Focal Clear Vs. Focal Bathys: Comparing High-End Headphones

When it comes to high-end audiophile headphones, two models often come up in conversation – the Focal Clear and the Focal Bathys. As flagship headphones from acclaimed French manufacturer Focal, they represent the pinnacle of the company’s craftsmanship and audio technology.

However, with different sonic profiles and use cases, choosing between the two can be tricky. This detailed comparison breaks down the key similarities and differences to help you decide which pair better suits your listening preferences and budget.

A Brief Comparison Table

SpecsFocal ClearFocal Bathys
DesignSilver earcup grills, black and silver color schemeBlack earcup grills, all black color scheme
Weight0.99 lbs1.08 lbs
Included Cables1/4″ TRS, 4-pin XLR1/4″ TRS
Sound SignatureNeutral, balancedWarm, bassy
BassTight, extended sub-bassEnhanced mid-bass impact
MidsClear, forwardLaidback, slightly recessed
TrebleSmoothly extendedPrioritizes smoothness over crispness
SoundstageVery spaciousSpacious
ImagingPrecise instrument placementSlightly diffuse but still good
Sensitivity104 dB102 dB
Impedance55 ohms55 ohms

Overview And Design

The Focal Clear and Focal Bathys are both open-back dynamic driver headphones, meaning they allow outside sound to pass through the earcups and create a spacious, three-dimensional soundstage. This gives the headphones a more natural, speaker-like listening experience compared to closed-back models.

 Focal Clear
Focal Clear

In terms of design, the Clear features Focal’s recognizable silver grill on the exterior of the earcups, suspended between two black leather headband cushions. The headband itself is wrapped in black leather with brushed silver yoke components. Bathys takes on a darker aesthetic, with black grills on black aluminum yoke pieces and a brown leather headband. Both models use memory foam earpads wrapped in perforated microfiber, providing excellent comfort for long listening sessions.

While the Clear is the lighter headphone at 0.99 lbs, the Bathys isn’t far behind at 1.08 lbs. This keeps both models relatively comfortable over extended periods. Each headphone comes with OFC copper cabling terminated in a 1⁄4” jack, with an additional 4-pin XLR cable included for the Bathys.

Sound Signature

When it comes to sound, the Focal Clear follows a relatively neutral sonic profile across the frequency spectrum. The bass response is tight and accurate, with good extension into the sub-bass region. Mids are clear and transparent, bringing vocals to the forefront. Treble is smoothly extended and detailed without crossing into harsh or sibilant territory.

In contrast, the Focal Bathys takes on a slightly darker, warmer presentation. The bass response digs a bit deeper, with more mid-bass impact giving the overall sound a richer tonality. The mids maintain clarity but sit slightly behind the bass and have a more laidback characteristic. Highs take a small step back as well, prioritizing smoothness over crispness in the treble region.

For many listeners, the Clear’s neutrality provides an accurate reference point for critical listening. Singer-songwriter tracks and acoustic instruments really shine on the Clear. However, fans of electronic, hip-hop, and other bass-heavy genres may prefer the extra low-end presence and warmer signature of the Bathys.

Also Read: Is Skullcandy Hesh Evo Better Than Crusher Evo?

Soundstage And Imaging

As open-back headphones, both the Clear and Bathys provide an expansive, three-dimensional soundstage. Instruments extend well beyond the width of your head, giving music a big, spacious sense of imaging. The Clear perhaps edges out the Bathys slightly in terms of width and depth, with its more forward upper mids contributing to a perceived sense of more space.

Imaging remains precise on both models, with excellent channel separation helping to pick out the placement of individual instruments. The angled drivers of the Clear provide a touch more accuracy in this regard. For live recordings and orchestral music, either headphone provides a life-like presentation across the soundstage.

Ease Of Drive

Given their audiophile aspirations and premium price tags, it’s no surprise that the Focal Clear and Bathys benefit greatly from proper amplification.

Focal Bathys
Focal Bathys

Both headphones utilize 55mm M-shaped aluminum/magnesium dynamic drivers with impedances of 55 ohms. While not exceedingly hard to drive from mobile sources, you’ll want a dedicated headphone amplifier or DAC/amp combo to achieve the full dynamic range and sound quality.

