Focal Clear MG Headphone Review & Comments

dollag

Well-known Member
Great review @Ed Selley

Been hearing great things about the MG's.

IMO, Hifiman Arya are the best headphones under £1500. I wonder if these take them off the throne.
 

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
IMO, Hifiman Arya are the best headphones under £1500. I wonder if these take them off the throne.

Having tested the Ayra fairly recently elsewhere, as far as I'm concerned, it isn't close but I say this as someone who has only truly liked a relatively small number of planar magnetic headphones.
 

dollag

Well-known Member
Having tested the Ayra fairly recently elsewhere, as far as I'm concerned, it isn't close but I say this as someone who has only truly liked a relatively small number of planar magnetic headphones.

the first time I heard them I wasn’t a fan either, they sounded pretty pretty weak, lifeless and harsh.

they seemed to thrive on power as pretty low impedence and low sensitivity. Really changed my opinion of them.

anyhow this is not their review so apologies for the off topic.

I will defo have to go and audition these when we can get back to some social normality.

again thanks for your review. has made me even more intrigued.
 

Otto Chriek

Standard Member
"frequency response of 5Hz - 28Hz" I know it's a typo but it made me chuckle, the worlds first headphone subwoofer.
 

acgingersnaps

Active Member
Love my headphone set up (£315 for cans and amp). I'm almost glad that these are so far over what I'm prepared to pay for headphones, that I'll never even have a small listen. Ignorance is bliss!
Good review, as usual.
 

dollag

Well-known Member
"frequency response of 5Hz - 28Hz" I know it's a typo but it made me chuckle, the worlds first headphone subwoofer.

Misread your post 😂😂
 
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Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
@Otto Chriek was (correctly) noting that I'd neglected the K of KHz, giving these headphones a dizzying frequency response of 22Hz. It's now been corrected.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
@Ed Selley how is the Bartók crossfeed feature introduced in the software update? Headphones crossfeed is my new obsession
 

fordster

Member
Another great review Ed but I think I’ll stick with my HD800S. However had these been around at the time I might have made a different decision...

Off topic but I noticed you were using the Rotel Michi X3 for part of this review. I’m guessing a full review is coming but how any comments on how it performs as a headphone amplifier?
 

HariSeldon

Well-known Member
Hi Ed, great review. I’ve recently been looking at second hand Utopia’s after reading all the reviews and wanting a bedside system. However, without being able to demo my concern is a few comments that it lacks bottom end, which as a big electronica fan wouldn’t really work. For reference I tried a pair of HD800S and they didn’t work for me.

How does the overall quality and signature of the ClearMG compare to the Utopia?
 

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
Great review. Would you recommend these to use with Naim Unity Atom??

I've not tried them together but the Clear MG is pretty sensitive so it should work on the understanding that more ornate headphone amps might have more to give.

@Ed Selley how is the Bartók crossfeed feature introduced in the software update? Headphones crossfeed is my new obsession

I have been learning about the Bartok's implementation and that'll be covered in the review here. In the case of that review copy, it refers to the more prosaic 25/50/75% adjustment that Chord allows via the X-PHD button. 25% is plenty.

Off topic but I noticed you were using the Rotel Michi X3 for part of this review. I’m guessing a full review is coming but how any comments on how it performs as a headphone amplifier?

There will indeed be a full Michi X3 review. It's a pretty good headphone amp although the Rega Aethos is the champ for internal headphone amps of the amps I've tested at the moment.

How does the overall quality and signature of the ClearMG compare to the Utopia?

Awkwardly, I've never heard Utopia (Stellia yes, Utopa no). I've not found these to be lean headphones but, for context, I didn't find the HD800S to be lean on the equipment here either. Clear MG gets very close to Stellia it has to be said.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
Hi Ed, great review. I’ve recently been looking at second hand Utopia’s after reading all the reviews and wanting a bedside system. However, without being able to demo my concern is a few comments that it lacks bottom end, which as a big electronica fan wouldn’t really work. For reference I tried a pair of HD800S and they didn’t work for me.

