Explanation: In contrast to the full review, the QUICK VIEW only provides a brief tonal and functional overview. Either I haven't been able to spend enough time with the headphones, where the rating has to be taken with a grain of salt, or I don't consider it particularly worthwhile in terms of sound. I will mark which of the two variants applies with "Time", or "Average". The weighting of sound and handling is 2:1.
frequency range: 5 - 28000 Hz | sound pressure level: 104 dB | impedance: 55 Ohm | dynamic
Bass Mids Trebles Stage Imaging
9 9.5 9 9 9
Processing Comfort Earpads Headband Weight
9 8 8 8 450 grams
Price 1500 €
Quick View reason: Time
After the ELEGIA and partly also after the ELEAR (which couldn't completely convince me with its price tag), I had lost a bit of faith in FOCAL, since this is supposed to be the hifi headphone brand par excellence. But then the CLEAR came and taught me better! For me, it is a headphone on which other brands have to be measured when it comes to a neutral and pleasantly warm sound. However, you have to dig deep into your pocket for this.
Handling In the meantime I have understood that FOCAL sticks to their design and I can't expect any big surprises in this respect. The basic design is similar to the ELEAR, ELEGIA, or STELLIA and there are only small differences, for example the pads. These still have the fast soiling microfiber cover and for me it's a mystery how to emphasize this with "white" or better after a short time "grey", but the pads have apart from their good comfort through their holes a better breathability. On the headband you can see quite well on the photo what a frequent use can cause. If you already want to use this pad cover, I think a darker color is appropriate.
The design is, however, as with all "home headphones" from FOCAL, attractive and the workmanship is very satisfactory, even if I would like to have some elements also made of metal. The weight of 450 grams on the datasheet is quite high, but that doesn't stand out too much due to the good padding.
The cable has a black and white striped cloth sheath and measures 1.2m (3.5mm jack). Included in delivery is a hardcover transport case and an adapter to 6.3mm. The CLEAR can also be used at a balanced output due to the double-sided feed (mono jack - 3.5mm), with an appropriate cable.
Soundwise all FOCALs are not far apart in their basic idea, especially concerning the ELEAR and CLEAR. Both have a neutral and pleasantly warm orientation and a similarly good spatial presentation. Here it depends more on small details, where the CLEAR can finally stand out clearly. It is such a headphone that you don't want to take it off again so quickly because there is absolutely nothing that would make you notice anything unpleasant in the signature. Of course you could interpret it negatively that it has no edges and corners, but for me it is an extremely coherent and authentic headphone, which perhaps lacks a bit of brilliance here and there and which sometimes could be a bit more dedicated, but all in all I have little to criticize, especially concerning the tonal aspects. It sounds extremely natural and manages to reveal details without being obtrusive or strained. Due to a reduction around 4-5 kHz it might lose some of its effervescence and the high frequency is certainly not for trebleheads, but it is very pleasant, transparent and velvety soft, with plenty of reserves when the volume increases.
A bit more firmness in the bass and a bit more sub-bass would be desirable. The bass, however, convinces with a natural response, attention to detail and excellent dynamics.
In contrast to the ELEAR it has the better characteristics not only in sound but also technically. Stage and imaging are more mature and vivid. It fully exploits the advantages of its open design and produces a coherent 3D image, which still appears natural despite its dimensions. An AKG K812 creates a bit more space between the instruments for my taste, but the CLEAR sounds more realistic.
Outro Even though the CLEAR has a very relaxed signature, it doesn't disguise anything or appear muted (as is sometimes the case with the ELEAR), but presents you tonal authentically everything you need and want to hear, without compromise. Although the CLEAR is expensive and you may well have to consider whether the step from a Sennheiser HD600/650/6XX is worth the extra money, the FOCAL CLEAR is a great headphone regardless of the price.
Thanks to K55.ch for providing the headphones and the exciting day in the showroom.