Focal Clear vs Clear MG Professional Comparison Review

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Focal has now released their follow-up to their popular Clear model, the Clear MG Professional. News and reviews are popping up, including mine that you can find here on MajorHiFi. I had a lot to say about this release, but overall I thought that the MG Pro served best as a utility for studio headphone monitoring and analytical listeners. It’s a sound signature that’s unapologetically accurate and could come off as cold to some, even for an open-back. Focal has always delivered on details, but the MG Pro doesn’t exactly present those details as flattering. There’s a lot more to the MG than that, but being that this model goes for the same price as the original Clear, it should be made…clear what exactly the difference is between these headphones. 

What You Get

I’m pretty used to how Focal packages most of their major headphones by now, so I knew that both models would have the same presentation going in. It’s not as important, but the MG Pro definitely gets the style points for the coloration of its hard case. The red with black inlays are much more of an eye-catcher than the simple grey of the original Clear’s casing. However, the strongest difference in both models so far is its cable selection, where the original Clear is going to pick up some major momentum. While the MG Pro supplies two different cables that feature a quarter-inch connection, the Clear comes with three, one of them sporting a 4-point XLR connection. If you’re into coiled cables, then the MG Pro offers a lengthy 16ft in case that’s what you might need. Fitting for its intended professional environment. 

Look and Feel

The build quality showcased not only on the MG Pro and Clear but on Focal’s library of audiophile headphones is already some of the best you’re going to get. They’ve set a great standard in design that’s welcomed on each of their models. So, the Clear and MG Pro are going to have almost the same basic architecture, with a similar earcup size, aluminum yoke, and elegant Focal insignia. The difference here is going to be in materials. The Clear’s headband is composed of soft leather, and a foam memory foam cushion covered in suede, while the MG Pro has a headband made from leather and perforated microfiber.

For the earpads, the Clear and MG Pro both use memory foam, the Pro using a perforated microfiber fabric covering, and the Clear using perforated suede. This all comes down to the comfortability, where Focal has a lot of headphones beat. Neither the MG Pro nor the Clear is going to have any pressure build-up or cause any significant ear fatigue. The suede earpads on the Clear might be my personal preference in terms of comfort levels, but the MG Pro is just a hair short in that regard.  

Design

Each one of Focal’s systems uses a full-range 40mm driver composed of an M-shaped dome principle with a frameless copper voice coil in order to portray a balanced level of detail. They both produce a strong magnetic field that better illustrates the details these headphones are capable of delivering. However, unlike most of Focal’s selection, the MG Pro introduces a new magnesium dome to its main structure, along with a new alloy that provides dampening and lightness to the driver. 

Output

Both models share the same level of Impedance at 55 Ohms, making them easy to pair with a good number of devices. Although, with the supplied cables of the Clear, it becomes immediately more friendly to a larger variety of devices. The MG Pro best fits with an audio interface or an outboard mixer, but using the standard 3.5mm connector, both headphones should provide a comfortable signal on most devices. 

Soundstage

Although these are both open-back headphones from the same manufacturer and share part of the same name, they couldn’t be more different in terms of sound signature. The most immediate difference you’re going to hear from these headphones is in how their soundstage is presented. Specifically, it’s the width that might tell you exactly where these headphones begin to diverge. While the Clear exhibits the type of width you’d expect from an audiophile headphone in this price range, the MG Pro surprisingly brings things into a more accurate positioning. 

The Clear is lush and expands greatly to the extreme, showcasing a more floaty stage. It’s a bigger exaggeration of the stereo image that is intended to invite the tracks into your space. The MG Pro is almost the polar opposite. It’s a headphone that’s almost obsessed with accuracy, and that could be a fault, but it might be exactly what you need for more analytical listening. Layering is where the MG Pro is going to accelerate, as the headphones still present an image that is clear and plentiful, articulately separating each element to their intended position. A colder sound, but one that’s more about highlighting the details that are usually relegated to warming up or smoothing out the timbre. Especially the treble, which isn’t only brighter than the Clear, but does a better job adding height to the stage.

Low End

These headphones accelerate at providing a fast transient response for their bass, but if you’re looking for which one has the most of it, go for the Clear. The MG Pro has a dynamic and versatile bass, but it’s going to take some work with EQ getting it to the way you want it to sound, otherwise it might be too neutral. The Clear is going to have more of the noticeable qualities of a textured bass, like punch and depth. 

Mids

Both headphones feature a clear midrange, but the clear definitely has the most coloration with boosts in the low-mids. This adds a lot more richness to the Clears mids that the MG Pro doesn’t have. The MG Pro plays its mids with an even flatness, but a more spacious output, as instrumentations become more articulate and easier to decipher. However, tracks are generally more fun to listen to on the Clear due to their meatier presentation.

Highs 

This is where the MG Pro is going to potentially lose some people, as some of the brightness here can be a bit overbearing. The Clear features a treble that is a lot more evenly balanced, giving the highs their limelight without being too harsh. This isn’t a mistake on the MG Pro’s front though. Although the treble can be a bit peaky, you’re always going to get untampered with accuracy with their high range output. However, it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. 

Summary

With the Clear and Clear MG Professional, Focal has delivered two headphones of the same kind that complete very different jobs. The MG Pro is at its very core a flat, reference style headphone through and through, while the original Clear aims to be a more easy going, colorful listen, while still maintaining its high resolution detail retrieval. The versatility of the MG Pro is a huge plus over the Clear, but side by side you’re always going to hear a more accessible audiophile sound with the Clear. 

Specs

Clear Clear MG Professional
Type Circum-aural open-back headphones  Circum-aural open-back headphones 
Impedance  55 Ohms  55 Ohms
Sensitivity 104dB SPL/1mW@1kHz 104dB SPL/1mW@1kHz
THD 0.25 % @ 1 kHz / 100 dB SPL 0.25 % @ 1 kHz / 100 dB SPL
Frequency Response 5Hz-28kHz 5Hz-28kHz
Speaker Driver 1.6″ (40mm) Aluminum/Magnesium    ‘M’-shape dome 1 5/8″ (40mm) Aluminium/Magnesium ‘M’-shaped dome
Weight 0.99lb (450g) 0.99lb (450g)
Cables Supplied
  • 3m balanced cable (XLR 4-pin)
  • 3m unbalanced cable (1/4″ TRS jack)
  • 1.2m unbalanced cable (1/8″ TRS jack)
  • 1/8″ jack to 1/4″ stereo jack adapter
• 16.5 feet (5m) asymmetric cable (1/4″ – 6.35mm TRS jack)

• 3.94 feet (1.2m) asymmetric cable (1/8″ – 3.5mm TRS jack)

• 1/8″ (3.5mm) to 1/4″ (6.35mm) stereo jack adapter

Spare Earpads N/A 2 x spare ear pads supplied

The Focal Clear and Clear MG Professional are available at Audio 46.

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