Focal Elear Headphone Review

Blueshound24 has a review over on Head-Fi of the Focal Elear headphones.  They are an amazing headphone priced right around $1,000.  The characteristics of the Elear, taken directly from the review, are: “Insane slam!, startling, fast, dynamic, impact, attack, separation, textured, sweet airy treble, detailed, coherent, refined, depth, large, space of the venue, decay, flat response, presence.”  Click the link below to read the entire review.

Pros – Insane slam!, startling, fast, dynamic, impact, attack, separation, textured, sweet airy treble, detailed, coherent, refined, depth, large, space of the venue, decay, flat response, presence.
Cons – The slight basshead in me might prefer a tad more bass.
Slightly heavy

Elear Headphone Review

Meze 99 Neo Headphone Review

Hisoundfi has a great review of the Meze 99 Neo on Head-Fi.  This is the follow on to the original Meze 99 Classic.  The primary difference between the two headphones is with the material used to make them.  The Classic uses a wood cup versus plastic for the Neo.  There are likely some tuning adjustments as well.  From the few reviews of the Neo I have read there appears to be a slight tilt to the Classic with folks liking the original a bit over the Neo.  Try them out at a meet and see for yourself.

Pros – Classics-like performance at a cheaper asking price, Black and chrome aesthetic looks sharp, Nice cable options and travel case, musical sound signature works with many genres
Cons – Not for those who want neutral and airy sound, Mid-bass can be overwhelming depending on the track that’s playing, Headband microphonics

Review of Meze 99 Neo

Focal Utopia Headphone Review

Currawong has posted a review of the Utopia on Head-Fi.  As with comments from other reviews of the Utopia, you must have a TOTL ecosystem to support these headphones.  Poorly mastered recordings or average amping will make the Utopia miss its mark as a true top-end headphone i.e. Stax SR009.  What this means is that you will need $4,000 for the Utopia plus a chunk more change on your amp/DAC/cables/power purifier/turntable/Hi-Res (and well mastered) media.  My ears are no longer capable of supporting this sort of expenditure.

The review includes comparisons with the Sony MDR-Z1R, HD-800, MrSpeakers’ Ether Flow and the HiFiMan HE1000 V2.

Pros: Incredibly resolving of music and upstream components. Incredible driver speed and ability to perceive width, depth and the movements of sounds.

Cons: Incredibly resolving of music and upstream components. Sound a bit closed-in if not used with a top system. Bass a bit weak and has phase issues.

Review of Utopia

Audioquest NightOwl Carbon Review

Cinder posted a review on Head-Fi of the new NightOwl from Audioquest.  This ostensibly is a closed version of the NightHawk.  However, the NightOwl is priced significantly more than the NightHawk at $699.  Unfortunately, this review had no comparisons with other headphones.  I’ll hunt down other reviews which have comparisons and link them below.

Pros: Very good 3D-audio placement, lots of detail retrieval, great extension on both ends, eco-friendly packaging, great case, comfortable, classy look
Cons: Expensive, only comes with one cable

Review of NightOwl

Focal Utopia Headphone Review

Aornic posted a very nice video and extensive written review of the Utopia over on Head-Fi.  I included a link below for the video review on Head-Fi.  It’s interesting that the soundstage is a bit constrained i.e. similar to HD600 series.

Pros: Extreme clarity and detail, easily driven, good build quality, not lacking in any frequency, dynamic and impactful sound, weight distribution
Cons: Price, only a 1/4 terminated stock cable included, stock cable heavy and unwieldy, bit on the heavier side overall

Video and written review of the Utopia