The Focal Elex is a Massdrop collaboration and is derived from the Elear, with different damping scheme and pads. The pads are very similar to the Clear pads (perforated micro-fiber), althoug a bit thinner. The current price is $700 but they’ve been dropped to $600 for sometime.
Build is solid and they’re decently comfortable, though the headband sometimes gives me hotspots after 1.5 or 2 hours of use. Easy to power, however I don’t think a smartphone can handle them properly. I really dig the look of the Elex and its full black housing.
○ Release : 2018
○ Current status : In Production
○ Type : Over-ear / Open-back
○ Measured weight : 441g
○ Impedance : 80 Ohms
○ Sensitivity : ~104 dB/mW
○ Average used price : $450-550
The Elex is a nice sounding headphone, and one of the rare models I don’t find stupidly priced when we’re approaching or going above the $1k mark.
The balance is rather “neutral” with a decent touch of brightness. Bass is excellent for an open-back dynamic. Good slam, a touch midbassy, solid extension down to 40hz, little roll-off between 20 and 40 hz. A good planar (HE6, LCD2, Verum) will have the advantage in the very low notes and bass fullness, but not the midbass quantity of the Elex.
The midrange is very balanced, without unnatural lower-mids warmth or dip and shoutiness in the 1-4 khz range. One of the most accurate mids I’ve heard so far. I’ve noticed that many recent headphones sound a bit withdrawn in the 1-3 khz range, while the Elex still have a perfect balance here (to my ears), being slightly less forward than an HD600. There is a small 1 khz bump that can sometimes sound a bit artificial, but it’s the only quirk I found when it comes to the Elex mids.
The treble is a bit problematic and above my ideal target. There is a 6 khz peak (similar to HD800 but quite less bothersome) that can definitely annoy me on very bright recordings. Otherwise, the treble is quite good, with decent amount of sparkle and no forced airiness above 10 khz. Some people are bothered by the “metallic” timbre high-end Focal headphones have, and I am unfortunately one of them.
Imaging is honestly awesome, much more precise than any mid-fi headphones you will try, and the soundstage, criticized on the Utopia, is acceptable – wider than an HD600, but still very far from the HD800. The Elex easily outresolves most sub-1k$ headphones, with excellent transients and dynamics. Like the other Focals, this is a very forward, punchy sounding headphone. You do not want to buy the Elex if you are looking for a relaxed sound presentation.
The Elex is a great value with near high-end technicalities and a balanced tonality. I absolutely recommend it if you like a punchy sound, don’t mind a very moderate excess of treble energy and an average timbre.
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