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Realtek S1200A vs Fiio K5 Pro for focal clear pro

dourden
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Hello, I have focal clear pro for a while now and I am using with asus x570 pro wifi with Realtek S1200A and I had no issue regarding any unwanted sound or anything but I felt if I was not using my clear pro's potential. Do you think K5 Pro's will make a difference and worth the upgrade to the s1200A's?

 

This is Focal clear pro's power results. 

2022-05-20.thumb.png.9bf54ba89b4dfe0e9296449478427582.png

 

 

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Unless you wanna go to damage your ear levels I see no reason to get the fiio. Whilst yes your board can't drive them full due to their higher impedance that doesn't really matter as at  70% and up these are severe ear damaging loud.

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47 minutes ago, jaslion said:

Unless you wanna go to damage your ear levels I see no reason to get the fiio. Whilst yes your board can't drive them full due to their higher impedance that doesn't really matter as at  70% and up these are severe ear damaging loud.

Yeah I really don't have a problem with powering up the focal clear. It is loud enough for me so amp is not necessery but what do you think about dac? I am happy with the performance of the focal clear's but I never used them with a external dac so I don't know if there is more to its sound.

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10 minutes ago, dourden said:

Yeah I really don't have a problem with powering up the focal clear. It is loud enough for me so amp is not necessery but what do you think about dac? I am happy with the performance of the focal clear's but I never used them with a external dac so I don't know if there is more to its sound.

Can make a difference but you already have a pretty good audio chipset. If you can travel to an audio store to try and hear if there is a difference with their display models. Or order one from somewhere with a good return policy and see if you like it.

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3 hours ago, dourden said:

Yeah I really don't have a problem with powering up the focal clear. It is loud enough for me so amp is not necessery but what do you think about dac? I am happy with the performance of the focal clear's but I never used them with a external dac so I don't know if there is more to its sound.

If you're already happy with the performance, then stick to onboard audio. If external dac, I would definitely not go for the K5 Pro.

DAC/AMPs:

Klipsch Heritage Headphone Amplifier

Headphones: Klipsch Heritage HP-3 Walnut, Beyerdynamic Amiron Home, Amiron Wireless Copper, T5p.2, Tygr 300R, DT880 600ohm Manufaktur, Fidelio X2HR, Meze 99 Classics Walnut/Gold

Earphones: Airpods 2019, Sony WF1000XM3, Sony MDR-E818LP

CPU: Intel 4770, GPU: Gigabyte Aorus GTX1080Ti, Mobo: MSI Z87-G45, RAM: DDR3 16GB G.Skill, PC Case: Fractal Design R4 Black non-iglass, Monitor: BenQ GW2280.

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The Clear (and Clear MG) have significant variations in impedance with frequency.

image.thumb.png.f76978e0d45974b544d14affdb2bd6fc.png

When paired with a high output impedance source, like the 75Ω found on most motherboards, this results in a significant shift in the headphone's frequency response, equivalent to a ~5dB bass boost centered at 50Hz.

image.thumb.png.41872579e041e5faeb33cecd1bca0ad9.png

This theoretical effect is corroborated by real-world testing. In the image below, from DIY Audio Heaven, the green line is a Focal Clear driven by a 120Ω output impedance; the red line is the 0Ω output impedance response.

image.png.e9608b7b7c3e87d6003b792f7ebcc332.png

 

This is certainly audible. Subjectively, I suspect some people will prefer this frequency response. The bass boost also comes with an additional drawback, however.

image.png.27a1fb4d01d979bc1b8f3b96ef05734a.png

This is a CSD graph of the above. Notice that even at 500Hz, where there is no meaningful boost in the frequency response, the level at increasing time is far greater on the 120Ω than the 0Ω. This indicates that high output impedances with the Focal Clear result in worse damping in the mids. Though not displayed in this graph, the damping likely becomes progressively worse at lower frequencies, all the way down to 50Hz. As a result, the bass and mids may be perceived as less well-controlled.

 

Since you don't need more power (the S1200 is rated for ~2Vrms, or equivalently about 0.8Vrms into the Clear at high frequencies due to output impedance), the real advantage of an amplifier will be lowering the output impedance. You can test this fairly cheaply. The Apple USB-C 3.5mm dongle is typically under $10, and has a reasonably high quality output (better than most motherboards, though the volume level is slightly lower than the S1200A), and crucially has a very low output impedance. That would allow you to cheaply test whether you would subjectively prefer the lower output impedance of a standard headphone amplifier.

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14 hours ago, Nimrodor said:

The Clear (and Clear MG) have significant variations in impedance with frequency.

image.thumb.png.f76978e0d45974b544d14affdb2bd6fc.png

When paired with a high output impedance source, like the 75Ω found on most motherboards, this results in a significant shift in the headphone's frequency response, equivalent to a ~5dB bass boost centered at 50Hz.

image.thumb.png.41872579e041e5faeb33cecd1bca0ad9.png

This theoretical effect is corroborated by real-world testing. In the image below, from DIY Audio Heaven, the green line is a Focal Clear driven by a 120Ω output impedance; the red line is the 0Ω output impedance response.

image.png.e9608b7b7c3e87d6003b792f7ebcc332.png

 

This is certainly audible. Subjectively, I suspect some people will prefer this frequency response. The bass boost also comes with an additional drawback, however.

image.png.27a1fb4d01d979bc1b8f3b96ef05734a.png

This is a CSD graph of the above. Notice that even at 500Hz, where there is no meaningful boost in the frequency response, the level at increasing time is far greater on the 120Ω than the 0Ω. This indicates that high output impedances with the Focal Clear result in worse damping in the mids. Though not displayed in this graph, the damping likely becomes progressively worse at lower frequencies, all the way down to 50Hz. As a result, the bass and mids may be perceived as less well-controlled.

