CanJam@RMAF2017: Focal Clear Open Over Ear Headphones

CanJam at RMAF is starting to seem like the world's premier enthusiast headphone show. Why? Because so many companies are choosing it to reveal their latest products. Among them was Focal introducing the latest of their flagship family, the Clear ($1499).

I did get a sample just before the show for a quick listening session and some measurements. My first impression was very good, hearing the Clear as sitting squarely between the Utopia and Elear...in a very good way. I'll let the measurements do the talking until I get some more serious ear time. I did return them to Focal so they could be moved on to another reviewer while I was at the show and traveling next week; it will also give me a chance to measure a second set before review.

The Clear uses an aluminum/magnesium alloy dome like the Elear, but now has a formerless voice coil with copper wiring instead of the copper-clad aluminum of the Elear voice coil. The impedance has been lowered from 80 Ohm down to 55 Ohm to make it easier for portable devices to drive. The ear pad is also new and is claimed to deliver a more open sound while keeping the bass pumped up. Measurements seem to bear this out.

Plenty of folks complained about the long, heavy cables of both previous models, Focal has evidently been listening as the cable complement included with the Clear is sweet. The fabric covered cables are lighter and more flexible; three cables are included: 10ft(3m) OFC 24 AWG cable with balanced 4-pin XLR connector; 10ft (3m) OFC 24 AWG cable with unbalanced 6.35mm TRS jack connector; and a four-foot (1.2m) OFC 24 AWG cable with unbalanced 3.5mm TRS jack connector.

And, maybe coolest of all, the Clear comes with possibly the best headphone carry case I've ever seen. Thermo-molded with a handsome fabric cover and carry handle, this sweet clam-shell case fits the headphones perfectly and has compartments for cable storage. Other manufacturers should take note, this is accessorization done right for a high-end headphone.

Chris Shaw tells us all about it in the video.

View on YouTube.

COMMENTS
wiinippongamer's picture

Strong peak at 6khz. No, thanks.

Argyris's picture

Came here just to say that. I've experienced enough headphones with a similar feature in this area to know that I wouldn't be able to tolerate it.

I wonder what causes it, and why some headphones don't seem to have it at all. Is it an unavoidable tradeoff of certain driver or enclosure designs that produce superior performance characteristics elsewhere, or is it just something designers don't consider important enough to spend effort addressing?

Beagle's picture

And a suckout at 4-5k to go with it. That's gonna hurt like a Beyer hurts.

Liopleus's picture

Hi Tyll,

I'm curious about the effect of Clear pads on the Elear. Could they increase the presence region and make the treble more even (aka make the FR similar to the Clear)?

Since you have measurements of the Elear and Utopia pad swapping, I'd like to know if you will do something similar in the future.

Thank you.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I'll see if I can work that in.
Phoniac's picture

One can discuss the grey (old style, bleached out etc) style of the headphone. I admit that in a new state it looks nice and unusual - or interesting. But cables with white/black colour coding will always look like the heat protected iron cables found in any household. That is the same absolute no-go as using carbon, which just looks like cheap car design for people who don't have the money to buy the real deal. The closed Aeon's outer design is just a design catastrophy. The new open one looks so nice instead. I wished my closed one had the open design on the cups, without being open, of course. Same with Audeze putting that cheap carbon design on their headbands. These companies lack designers with feeling and knowledge about history.

markus's picture

Is Focal still investigating your defect Utopia?

zobel's picture

Glad to see your unedited raw videos!

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