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Focal Headphones Owners & Discussion Thread


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4 minutes ago, Sevoman said:

I bought the bundle from the UK - the advantage of living in a country (Qatar) with no proper hifi stores means I can buy from anywhere. I had seen that these bundles (total 25% off) were available in the US, France, Holland, Canada. The US stores were not permitted to sell outside their country. There was no such deal in UK, so I wrote to the same dealer I had bought my Clears from when I was travelling. They asked the national distributor who then asked me for details of the deal (seriously, they had not done their homework) which I forwarded. Within a week, the deal was also advertised in the UK. And being sold to an overseas address, a further 20% off for ex-VAT. Thus a very happy purchase. Australia should be organising the same deal for their customers........

The stellia and utopia are both currently $2999 aud in Australia. So I geuss that's our deal :)

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The Elegias need break-in. Dixit Focal the surrounds are ultra stiff (not the case on Clear and Elear) and the headphone need 100h for full potential . I broke mine in comparing with my Hd650 and He40

I haven’t yet opened the Stellia. I’ll do that for work tomorrow where they will her head time. For now, the Focal Utopia.  

Okay thought I'd join the little Focal Headphones Club here after I couldn't resist A2A B Stock sale...    Intended for a portable headphone system for my truck I am now the very happy owner



Just now, Sevoman said:

I note that the deal is for "B-stock". What is that?

This was answered in the original thread a couple of times. It's brand new stock they are labelling as B stock. I've bought a pair of Stellias and Utopias from the B stock sale, both were brand new in box. 

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I keep on looking at both the Clear and Utopia but just keep stopping myself from pulling the trigger.  Can't audition them in Brisbane so makes it hard.   Had the Elear and wasn't too impressed with them sonically so hard to know if the Clear or Utopia could be better and also the fit was never great with the pads always getting hot after a little while the Utopia would fix this, always found the Sennheiser HD820 just a better fit overall.

 

Also just don't know if the Utopia is even better then the clear in general. 

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3 minutes ago, sly_bastard said:

I keep on looking at both the Clear and Utopia but just keep stopping myself from pulling the trigger.  Can't audition them in Brisbane so makes it hard.   Had the Elear and wasn't too impressed with them sonically so hard to know if the Clear or Utopia could be better and also the fit was never great with the pads always getting hot after a little while the Utopia would fix this, always found the Sennheiser HD820 just a better fit overall.

 

Also just don't know if the Utopia is even better then the clear in general. 

The Utopia should be better than the clear in every way. I'm not going to say that definitively because I haven't auditioned the clear but from reviews and what everyone says that's the impression I get. It's whether the difference is worth the price that everybody gets caught up on. 

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I had a long listening session to compare the Clear vs Utopia and did not find a huge difference. This may have been influenced by a fairly average headphone amp. The Stellia were not released at that stage. I think the Stellias sound better but maybe that is just my bias. They are supremely comfortable - but living in Brisbane, maybe getting hot is an issue for you.

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Just now, zxSwifty said:

The Utopia should be better than the clear in every way. I'm not going to say that definitively because I haven't auditioned the clear but from reviews and what everyone says that's the impression I get. It's whether the difference is worth the price that everybody gets caught up on. 

This is where it gets interesting, in most reviewed it is noted that the Utopia are technically better but they are more revealing, can be boring and even fatiguing from being so revealing.  If you watch Joshua Valour's review he does mention t a bit.  May people note that the Clear is less precise and there less genre or master dependent so may sound better to people.   At almost 3 times the price it makes it hard to decide, its the issue of fomo in the end haha.

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11 minutes ago, Sevoman said:

I had a long listening session to compare the Clear vs Utopia and did not find a huge difference. This may have been influenced by a fairly average headphone amp. The Stellia were not released at that stage. I think the Stellias sound better but maybe that is just my bias. They are supremely comfortable - but living in Brisbane, maybe getting hot is an issue for you.

in crinicales rankings the utopia is top, Stellia is last.  I put a bit of trust in his rankings but they are not final but you cannot argue with measurements for information.

