Striking headphones with transparent, deeply layered sound
Focal never ceases to amaze me. The French audio experts have released so many world-class wired headphones, you would almost expect (and forgive) a misstep at some point. But from the moment I unzipped the designer case containing the Clear Mg — their latest open-back offering — I could tell the high-end headphone "magic" is as strong as ever.
This update to their customer-favorite Clear wired headphones has a revamped driver system. It uses a similar engineering principal to the original — but with pure magnesium diaphragm domes. I found the sound was pure and pristine, with even better texture and more pronounced dynamics.
Unboxing Focal headphones can be quite the memorable experience. The company takes a more artisanal approach than most to building headphones, and I could see and feel the difference as I pulled the Clear Mg from their case. The design is a beautiful blend of high-grade materials, interesting patterns, and thoughtful functionality.
These headphones share many of the attributes that have made Focal's Utopia
, and Celestee
'phones so popular among personal audio aficionados. They all sport an identical frame, built from lightweight aluminum. Here, they overlay it with an Instagram-ready chestnut and mixed-metal finish — that somehow looks even better in person than in photos.
A specially designed driver with lightweight magnesium domes delivers focused sound with a great deal of depth.
Magnesium-based drivers for powerful, nuanced sound with deep bass
In each earcup, you'll find Focal's fast-attack drivers, complete with their acclaimed "M"-shaped diaphragm domes. This special design gives the drivers a more fluid movement, which greatly reduces distortion and phase problems. It's why Focal headphones always sound so dynamic and yet controlled, across a wide frequency range.
Here, those M-shaped domes are made completely from magnesium — a first for Focal headphones. This gets them closer in performance to their highest-grade beryllium drivers (found in the Utopia and the Stellia). Magnesium is rigid and lightweight with strong damping characteristics, so there's less harmonics and sound coloration, particularly in the mids.
Open-air headphones with focus and precision
Focal, harking back to their loudspeaker roots, often describes their headphones as "extremely near-field monitors." The drivers are suspended within the large, open-air chambers to create a focused, lifelike soundstage for your music. I find the sound a little more forward than open-back headphones from other high-performance brands, which tend to be more spacious. But there is a great deal of depth and separation within the music.
The large earcups are completely open-back, and a honeycomb grille design allows air to flow freely. With no music playing, I could hear everything that was going on around me. While these headphones are realistically too large to use on the go, their soft, oversized mesh ear pads make them very breathable and comfortable.
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- over-the-ear, open-back design for focused, tonally balanced sound with articulate bass
- 40mm dynamic drivers made of high-grade materials
- specially-designed "M-shaped" magnesium domes deliver wide-range frequency response
- frameless copper voice coil creates strong magnetic field for greater detail retrieval
- designed, developed, and assembled in Saint-Etienne, France
- drivers positioned in open-back headphone chamber to help emulate the sound of loudspeakers
- padded, leather-lined headband and micro-fiber fabric-lined earcups
- 20mm memory foam padding on the earcups
- aluminum headband yokes slide comfortably and sturdily into place
- 2 detachable oxygen-free copper cables:
- 9.8-foot cable with balanced XLR4 connector
- 3.9-foot cable with unbalanced 3.5mm stereo plug
- each cable features 3.5mm locking headphone connectors for secure, high-quality connections
- rigid, form-fitting storage case with padded interior
- 1/4" adapter included
- frequency response: 5-28,000 Hz
- sensitivity: 104 dB
- impedance: 55 ohms
- weight: 15.7 oz.
- warranty: 3 years