The Focal Elear and the new Klipsch HP-3 are what I would call luxury headphones. They are for home listeners who want a lavish listening experience. But just like luxury cars, there is a wide range of luxury headphones and who they suit best. So which one is better for who? Today I’ll find out as I conduct the Focal Elear vs Klipsch HP-3 comparison review.
Inspired by Modernity vs Antiquity – Focal Elear vs Klipsch HP-3 Comparison Review
|Focal Elear||Klipsch HP-3|
|Frequency Response||5 Hz-23 kHz||5 Hz-45 kHz|
|Impedence||80 ohms||25 ohms|
|Type||open-back, over-ear||triple-vented, semi-open, over-ear|
|Sensitivity||104 dBSPL/1mW||98 dBSPL/1mW|
|Drivers||40 mm, “m-shaped dome”||free-edge, 52 mm bio-dynamic|
In the Box
|Focal Elear||Klipsch HP-3|
|rigid protective box||1.37 m cable|
|OFC stereo jack to 3.5mm cable||2.5 m cable|
|solid steel headphone stand|
Box and Presentation
Both headphones come in beautiful boxes. They contribute to the overall essence of the headphones themselves. The Focal Elear comes in an all black leather coated case. It fastens closed via magnets on the opening flap. On the other hand, the Klipsch HP-3 comes in a box made of wood. It is presented beautifully behind a glass window. As you might be able to tell from this description, the point I want to stress in this review is that the Focal Elear radiates a sense of modernity, while the Klipsch HP-3 embodies an old soul, a tribute to vintage dignity and ruggedness.
The Focal Elear’s headband is coated with exquisite leather and a soft, thick cushion. Underneath it is made of metal and consequently, feels durable. While it is not particularly flexible, it has a wide shape to it that could compliment just about any size head. Additionally, the shape of the headband makes it feel light and comfy on my ears and head.
As I take the HP-3 out of the box, it smells strongly of leather. Its headband is coated with such leather, although it is a considerably stiffer material than the Elear. This rigidity contributes to a feeling of overall resilience and reminds me of an older time. Underneath the leather is a thin, firm cushion which coats the metal headband. It won’t be as comfortable as the Elear, but it seems to surely be made have a long life.
The Elear’s earcups are oval shaped. When I place the headphones on my head, the cups sit perfectly comfortably, without squeezing my ears too tightly or too loosely. The earcups are made of metal and the outside of them are made of metal mesh. As a result, it has a modern edginess that looks both attractive and powerful. . While the earcups don’t rotate at all, they do swivel.
The HP-3’s earcups are circular, bigger in diameter, and shallower than the Elear’s. Additionally, the earcups turn and swivel much more freely. The wood and metal design of the cup gives these headphones a vintage look and a utilitarian feel. Placing the headphones on my head I notice that while the earcups are quite comfortable, the lack of padding on the headband makes them less comfortable indeed. I also notice that the smooth leather coating of both the headband and earpads makes these headphones slippery on my head. No head-banging with the Klipsch HP-3 or your headphones may end up through a window.
The Focal Elear’s earpads are coated with a soft material that almost feels like suede. The cushions are thick and pillow-like, creating an upscale experience when it comes to comfort. The size of the earpads fit wonderfully for my ears and yet they are still big enough to accommodate folks with much larger ears than mine. I’m not quite sure how Focal did it, but I’m confident the Elear will fit tremendously with just about any size head.
The Klipsch HP-3’s earpad cushions also feel soft and pillowy, although they are not as thick as the Elear’s earpads. They feel more rugged than swanky with their slightly rigid leather. The pads have a bigger diameter than the Elear, but when looking at the earpad straight on, it is clear that they are not symmetrical. They have an elliptical space that seems to follow the general shape of an ear. Regardless, it is still agreeable to my ear shape and size.
Despite their differences, both headphones are gorgeous and should be on display. I love that Klipsch has included a headphone stand for the HP-3.
The first thing I notice as I listen to the Focal Elear is its overall balance. Nothing feels particularly accentuated, although I do hear a boost somewhere around 2kHz. The headphones are fairly fast reacting but also have a quality of warmth and smoothness that takes them from a reference headphone to an audiophile headphone. The frequency response feels spacious, although the sense of depth in its imaging is less vast than I was expecting. It feels like there should be more air to the top frequencies, and as a result the headphones also lack a little bit of top-to-bottom imaging.Overall, the Elear has a pleasurable sound and responds delightfully to every genre.
I notice right away that the Klipsch HP-3 is less balanced than the Elear. It seems to have various areas of emphasis in the frequency response which I’ll get to in a moment. The low frequencies are fast and detailed, giving the HP-3 a nice punch. There is a boost around 200 Hz, which is the first area of accent. As a result, these headphones give bass guitars more prominence than the Elear, in addition to low-mid heavy organs, synths, and guitars. The second area of emphasis is right around 7kHz. This boost is less pleasing to me and actually causes a bit of ear fatigue after listening for a while. It produces vocals with clarity and crispness, but with other bright instruments it borders on harshness for me. Despite this aggressiveness, the HP-3 has a wide, deep, and tall soundstage. Its response to dynamic changes is both emotionally supportive and aesthetically enjoyable. Overall, the HP-3 has an interesting sound, but I wouldn’t want to listen to it for too long because of its prickly response.
The Focal Elear is like a modern luxury car. Focal has designed it with comfort in mind. It is has a smooth and classy look, feel, and sound. The Klipsch HP-3 on the other hand is like a vintage luxury car. Klipsch built it to look good and to last a long time, but meanwhile, it has some quirks. Both headphones are beautiful and perform well but if given the choice, I would spring for the Focal Elear because it is $200 less expensive, is more comfortable, and has a more versatile and forgiving sound.
Both headphones are available for the best price here: