Thanks to a local friend who has been away on vacation for the last week I have had my hands on the Focal Elear and Sennheiser HD800 S. The Elears had about 150 hours on them and the Sennheisers had many more hours than that when I got them, so both a fairly well broken in.
The conclusion first: the hype around the Elears seems well-founded. These will be my next headphones. They appear to be a game changer in the sub-$1000 headphone market (and slightly above).
The sound of the Elears are very close to that of my Ovators - excellent PRAT, very good midrange, more than sufficient and very deep bass. The 800S still has a little more clarity and much wider soundstage, but just is missing the fun factor compared to the Elears. If I was mastering an album I might choose the Sennheisers, but for any other use I would clearly pick the Elear.
Potentially the greatest value of the Elear is how easy it is to drive. They sound excellent with the HL/NAPSC combo, whereas the HD650 (my current cans) and the 800S needed the HCDR to come alive and really were almost unlistenable without it. Adding the HCDR with the Elear almost seemed unnecessary in comparison and I think many people could happily live without it. I imagine the Elear would perform phenomenally well with the DACV1, as well.
Now if I can only get my hands on the Utopia...