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Focal Clear Mg Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Reviewed Apr 21, 2021 at 10:25 am
Focal Clear Mg Picture
5.1
Mixed Usage
7.8
Neutral Sound
3.9
Commute/Travel
5.2
Sports/Fitness
4.7
Office
4.6
Wireless Gaming
6.6
Wired Gaming
1.6
Phone Calls
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Open-Back
Wireless No
Noise Cancelling No
Mic No
Transducer Dynamic

The Focal Clear Mg are audiophile headphones with a very premium design and a comfortable fit. They're the next generation of the Focal Clear, and unlike their predecessor, their drivers have M-shaped inverted magnesium domes. These are advertised to improve their damping capacities as well as make them lighter and more rigid. They have a smooth and warm sound profile that reproduces clear and accurate vocals and lead instruments. However, their treble range is a bit recessed, which veils the upper harmonics of vocals while sibilants are dull. Even though their soundstage doesn't sound as spacious or wide as other open-back headphones, they can still offer an immersive audio experience suitable for studio use.

Our Verdict

5.1 Mixed Usage

The Focal Clear Mg are disappointing for mixed use. These audiophile headphones have a smooth and warm sound profile suitable for studio use. However, their open-back design means that you hear sounds during your commute while also leaking audio, which can annoy coworkers at the office. While they're very well-built, they're also not designed for sports; they can fall off your head. If you don't mind that they lack a microphone, you can connect them to PCs and consoles via their 1/8" TRS cable if you want to game.

Pros
  • Comfortable fit.
  • Very well-built.
Cons
  • Don't block out background noise.
  • Bulky design that isn't very portable.
  • Leaks a lot of audio.
  • No music or call controls.
7.8 Neutral Sound

The Focal Clear Mg are very good for neutral sound. They have a smooth and warm sound profile with a flat mid-range, well suited for accurately reproducing vocals and lead instruments. However, they lack a bit of low-bass, and their underemphasized treble range veils and darkens sibilants. While they have consistent bass delivery, their treble delivery can vary depending on fit and seal. That said, although their soundstage doesn't sound as wide or spacious as other open-back headphones, it still feels like audio is coming from speakers placed around you, rather than as if coming from inside your head.

Pros
  • Comfortable fit.
  • Very well-built.
  • Great overall frequency response consistency.
Cons
  • Underemphasized treble range.
3.9 Commute/Travel

The Focal Clear Mg are poor for commute and travel. They aren't designed for this purpose as they're big, bulky, and not very portable. Their open-back design allows audio to bleed, so other commuters can hear whatever you're listening to, and they don't block out almost any background noise. On the upside, they're comfortable and very well-built.

Pros
  • Comfortable fit.
  • Very well-built.
Cons
  • Don't block out background noise.
  • Bulky design that isn't very portable.
  • Leaks a lot of audio.
  • No music or call controls.
5.2 Sports/Fitness

The Focal Clear Mg are disappointing for sports and fitness. They're not designed for this purpose as they're bulky, not very portable or stable, and lack an IP rating for dust and water resistance, although we don't currently test for this. Their over-ear fit can also make your ears sweat more. They're very comfortable, though.

Pros
  • Comfortable fit.
  • Very well-built.
Cons
  • Don't block out background noise.
  • Bulky design that isn't very portable.
  • Leaks a lot of audio.
  • No music or call controls.
4.7 Office

The Focal Clear Mg are poor for office use. Although they have a comfortable design, they're open-back headphones and leak a lot of audio, which can annoy coworkers around you, and they don't block out almost any background noise. They also don't have any call or music-related controls and are pretty bulky. On the upside, their wired design means that you don't have to worry about battery life.

Pros
  • Comfortable fit.
  • Very well-built.
Cons
  • Don't block out background noise.
  • Leaks a lot of audio.
  • No music or call controls.
4.6 Wireless Gaming

The Focal Clear Mg are wired-only headphones and can't be used wirelessly.

6.6 Wired Gaming

The Focal Clear Mg are okay for wired gaming. These headphones lack a microphone, so you can only receive audio on PCs or consoles. They're comfortable enough for long gaming marathons, and their wired design ensures virtually no latency. Their warm sound profile can also help bring out sound effects in gameplay.

Pros
  • Comfortable fit.
  • Very well-built.
Cons
  • Don't block out background noise.
  • Leaks a lot of audio.
1.6 Phone Calls

The Focal Clear Mg don't have a microphone and can't be used for taking phone calls.

  • 5.1 Mixed Usage
  • 7.8 Neutral Sound
  • 3.9 Commute/Travel
  • 5.2 Sports/Fitness
  • 4.7 Office
  • 4.6 Wireless Gaming
  • 6.6 Wired Gaming
  • 1.6 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Apr 21, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Apr 16, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Focal Clear Mg have a somewhat similar design to other Focal headphones like the Focal Stellia or Focal Clear, with the brand's signature logo on each ear cup. However, they have a contrasting mixed-metal build with silver honeycomb grilles on both ear cups and a chestnut trim. Overall, they look very sleek and premium.

8.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 1 lbs
Clamping Force
1 lbs

The Focal Clear Mg are very comfortable. They have a similar fit to the Focal Stellia but with microfiber ear cushions rather than leather, which feels nice on the skin. The headband is well-padded, while the cups are spacious and deep. On the downside, the materials in their design make them feel quite heavy and bulky, but you shouldn't feel too much fatigue from wearing them.

0
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
No Controls
Ease Of Use No Controls
Feedback No Controls
Call/Music Control No
Volume Control No
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls No
6.7
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 5.1 ยฐC

The Focal Clear Mg have alright breathability. Like the Focal Elear, their open-back design helps promote airflow. They're not designed for sports, but if you're wearing them for this purpose, they could make you sweat more than normal. However, if you're using them in a studio, your ears shouldn't get too warm.

5.2
Design
Portability
L 7.5"
W 8.5"
H 4.1"
Volume 261.4 inยณ
Transmitter Required No

The Focal Clear Mg aren't very portable, which is expected from over-ear headphones. They don't fold into a more compact form, and their ear cups can't swivel to lay flat. That said, they come with a hard case to help protect them when you're on the go.

8.0
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 9"
W 9.8"
H 4.7"
Volume 415.9 inยณ

These headphones come with a great hard carrying case. Its solid design helps protect the headphones against scratches, drops, and water exposure. The interior is molded to fit the headphones and to store the audio cables when not in use. There's also a carrying handle on the top of the case.

9.0
Design
Build Quality

The Focal Clear Mg are outstandingly well-built. They have a similar build to the Focal Stellia with a mostly metal design, and the headband has good leather padding on top with microfiber underneath. The ear cushions are made from microfiber. The detachable audio cables feel sturdy, too, and are coated in a rubber silicone-like finish. Like most audiophile headphones, they don't have an IP rating for dust or water resistance.

6.0
Design
Stability

The Focal Clear Mg have acceptable stability. Like the Focal Celestee, they're not designed for sports or physical activity and can fall off your head with moderate movement. However, they should maintain their position if you're wearing them in the studio or during more casual use.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Focal Clear Mg headphones
  • 4 ft 1/8" TRS to L/R 1/8" TRS cable
  • 1/4" to 1/8" TRS adapter
  • 10 ft XLR cable
  • Carrying case
  • User guide

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-1.79 dB
Treble Amount
-3.41 dB

The Focal Clear Mg have a warm sound profile. They lack a bit of low bass, which is expected from open-back headphones. They also have a recessed treble range, so vocals and lead instruments are slightly veiled while sibilants are dark. That said, even though they lack sound enhancement features, they're still suitable for a variety of audio content.