 

https://crinacle.com/rankings/headphones/

 

The Utopia is pretty amp dependent as it is a precise headphone so need a clear amp to match as such.  The Clear is the middle ground, meant to be great and almost Utopia levels for specialisation but not the top price tag.

Edited by sly_bastard
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8 minutes ago, sly_bastard said:

This is where it gets interesting, in most reviewed it is noted that the Utopia are technically better but they are more revealing, can be boring and even fatiguing from being so revealing.  If you watch Joshua Valour's review he does mention t a bit.  May people note that the Clear is less precise and there less genre or master dependent so may sound better to people.   At almost 3 times the price it makes it hard to decide, its the issue of fomo in the end haha.

I haven't done enough listening to reach that conclusion. I haven't found them boring yet though, quiet the opposite. For the last 8 years I've listened to nothing but dubstep, music that most of you here would probably find terrible. I've never really enjoyed other genres outside of EDM but when listening to Utopias, I enjoy just about everything that goes through them except ironically some of my favourite dubstep songs. I was listening to songs like Toto - Africa, something that to me is usually way too boring to listen to. With the Utopias and being able to hear all that detail I really enjoyed it. The Utopias make me want to explore other genres of music that I wouldn't normally listen to.

 

With dubstep I did find the Utopias could be too harsh. I've heard that metal sounds harsh with the Utopias and I wouldn't be surprised as I think the tone of these two genres is similar. I find the Stellias very enjoyable for my music though. 

Edited by zxSwifty
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I’ve spent quite a bit of time in recent weeks auditioning just about everything mid to TOTL. I’m currently tossing up Stellia, Utopia and Clear. There is absolutely fomo involved which is why I’ve gone back and forth over these options a few times. Having just added the HD800S and a desire to add LCD-X and Z1R also comes into it for me. 
 

Utopia is better than Clear overall. There are key areas where it is not though. The Clear is tuned to be more mainstream, so will suit modern EDM/RNB better with bigger bass. Clear won’t be as detailed in the top end and this is where Utopia stands apart for jazz, classical and more traditional forms of music with vocals and instruments. The speed from the Utopia is incredibly attractive, regardless of genre, but isn’t really suitable for EDM.
 

Stellia is actually better than both to my ears. It’s got 90% of the Utopia’s speed and detail, with better bass from the Clear. It’s currently top of my list. My only hesitation is that I have the Elegia already and this particular headphone is intended for my office, where I need closed headphone to block out the office wide Sonos creeping in. Stellia also does a better job for EDM to my ears. Sometimes the extreme detail of the Utopia doesn’t come across nicely. 


The Stellia won’t make me over analyze music like the Utopia does. I do prefer the look of the Utopia and am only considering it as it’s going to end up alongside a closed bass focused headphone like the Z1R or my existing Elegia, which is only sell if I bought the Stellia.

 

Utopia is more technical and detailed. Stellia is the best at the most things. Clear is the best at its price point for overall sound, but it’s not a Utopia or Stellia. Talk of it being 90% of a Clear is simply not true. That’s a Clear owner justifying it to themselves. 
 

They all sound fantastic, but I would suggest buying the $1200 Clear unless 3k on a single headphone is within budget. If it has to be just one at that budget I think I’d say Stellia as it’s the best all rounder. In a collection with multiple options, I’d say Utopia and get something more middle of the road instead of Stellia - Clear, Arya, etc.

 

I’d take my own advice here but with the HD800S already, and a need for a closed back at work, I’m still unsure if Stellia or Utopia is the right choice. Utopia might compete with HD800S - Stellia won’t. Th at said, Utopia and HD800S as different as they are the same. They perform best on the same music. My HD800S, with EQ, just doesn’t cut it for EDM which is my primary music of choice. I would say HD800S is also not great as a single headphone - but amazing in a collection. 
 

