Focal Clear Mg Pro Review

The Focal Clear Mg Pro is one of the new releases from the french speaker manufacturer who has released several highly praised and popular headphone models in the past several years. The Clear Mg Pro replaces the previous Clear Pro (which are the same products, as far as I know, as the Clear Mg and Clear). This new Mg Pro set comes in at $1499 new, and was provided on loan from

The new Clear Mg series features a new honeycomb pattern on the inner and outer cups, as well as a new driver. The pads have seen some slight differences as well. And while the general look and feel of the headphone as a whole is in the same vain as the original Clear, Elear, and Elex, the new Mg series comes in a new color theme. The Clear Mg has a brown/bronze and black look, while this specific Pro model keeps the same Clear Pro's black and red look, where the main headphone frame is black, while the pads and padded portions of the headband are red.

The Clear Mg Pro comes with the same Focal case as the original series but in a heather red/gray color appearance. Also included are two sets of cables, one being a short standard cable, and the other being a coiled cable. For my liking and use case, neither of these cables are very helpful, and I opted to use my own set of cables instead with my limited time using these headphones. The Pro model also comes with an extra set of ear pads.

Sound Impressions

The Focal Clear Mg Pro has a surprisingly different sound than what I would have expected from Focal. I should clarify this, it's surprisingly different than what I'd expect from an open-back Focal headphone. What I mean here is that, while it retains much of Focal's house signature and flavor, it resembles to me, something more aligned to their closed back Elegia and Stellia, than it does their Clear, Elex or Utopia. 

The Mg Pro has an overall warmer, and meatier sound, while also sounding slightly veiled in the upper mid-range. This veil is a little unexpected because Focal's sound has never had this before in their open-back lineup, and if anything, is very forward and elevated in this upper-mid range presence region. Instead, it sounds slightly dipped here, and enough to make a distinguishable difference when listening to some particular female-led vocals.

With that out of the way, brain-burn-in is real. I quickly adjusted to this and spend many continuous hours listening to the Clear Mg Pro on multiple days while pairing it with the Chord Qutest and Audiolab 6000A amplifier, and also with the Topping D30 Pro and A30 Pro DAC/Amp Stack.

Let's talk about it in more detail, though I may repeat myself here and there:

One of the noticeable things I remember from listening to the Focal Elex, Elear, Clear, and Utopia is the super punchy and dynamic nature of its low end, as well as just general macrodynamics and transient speed. They all exhibit this in some way or another. So it was a little to my surprise that listening to the Clear Mg Pro, that it seemed tamed down a bit. Now let me preface this by saying that I did not have any of the older Focal headphones to compare side-by-side, and so this is going really based on poor auditory memory. I also want to mention that the current chain I have may reduce some of the slam factor as well. But that aside, I do believe there is a slight reduction, but its still distinctively Focal. 

This is much more apparent when I pulled off the Clear Mg and swap it out for my trusty Sennheiser HD600. The HD600 struggles to provide any meaning punch to most electronic music, while the Clear Mg still can pack a punch, but it's nowhere near as powerful as how I remember hearing the Elex. Instead, I feel the Clear Mg Pro has a thicker and rich sound down low. This is not a far cry from Focal's typical house sound, as it still retains a punchy character, and a forward mid-range sound, but it does not sound nearly as thin and incisive as a typical Focal. 

This is most evident when I listen to the deep-bass and ultra-punch "Angel" by Massive Attack. Again, audible memory here, the Elex hits hard. Real hard. I don't get that same sense of slam on this track, but it's still has nice body and jabs. This is a song where the HD600 definitely struggles in, without some significant equalizer gains.

In a different track, "Rose Rouge" by Jorja Smith, some of the same impressions can be copy and pasted here. The punchiness is definitely present, but there is a lack of slam. And this is when I compare it to something other than the HD600, or from auditory memory. When I compare it to one of my Hifiman planars, it does lack the deep rumble and slam properties. But, hey, this song sounds quite good either way. I think everything sounds accurate, and correct, and surprisingly, I don't find issues with Jorja Smith's vocals on this track, because there are some interesting tuning choices that Focal ran with on this Mg model.

The Clear Mg's upper-midrange is where I think the more noticeable changes occur, and to me, it's pretty easily distinguishable. It's definitely more veiled, with a measurable drop in the presence region here. And so while I say that the low end is warmer and a little beefier, yet still retains the normal Focal sound, I can't totally say that about this upper-mid range and even treble region. It's just atypical of the rest of the Focal open-backs.

Instead, I characterize it more closely to the Focal Elegia here, with a recessed and veiled sound, though not nearly as much so. It's like a thin curtain is placed over guitar chords and female vocals. It's not a big thick black-out curtain that causes haziness, but more of a sheer curtain that blocks some light, but still lets enough in to provide some level of clarity and brightness.

It's an interesting change and I can understand why Focal may have decided to do this. For some folks, Focal's sound had a lot to do with how it's mid-range and upper mids were presented. It was almost like a generational step improvement above the HD600 sound. But for others, the metal driver with the upper-midrange's quantity resulted in a metallic timbre that some did not like. It seems Focal may have tried to please the latter in this case with this tuning change.

It's not atrocious to me. That's good. In fact, over time, I came to enjoy the smoothness of it all. The Mg Pro is a different direction from the other open-backs, and probably closely resembles mostly the Elear (their first open-back) and the Elegia.

I slapped on Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me" CD. I was actually expecting her voice to sound a tad veiled here, and perhaps a little subdued, but actually her voice has a very nice sound to it. It's full-bodied and doesn't show any signs of being smothered by other parts of the mix at all throughout this record. If I was going to comment on anything here, it does seem like there's a bit of exactness missing in some of the piano notes, the guitar strings, and just an average level of instrument separation. 

But that's not much of a surprise, since Focal headphones in general are fairly intimate affairs, and do tend to lack this quality, outside the top of the line Utopia. It wasn't necessarily a fair comparison going from a Hifiman Susvara to the Clear Mg Pro in this example, but when I put on the Sennheiser HD600 afterward, you can tell the Mg Pro was a step up in terms of note weight, little micro-details, and just an overall more warm and engaging sound, though the HD600, priced significantly less and ancient in headphone years, still competes shot for shot.

Wrap-Up and Final Remarks

While the I did think something like the Elegia didn't have the best tuning in the world, it was soft and lush, at least for a Focal house sound. And this made it a very nice headphone to multi-task to. I was happily using it at work for hours at a time without feeling fatigued or feeling like I didn't want to listen to music any more. And that's actually something I can't say about the Elex or Utopia, which I think are tuned more appropriately, and have a more exciting level of macrodynamics and big punch and slam. They are just too exciting to really focus on other things, and with that comes faster fatigue time.

The Mg Pro tested here is more aligned with the former. Like I said a few times now, it works great for just putting on my head, turning music on, and working away with whatever it is I am playing calmly playing in the background. Yea, so that means it's not necessarily the most exciting sound out there, nor does it really do anything especially well, but it means its a solid headphone that actually works well across multiple genres and one that surprisingly out-performs many other headphones under its asking price of $1500. 

If I do sound negative here, and I know I am, it's because Focal's bar is quite high. Their lineup is stellar, and this one is just a bit different, and lacks some of the special traits of their previous generation of headphones. But, this one is probably more well-rounded to a broader audience all the same. It's a solid addition to the lineup, though I don't know if I'd recommend it over the original Clear. But, with that said, I wouldn't mind this one in my collection either.


Check out the Focal Clear Mg Pro on the Audio Discourse Graph Tool: