Focal Pad Rolling - Experiments & Measurements

focal

#1

Since I currently own the whole Focal “home” or “audiophile” headphone line-up, and since the pads for all of those models are mechanically, and easily, interchangeable, I thought it might be interesting to look at how each headphone compares with it’s native pads vs. the other pads from the models in the rest of the line-up.

This was something Tyll Hertsens, of Inner Fidelity, did in his initial coverage of the Focal headphones when they first launched. I’m just taking advantage of the expanded range of cans to take it a bit further.

Index for Pad Rolling/Measurements by Headphone

#2

This is a pretty great idea!

Pad rolling has become especially popular I’ve noticed (due to certain Youtubers) and Dekoni becoming more and more popular. I’ve seen a lot of posts fromo people trying to squeeze more bass out of the Elegia with different pads so it will be interesting to see the differences with all the pads.


#3

I’ll start with a quick pad-swap from the Stellia to the Utopia. My hope here was that the increased bass energy/presence found in the Stellia was partially due to the pads and might add a bit of oomph to the lowest registers to the Utopia, while also “taking a bit off the top”:

As you can see, that is NOT the effect that putting Stellia pads on the Utopia has … at all. The bass is essentially unchanged, and while the treble gets dialed back a bit, the midrange gets sucked out in quite pronounced fashion.

I guess the bass-reflex design of the Stellia is what’s really responsible for the more powerful bass there, rather than the pads.


#4

That suckout is intense. It reminds me of the first time I tried out the Elear a couple years ago. Although I don’t believe the Elear suckout is that big.

That’s very interesting though as initially I assumed the Stellia would have very similar pads to the Utopia (just not perforated) and brown in colour. Turns out that is most definitely not the case. Although I am sure the brown pads on the Utopia make for an interesting sight.


#5

Love this thread.

As a Focal Clear owner, I’m very curious how the clear measure with Elex and Elear pads.

Some of you may know that Focal charges $200 for replacement Clear pads. So if I can get $60 Elex pads off of Massdrop (drop not currently active, that’s how much the last drop cost though) and they don’t drastically change the frequency response, I’m going to go that route.


#6

I currently have Elex pads on my clear, and the difference isn’t noticeable enough to warrant going back to the Clear pads except for more critical listening…also it looks kind of cool with black pads…I’ve posted pics of it on this forum: Focal Clear and Elex pad swap


#7

wow… what are the chances.

Glad to hear you don’t hear a large audible difference. Curious if the FR graph will support that as well.

Now I just need that Massdrop to bring that drop back again…


#8

I still find it fascinating that by simply changing different pads with different materials or varying feature like perforated vs non-perforated or angled vs normal it can affect sound in so many ways. I’m not just specifically just talking Focal but all brands. What a great thread.


#9

Great idea for a post. Can you normalize the graphs at 1k? To me, it looks like you’ll end up with a 5db boost from 1k down and a spike at 2-3k.


#10

I can align them at 1kHz, but the measurements were taken with the headphones calibrated at 84dB @ 300Hz, so I would take it with a grain of salt:


#11

Thank you! My ears tend to hear peaks better than valleys, so this is very helpful and the way my ears would probably interpret the change that the Stellia pads make in the Utopia FR. It doesn’t look that bad to me, being pretty close to what a 5db bass boost would look like, except for perhaps some low-mids bloat.


#12

When I get a chance, which won’t be until tomorrow I expect, I’ll actually re-measure with the headphones calibrated and aligned at 1 kHz. That plot above is no more than me simply shifting the individual plots so they visually align at 1 kHz … which is not necessarily going to give the same results.


#13

I remember Antdroid posted some interesting thoughts on pad rolling for a few of the Focals, so I tried it with my Elegia and some of the stuff I had lying around. Surprisingly, the pleather Nightowl pads seemed to work reasonably well for comfort/fit. I’d love to see some measurements of those if you’ve got a pair handy (my miniDSP EARS hasn’t shipped yet).


#14

I don’t have any of the AudioQuest headphones/pads, so I can’t do that. I’d put them in a separate thread if I did though, as I want to keep this one as a pure comparison of Focal headphones with different OEM Focal pads.


#15

I’ll post those plots when I get a chance. But the Clear w/ Elex pads measure almost identically to the Clear with stock pads, and the Clear w/ Elear pads wind up with the same wonky tonality as the stock Elear - just with better resolution.


#16

Gotcha. I’ll just have to wait until my measurement rig shows up haha. In that case I’d love to see a comparison between Stellia pads vs Elegia pads for both.


#17

Yep.

My plan is to measure/post each of the Focal headphones with all of the OEM pad variations. I may get through all of that by the end of the weekend. A good number of the measurements for earlier combinations are already done.


#18

@Torq doing Audiophile-gods work!


#19

Massdrop just released a new drop that has the Dekoni Focal lineup of pads in it. This is perfect timing. I have the Clear and the Elegia. I don’t really want to impact sound signature that much. Any pads that improve comfort or look without impacting sound signature on Clear or Elegia?


#20

Pretty good explanation of the changes…but it does come from Dekoni directly…but I haven’t so far felt like they are a dishonest company and have their Elite Hybrid pads on a couple of my headphones.