 

Since you don't need more power (the S1200 is rated for ~2Vrms, or equivalently about 0.8Vrms into the Clear at high frequencies due to output impedance), the real advantage of an amplifier will be lowering the output impedance. You can test this fairly cheaply. The Apple USB-C 3.5mm dongle is typically under $10, and has a reasonably high quality output (better than most motherboards, though the volume level is slightly lower than the S1200A), and crucially has a very low output impedance. That would allow you to cheaply test whether you would subjectively prefer the lower output impedance of a standard headphone amplifier.

Thanks for the detailed answer!

I have a Samsung USB-C 3.5mm dongle and I test it and wow, I actually prefer to use focal with the dongle. So I guess an amp would improve the listening experience. So do you think k5 pro's would be a good purchase? 

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7 hours ago, dourden said:

Thanks for the detailed answer!

I have a Samsung USB-C 3.5mm dongle and I test it and wow, I actually prefer to use focal with the dongle. So I guess an amp would improve the listening experience. So do you think k5 pro's would be a good purchase? 

Onboard audio are usually hot garbage, they're only good for trash headsets/earphones/headphones.

 

What's your budget for an external dac/amp?

DAC/AMPs:

Klipsch Heritage Headphone Amplifier

Headphones: Klipsch Heritage HP-3 Walnut, Beyerdynamic Amiron Home, Amiron Wireless Copper, T5p.2, Tygr 300R, DT880 600ohm Manufaktur, Fidelio X2HR, Meze 99 Classics Walnut/Gold

Earphones: Airpods 2019, Sony WF1000XM3, Sony MDR-E818LP

CPU: Intel 4770, GPU: Gigabyte Aorus GTX1080Ti, Mobo: MSI Z87-G45, RAM: DDR3 16GB G.Skill, PC Case: Fractal Design R4 Black non-iglass, Monitor: BenQ GW2280.

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1 hour ago, CTR640 said:

Onboard audio are usually hot garbage, they're only good for trash headsets/earphones/headphones.

 

What's your budget for an external dac/amp?

It's around 200 dolar.

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9 minutes ago, dourden said:

It's around 200 dolar.

It could be me but there are perhaps better dac/amps out there that are better than K5 Pro within your budget. I used to use K5 Pro and it's still in house but I got a better dac/amp. Wait for others to recommend some like @rice guru. If my memory is still not broken, he had/have or wants a Focal too.

 

Headphones are the ones that a best audible difference and as last, the source. Some dac/amps makes a difference in certain frequencies. For example, my Klipsch amp tames down the sibilance of my DT880 to a much pleasant level.

DAC/AMPs:

Klipsch Heritage Headphone Amplifier

Headphones: Klipsch Heritage HP-3 Walnut, Beyerdynamic Amiron Home, Amiron Wireless Copper, T5p.2, Tygr 300R, DT880 600ohm Manufaktur, Fidelio X2HR, Meze 99 Classics Walnut/Gold

Earphones: Airpods 2019, Sony WF1000XM3, Sony MDR-E818LP

CPU: Intel 4770, GPU: Gigabyte Aorus GTX1080Ti, Mobo: MSI Z87-G45, RAM: DDR3 16GB G.Skill, PC Case: Fractal Design R4 Black non-iglass, Monitor: BenQ GW2280.

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18 hours ago, CTR640 said:

It could be me but there are perhaps better dac/amps out there that are better than K5 Pro within your budget. I used to use K5 Pro and it's still in house but I got a better dac/amp. Wait for others to recommend some like @rice guru. If my memory is still not broken, he had/have or wants a Focal too.

 

Headphones are the ones that a best audible difference and as last, the source. Some dac/amps makes a difference in certain frequencies. For example, my Klipsch amp tames down the sibilance of my DT880 to a much pleasant level.

Yeah I saw multiple comments that for example TOPPING DX3 PRO + is better than K5 PRO and costs similar. The problem is I am living in Turkey and I can't get many dac+amp's because it is not available and for example DX3 PRO sellers in aliexpress doesn't ship them to Turkey too. So I don't know how much difference would it make between K5 PRO's and similar dac+amp's. 

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On 5/22/2022 at 5:44 AM, dourden said:

Yeah I saw multiple comments that for example TOPPING DX3 PRO + is better than K5 PRO and costs similar. The problem is I am living in Turkey and I can't get many dac+amp's because it is not available and for example DX3 PRO sellers in aliexpress doesn't ship them to Turkey too. So I don't know how much difference would it make between K5 PRO's and similar dac+amp's. 

So the problem with the focal clear is it's a very revealing headphone and it's also very sensitive. Any issue your motherboard's DAC has will be revealed. I don't even generally reccomend this headphone until someone can spend a significant amount of money on a setup. But I'm someone that's kinda deep in the bull crap. Since I can't really control someone's spending habits. I will say get the best source you can afford for your money when it comes to this headphone. Sadly since eyour are in turkey options are definitely limited. The k5 pro is hard to reccomend due to the dac not sounding the greatest and amp while powerful is kinda lacking in just overall sound. What other gear do you have available in turkey maybe try looking in the used market as well? Brands like violectric, lake people, smsl might be available.

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