About the Focal Clear
Transparent headphone sound from the experts at Focal
The Focal Clear headphones feature specially designed drivers made of premium materials.
Transparent headphone sound from the experts at Focal
Rarely is a product as aptly named as the Focal Clear headphones. These are some of the most pure and pristine-sounding headphones I've ever heard. Focal developed them in the mold of their other two high-end models — the popular Elear headphones and the company's ultimate statement piece, the Utopia headphones.
If you're aware of these earlier models, the Clear's form factor and driver design might look familiar. But Focal did make some major changes — including the silver finish and all-new accessories. And the materials used under the hood help these headphones sculpt a sound signature that is all their own.
They play well with a range of setups
These headphones are also a little more efficient than Focal's other big two, so you could conceivably connect them to a high-res portable player. Still, I found them most enjoyable when powered by a formidable headphone amp. They were such a treat through my normal rig at home — which includes the TEAC NT-503 amp — that I was forced to stop jotting down notes and just listen.
Open-air headphones with focus and precision
Focal, harking back to their loudspeaker roots, describes these headphones as "extremely near-field montors." The drivers are suspended within the large, open-air chambers to create a focused, lifelike soundstage for your music. I find the sound a little more forward than open-back headphones from other high-performance headphone brands, which tend to be more spacious. But there is a great deal of depth and separation within the music.
The large earcups are completely open-back. With no music playing, I could hear everything that was going on around me. While these headphones are realistically too large to use on the go, their soft, oversized mesh ear pads make them very breathable and comfortable.
I found the form-fitting zippered case both attractive and practical.
Specially shaped drivers with pure copper voice coils
Focal employed their patent-pending “M”-shaped diaphragm domes, originally developed for the Elears and Utopias. This special design gives the drivers a more fluid movement, which greatly reduces distortion and phase problems. It is why all of Focal's flagship headphones sound so in control across a wide frequency range.
In the Clears, the domes are made from a sturdy blend of aluminum and magnesium — just like the Elears. These headphones also share the ability to deliver deep, punchy bass. The major step-up here is the all-copper voice coil, a more rigid material that provides better extension and detail in the higher frequencies.
Fashionable and functional accessories
I really love the form-fitting case that Focal includes here. It is a practical size for carrying along, and the included cables pack in neatly. Since the Utopias and Elears are the identical size, you could use it for them, too — if you're lucky enough to have more than one model.
You have a choice of three cables, each sporting a nice patterned cloth cover. One is average length and terminated with a 3.5mm mini plug. The other two are extra-long, so you have some slack to just lean back and listen (one is terminated by a 1/4” unbalanced plug, the other a balanced XLR plug).
How do they compare to the Focal Utopia headphones?
This is the natural question everyone asks: how do they stack up against Focal's $4,000 top-of-the-line headphones? We had to find out for ourselves, so our "Demo Days" crew set up a listening station with the Utopia and Clear headphones side by side. Both were powered by the Marantz ND8006 jack-of-all-trades source component, which has a robust headphone amp built in.
I discussed the comparison with some of my coworkers:
Jim Ralston, Crutchfield web editor: "I listened to a track from the electronica group Boards of Canada to compare the two. The Clears had a subtle sub bass extension that I didn't notice on the Utopias. Both sounded excellent, but I heard a higher level of detail in the Utopias. Still, the Clear headphones had a low-frequency emphasis that some listeners might prefer."
Me: "I agree. We're talking different degrees of great. I could actually see someone who like deeper bass reaching for these headphones and being completely satisfied."
Mike Colley, Crutchfield Creative director: "Both were super-comfortable. I could wear them for hours, I'm sure. At first, the Clear sounded quite a bit smoother than the Utopia to my ears. Then I started listening to some K-pop tracks which had a very wide range of sounds and energy levels for the headphones to deal with. I started to notice that the “less smooth” aspect of the Utopia was perhaps a good thing.
The Utopia was more precise and revealing. I noticed textures in the synths, reverbs/decays, plus separation between instruments and harmony vocal parts."