How does the overall quality and signature of the ClearMG compare to the Utopia?

I've been against it in the past but try EQ. Many profiles uploaded to the internet for the HD800S
 

unground

Active Member
Some people believe that you are cheating when you use the EQ. @Steven are you one of them?
And others are firmly of the opinion that all headphones require EQ in order to play back the sound as the mastering engineer intended. I don't know where this anti-EQ thing came from, perhaps someone can enlighten me? EQ is used throughout the recording and mastering process, so why not during playback to account for the variances in the transducer, in the same way that a TV needs calibrating to a standard? And it's becoming increasingly accepted that we need to EQ our speakers to our room unless we go to town on room treatments, which most of us can't do. Perhaps in hifi EQ at the playback end somehow indicates that a piece of hifi isn't perfect, or heaven forbid, that it should adhere to standards that are thankfully now accepted in video playback but seem to be resisted in the hifi world. Interesting that there is also a Clear MG model as part of the Pro range. No idea what the difference is, apart from the Pro appear to be a bit cheaper! The Pro range includes well-respected studio monitors, which of course have in-built EQ controls.
 
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yorkshire rose

Active Member
new to headphones, and spent many ££ trying to achieve the perfect stereo speaker setup. (neighbours can testify) However just discovered the benefit of headphones (generally listen to music on my own ) would these work with the ifi zen dac, or do you need something a lot more powerful to get the best out of them.
thanks
 

HariSeldon

Well-known Member
@Ed Selley
Sorry for slight o/t but as I (hope) to soon once again use these on my travels, so closed back an advantage, how did you find the Stellia? Is it usable from a mobile setup?
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
Some people believe that you are cheating when you use the EQ. @Steven are you one of them?
I used to be that purist person but changed my mind couple years ago. Tasteful application of EQ to maximise enjoyment is fine

new to headphones, and spent many ££ trying to achieve the perfect stereo speaker setup. (neighbours can testify) However just discovered the benefit of headphones (generally listen to music on my own ) would these work with the ifi zen dac, or do you need something a lot more powerful to get the best out of them.
thanks

As far as I know all of the Focal headphones range are relatively easy to drive, it is about quality of amplification and synergy. If you read online the wrong pairing can risk thin sounding notes or a treble edge✌️
 

gibbsy

Moderator
When I was auditioning headphone amps I tried the original Clears at the dealers. Very comfortable and I did like the overall sound. Little brighter I thought than my Oppo PM1s and would maybe suit some genres better.

Daft idea putting a 3m balanced lead instead of a neutrik. £2.4K is a lot of money for the Arche. Don't mind spending the money for headphones but the amp is just too much.
 

aidencoder

Novice Member
When I was auditioning headphone amps I tried the original Clears at the dealers. Very comfortable and I did like the overall sound. Little brighter I thought than my Oppo PM1s and would maybe suit some genres better.

Daft idea putting a 3m balanced lead instead of a neutrik. £2.4K is a lot of money for the Arche. Don't mind spending the money for headphones but the amp is just too much.
I have Focal Clears with Topping D90 DAC and A90 Amp, together they were about £1k, and you'd struggle to do any better. Absolute beast of a setup.
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
new to headphones, and spent many ££ trying to achieve the perfect stereo speaker setup. (neighbours can testify) However just discovered the benefit of headphones (generally listen to music on my own ) would these work with the ifi zen dac, or do you need something a lot more powerful to get the best out of them.
thanks
@yorkshire rose Which pair of headphones have you got? I would recommend going to the Headphone Calculator we designed. Headphone Calculator | iFi audio

The Zen Dac is capable of driving many different headphones. When bundled with Zen Can you would hardly find a pair this team could not match.
 

yorkshire rose

Active Member
Hi i have the sony xm1000 x3 so a pretty low budget option. I have looked at the hifiman ananda BT also.

Im hoping there is a big step up in performance if going down the mid end route.
 

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