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Which DAC/AMP combo for my Focal Clear OG ?

Lartyk

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Hello,
I am Lartyk and am new to the forum but also to audio

I recently purchased a Focal Clear OG and now I would like to find a DAC and AMP set or an all-in-one DAC/AMP that would allow me to take full advantage of it without breaking the bank
I'm currently running my headphones on the Cyrus One HD which already gives me a result that I really appreciate by giving a fairly warm sound (it's a neophyte's opinion)

I first tried to call various hifi store for advice I almost always had the same answer for the brand "Heed"
the problem is they couldn't agree on an amp/dac
The first store told me to go on the Heed Canamp II for 490euro, the second told me that the canamp was no good and that I needed the Heed Canalot III 1100euro and the last one didn't even considered the Canalot and gave me the Heed Elixir 1400euro..

I have nothing against investing in a good amp and a good dac but 1400 euro is still a bit high in my eyes...

Then I came across this video "
" at 6min02 the author of this video explains that he was surprised at the quality of the DarkVoice 336SE with the focal clear.
So I started to learn about this amp and I could note several points

- It is extremely poorly rated here on the forum...
- It is supposed to work better with very greedy headphones which is not at all the case with the focal clear
- The very attractive price
- And finally, if it's a good choice there remains a problem... the dac I really don't know what to do to have the same impression as him

Here I am really lost and I searched on many forums what to take for the focal clear but in all the forums that I have visited each time the conversation changed the subject and starting from which amps for the focal clear to choose we quickly got to "Take Utopia, I think it's better"... so I take them at their word but that doesn't help me...

I hope I have been able to be precise in my request and I thank you very much in advance for the help you can give me.

Ps: the author of the video says to turn the gain of the dac to -10db but I did not find a dac with gain management when he says that, is it to say to lower the volume of the pc to be able to manage better on the amp?

PPS: I would like to use this amp without necessarily using a pc, I thought I could connect my smartphone (google pixel) to the dac and then switch to (smartphone -> Dac-> amp -> headphones)
 
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The Clear is easy enough to drive, however it has an impedance bump in the upper bass region, so to get a neutral response you'd need an amp with low output impedance. Any FR changes I'd do in software (EQ) rather than hardware.
You say you want to connect your phone, the easiest way to do that would be via Bluetooth.

There are a few options around 200€.
The Topping DX3 Pro+ is popular, it combines good signal quality with high output power and a good set of inputs incl. Bluetooth. Also has a remote so you can use it as a speaker preamp. The new Aoshida SMSL C200 does basically the same.

Spending more than that is entirely optional or if you want different features. In terms of audio quality it won't make a difference.
 
Hello,

first of all, thank you for your answer!

Your comment agrees with the video by saying that the Clear is easy to drive, which is all the more reassuring.
And I'm also happy to know that I'm not going to need to spend 1400 euros for an AMP DAC, but I wonder about wanting to achieve neutrality.

As I said I really like the warm sound of cyrus one HD and I was able to try the Topping X Shenzhenaudio ex5 which particularly disappointed me, it was like if the music was losing color and becoming a bit dull... And I'm afraid that the two references that you tell me are in the same case .. (but I keep them in mind and I will learn about the sound they produce)

If I really had to describe precisely what I'm looking for in sound, it would be an AMP that improves the timbre of the focal clear because I find that the dry guitar is disappointing on these headphones, I really like the bass as they are at the moment and that is also why I could with the "Darckvoice" because although it greatly improves the timbre on the focal clear og but I read comments saying that it greatly reduced the audio scene and that it made the headphones much more "boomy" is I don't want these two things...

For the part on the bluetooth I heard that it impacted the quality but just by writing this I imagine that simply using my phone as a source already impacts the quality... so I tell myself that you are probably right.

Anyway thank you for your reply.
 
if I have to rephrase my request it would be a warm amp with a very good timbre (enough to compensate for that of the focal clear) some say that the "tube" sound is warmer but I have never had the opportunity to try it even if the idea tempts me a lot as a characteristic
 
For what it's worth, I actually have a DarkVoice 336SE and I think it's a pretty terrible match for Focal Clears (or Clear MGs in my case). The DarkVoice has way more power than the Clears can handle, so you're stuck using a very small portion of the volume knob, and the DarkVoice has pretty awefull low-level channel matching. The DarkVoice's high output impedance did result in a noticeable increase in bass, but it wasn't clean bass. A Schiit Loki+ let me increase the bass in a much nicer manner (I now use software-defined EQ, but hardware EQ is still better than tube EQ imo).
 
Thank you for your advice I'll look at that, I tested the BTR5 with the clear I think it gives it a really bad "plastic" sound just better then just a phone but not "good"
 
Hey, Lartyk. Did you find, what you were looking for, in the end? I am also looking to try a different DAC/amp with my Clear. No idea if it will sound any better than the SMSL M500 I am using, but with all the different opinions on the internet regarding that, I'll have to try for myself.
 
For what it's worth, I actually have a DarkVoice 336SE and I think it's a pretty terrible match for Focal Clears (or Clear MGs in my case). The DarkVoice has way more power than the Clears can handle, so you're stuck using a very small portion of the volume knob, and the DarkVoice has pretty awefull low-level channel matching. The DarkVoice's high output impedance did result in a noticeable increase in bass, but it wasn't clean bass. A Schiit Loki+ let me increase the bass in a much nicer manner (I now use software-defined EQ, but hardware EQ is still better than tube EQ imo).

2 years later but - The darkvoice with fitz mod and tung sol russian made drive tube with Jan crc power tube sounds great with the clear. Stock tubes are garbage.
 
2 years later but - The darkvoice with fitz mod and tung sol russian made drive tube with Jan crc power tube sounds great with the clear. Stock tubes are garbage.
My issue was with the potentiometer and its lack of low-level granularity. Glad it's working well for you though!
 
I believe the FiiO K7 (AKM) is very good value for money. I have powered it with a LPS for best performance.

I does suffer from a non-linear volume control, but I have adjusted to making small movements in the 10:00 to 11:30 range.

The sound profile suits my ears, especially driving the Audeze LCD-XC. No EQ required, :)
 
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