8.4
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.31 dB

The Focal Clear Mg have great frequency response consistency. Their bass delivery is consistent, even if you have thick hair or glasses. While their treble delivery can vary depending on fit and positioning, as long as you take the time to adjust them to your head, you should get consistent audio delivery.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
8.5
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.03 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
35.64 Hz
Low-Bass
-3.52 dB
Mid-Bass
-0.52 dB
High-Bass
1.91 dB

These headphones have excellent bass accuracy. They're slightly underemphasized in the low-bass range, which results in less thump and rumble in your mixes. However, the rest of the range is fairly well-balanced, and there's even a small bump in the high-bass range, which adds a bit of extra boom.

9.1
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.19 dB
Low-Mid
0.8 dB
Mid-Mid
0.29 dB
High-Mid
1.44 dB

The Focal Clear Mg have outstanding mid accuracy. The entire range is very flat and even, resulting in present and clear vocals and lead instruments. While the small peak in the high-mids also intensifies these sounds, it shouldn't make them sound too honky or harsh.

5.6
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
5.9 dB
Low-Treble
-3.05 dB
Mid-Treble
-4.53 dB
High-Treble
-7.75 dB

These headphones have sub-par treble accuracy. It's underemphasized across the range, so vocals and lead instruments sound veiled while sibilants like cymbals are dark and dull.

7.3
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.57 dB
Dips
1.79 dB

The peaks and dips performance is satisfactory. There's a small peak in the high-bass range, which adds boom. Another peak in the high-mids, followed by a smaller peak in the low-treble makes vocals and lead instruments slightly honky and harsh. A large dip between the low to mid-treble veils vocals, lead instruments, and sibilants like cymbals, while the steep peak in the mid-treble makes other sibilants piercing.

8.4
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.09
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.49
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.99
Weighted Phase Mismatch
11.22

The Focal Clear Mg's imaging is great. The entire group delay response is below the audibility threshold, ensuring tight bass and transparent treble reproduction. Also, the L/R drivers of our unit are very well-matched in frequency, amplitude, and phase response, ensuring accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, and video game effects) in the stereo image. However, these results are only valid for our unit, and yours may perform differently.

7.5
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
3.35 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
3.03 dB
PRTF Distance
9.2 dB
Openness
9.5
Acoustic Space Excitation
8.5

The Focal Clear Mg have a good passive soundstage. Although the soundstage isn't perceived as wide or large, it seems spacious. Sound also feels like it's coming from speakers placed around you rather than as if it's coming from inside your head.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No App
7.7
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.331
WHD @ 100
0.111

The weighted harmonic distortion performance of these headphones is good. There are a couple of small peaks in the treble range at normal listening volumes. However, it's very minor, and it can be hard to hear with real-life content. That said, most frequencies fall under acceptable limits, which results in clean and pure audio reproduction.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
No Firmware
Power
Passive
Connection
Wired
Codec
PCM, 24-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
No Microphone

These are the settings used to test these headphones. Our results are only valid when used in this configuration.

Isolation
1.3
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-2.55 dB
Bass
-0.15 dB
Mid
2.03 dB
Treble
-9.11 dB

The Focal Clear Mg have bad noise isolation, which is to be expected from open-back headphones. They don't block out any bass-range noise like bus engines or mid-range sounds like ambient chatter. They also barely reduce the high-pitched hum of an AC unit.

1.8
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
62.83 dB

The leakage performance is bad, which is common for open-back headphones. They leak a lot of audio by design. That said, if you're listening to audio at a high volume, people around you can easily hear it, even if the room is moderately noisy.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
No
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
0
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
N/A
LFE
N/A
FR Std. Dev.
N/A
HFE
N/A
Weighted THD
N/A
Gain
N/A
0
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise N/A
Speech + Subway Noise N/A
SpNR
N/A
Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
No Battery
Continuous Battery Life
N/A
Additional Charges
N/A
Total Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
Passive Headphone
Charging Port None
0
Active Features
App Support
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No
Connectivity
0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
No Bluetooth
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
N/A
PC Latency (SBC)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
N/A
Android Latency
N/A
0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
9.5
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable Yes
Length 4 ft
Connection 1/8" TRS
Analog/USB Audio Latency
0 ms

These headphones come with a 1/8" TRS cable as well as a 1/4" adapter. They also come with an XLR to L/R 1/8" TRS cable, which makes them compatible with different amps, receivers, or other audio gear.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC/PS4 Analog
Audio Only
PC/PS4 Wired USB
No
PC/PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No

You can use these headphones wired on PC, PS4, and PS5 consoles. Since they don't have a mic, you can only receive audio.

Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio Only
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No

While you can connect these headphones with Xbox One and Xbox Series X consoles using their 1/8" TRS cable, you can only receive audio as they don't have a microphone.

0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Focal Clear Mg comes in one color variant: Chestnut. These headphones also come in a professional variant called the Focal Clear Mg Professional. The Professional have a black design and come with more audio cables. As the Professional are tuned the same as our model, we expect both headphones to perform similarly. 

If you come across another variant of these headphones, please let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The Focal Clear Mg are premium audiophile headphones. They're the next generation of the Focal Clear, and unlike them and the Focal Stellia, these headphones use magnesium domes within their drivers, which is advertised to improve their audio reproduction and make them lighter. That said, they maintain an outstanding build quality and have a very comfortable fit. Although they don't sound as neutral as the Sennheiser HD 800 S, some users may prefer their smooth and warm sound profile.

Check out our recommendations for the best audiophile headphones, the best studio headphones, and the best open-back headphones.

HiFiMan Arya

The HiFiMan Arya are better headphones for neutral sound than the Focal Clear Mg. The HiFiMan have a more neutral sound profile and a wider soundstage. However, the Focal feel better-built.

Focal Stellia

The Focal Clear Mg are better headphones for neutral sound than the Focal Stellia. The Clear Mg have a more neutral sound profile, more consistent audio delivery, and a more immersive soundstage. However, the Stellia are closed-back headphones, which some users may prefer since they leak less audio and isolate against more background noise.

Focal Celestee

The Focal Clear Mg are open-back headphones, while the Focal Celestee have a closed-back design. The Clear Mg can reproduce bass more accurately, and their passive soundstage is more spacious, open, and large, which can help immerse you in your audio. However, the Celestee are better at isolating noise around you and leak less audio.

Sennheiser HD 800 S

The Sennheiser HD 800 S are better headphones for neutral sound than the Focal Clear Mg. While both headphones are very comfortable, the Sennheiser have a more neutral sound profile, and a larger, more spacious soundstage. However, the Focal have a better build quality. 

Sennheiser HD 650

The Sennheiser HD 650 and the Focal Clear Mg are both audiophile headphones but depending on your preferences, you may like one over the other. The Sennheiser have a more neutral sound profile. However, the Focal are more comfortable, better-built, and have a more spacious soundstage.

Beats Solo Pro Wireless

The Beats Solo Pro Wireless and the Focal Clear Mg have different strengths and, depending on your usage, you may prefer one over the other. The Beats are more suitable for casual use as they're closed-back headphones with an active noise cancelling feature, which can reduce a great amount of noise around you. They also have a wireless design, a more neutral sound profile than the Focal, and an H1 chip for seamless pairing with Apple devices. However, they can't be used wired. The Focal, in comparison, are audiophile headphones with superior comfort and build quality. They also have more consistent audio delivery and their passive soundstage seems more spacious and immersive. Thanks to their wired design, they have negligible latency, too.

HiFiMan Sundara 2018

The Hifiman Sundara 2018 are better headphones for neutral sound than the Focal Clear Mg. The HiFiMan are planar magnetic headphones with a slightly more neutral sound profile, even though they lack a bit more low-bass than the Focal. They also reproduce audio more consistently and their soundstage is perceived as larger and more spacious. However, the Focal are dynamic transducer headphones that are better-built and come with a carrying case.

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