Edited by elisix_
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Oh and the other thing rattling around in my head is that I can buy Arya and Clear for the price of a Stellia or Utopia! Fewer TOTL or more mid-top options. 

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39 minutes ago, elisix_ said:

I would say HD800S is also not great as a single headphone - but amazing in a collection. 

Ill just get the Clear I think, that way if the HD800s or the Sony go on sale can just get a pair of them.  Probably the HD800s first then can decide later what headphones to sell haha.

 

Already bought a new DAC, just need a new balanced amp now.  

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This is a perspective that another user gave me when I reached out. He owns (owned I think) both Clear and Utopia.

 



Clears are warm with a soundstage slightly below the average size. Bass is not as tight as utopia with more sub bass presence. Mids are really well balanced, probably the best sounding mid-range that I've heard in any headphone at that price. Highs are very nice and have great detail to them. Tonality is exceptional and is almost impossible to fault. Best value for money in my opinion.

 

Utopia is more treble emphasized and it tends to rolls off in the bass slightly, at the very bottom of the frequency range, whereas the clears don't. Mids can be a little harsher at times compared to the clears, with your s and t sounds. Bass is very tight but doesn't thump or hit hard like the clears do at times. Soundstage is basically the same as the clears. Highs are slightly more detailed but not a huge difference in my opinion. Still a detailed King but it's tonality is often criticised by critics, perhaps people with sensitive ears are seeking a warmer sound with less harshness in the mid-range.

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Well got the Clear ordered so will see.  From memory the Sony MDR and the Focal have the same connectors?

 

As I could get the MDR Z1R balanced cable for cheap to use with my Sony ZX507?  Also have a 4.4mm to XLR adaptor for my amp.

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12 minutes ago, elisix_ said:

I think the Sony's have some sort of screw on connection. @peppy?

No , same cables as Focal Elegia Clear , Ananda

 

Z1R comes with screw connectors with pentaconn cable 

Edited by peppy
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7 minutes ago, peppy said:

Z1R comes with screw connectors with pentaconn cable 

Thanks for the info.

 

I think you dont need to screw them in into the Z1R though but same connection.  Only question is will then actually go in the Focal though as not sure if the recess will interfere with the actual connector (the screw in part) into the ear cup.  As the cable is cheap from Sony repairer, way cheaper then a Moon or other replacement cable and you know it will be decent quality as genuine Sony part. 

Edited by sly_bastard
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Sony also changes the polarity at the headphone end, from the normal hot tip - negative ring, I believe they are not interchangeable with Focal cables

Edited by mugwampjism
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EQ them. Obviously try drive them from whatever output gives most power, if it has bal out with more power, do that. But they are fairly lean compared to a lot of other cans, respond well enough to a EQ though.

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2 hours ago, sly_bastard said:

Ok so far liking the Clear, they are a bit lean on the Sony DAP on the 3.5mm though. So now to decide on what to do there.

 

You mean you need to find a pentaconn terminated cable?

Or are you considering a new source or portable amp?

Edited by mugwampjism
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14 minutes ago, Bengineer said:

Obviously try drive them from whatever output gives most power

The balanced is more power but no cable (4 times more power) so just added a desktop amp.  I dont mind lean as like the Sennheiser sound.  Ill let them burn in and give it some time to get used to them but they sound good on the smsl amp.

105478032_3210734512322350_2794929620654327412_n.jpg

 

  

3 minutes ago, mugwampjism said:

You mean you need to find a pentaconn terminated cable?

4.4mm cable, or ill just get another amp.

Edited by sly_bastard
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Order a Hart Audio Cable maybe. Get all the ends you need, 3.5, 2.5 bal, 4.4 bal, xlr etc.

 

You listening station is on a subwoofer?

Edited by Bengineer
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24 minutes ago, Bengineer said:

You listening station is on a subwoofer

Yep, it's only a 15 inch Cerwin Vega sub but it bearly gets used ATM, it's usually my drink station normally haha.

 

Its only there for now, will sort something later more permanent...unless I get lazy.  My other/previous station is at my computer desk.

