When it comes to the high-fidelity headphones, there are no more known names than Sennheiser, Bose, Audeze and few others. However, when French audio manufacturer Focal decided to step into the headphone market, no one truly knew that it’s going to deliver a prevailing quality. In this article, we are going to review Focal Clear headphones, and see how do they bode in the audiophile world.
We’ll take various factors in consideration, including the features of Focal Clear headphones, as well as design, performance and its value. Truthfully speaking, it is nowhere near the cheapest headset on the market, and with that in mind, let’s see whether it delivers as stellar and clear quality as claimed.
Focal Clear Headphones: Features
In the audiophile world, there are two groups of people
- those who enjoy the isolation and privacy the closed-back design offers, and
- those who are looking for a more spacious sound, that open-back design offers.
Audiophiles are split between the two, but the truth is, it’s a personal preference.
For example, if you are a DJ and you need to keep an eye on details and be isolated with your music while working, closed-back design is just fine.
On the other hand, if you listen to classical music, open-back design is perfect.
Focal Clear headphones sport open-back design. That said, they are loud and sport spacious and detailed sound with pointed midstage and highs. The only flaw to this is that other people may as well hear music you are listening to.
Nevermind that, you’re unlikely to take $1000+ headphones to the public bus or anywhere public.
New speakers and drivers
Focal implemented a new technology, a new generation of full-range speakers that will contribute to a better implementation and delivery of sound and bass. The speakers can effortlessly deliver detailed audio, and thanks to the copper-caused magnetic field, sound is even more detailed and deeper.
Those who prefer details and dynamics in the bass and soundstage are going to enjoy the balanced sound that Focal introduced with this model.
As such, many low-range speakers and drivers are known for creating disturbing distortion that affects the listener negatively and causes discomfort.
Rich in connectivity
Clear headphones are equipped with 3 cables out of box, that are compatible with any kind of electronic you want to use, starting from desktop computers and laptops, to high-end audio equipment, speakers, turn-tables and much more.
So, Focal Clear headphones sport 3.5mm mini jack, which can be attached to cellphones, computer, laptop, and pretty much every-day accessories that support the port.
There are also 6.35mm jack, as well as XLR 4 pin connector. All the cables have low resistance of 24 AWG OFC and add copper surrounded by cotton braided sheaths for protection.
High-end headphones, such as Focal Clear don’t focus on innovative features you’d normally find on lower-end headphones.
That’s why this article has a more concise approach towards feature, with a more detailed focus towards the design itself, as well as performance of Focal Clear Headphones.
Nevertheless, Focal introduced us to nice set of features, essential on every professional high-grade headphone. That said, we awarded the features with 5 out of 5.
Design of Focal Clear Headphone:
There is just so much we could say about the design of Focal Clear headphones. It is more than noticeable that the French manufacturer turned to providing the most durable design to break the ice towards the headphone market.
That said, the headphones are made with durable, premium materials to attract consumers who appreciate both comfort and detailed audio. Let’s dive in!
The ergonomics are slightly disappointing, but they shouldn’t surprise due to the headphones’ size and everything that has been packed into them. The headphones weigh 6.8 lbs, which is more than it should be suitable for a listener to enjoy the music.
Even though there are even heavier competitors, there are also those that are much lighter compared to them. The drivers in the headphones are extremely heavy, as well as the solid aluminum yoke.
The manufacturers usually use aluminum, because it’s one of the most lightweight metals, although not even this time it saved on headphone’s weight.
Nevertheless, thanks to the premium materials that add up to the comfort, the massive weight of Focal Clear headphones will hardly be noticed even after extended listening experience.
The ergonomics of the headset by far proves that they are not suitable for outdoor use.
We already warned our readers not to rely on this premium, expensive model if they are going to take them outside.
The ergonomics of the headset by far proves that they are not suitable for outdoor use, as they can cause headache, dizziness, and other discomfort, especially if used for extended amount of time, make sure to stick to the room or studio where its weight won’t affect you too much.
Comfort is another story. Focal added a lot of features to make users feel comfy and enable them to listen to the music, work on their audio tracks or something else for extended amount of time.
Unfortunately, leather is not always the best choice because the skin can sweat and get red or itchy.
Those who like to listen to music for long times, Focal Clear headphones are ideal due to their leather and perforated microfibre added to the headband. That said, the fine leather structure will prevent the strain on your head, and prevent the aforementioned headaches from the previous paragraphs.
With that in mind, it’s good that Focal added special 20mm memory foam that will replace the leather around the ear cushions.
