Family Photo Day for Clan Focal

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raansire7
1410
Oct 31, 2021
Impressive collection, Mr. Moneybags. šŸ˜
betty43
6
Jun 17, 2021
Awesome headphones, every one of them. My Stelias are the best headphones I've ever owned.
SpeleoFool
657
Jan 2, 2022
Bass is an interesting topic. As I've gained more experience with more listening chains, I found there are (at least) two main factors in getting the most impactful, textured, amazing bass: the headphones themselves and amplification. Focal headphones are all fairly easy to drive, so they tend to sound great out of midfi amps. I came up in the hobby on Topping stacks (e.g., D90 / A90), but I was chasing detail, not bass. Amp stacks like that will drive Focal headphones quite well, and because of that I didn't push my amp game further until I got into planars. Planars seem more prone than dynamic cans to anemic.bass when underpowered. Mostly it comes across as softer, "fuzzier," and less punchy. In any case, I've leveled up my desktop stack to Ferrum Hypsos+Oor, which has power for days. It's amazing how tight, controlled, and energetic bass gets with vast amounts of clean power. I mention all this, because friends of mine whose ears I trust have been discovering Utopia recently and claiming it slams like no other. That's interesting to me, because I don't have that same recollection. The difference between their chains and mine, though, is amplification. Anyway, to answer your question, I think Stellia probably has the best bass of the bunch. There's a "tasteful" bump in the tuning, the closed cups help with punch, and the Be driver provides all the detail and top end resolution you could want. Still, I don't really think of any Focals for bass. They can do it, but they aren't really showcasing bass. I haven't heard those Denons you have, so I can't offer any fair comparisons, but I'm guessing they're biodynamic drivers, which can certainly move a lot of air and deliver truckloafs of low end rumble. FWIW, one of my favorite cans for "guilty pleasure" bass is the Beyer 1770 Pro w/ pad swap to the included pleather. Anyway, hope that helps to figure out your next moves. Enjoy the journey. :-D
SpeleoFool
657
Jan 2, 2022
I started with A90, which is decent, but not optimal. It's plenty good enough to live with while saving for another amp, but it is a bottleneck. If you end up stretching to afford Sus like I did, A90 is a great stopgap. It doesn't really sound like you're leaving anything on the table until you hear a better amp. My next amp was actually 2 channels of the McIntosh 8207 7-channel amp I use to power my theater. I only have 5.1 surround,.so I hijacked the two spare channels for Susvara (I use a Goldpoint level control for trim). The McInchain delivers about 25W at Susvara impedance. It's as clean and well defined as any other Sus chain I've heard. My current setup is Ferrum Hypsos+Oor. It trades blows with the McIntosh chain for Sus, and has been a magnificent improvement for every other headphone I've tried on it so far. Easy, easy recommendation. I love that chain! One thing that surprised me was how much Meze LIRIC improved from A90 to V280 to Oor. After all, it's pretty easy to drive, so I didn't expect much scaling with amps more powerful than A90. But I found a track with mean impact that brought A90 to its knees: https://song.link/us/i/1318720777 The beat in this track is like a sledgehammer hitting concrete. I was surprised that V280 offered significantly better control than A90 during that passage. And Hypsos+Oor is better still, with a better sense of control and more natural, relaxed presentation of the rest of the track in the midst of earth shattering punch.
Masterosculator
0
Dec 9, 2020
Hi, I see you have the Stellia in the pic. Iā€™m based in London and tried to call the distributors listed in the focal website for UK but none seem to carry the Stellia. They have other Focal models burn in specifically looking for this. Any thoughts where I can get it? Thanks bud.
SpeleoFool
657
Dec 9, 2020
I'm in the U.S. (Arizona). I got mine from headphones-dot-com. I'm not really sure about where to look in London / UK. I asked a friend of mine there and he didn't know, either. I have heard second-hand about a place in Amsterdam that carries all kinds of high-end headphones, but I didn't catch the name. Only that it's like ā‚¬200 to reserve a time to audition any headphone you like, and that can be applied toward a purchase if you choose to buy. Sounds like a cool experience--at least in a world w/o COVID. If you can't find anything online or local, the only other idea I have is either looking on the secondhand market or waiting for shows like CANJAM to resume. Good luck!
output555
87
Jan 2, 2022
Ebay, of course.
