French audio company Focal has been in the hi-fi business aback 1979, authoritative aggregate from car speakers, to collapsed monitors, to beleaguer systems. Nowadays, it’s conceivably best accepted for its high-end articles with eye-searing bulk tags. Whether we’re talking about the accomplished $3,000 Stellia headphones or the $230,000, costs-as-much-as-a-house Grande Utopia Evo, these products are out of ability for the boilerplate audio enthusiast.
But aloof because Focal’s cher items are its best credible doesn’t beggarly the aggregation can’t accomplish an accomplished brace of speakers at a acceptable bulk point. Case in point: I’ve been alert to the Chora 806, the company’s newest bookshelf speaker, and accept activate it to be a accomplished access in a awash bulk bracket. For $1,000 a brace in the US, the 806 is already a abundant deal, but it is a accurate abduct in Europe, area you can grab a brace for €600/£600.
Launched in September, the Chora band replaces Focal‘s Chorus ancestors as the company’s best affordable speakers. This wasn’t a simple refresh: it’s an all-new design, including a adorned ‘Slatefiber’ woofer. This new actual is comprised of non-woven, recycled carbon fibers anchored in a thermoplastic polymer. According to Focal, that agency bigger damping, rigidity, and animation over the polyglass cone in its predecessor. Translation: it sounds better.
It additionally aloof looks pretty:
Like all of Focal’s hi-fi speakers, the Chora is about different in that its cabinets and drivers are fabricated appropriate in France. The aggregation arrive me to appointment its accessories over the summer for its 40th ceremony (disclaimer: Focal covered biking and accommodation, but I try to abide as cold as I can), and I accept a abstracted allotment advancing about that bout and how Focal goes about creating its speakers. But for now, I’ll summarize: the actuality the company hand-crafts akin its entry-level speakers is a affluence you rarely get from articles in the bulk bracket.
It provides a assertive accord of mind. Of course, hand-made apparatus and accumulation don’t necessarily agreement longevity, but it’s not about companies go through the agitation of authoritative their articles locally aback activity is cheaper overseas. Focal instead chooses to aftermath its cabinets in a baby boondocks alleged Bourbon-Lancy in the Burgundy arena of France – two hours abroad from Focal HQ in Saint-Etienne.
The company’s chiffonier architect had continued been a basic of the town, and aback Focal bought the ability in 2007 as it broadcast its output, it absitively to accumulate the bounded ability rather than move the branch over to Saint-Etienne. Because Focal’s reach, the ability is operated by a decidedly baby aggregation of locals, many of them who’d been alive in the chiffonier branch for years.
It’s a agnate adventure for Focal’s drivers. Rather than application off-the-shelf genitalia or teaming up with disciplinarian manufacturers, Focal instead makes its drivers centralized aback in Saint-Etienne. This allows it to abuse and advance drivers in accelerated succession, as able-bodied as adapt anniversary disciplinarian for the accurate apostle it’s actuality acclimated for – bottomward to the braid windings. Area abounding companies will charge to abuse circuits and cabinets to fit a accurate aggregate of woofers and tweeters, Focal has added adaptability in adjusting the drivers themselves. The aggregation claims the net aftereffect is higher sensitivity, bigger dynamics, and lower baloney than competitors.
Returning to the cabinets for a bit, the Chora comes in three colorways, including an calm bright black, a chic white-and-light-wood, and the driver-matching slate dejected and dark-wood of my analysis assemblage (every apostle should arise in blue, aloof sayin’). While the Chora’s sharp edges and faux-wood appearance wrapping do abandon its bulk point, I dig the look. It should be accessible to bout the speakers to aloof about any affectionate of decor, which is a acceptable thing, because the Chora is on the ample ancillary for a bookshelf speaker.
So no, the Chora doesn’t feel as exceptional as the Focal Kanta I advised beforehand in the year, but well, it additionally doesn’t bulk $12,000. For $1,000 it’s one classy-looking speaker.
Play some music through the Chora and thoughts of bulk point disappear: these are good-sounding speakers, period. As with every Focal artefact I’ve approved – headphones and speakers akin – the Chora’s dynamics anon stood out. Having arise from the abundant aloft JBL L100 Classic above-mentioned to these, I accepted a bigger decline in this attention (bigger speakers tend to be bigger at dynamics).
Played through a Yamaha RX-A3080 receiver and powered by a brace of Emotiva Stealth PA-1 amps, the Chora handle transients in boom ambit with a agitation that acquainted authentic. Timbre and accentuation were impressively neutral; vocals that addled me as decidedly well-rendered. There is conceivably a slight bend to the treble, giving the Chora a bit of a ‘crisp’ presentation, but it’s a attenuate thing.
No one will aberration these for aural ‘soft,’ ever ‘warm,’ or ‘laid-back.’ These are not qualities I about apprehend in alive music, so I don’t apprehend my speakers to admit them aloft recordings.
The Chora additionally presents a wide, all-embracing soundstage that seems to arise from aloft the boundaries of the speakers. I’ve ahead acquainted some Focal articles accept a abate soundstage, but not so with the Chora. My consequence is that of an enveloping presentation and a advanced candied spot, acceptation you needn’t be absolutely in the centermost of the two speakers for astute tonality.
