I just got my Focal Elex today, perhaps this isn’t a very fair versus, since i haven’t broken the Elex in. But i feel i got two headphone heavy weights going toe to toe as i compared them. Here are my initial impressions:
Comfort, build, headband, cable, box it came in, who cares?
Sound. When i got the Elex i was surprised when i put them on. These are VERY open headphones. It was almost like i didnt have any headphones on. I turned off everything in the room and started the trial.
I was surprised at the treble in the Elex. It was much higher than i was expecting. The Aivas have a lot of treble too, but i always thought i had a little too much. Elex doesn’t have as much but its close. and that describes everything about these head phones “Close”. I had to go back and forth many times to hear a difference in the sound.
Of course i used my trusty Simple Minds favorites playlist. Simple Minds are a marvel as a band. They use a lot of electronics and synths in their music and the studio to create amazing sound. but at the same time they give it depth and substance and a wide emotional landscape. They where the band everyone was influenced by in the New Wave 80’s. They would put out a album and a year later everyone would sound better lol. Bands like U2, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Depeche Mode, Duran and pretty much everyone. They where the greatest band of the 80’s and they never stopped. consistently putting out great album after album throughout the years no filler. Their latest “A Walk Between Worlds” is also a marvelous listen. Sonically few bands can match them and a great band to test out headphones to lol.
One thing i noticed about the sound placement in the 2 headphones was the Elex sounded level with my head. the Aiva’s sounded a little higher up on my head.
Two different technology’s Dynamic and Planar. I noticed that if i turned the volume up a little high on some songs i heard distortion and clicking in the Elex. Dynamic? In the Planar no distortion or clicking. Planar?
The Elex had a fuller sound, seemed like more body, just a little. But the Planar had a little more highs and clarity and songs that sounded a little veiled was more negated by the Aivas highs. The Elex still handed the veil pretty well. The Elex seem to handle Simple Minds “Light Travels” a little better than the Aivas. Light travels is a interesting experiment in the studio and can be challenging for headphones.
Detail is about the same for both. Soundstage is about the same. Bass about the same.
And i feel like i’m nit picking. everything sounded so close with these headphones. Its like they are the equal to each other. I must say im preferring the sound in the Aivas a little more. But again a “little”, “tiny bit”, “close”. they really are the equal of each other. with the Elex being 100$ more. If the Blons B20’s are the same quality of the Avias then you got a cheaper headphone by 250$ and sometimes 350$.
I’m gonna keep the Elex for a while and see if breaking in improves the sound past the Aivas.
My rig: Wav’s ripped from CD’s played on Foobar through a USB 2.0 cable to a Grace SDAC Balanced. out of the SDAC’s unbalanced 3.5 port to a Schitt Magni amp.