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DontDooDad
94
Aug 4, 2017
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TL;DR: Focal Listen
I tried using my M50x on the go, but my LG G4 didn't get them loud enough, and they don't have enough bass for me. And using the EQ to increase the bass just made everything else less loud instead :-D
I bought a DAC/amp combo with EQ for that reason (Sound Blaster E5), but the G4's Bluetooth is absurdly bad (at least on mine), and with cables this was too much of a hassle. So I only used the M50x at work through the E5 with the EQ running to boost the bass. Software based solutions on the Mac either cost money or had their own issues of sound cutting out.
After two years, the fake leather on the padding (earpads and headband) starting disintegrating, and they looked pretty hideous as a result.
I went to an audio store and said I would like to get a new pair of closed cans in the <$1000 range (I didn't really want to spend that much, but if something had blown me away, I would have). They showed me two models for $800 which I didn't consider better than the M50x, and one for $1200, which was maybe a tad better - but not $1000 better. Then they showed me the open-backed Focal Elear and I was in awe. Sounded just like actual speakers - amazing.
But they are open, so not good for the office or public transportation. Checked what else Focal has to offer and found the Focal Listen. Reviews were positive, some also suggested the Meze 99 Classics, which are gorgeous.
So I went back to the audio store and compared both to my M50x. Both sounded better to me, didn't lose the wonderful highs of the M50x, but had enough bass, and were more comfortable.
Then I discovered something I never heard before: on the Focal, I could pinpoint the source of the instruments, while with everything else, it sounded more like instruments and voices are coming from a larger surface.
So I went with the Focal Listen! I love them. The headband is a little uncomfortable, and the microphone is crap, but the sound is absolutely gorgeous.
I tried about 20 headphones last Saturday, for up to $2000 each, but didn't like any of them better. mrspeakers has a more natural sounding bass, Sennheiser HD800 a lovely sound stage, but nothing sounded better to me overall (the HD800 have less bass).
Also very nice: the Focal are very efficient (32 ohms, 122 dB sensitivity). Now I have great sound straight out of my phone! So happy.
Best $249 I ever spent. There's now also a wireless version for $299 or so, have not tested that.
Aug 4, 2017
DontDooDad
94
Aug 4, 2017
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They also isolate very well, even more than the M50x, which also do a great job. Enough for the office or the train, at least while listening to something.
On the plane I might still choose my Bose QC20 with active noise cancellation instead, but mostly because they are in-ears, allowing me to rest my head on my side, and making it easier to get them in and out of my backback with those crammed economy seats.
Aug 4, 2017
DontDooDad
94
Aug 4, 2017
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One thing I like better about the M50x is that you can rotate the ear cups by 90º in either direction. That is really useful when you have to put the headphones on your neck since you can still freely move your head. The Focal instead restrict your mobility when you do that. In terms of storage, the Focal fold down nicely, so no complaints there. Both come with a little pouch, not a hard case. The Focal one is a little smaller, slightly padded (look like neoprene to me), and has a zipper, while the M50x's pouch has fake leather, no padding and just uses drawstrings to close (at least on mine, I have the M50xBL with different colors). Looks nicer, but protects the headphone less.
Aug 4, 2017
Randingo
30
Aug 7, 2017
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I can't speak to the Listen!, but I've been very happy with the Focal Spirit, which was their original foray into headphones. They do many things well, and I think you'll find them superior to your hifiman phones in almost all ways. I certainly do...
Aug 7, 2017
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