundstage? I currently use the DT1990 and just have to EQ them because I am treble sensitive. Unfortunately it affects the soundstage making it significantly smaller.
I have no problem with EQing of course but I'm still curious if it affects the soundstage or stereo imaging.


First of all, for mixing/mastering, it is better to have speakers, but you already know that. If your only solution is to do this using headphones, you have to EQ every single one of them to have acceptable results in speakers and other equipment that other people may be using. The three headphones you listed are great choices in terms of the objective qualities of the transducers used, but their stock sound is not fully correct, to say the least for mixing/mastering.

To formally answer your question, for the bass in the HD 800S you will need EQ to find them 'correct', the good thing is that they don't distort as much as other headphones, so you can EQ this area up. Also, this headphone has some issues in the high-frequency territory that make them a bit of a chore to listen to them (a bit 'bright' and 'piercing').

I agree with @solderdude's description of the LCD-X, also they need EQ. The weight is noticeable and even annoying depending on how well you handle it.

The Focal, I had the original Clear Professional. I can tell you that their upper-midrange (1 to 4 kHz) is not neutral and always bothered me. Also, they are known for the clipping issues and I don't know if they have solved this to this day. They perform well enough in the bass region, but still too light compared to a sub in a speaker setup. You need to be careful when EQ'ing these since they can clip if you increase the level of the bass too much or you listen to them loudly.
I'm 100% aware about mixing on headphones not being a good idea. Especially in the subbass area it most likely is a waste of time to even attempt mixing it on headphones. But yea as you already suspected: Unfortunately I am forced to mix on headphones most of the time and then later check on speakers in another building. But yea thats a whole different topic.

From your post I assume that your prioritized choice would be the HD 800 S. Does EQ'ing the subbass in these really create a decent subbass? I'd imagine EQ'ing subbass into headphones that just don't have a lot of subbass would result in just getting some muddy inaccurate "subbass". And as said earlier from what I heard the HD 800 S don't really have much subbass from stock.


Get a used or B-stock Hifiman Arya. If you want bass, you're going to want a planar. I dont recommend Audeze. Their tuning is really wonky and would not be good for mixing music. The Focal Clear has inbuilt mechanical clipping that sounds like crap if you are trying to play loud bass.
Never looked into hifiman at all tbf. I don't know anything about the company really. But getting planars for the best bass is something one hears all the time. I might have to consider these as well.
 

solderdude

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Will EQing any of these hurt their Soundstage? I currently use the DT1990 and just have to EQ them because I am treble sensitive. Unfortunately it affects the soundstage making it significantly smaller.
I have no problem with EQing of course but I'm still curious if it affects the soundstage or stereo imaging.

It will depend on what EQ you are using. I don't hear 'soundstage' but do hear stereo imaging.
I know that when you remove too much 10kHz (HD800) that some of the magic disappears.
This will not be the same for everyone. So you can use EQ to 'start' with and adjust to your ears.

The more you know about how sound should be and the more you play with EQ the better the results will be.
Don't be afraid to experiment. The 'carefully calculated from measurements' EQ is incorrect anyway and won't be correct individually either. But is a decent starting point.
 

aravaioli

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Given that you listen electronica and are sensitive to high frequencies I recommend to discard the HD800S. Both the others should suit you. The Clear will give you a more open sound and is much lighter. The X went through a revision in 2021 and seems to have less bass than before but better upper mids. I prefer the Clear but listen only Jazz.
 

KeithPhantom

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Will EQing any of these hurt their Soundstage?
I’ve never heard any real sensation of space with headphones, even with the HD 800(S). Don’t look for this quality when you have two small transducers at a few millimeters from your ears that have to do both psychoacoustical and physical analysis and averaging to get an average sensation of space. Only live events and to a smaller scale a surround setup and stereo speakers will give you this.
stereo imaging.
Hard panning shouldn’t be an issue with them. Just make sure the headphone has matched drivers because discrepancies in matching will decrease the perceived stereo image. Group delay can also give you clues about the possible spatial qualities you may perceive.
I'd imagine EQ'ing subbass into headphones that just don't have a lot of subbass would result in just getting some muddy inaccurate "subbass". And as said earlier from what I heard the HD 800 S don't really have much subbass from stock.
That’s partially true, ‘muddy’ bass can be associated to the intermodulation of frequencies down to that frequency range. If there’s a lot of harmonic distortion, possible intermodulation products may be created if the stock harmonic distortion is high. About the audibility of this, the effects of this distortion are usually masked due to the insensitivity of the ear in those frequencies. It is better to buy a headphone that has plenty of bass stock and then remove some than otherwise.
About HifiMan headphones, just be aware of possible (but currently very reduced) cases of driver or structural failure. I think they fixed their issues, but it is possible that it could happen.
 
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