SpeleoFool
657
Mar 13, 2020
Massdrop x Focal Elex were the headphones that triggered my obsession with Focal. They made such an impression that I went straight to the top for Utopia next. Later, after reading glowing reviews of Elegia, I decided to see what Focal could do with closed-back cans. Within hours of placing my order for Elegia I received an email announcement for Stellia. Eager to see if Stellia could capture the best parts of Utopia and Elegia, I added it to the collection; it has become my favorite of the bunch. Stumbling upon a killer deal on Elegia, I bought a second pair and converted my first into a headset with an Antlion Modmic 5. Finally, another great deal on the Focal Clear Professional persuaded me to round out my collection with it. I brought the whole collection into the office for a "family photo," and it turned out so well I thought I'd share it here. Thanks, Drop, for introducing me to my favorite headphones!
SpeleoFool
657
Apr 10, 2020
Apologies--I had a response typed out and lost it to a browser crash, then I've neglected to come back to this. It's extremely difficult (and not super-meaningful) to condense everything down to an explicit ranking. It's much easier to describe why I own each of these and what each one does best compared to the rest of the line. My most-loved pair are the Stellias. Both Stellia and Utopia have unreal detail retrieval thanks to their beryllium drivers. Utopia very slightly edges out Stellia in this regard, but is unbelievably open--put them on and it almost sounds like you're wearing nothing at all. Every sound from your surroundings will intrude on your listening experience. Stellia's closed backs do a great job of blocking out moderate noise, even without music playing, and once the tunes start they're all I hear. Stellia also has a welcome bump to the bass that that give it wonderful impact with music like EDM. Elegia is my favorite Focal from a sheer value proposition. It was my daily driver at the office for a long time. It's amazingly open-sounding, and performance is very close to what the two flagships deliver for a small fraction of the price. Details are a little softer and decay rolls off faster, but you'd be hard-pressed to notice without a direct A-B comparison. These have been my top headphone recommendation for anyone looking to step up beyond Sennheiser 6xx territory and not ready to step into multiple-kilobuck flagship territory. If a closed back is not important, Elex could very easily take Elegia's place for best value recommendation. I wish it came with Focal's very impressive (and expensive) case, but that can be overlooked for the sake of keeping the price down. Still, I really wish Drop would partner with Focal to offer a blacked-out version of that case for people looking to take Elex on the go. In any case, these are stupendously good headphones and could easily be the best option of the bunch for people not needing a closed back model and not ready to invest in one of the flagships (and a pristine playback chain capable of driving them to good effect). If I had simply ranked Elex #4 out of 5 I'd have done them a disservice; it's not that they're poor, but that beryllium is amazing and closed backs are important to me for listening at the office. Of everything, I've spent the least time with the Clears, but they've already made an impression on me as a bit more of a "specialist" headphone. The Clear Pros are marketed as a studio / professional tool moreso than an audiophile headphone, and I can see why. None of the other Focals sound colored (to me) until I compare them to the Clears. The thing that most stood out to me about the Clears' voicing is how utterly non-fatiguing it is. I can listen to any of these headphones all day long--and I do--but the Clears are something I could use all day, every day. The mids are a little recessed compared to the other Focal models, but not in a hollow way--more like just staying out of the way of everything else. For "fun" listening, the Clears might be the last set I'd reach for out of the whole bunch, but for analytical listening or auditioning new amps / DACs they'd probably be among the first. I feel like I should close by saying that I could be happy with any one of these headphones as my only set. None of them have any faults that would wear on me or leave me wanting. All of them play well with all types of music. It's that versatility that's probably most responsible for my adding so many different Focal headphones to my collection.
(Edited)
bobkiksbread
2
May 28, 2020
Thank you for this write up! Very enlightening šŸ˜