The Focal Clear Mg are some of the highest resolution and dynamic headphones we’ve ever heard. These headphones have the ability to magnify details while still being kind to poorly recorded source material. While the soundstage isn’t the widest available, their pin-point accurate imaging more than makes up for it. If you can afford them, the Focal Clear Mg could be the last headphones you’ll ever buy.
Amazing detail and dynamic sound
Gorgeous design and materials
Easy to drive
Some creaking from the headband
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If you're after high-end headphones, Focal is probably a name you recognize. Its headphones can sometimes fetch outlandish prices (as is the case here) but the result is a pair of truly jaw-dropping cans.
Such is the case for the Focal Clear Mg, which sells for $1,500 (€1500, £1,399, AU$2,199), and sits nicely in between the budget Focal Listen and the top of the line Utopia. While $1,500 is quite a lot of money for headphones, we came away extremely impressed by the Focal Clear Mg’s resolution, tuning, and design.
This may well be the end game for many headphone enthusiasts.
Price and availability
The Focal Clear Mg is available worldwide for $1,500 (€1500, £1,399, AU$2,199).
In terms of Focal’s open-back headphone offerings, the Clear Mg is only bested by the Utopia, which costs a staggering $4,000 (€4,000, £3,699, AU$5,499).
The Clear Mg’s design is unmistakably Focal. The company has done a great job creating an iconic look and utilizing it across its entire headphone portfolio. In terms of materials, they're made from aluminum, leather, and microfiber.
The headphone is extremely comfortable thanks to its reasonable weight and microfiber headband and earcups while the perforated microfiber ear pads allow your ears to breathe so you’ll never get hot during long listening sessions.
The Clear Mg are completely open back, which means sound is allowed to pass in and out. This allows the headphones to project sound from outside your head, but you’ll be relegated to listening at home in a quiet room as the sound leakage would easily annoy anyone sitting around you on a train or at your office desk.
Powering the Focal Clear Mg are magnesium ‘M’-shaped dome drivers, which are extremely stiff but light. This helps give the Clear Mg amazing sound quality, which we’ll cover below.
The Focal Clear Mg comes with two cables: one single ended and one balanced. This means you can connect the headphones to any 6.35mm or XLR balanced amplifier. Thankfully, the Clear Mg uses 3.5mm jacks at the earcups, making it easy to swap for aftermarket cables.
While the headphones don’t fold, they do come with a nice hard travel case that can carry both cables and the headphone. While perfectly fine for putting in your backpack, the included case isn’t crush proof and we’d avoid putting them in your checked baggage to avoid damage.
The Focal Clear Mg features two 40mm magnesium dome drivers and a 55 ohm impedance. Combined with a sensitivity of 104dB SPL / 1 mW @ 1kHz, this means the Clear Mg can be driven by most amplifiers and even smartphones without issue. However, pairing them with a good amp will unlock their full potential.
In terms of weight, the Clear Mg weighs in at 0.99lbs (450g). For reference, its closed back sibling the Focal Celestee is nearly the same weight at 0.95lb (430g) and the venerable Sennheiser HD800S is quite a bit lighter at 330g without its cable. While not the lightest headphone, we found the Clear Mg comfortable for long listening sessions.
The Focal Clear Mg is one of the best-sounding open-back headphones out there and the thing that immediately grabbed us was how much resolution the headphones offered. Every detail of a track was rendered for us but without sounding harsh across a variety of music genres.
The Clear Mg had the uncanny ability to make even poorly recorded music at least fun to listen to. Other headphones may offer the same resolution but do not treat poorly recorded material as well.
In terms of tonal balance, the Focal Clear Mg is ever so slightly warm from neutral but the entire frequency range is represented well. Highs have a ton of extension and air without ever being sibilant or harsh. The midrange is meaty, with a slight emphasis on the mid-bass, which gives the headphone a slight warm tilt. Bass extends deep with excellent texture, and is never overbearing. We were surprised that bass is actually more impactful and more emphasized than the Audeze LCD-X, a headphone known for its bass.
Soundstage is good, but not the widest. We wish the Focal Clear Mg could project music even further from left and right to create a more immersive experience, but soundstage depth and height are excellent. Imaging is incredible as well, and allows listeners to pinpoint every note and sound.
We tested the Clear Mg with a variety of headphone amps and it’s low impedance/high efficiency means even the modest iFi hip-dac had no trouble driving the headphones to extremely loud volumes (in both balanced and unbalanced modes). We loved how musical the Focal Clear Mg sounded with the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition but equally enjoyed it with the iFi Zen Amp, iFi Zen DAC, and the tube WooAudio WA3. With the Clear Mg, you don’t need to empty the bank account for crazy supporting gear.
Should you buy the Focal Clear Mg?
Buy them if...
You’re looking for incredible detail and fun
The Focal Clear Mg sound incredible with all genres of music and gets your toe tapping.
You enjoy the spacious sound of open back headphones
If you have a quiet place to listen to your music, you’ll love the spacious sound of these open back headphones. However, if you want to block out the world, we recommend checking out the closed back Focal Celestee.
You don’t want to go crazy upgrading the rest of your system
The Clear Mg sounds great from a modest front end so you don’t have to go spending thousands on a good DAC and amp.
Don't buy them if...
You want absolute neutrality
The Clear Mg has a slight mid-bass bump and as a result, is slightly warm from neutral. If you want absolute neutrality, check out the Sennheiser HD800S instead.
You intend to mix music
The Clear Mg is for listening enjoyment, not sound engineering. You’ll want to check out the Focal Clear Mg Pro or offerings from Beyerdynamic or Audeze for headphones that work well in the studio.
You’re on a budget
Safe to say, the Focal Clear Mg is quite a splurge. There are better budget options for those getting started in the headphone hobby.