- over-the-ear, open-back design for focused, natural sound with controlled bass
- 40mm dynamic drivers made of high-grade materials
- specially-designed "M-shaped" aluminum/magnesium domes deliver wide-range frequency response
- frameless copper voice coil creates strong magnetic field for greater music detail
- we recommend a separate headphone amplifier for optimum sound quality
- designed, developed, and assembled in Saint-Etienne, France
- drivers positioned in open-back headphone chamber to help emulate the sound of loudspeakers
- padded, leather-lined headband and micro-fiber fabric-lined earcups
- 20mm memory foam padding on the earcups
- aluminum headband yokes slide comfortably and sturdily into place
- 3 detachable oxygen-free copper cables:
- 9.8-foot cable with balanced XLR4 connector
- 9.8-foot cable with unbalanced 1/4" stereo plug
- 3.9-foot cable with unbalanced 3.5mm stereo plug
- each cable features 3.5mm locking headphone connectors for secure, high-quality connections
- rigid, form-fitting storage case with padded interior
- 1/4" adapter included
- frequency response: 5-28,000 Hz
- sensitivity: 104 dB
- impedance: 55 ohms
- weight: 15.7 oz.
- warranty: 1 year
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
- MFR # Clear
What's in the box:
- Over-ear headphones
- 48" Audio cable (with two 3.5mm plugs on the headphone end and a straight 3.5mm plug on the device end)
- Screw-type 3.5mm-to-1/4" adapter
- 117" Audio cable (with two 3.5mm plugs on the headphone end and a straight 1/4" plug on the device end)
- 117" Balanced audio cable (with two 3.5mm plugs on the headphone end and an XLR-4 connector on the device end)
- Zippered storage case
- User manual
- Thank you card
Focal Clear reviews
Focal's Clear headphones are amazing! (I have Utopia No 7 (active) and KRX3's in my car & truck, respectively, so I get spoiled all the time by some of Focal's best.) The music flows out of these cans superbly. They are not as pristine as the Utopia's drivers, but they are so so close. Played through a Sony PHA-3 listening to Tidal HiFi-quality (aka 16/44) streams was love at first stanza. The shimmer of a cymbal's metal is evident; the bass is tight and has just the right authority I expect to hear; the crisp pop of a snare drum is discernable. After a disappointing couple days with the Elegia, the Clear's immaculate performance right out of the box made me instantly smile and spend the next couple hours jumping through some of my favorite tracks via the Tidal collection. Earlier today, an audiophile friend and I spent a few hours with the Clears. He was completely taken by the Clears, declaring them in the Top 3 of the headphones he's heard (which includes the Utopia). Truly believe the Clear are one of the best values in high-end headphones today. These are SO good at this price, while where more pricey cans lack or equal them. I cannot wait to get a balanced cable for them and see what more they can do.
Pros: Fantastic detail across the sound spectrum. Not Utopias, but oh so close for a whole lot less investment.
Cons: Wish the short cable was a foot longer.
1 of 1 found this helpful
Extremely nice pair of headphones. Sound amazing . Build quality is excellent. The only thing it's lacking a tad bit in the bass department and the treble is a little on the higher side. Still an excellent set to own .
Pros: Build quality Price
Cons: There could be just a little bit more bass .
1 of 1 found this helpful
This is an excellent headphone. I've owned the Focal Utopia headphone for a year. I decided to try the Clear based on favorable reviews. Wow. I'm impressed. The Clear seems more balanced than the Utopia to me. The Utopia is an excellent headphone, no doubt. But the Clear has better bass and a more relaxed sound that is enjoyable to listen to. The Focal Clear is a great sounding, well-built, and good looking headphone. I highly recommend them.
Pros: Excellent sound quality. Terrific build quality.