The ear cushions are rotatable so they can freely adjust to any type of ear, while providing a perfect over-ear fit for any type of ears there is.
With extended listening of music, we didn’t feel too fatigued, but in fact, enjoyed the convenience and freedom Focal offered.
It definitely takes some time until you could figure out that you are actually wearing headphones. Still, it’s not advised to push the limits but make pauses so that you don’t get dizzy or too tired.
Every higher-grade pair of headphones debuts with accessories that can make us enjoy the experience more than enough.
Since we already mentioned the selection of detachable cables in paragraphs above, it doesn’t hurt to praise the sturdy, durable bag that perfectly fits the headphones should you go on a trip. Unfortunately, the elegant bag can only store one cable at a time, but we’re sure you’ll find suitable space for other cables if you need them away from home.
Additionally, you can opt for an optional aluminum stand which you can use to display your headphones at home. Maybe you don’t like the thought of having headphones in a bag while being at homes, and you want to rest them at some more suitable space, the headphone stand looks like a perfect idea.
There are some small issues with ergonomics we had, which is why we awarded this headphone model with 4 out of 5. Nevertheless, we are pleased with the noticeable durability and high-quality design.
In performance section, we’ll see whether the design is worth the audio quality.
Focal Clear Review: Performance
Let’s see how Focal Clear headphone perform, we will focus mainly on sound since this pair doesn’t have side-performance accessories like Bluetooth, inline-microphones or other features.
As soon as you put on the headphones and connect them to the desired audio outlet device, you’ll get to see that they are a pleasure to use.
The bass of the headphones is more than present. It’s dynamical and detailed, although not “boomy” Perhaps, to get a higher grip of its presence, you will need to opt for more bass-dominant soundtracks, rather than the ones we chose for testing purposes.
The headphones rather have a sound signature, which may disappoint some bass-lovers. The soundstage is much richer and more dominant compared to the bass.
Nevertheless, those who want to hear more bass in the headphones are welcome to use some equilarizer or eq-like software to refine the bass. After all, Focal Clear headphones are quite resolving and easy to experiment with.
Even though some may find the lack of bass on headphones slightly disappointing,
the balance between bass, mid, and treble is perfectly detailed.
The midstage is rich and detailed, while the treble is perfect, given that the headphones boast open-back design and that way support more spacious sound.
The headphones sport detachable cables that you can change according to your will, and audio equipment you use. However, the headphones don’t have a wireless mode or any type of Bluetooth technology.
Another issue some users may have is that these headphones can’t be used for making calls since they don’t have a microphone. These are not designed for those purpose actually.
While some may find this to be a major turn off, it’s important to keep in mind that Focal Clear was designed specifically for music and music only. They are a rather seen guest on a DJ turntable or some prestigious music studio.
Nevertheless, there still are people who are ready to make a large investment to own the pair at home, and enjoy the luxurious music quality while reading their favorite book next to the fireplace – at least that’s how we can imagine it.
We awarded the headphones with 5 out of 5, despite the not too dominant bass. In fact, we sort of think that’s good, since its spacious, open-back design can improve the treble and show its true brightness, details and signature.
Pros and Cons
There are a lot of things we liked with Focal Clear headphones. However, there are some things that we didn’t like as much. Here is what they are:
- Open-back spacious sound is as ideal for people who prefer detailed and loud music.
- Great sound quality is what makes these headphones suitable for any genre, while the drivers get better and better with each next song.
- Prestigious comfort – you will forget that you’re wearing these headphones as soon as you put them on, still don’t hold them on for too long so you don’t feel sick.
- The headphones are overly expensive and not suitable for everyone’s pocket. However, we’ll discuss more about this below.
- Quite heavy in weight, but memory foam, leather padding makes it much comfortable.
Value for the money
We said that Focal Clear are extremely expensive, and we mean it. It’s no secret that not everyone can afford the headphones that can get as expensive as $1500 in retail, though the price is much less in Amazon.
Nevertheless, the performance they offer, balance in soundstage, as well as prestigious and modern design that offers more convenience than most brands are what should be considered when seeing the price-tag.
Like we said, these headphones are not for everyone. They are for professionals who know their way in music industry, but also top-end audiophiles who don’t expect anything less than the best out of headphones.
For such people, value for the money is 5. However, we give it a four, simply because there are cheaper models who can meet the demands of audiophiles without compromising any features.
We are aware how difficult the headphone research is, hence we hope that you found our review of Focal Clear Headphones sufficiently useful.
If it’s too expensive for you, make sure to check some other models from our review offer. Nevertheless, it’s a perfect companion for every professional who wants to feel the true depth of quality music.