by Kevin OBrien on October 7th 2017

 

FOCAL CLEAR HEADPHONES - FIRST IMPRESSION

 

Today was the second day of the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. We were lucky enough to get a glimpse of the new gear on display and our focus was on Focal's newly released Clear headphones. What exactly does this latest creation from France include and what makes this new model different from Elear? Given the similar price point to their established Elear model headphone ($1000 MSRP), it was key to find out if the extra $500 was going to be worth it for the upgrade. 

 

At $1500 MSRP, the Clear sits above the Elear but is no where near the price of admission of the Utopia at $4000 MSRP. Setting the price at $1500 is important. Getting this hobby back where pricing should be is a good thing for all of us as recent street prices for models from various manufacturers has sky rocketed. It is important to get as many people into the game as possible and the Clear is doing just that. 

Is the Clear just another Elear but with a different finish? We found out the Clear comes with 3 different cables. Inside the packaging you'll find one short 4ft single ended cable with an 1/8" stereo jack, and two longer 10ft cables. One 10ft cable sports a 4-pin balanced connector and the other a single ended 1/4" stereo jack. This is nice. Focal is listening to feedback from customers who don't want a 13 foot cable. The balanced and single ended options give the listener flexibility and allows the Clear to be mated to almost any amplifier on the market.

As far as sound quality goes, the Clear steps up the midrange and treble information and keeps the bass response of the Elear but hits with slightly more punch. Clear does just what its name entails. It reminded me of a clearer, more detailed, and more refined version of the Elear. We went back and forth between the Clear and Elear models listening to the same music and the Clear was definitely our preferred headphone. Can the Clear touch the presentation of the Utopia? Nope. But it positions itself right where it should be in the Focal over-ear line-up and pretty much makes the Elear obsolete in our opinion.

Impedance for the new Clear has been set at 55 Ohms and sensitivity comes in at 104 dB. This allows Clear to be used with a wider variety of devices. Clear implements the same type of driver that Elear uses but with a new copper voice coil inside the driver. This updated voice coil along with an upgraded ear pad provides a more refined sound. Is the asking price justified in this case? We feel it is, especially when you realize what Clear includes that Elear does not. The Clear comes with both balanced and single ended options as well as a slick, hard shell portable carrying case. The Elear does not include either of these options. Focal has done a great job of listening to end user and dealer feedback. It's going to be a hard decision for me personally to try to justify the Utopia's cost when such a great performer can be had for such a comparatively small investment.

We suspect demand will be high for Clear based on what we've shared above. If you're wondering when Clear will be available, that's a good question. The very first batches of Clear are slated to be available on the 17th of November 2017. Once production ramps up, more pairs of clear should roll out but supply will be very limited. Focal states they will be as fair as possible by allocating an equal number of Clear to each dealer that wants them but with all products that are in high demand, it's going to be tough to get your hands on them. 

 

 If you're interested in reserving a pair for yourself, please contact YFS for pre-orders now and we will reserve headphones on a first come, first serve basis. Dealers are getting a very short supply on the 17th so don't expect supplies to last long. 

Thanks for reading and we look forward to hearing from you.

- YFS Review Team

 

 

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