I am considering adding headphones for my SN3. I will use the built in headphone amp. I would like to keep the cost to less than $2000,if possible. I see myself as a periodic headphone user. How are the Focal headphones? Open back preferred. When I had a Rega system I was using their GS1000 phones. They were ok but not special. I liked the SQ of the RS1 but found them super uncomfortable and gave up. Many years ago I had Stax. When I had the Grado and Stax phones, I had a separate headphone amp. Not looking to have that now. Suggestions for Focal?
The range topping Utopia are superb, but unfortunately outside of your budget….
I think the next model down that is open backed is the Clear Mg, which seem to be well regarded also….
I personally have the Elear and original Clear models (both now discontinued), used with the Atom HE and a DAC-V1.…I actually generally prefer the Elear, even though they preceded the Clear and were cheaper…The Clear are certainly that, more detail and clarity, but for me there is a little warmth lost that the Elear have and that my ears liked….
I was told that the Clear Mg addressed this very issue, ie combined the two virtues of those models….but I haven’t personally tried them.
I have no idea what the level of headphone amp replay is in the SN3, though I should imagine it’s decent being a recent integrated…I’m sure the Clear Mg would be a match, but whether the Utopia would be under-utilised may be a fair consideration….
As an overall, I find Focal headphones very good and their main forte…I’m not really a big fan of their loudspeakers however. One of the main negatives for me with most of their headphone models is the styling/colourways, an acquired taste, much like their loudspeakers! (I actually nearly added the closed back Stelia recently as they were at a good cost saving and wanted to have a pinnacle closed back option, but I just couldn’t get round the looks…!) Another reason I have my plans on the Utopia – they’re mostly plain black!
Is there something close to the Utopia in terms of SQ while being slightly less extensive
Yes, the Clear Mg I believe….
If you shop around, they can often be found on offer…
I have Grado Hemp headphones (a limited edition, apparently), perfect for the headphone jack of the Nait 50.
Thanks. I find Grado very uncomfortable. I had the RS1 and they were torture.
The new RS1 (RS1x) has a much larger and softer redesigned ear pad. People say it is far more comfy. It certainly looks more ‘conventional’. I love what my RS1e (old style pad) do, and I think they are great value.
Meze get very good reviews on here, and look good value but not tried myself. I liked my planar-magnetic Quad ERA-1, and they were easy to drive and OK for comfort/weight. Fast, clean and enjoyable without fatigue. I have tried two of the pricier Focal models and must admit not to my taste.
Headphones are very personal, not least for comfort. Demo or a sale/return trial period essential.
Those old Grado”s as good as they sounded were just too uncomfortable I agree.
As much as I want to love focal headphones as they look wonderful I have never been impressed with how they sound.
Having tried a few headphones (worth putting in the effort and demoing for sure) I settled on some HIfiman edition xs not the prettiest per se but comfort and sound they hit the spot for my needs.
For occasional use spending 2k seems a tad excessive - I was going to spend something like that but having tried high end offerings Focal’s, Sennheiser, Meze and Stax the Hifiman editions on an Amazon deal hit the spot and those high end models left me underwhelmed.
$2K for headphones
Here I thought my Beyerdynamic at $200 were expensive
For your price range the Focal Clear MG are a match, I have owned these, along with Elear and now Utopia, they are very good headphones, the Elears are also a good buy on the second hand market.
I’d be interested in how you found the style of the Clear Mg, especially as you have had the original Clear and know the Elears….
As I said in my earlier post, I was told the Mg were something of a cross between the Clear and Elear models, which sounds attractive to me….I was going to get a pair when they were on drastically reduced discount some months back but missed stock of them……I can’t decide whether to still aim to get them at some stage or just wait and throw my chips down on the Utopia (which I have listened to on the HE and liked….I just don’t know, for the money involved, if anything else out there gets close….?)
Apologies, typo, now corrected. I have never owned the original Clear just the Clear MG and before that the Elears, now the Utopias.
Ah OK, not to worry.
I’m sure the OP would value your thoughts on the Mg – as we’ve said, they’re probably the most suitable level for a SN3….I believe all the recent Naim Headphone amplifiers (internal and standalone) are voiced with Focal cans….