Bass presentation feels judiciously counterbalanced in my room, with a accomplished acknowledgment and a nice bulk of kick – none of that mushiness you sometimes get with bookshelf speakers. That said, it’s account acquainted bass addendum is not decidedly arresting for the speaker‘s size, at atomic compared to some of some contempo competitors. Focal ante the Chora 806 as extending bottomward to 49Hz(-6dB). The similarly-sized KEF R3 alcove all the way bottomward 38Hz, and the acutely abate Buchardt S400 goes about as low as the KEFs.
Then again, both of those speakers are about alert as big-ticket as the Chora (depending on area you’re located), and it’s account canonizing bass addendum is calmly addressed with a subwoofer. You could add an SVS SB-1000 subwoofer to the Chora for 500 bucks, for example, and accomplish get full-range complete while still extenuative on the competition. Alternatively, you could opt for the aloft Chora 816 ($1,600 a pair) or 826 ($2,000 a pair) towers, although I alone consistently adopt the bookshelf sub combo.
Throughout my testing period, I acquainted the Chora punched aloft its bulk class. In abrupt comparisons, I activate it had beneath bass and a hardly beneath focused soundstage than Buchardt’s excellent $1,800 S400, but it provided a added enveloping sound, with a added advanced midrange and arguably bigger dynamics. The $4,000 Bowers and Wilkins Formation Duo handily beats the Chora on bass – alive speakers about accept an advantage in this attention – but I adopted the closing for aloof about aggregate else. Again, a subwoofer is your friend.
The aloft are my listening-only impressions, but abstracts can acquaint you a lot of a apostle after the access of my biases and quirks of my accurate setup. Luckily, the abstracts assume to abundantly aback up what I’ve been hearing.
Though apostle companies sometimes like to actualize a ‘house sound’ by tweaking a speaker‘s abundance response, research tells us the all-inclusive majority of bodies adopt a apostle that shows a collapsed abundance acknowledgment aback abstinent in an anechoic chamber. But because abundant of the complete we apprehend in a accustomed allowance is absolutely reflected from the walls, it’s additionally important that the speaker‘s complete changes calmly as you move abroad from the primary alert axis; the complete the apostle radiates to its abandon will affect its tonal balance.
I don’t accept an anechoic chamber, so instead, I use an accustomed address that emulates one by removing allowance reflections from recorded data. It’s not perfect, but it should be adequately adumbrative of the speaker‘s performance.
First, let’s booty a attending at the speaker‘s accumbent abundance response. The blah ambit at the basal is the best important distinct line, as it’s an boilerplate of the complete beaming aural a ±30-degree accumbent and ±10-degree vertical “listening window.” This is best adumbrative of the absolute complete you’ll apprehend in a archetypal basement position, as we don’t usually sit 100 percent still. The black ambit aloft represent how the speaker‘s complete changes off to its abandon in 15-degree increments:
Right away, we see the Chora impresses in a few regards. For one, the alert window is alluringly flat, abnormally for a acquiescent apostle with no agenda processing to ‘fix’ the sound. There is a slight bottomward trend, but this appears to be counterbalanced by the off-axis sound.
Off the sides, we see the apostle does not change abundant in akin and maintains a about collapsed acknowledgment akin as far at 75-degrees to the side. Lesser speakers will tend to display a dip area the woofer easily off frequencies to the tweeter (AKA the crossover). That happens about 3,000 Hz on the Chora, yet no dip is apparent.
It’s an impressively advanced and akin achievement for a apostle at this bulk point, and it implies the Chora will accept an expansive soundstage. It additionally agency music should complete acceptable akin if you’re not sitting in the exact candied spot. That said, you will appetite to ‘toe-in’ the speakers arise your aerial for the best sound, as the acknowledgment aloft 10 kHz drops precipitously aloft 15 degrees off-axis or so.
For comparison, analysis out my abstracts of the KEF R3. That apostle additionally has an akin acknowledgment off-axis response, however, the complete drops lower arise the speaker’s sides. That about agency a narrower soundstage and candied spot, although the angel ability arise added focused. I about adopt a added all-embracing soundstage, but your breadth may vary.
Unfortunately, the Chora is beneath absorbing in the vertical plane. You can see a ample dip in the abundance acknowledgment activate to anatomy as anon as you move a few degrees aloft or beneath the tweeter. Granted, a dip forms on about every apostle with its tweeter and woofer in a vertical arrangement, but the Chora controls this dip beneath than some high-end speakers.
Luckily, the vertical acknowledgment does not about affect our acumen of complete as abundant as the horizontal, as continued as the all-embracing complete charcoal adequately balanced. I did not acquisition this dip to be decidedly audible. Still, these abstracts do betoken you should accomplish abiding the Chora’s tweeter is at the appropriate acme and bend about to your alert position.
Ultimately, the Chora 806’s caveats are few: you’ll appetite to booty some affliction in accession them, and you ability appetite a subwoofer to ability the centermost bass. But those about accepted issues aside, there’s actual little not to like about the Chora.
It’s beautifully designed, feels able-bodied built, and comes from a acclaimed company. It sounds absurd with a transparent, aloof tonality, a advanced soundstage, and dynamics to get your toes tapping. The Chora readily competes with some of the best accepted speakers in the $1,500 bulk bracket; that it costs aloof $1000/€600 is icing on the cake.
This column includes associate links to articles that you can buy online. If you acquirement them through our links, TNW gets a baby cut of the acquirement at no added bulk to you. If you’d like to abutment us, you can acquirement the Focal Chora 806 for $1,000 here.
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Published November 12, 2019 — 20:55 UTC
Bulk $ 1000 ProductChora by Focal
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