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published: Nov-23-2017

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NO SMOOTHING is applied to the shown plots. Most measurement sites have some smoothing applied which ‘irons flat’ sharp peaks and ‘wiggles’. I do not use smoothing because some info about sound quality is lost when plots are smoothed.

Aside from a small correction of the microphone itself also some correction in the lowest frequencies is applied to the plots to compensate for the perceived loss of bass when using headphones. This is described HERE in more detail.
A ‘horizontal‘ frequency response curve on the shown frequency response plots on this website thus indicates a perceived ‘flat’ tonal signature.

ALL measurements are made with a good SEAL on a flatbed measurement rig.
The shape of your head, bone structure, pad size, pad ‘softness,  (compliance), hair or no hair and or wearing glasses may (drastically) change the frequency response of some headphones, so… your personal experience may differ substantially from these plots.

Frequency response (tonal balance) is the most sound-determining aspect of headphones. A horizontal line shows audible neutral response in the plots on this website. Deviations in different severities at different frequency bands have an effect on the sound character.
The bigger the deviation the stronger the effect.

Below an aid to help determining the sound character of headphones with relation to the frequency response.


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Focal Clear


The Focal Clear is an open over-ear dynamic headphone. It is the more expensive sibling of the Elear. It retails for around € 1500.-
The build quality is top notch. High quality/tech materials are used throughout.
The comfort is very high. The pads are very soft and feel really nice.
The Clear also looks really good, a luxurious feel. The colour scheme is different from most other headphones and looks and very nice.
It has locking 3.5 connectors in each cup and comes with 3 cables.
1 x 1.2m with 3.5mm TRS plug, a 3m with 6.35mm TRS plug and a 3m cable with XLR 4-pin connector. These cables are of much better quality than the gardenhose supplied with the Utopia. More supple, shorter and low in microphonics.
The sound quality of the Focal Clear is on par with the build quality. Top notch !
It can play from both portable and desktop amps but doesn’t like high output resistances of some amplifiers. About 30Ω is the max output resistance it should be connected to.
People around you can clearly hear what you are playing and outside noises are heard almost unattenuated. Not suited for portable duties where you want to block out noises at all.


Type: Over ear, open
Usage: Home and studio
Driver type: dynamic, aluminium/magnesium alloy dome.
Pads: replaceable perforated microfiber with memory-foam inside
Foldable: No
Headphone cup connector: locking 3.5mm TS connector
Cable entry: dual sided
Cable: 1 x 1.2m with 3.5mm TRS plug, a 3m with 6.35mm TRS plug and a 3m cable with XLR 4-pin connector.
Driver size: 40mm
Max. power rating: unknown, assumed 0.2W
Max. voltage: 3.5V (assumed 0.2W)
Max. current: 65mA (assumed 0.2W)
Max. S.P.L.: 127dB (assumed 0.2W)
Impedance: 55 Ω
Efficiency: 104dB @ 1mW
Sensitivity: 116dB @ 1V
Weight: 450 g.
Clamping force: Medium
Inner pad dimensions: depth: 24mm. height: 60mm, width 50mm oval shaped.
Accessories: manual, warranty card, hard carry case, 3x cable

Sound description:

Perhaps its name is the best description of this headphone … clear.
The first thing that comes to mind when listening to this headphone is: wow this headphone sounds ‘neutral’. Neutral meaning everything sounds ‘correct’ and realistic.
Bass and mids and above all the integration of them is excellent. Bass levels are good and not ‘boosted’.
This headphone sounds very dynamic, as in not compressed and life-like.
Voices and instruments sound well… real. Not many headphones have this level of realism.
The treble is smooth and present at the correct level. The treble does have a very slight ‘edge’ to it with some recordings but definitely not in an annoying manner at all. Nitpicking here. It does help make this headphone sound very detailed without becoming sibilant or sharp sounding.
Air around instruments and instrument separation is excellent.
Truly an excellent sounding headphone. Are there better sounding ones ? To some there will be others may be perfectly happy with this headphone.
I would say the Clear is about on par with an EQ’ed HD800 in a lot of ways.
What should be noted is that you cannot play very loud or boost the bass that much. It can ‘hard clip’ (very nasty clicks) at larger excursions.

The Clear is better sounding than the Elear to me but also 50% more expensive.
The choice between Clear and Utopia is a bit harder to make. Certainly when taking the price of the Utopia (€ 4000.-) in consideration. The Utopia is just very slightly ‘leaner’ and ‘airier’ sounding, a bit more ‘etherial’ and a tad more ‘effortless’.
The Clear is perhaps slightly more neutral and technically somewhat better.
Personally I prefer the Clear over the Utopia but others may not. This is despite the driver mismatch of this headphone.
The driver mismatch is a bit sobering in this price-class.
I assume this won’t be the case with production models though and think the left channel is representative of this model.


Below the frequency response of the Clear (Left, Right)FR Clear

Channel matching is not that great. not as it should be at this price-point. I remeasured a few times and had a close look at the pads and the seal. The difference is really there.
1dB or so is not much though in level and don’t feel it was audible.
From 20Hz to 1kHz it is impressively smooth and neutral without any peaks or dips. Bass is there nice and tight and sounds very dynamic. The upper mids aren’t recessed like with the Elear.
The peak in the right channel around 2kHz was not audible to me but also did not ‘look’ for it. The slight lift between 1kHz and 2kHz makes the mids sound ‘clear’ and ‘forward’.
The small dip around 3kHz is probably not audible because the used measurement rig does not have a pinna. When measured on a HATS that ‘dip’ may well be smaller or even completely gone.
The treble has a very slight ‘boost’ to it at around 6kHz and 12kHz which makes some instruments have a small ‘accent’ to it.
Usually when the treble range is ‘peaky’ and has deep dips the treble also sounds a bit coarse or rough but did not find this to be the case. Treble is not Susvara quality but not very far removed.
Treble extension is excellent but above 21kHz there are long lived resonances. Fortunately this is above the audible range so don’t think that will be audible.

Note: because I suspect the left driver is probably the one that will end up in most Clear headphones (at least I hope so for owners) for the rest of the measurements I will use the left channel as ‘reference’.

The Elear is the less expensive sibling of the Clear. The Utopia the more expensive one.
A comparison between these two headphones is logical.
Below the Elear, Clear and Utopia level matched in the mids.

Above 7kHz is is kind-off hard to see the average tonal balance differences between these 2 models. For this reason the same plot below but smoothed so tonal balance differences become clearer. Elear, Clear and Utopia tonal balance elear clear utopia

What is obvious here is that from 10Hz to 100Hz Hz the Clear has slightly more bass.
Don’t expect a bassier Utopia though, the difference is very small less than 1dB.
Up to 2kHz the Clear also has a bit more presence.
The tonal balance of the Utopia is a bit ‘brighter’, ‘detailed’ and airier but also has a bit too much of this emphasis.
The Clear is a bit ‘smoother’ and less ‘strident’ in the treble yet still sounds very clear and detailed. The Elear is the lesser one here and is lacking somewhat in detail retrieval and a bit too ‘laid back’ to me and has a ‘sizzle’ up in the highest frequencies even though the treble response of the Elear and Clear measure pretty much alike.

Below the distortion plots of the Clear: (only Right channel shown)
Note that this headphone was measured at ears-unlimited-logo where  background noises were present in the demo room. As this is an open headphone distortion levels and spectrum plot performance may thus be better in reality than as shown on the plots.

The distortion products are shown in dB (Left channel).
DIST Clear L

Below the same plot but in with the harmonics shown in percentages instead of level differences in dB.DIST Clear L percent

The distortion is very low, most certainly for a medium sized dynamic driver.
If only all headphones could perform this well !
Distortion levels in the bass below 0.5% is really excellent.
Distortion levels may be lower than shown because of measurement circumstances.
Also the 2nd harmonics may well be lower than shown as the measurement microphone is known to have a higher 2nd harmonic distortion.

Below the CSD of the Clear (Left and Right channel are superimposed)

The peak around 2kHz in the frequency response plot appears to be a resonance. It is not present in the left channel at all. Also around 6kHz the resonance is a bit longer lived.
Not at a problematic severity though.
Above 21kHz the ‘messy’ response in the frequency response plot appears to be a quite long lived resonance as well. Fortunately for us this is above the audible range.
I would not worry about it, even when playing hi-res audio. It is better damped than that of the Elear which has longer lived resonances in that frequency range.
The Utopia may also have this but most likely above 30kHz so I can’t measure it.
In the Utopia the 6kHz ringing is more offensive than that of the Clear.

output resistance / damping-factor

As this is a dynamic headphone the frequency response might be amplifier output resistance dependent when certain higher output resistance amplifiers are used.
To test this the headphone is measured via a low impedance amplifier (0.2Ω) and a high impedance amplifier (120Ω). On a higher output resistance amplifier the output level will be considerably lower. To compensate for this the amplifier is cranked up to the same level (at 1kHz) as the low impedance amplifier. This way the plots are overlay-ed and it is easy to see how the tonal balance changes.
120 Ohm L

As can be seen the tonal balance changes considerably when connected to a higher output resistance amplifier. You get about 6dB more lower bass.
When you would like a little more bass you could connect this headphone to a higher output resistance amplifier. Of course the amount of bass boost depends on the value of the amplifiers output resistance. 120Ω is a bit too much though but amplifiers with an output resistance of 30Ω or so may give a little more ‘body’ and ‘weight’ to the bass.
In return for the extra bass the lower frequencies are somewhat less damped though.
Some of this is seen in the CSD below where the 120Ω and 0.2Ω overlays show the lower mids to be less well damped.CSD 120

For the most neutral sound the output resistance should be between 0Ω and 10Ω.

Below the spectrum plot of the Clear (Left channel)Spectr Clear L

This is an excellent response. This headphone is well capable to show decay of instruments in the proper way. Only above the audible range there are some long lived resonances. Looks better than that of the Elear and Utopia.

By lack of oscilloscope shots below a step response plot of the Clear (Left channel)Step clear L

The step response looks quite good. Bass extension is excellent as the horizontal line is gently and gradually sloping downwards. There is no overshoot in the rising edge to speak off ( exemplary low) There is some very slight ringing which is very short lived. Even after 3ms it is still ‘ringing’ a bit. This is clearly better than the Elear and Utopia.
The Utopia is not performing as well here as the Clear which seems much better damped.


This headphone is top notch when it comes to build quality and comfort.
It’s all about the sound though. This is a very dynamic and ‘open’ sounding headphone.
The tonal balance is close to perfect to my ears. Good alternatives could be the better Stax electrostats, the HIFIMAN HE1000 / Susvara or HD800 with some EQ/Kameleon.
Bass is excellent and tight/punchy. The treble sometimes adds a sharp-ish accent to some instruments but is certainly not annoying. Treble is on the proper level for those that like a clear treble response.
This headphone stands out immediately as ‘realistic’ and not doing much (if anything) very wrong. € 1500.- may be a lot of money to most people but those interested in high quality products and above all sound will get an excellent product here that won’t disappoint unless you are a basshead or Grado/Beyerdynamic treble fan.
One of the more neutral/realistic and ‘dynamic’ headphones around and top-class.
Highly recommended to those who don’t mind forking out a lot of money.

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