6 of 6 found this helpful
Arrived quickly in great packaging. The product itself is great. Already broken in and enjoying the headphones. An amazing upgrade from the HD650. Using Chord Modo as DAC. Everything is clear and the tonal balance is perfect, not too much of anything and nothing is missing. Comfort is great as well. They look even better in reality and the additional accessories are great (Cables and the hard case). I love the fact that so many different music genres sound great. From Acoustic (Jack Johnson) pop (Paul Mccartney) through Rock (Maroon 5) to Nickelback they all sound great. I truly believe I found my end game headphones. Other headphones I love so you will know my background: Sennheiser HD6XX, Sony MDR 1A, Sony 100AAP
Pros: Sound great for many Genres Look and feel Accessories
Cons: Nothing I could find
8 of 8 found this helpful
I compared these side-by-side with the Audeze LCD-3s, and these sounded better to me than the Audezes, despite being $500 cheaper. I tested on both a Marantz DAC and a cell phone. My recordings were a mix of hi-def classical, hip hop, outdoors ambient recordings among others. The sound is extremely natural and clear enough that you can listen to it at high volume without getting fatigued. Compared with Audeze these have much more presence and clarity. While they don't emphasize the bass as much, the bass does seem sharper than with Audeze on my setup. The stereo imaging is also very spacious and beautiful. They can very clearly be driven by a mobile device, presumably because of the low ohm rating. It was actually quite shocking how well a cell phone drove these. For some people this does not matter, but for me it adds to the value. The description of these by non-audiophile friends: "alive", "present", "involving". Finally, I would say that these have more body to them than lower-tier Grados, which can often sound too "bright" or "sharp" to my ears. They have a great body to the sound without lacking detail. Also worth noting: if you are a sucker for beautiful, clean cabling then this is a good fit. My friends and I all went jaw-dropped when we opened up the package to find the 3 beautiful cables.
Pros: * Extremely engrossing, involving image * Very good clarity at all frequencies * Beautiful finish and cabling
Cons: * Very slight resonance/noise at some high frequencies, which a discerning audiophile may find concerning. Very small effect, but noticeable if you have a sharp ear.
21 of 21 found this helpful
The "cleanest" sounding headphone I've ever heard. Makes the Elear sound bloated. The Clear is an ethereal sound that, in my opinion, constitutes the price tag.
14 of 18 found this helpful
More details on the Focal Clear
Features & specs
|Earcup Width x Height||3.772" x 4.188"|
|Mic For Taking Calls||No|
|Frequency Response||5-28k Hz|
|Cord Length||117" + 48"|
|1/4-inch Adapter Included||Yes|
|Parts Warranty||1 Year|
|Labor Warranty||1 Year|
Overview: The Focal Clear audiophile over-ear headphones utilize many of the same technologies found in the flagship Utopia and Elear headphones. Clear is designed and manufactured in St. Etienne France, and features an open back design to open up the listening space to let you enjoy the headphones' full-range speakers. Clear comes with balanced and unbalanced cables, and a handsome fabric-covered, zippered hard carrying case.
Drivers: Clear features large 40mm full-range inverted aluminum/magnesium alloy, "M"-profile dome drivers. The drivers are lightweight and highly rigid, with excellent damping properties. The unique shape of the drivers is the same as the ones used in the Utopia, offering high quality sound and blocking distortion. The speakers are angled directly toward your ear canals to allow you to hear details in your music that you haven't heard before, with great dynamics and depth.
Open Headphone Design: Focal decided that the best way to deliver all of Clear's performance was to utilize a fully open headphone design to totally decompress the loudspeakers. The open design provides the lowest possible acoustic impedance to reproducing accurate and detailed bass frequencies, and gives you an extremely natural listening experience.
Ear Cups: The plush (20mm thick) circum-aural memory foam ear cushions are covered with perforated microfiber fabric. Hundreds of 1 millimeter diameter micro-perforations surround the ear cups to provide the sensation of openness that you would have when listening in a room, instead of headphones. Clear features a specially designed solid aluminum yoke that is lightweight with a luxurious leather and perforated microfiber headband for maximum comfort.
Cable: Clear comes with three cables for use with all types of electronics. The cables have cotton-braided sheaths, with low-resistance 24-gauge OFC copper for maximum signal transfer. The headphones come with a 48" (1.2m) cable with a stereo 3.5mm plug for use with high-end portable music players, along with two 10' (3m) cables with balanced (XLR-4) and unbalanced (1/4") connectors. A screw-type 3.5mm-to-1/4" adapter is included, so you can use it with the shorter cable. All of the cables have dual 3.5mm plugs with locking mechanisms that maintain a secure connection to each ear cup.
- Frequency Response: 5Hz - 28kHz
- Impedance: 55 ohms
- Sensitivity: 104dB SPL / 1 mW @ 1kHz
- THD: <0.25% / 1 kHz / 100dB SPL
- Ear Cup Dimensions: 3.772" W, 4.188" H, 2.459" D
- Weight: 15.7 ounces (without cable)
Q Crutchfield asked: Why did you buy this?