Between the two, the Clear reaches slightly louder volumes with less amplification due to its higher sensitivity rating of 104 dB Vs. 102 dB on the Bathys. However, differences are minor and both should provide sufficient headroom, even quietly, when paired with a headphone amp.

Power requirements remain moderate, but the improved dampening factor from an amp helps control the driver excursions for tighter bass and dynamics.

Use Cases And Genres

Due to their open-back design, the Focal Clear and Focal Bathys are best suited to quiet home or studio listening. The sound leakage prohibits them from being ideal portable or commute headphones. In terms of preferred genres, the Clear’s neutrality caters well to vocal-centric music like jazz, classical, folk and singer-songwriter tracks. The extra bass weight of the Bathys complements electronic, hip-hop, EDM and orchestral movie soundtracks extremely well.

Some listeners may prefer the Clear for acoustic instruments and strings while choosing the Bathys for piano and percussion. However, either model works admirably across most genres, simply imparting their own subtle sonic signature onto the mix. Those looking for a versatile high-end reference headphone capable of satisfying all listening needs would be well-served by either the Clear or Bathys.

Build Quality And Reliability

As flagship headphones from a respected manufacturer, both the Focal Clear and Focal Bathys exude premium build quality with metal and leather materials. While not overly tank-like, they feel solidly constructed and able to withstand regular use. Comfort levels remain high over multi-hour listening sessions thanks to the memory foam earpads and headband cushioning.

Owners of both models report them lasting comfortably for many years with minimal wear and tear. The earpads can be replaced as needed, extending the longevity of the headphones. As long as you take reasonable care of them and avoid dropping or bending the headband, the Clear and Bathys should provide many years of audiophile-grade sound.

Price And Value

The Focal Clear carries an MSRP of $1499, while the Focal Bathys retails for $1699. Given their flagship status and handcrafted design in France, the pricing sits at the upper end of the premium headphone market. However, many listeners feel the immersive sound, enduring comfort, and dynamic performance justify the investment.

Compared to each other, the Clear arguably provides slightly better price-to-performance value. At $200 less, you get a similar bespoke design and majestic sound signature. However, the Bathys certainly impressed reviewers as well and proves worth the money for those craving its warmer, bassier tuning. Ultimately, deciding between the two comes down to your sonic preferences more so than relative value.

Also Read: Is Focal Stellia Better Than Focal Utopia?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between Focal Clear and Focal Clear MG?

The Focal Clear MG (Magnesium) is a slightly updated version of the original Clear headphone. It uses magnesium rather than aluminum in the yoke components for reduced weight. It also adds a black leather headband and new OFC cabling. Aside from minor design tweaks, the sound remains identical to the original Clear.

Does Focal Clear need burn in?

While all headphones have a natural break-in period, Focal does not officially recommend burning in the Clear headphones.
Many listeners feel the Clear provides excellent sound quality right out of the box. Letting them play music for 10-20 hours helps flex the driver but significant changes are unlikely during break-in.

Are Focal Clears hard to drive?

With a 55 ohm impedance rating and 104 dB sensitivity, the Focal Clear cannot be considered a truly hard to drive headphone. It reaches sufficient volume out of portable devices but scales up nicely when paired with a dedicated headphone amp.
The amp provides extra headroom and improves dynamics for an optimal listening experience.

Is Focal Clear warm?

No, the Focal Clear exhibits a relatively neutral sound signature across the frequency spectrum, without significant coloration in any one band. The bass, mids, and treble are all evenly balanced. It leans slightly bright due to the airiness in the upper registers. Focal’s Bathys model provides a warmer, bassier sound in comparison.

Also Read: Differences Between Sennheiser Rs 175 And Rs 195.

The Verdict

When comparing the Focal Clear and Focal Bathys, there are no objectively wrong choices. Both represent the pinnacle of Focal’s headphone engineering, utilizing similar premium components and construction. The decision ultimately comes down to your preferred sound signature and budget.

Listeners wanting a spacious, accurate reference headphone will be thrilled by the Focal Clear. Bass lovers seeking a warmer, fuller low-end will better appreciate the Bathys.

Either way, you can rest assured knowing you’re getting one of the finest high-end listening experiences on the market.

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