Made with Focal’s brilliant engineering and extraordinary attention to detail, the Elex headphones take a fundamentally different approach to dynamic drivers—and deliver a better measured performance across the board than headphones several times their price. A refinement of the $1,000 Elear with elements of the $1,500 Clear, they boast several improvements to the sound, build, and aesthetic, too Read More
Made with Focal’s brilliant engineering and extraordinary attention to detail, the Elex headphones take a fundamentally different approach to dynamic drivers—and deliver a better measured performance across the board than headphones several times their price. A refinement of the $1,000 Elear with elements of the $1,500 Clear, they boast several improvements to the sound, build, and aesthetic, too. The perforated microfiber ear pads bring the bass down a bit, the matching perforated microfiber headband ensures breathable comfort, and the colorway has been simplified to a subtle, mostly matte black. Finally, we’ve replaced the Elear’s 9.8-foot rubberized cable with two 6-foot cloth-wrapped cables: one with a quarter-inch connection and one with a four-pin XLR plug by Neutrik.
Massdrop Made Brand Spotlight
Driver Design, Philosophy & Performance
Among the world’s foremost speaker manufacturers since 1979, Focal brings a unique philosophy that emphasizes acoustic research, design purity, and a commitment to reproducing the artist’s work as faithfully as possible. The Elex features the company’s newly developed 40-millimeter full-range dynamic driver with an aluminum-magnesium “M”-shaped cone. Meant to sit about 2 inches from the ear, this driver is unmatched when it comes to impulse response, transient response, and low distortion. The driver excursion (how far the driver travels at maximum power input) is 10 times greater than most dynamic drivers, allowing the Elex to extend down to 5 Hz without roll-off: something no other headphones can claim. Another way Focal comes out heads above the rest? All its drivers are QCed to within 0.5-decibel tolerances.
Updates to the Sound & Build Quality
With the Elear as a foundation, the Elex aims to give the audiophile community everything it’s looking for in a “super HD 650.” The memory foam ear pads are as plush as ever, and based on community feedback, they’re now wrapped in perforated microfiber to bring the bass down to a tasteful emphasis: ~3 dB above neutral, compared to the 5 to 10 dB of the Elear. The Elear’s leather headband has been updated to more breathable perforated microfiber, and it still allows for length adjustment and ear cup rotation to provide long-wearing comfort for all head shapes and sizes. Finally, instead of the Elear’s single cable, you’ll get a pair of shorter, more robust lighter-weight cables with different connection types for plugging into a variety of music sources.
Focal: Second to None
Though it’s widely known among audiophiles today, Focal remains, at its core, an engineering boutique. Everything from research and development to engineering to production happens in the same facility in the Loire city of Saint-Étienne. The drivers are assembled by a handful of technicians, and every part is tested and QCed at every stage of the assembly process. The glue used to attach the driver diaphragm to the surround (the black material around it) is a custom formula created by Focal’s chemical engineers. Developed to allow maximum driver movement, the surround is 80 microns thick compared to the 200-micron-thick material available elsewhere: a testament to Focal’s belief that, when it comes to making the best products out there, every detail counts.
Frequency Response Graphs
Total Harmonic Distortion Graphs
Optional Drop + THX AAA™ 789 Linear Amplifier
Announced at CES 2018, the Drop + THX Achromatic Audio Amplifier (THX AAA™) 789 is a linear bipolar amplifier with feed-forward error correction. It’s designed for objectivists who appreciate an incredibly clean, transparent amp—the sought-after “wire with gain” whose amplification is wholly uncolored by a sound of its own. Made in collaboration with THX Ltd., it features the company’s groundbreaking THX AAA and feed-forward topology, which reduce distortion by 20 to 40 dB for realistic, fatigue-free listening. In fact, this bridged-output amp’s performance figures speak for themselves: It’s powerful (2 x 6W at 32 ohms) and quiet (136 dB SNR) with a record-low THD of -140 dB at 300 ohms, 100 mW. That’s four times the power of the Objective 2 amp, for example, with far less distortion.
Massdrop x Focal
Open-back circumaural design
40mm full-range dynamic driver with aluminum-magnesium “M”-shaped dome