Edited by sly_bastard
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I keep saying this, but the red contrast looks amazing. Now send me your second pads to use on my new Utopia 🤣

 

Oh yeah, I bought Utopia and Stellia today. Month old Elegia for sale! A2A deal gone but hit me up if anyone is still interested in Elegia.

 

Edited by elisix_
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I haven’t yet opened the Stellia. I’ll do that for work tomorrow where they will her head time. For now, the Focal Utopia.

 

7A2D9E92-22ED-4C43-9490-9F46C0137BCB.jpeg.c94e04fc35195520e04527bebf22e43a.jpeg

3A66AA9C-202C-4059-AFEC-1C28F0369718.jpeg.990142fa7412892181e141fc49b6b136.jpeg

Edited by elisix_
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8 hours ago, elisix_ said:

 

I keep saying this, but the red contrast looks amazing.

 

I don't need the Clears as I rarely have space for open headphones. I don't have spare cash for them either. BUT I really love the red colour design so I keep thinking about buying them when I see photos haha

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3 hours ago, gwurb said:

I don't need the Clears as I rarely have space for open headphones. I don't have spare cash for them either. BUT I really love the red colour design so I keep thinking about buying them when I see photos haha

I agree.. usually when I see the official photos of the mulberry colour Clear Pro pads I think it could go either way in real life, might be good might be awful, maybe they fade or something... but when I saw sly_bastard's photo irl I immediately (briefly) wished I had them.

So unique, that colour contrast, reminds me of a black luxury car with marone leather interior. 10/10 could live with that colour scheme

Edited by mugwampjism
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Hey while I am talking of Focal pads, I just wanted to show everyone my Elegia headpad.. I had that same problem as everyone, where a miniscule amount of head oil quickly makes a dark grey stain across the headband

Worried about it for months..

Then I remembered the time I spilled blueberry reduction on brand new suede shoes, and the internet advice was to rub a drop of dishsoap and a drop of cold water, and it worked a treat on my shoes.

So i did the same on my Elegia, drop or three of dishsoap, water, let it dry over night. Have a look at that!

Tool a little while for the suede to de-clump, I brushed it gently and that helped

 

IMG_20200603_163839.jpg

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11 hours ago, elisix_ said:

I haven’t yet opened the Stellia. I’ll do that for work tomorrow where they will her head time. For now, the Focal Utopia. 

 

6A5DCC77-D1F4-4827-88E6-76165A1B9644.jpeg.26d589c03c9dd2d04f1e6bf74e6212d2.jpeg
7B7B48C2-0D54-4A62-819E-5D71F0469FF2.jpeg.0ead216fe5cc53a11f3687881ef9e141.jpeg

You run your Utopias off the RME aswell, very nice. What are the speakers? Are they KEFS or studio monitors? Glad you ended up going the Utopia and Stellia route :)

Edited by zxSwifty
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Does anyone know how to treat the leather of the Stellias? Is it worth worrying about if there are dark areas and dark spots on the headband?

 

only info I could find on the matter is from this headfi thread: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/focal-stellia-review-measurements-interview-head-fi-tv.899912/page-81

Edited by zxSwifty
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For Stellia and Utopia, I would just let the leather patina. I don’t see any need to ‘clean’ it other than maybe water alone. No chemicals or detergents should be used IMO.

 

As for Elegia, I’ve seen a man A2A demo's get cleaned up quite nicely. They said they used water, rubbed it, dried it and it looks like the above Elegia example. All the massive clumps of ‘lint’ are gone. 

 

Edited by elisix_
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1 minute ago, elisix_ said:

For Stellia and Utopia, I would just let the leather patina. I don’t see any need to ‘clean’ it other than maybe water alone. No chemicals or detergents should be used IMO.

You may want to consider a leather cleaner and conditioner if you want to extend the life of the leather.  Could just it from super cheap, the conditioner is helpful if the leather dries out or just buy another set of pads might be the better way to go. 

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