Focal Chora 806 HiFi Speakers Review
I recently undertook a group test on nine standmount HiFi speakers to try and find the best affordable standmount speaker under £650
Reviewing, by its very nature, is a subjective thing and lots of factors can influence perceptions. In order to minimise the external influences, my listening room is heavily acoustically treated with panels from GIK acoustics to manage sound reflections and the rooms behaviour. To take this a step further I use DIRAC Live to manage the frequency response of the speakers I am testing to undo what negatives effects their placement in my room may have. I also take this one stage further utilising Dirac Live as a tool to get the very best sound from the speakers.
In this review I compare the Focal Chora 806 HiFi Speakers all the speakers in this group test previously reviewed, but particularly with the Wharfedale EVO 4.2, Klipsch RP600M and the Bowers & Wilkins 606
Over the years I have listened to various Focal speakers in different setting and their range starts from modest and competitively priced to the behemoth Grand Utopias. Few companies have such a massive range in terms of types and price. Focal make all their own speakers drivers in house and I was eager to hear the Chora 806 to see how much performance Focal could musta the lower end of their range.
On first listening I did not get what I expected, given what I had read a lot of time on a lot of forums these Focal speakers did not sound bright, the Chora 806 sounded big and full and quite chocolatey warm which was great but they also sounded a touch smoothed over warm.
I gave them several days of playing to loosen them up and then commenced the initial in-room measurements. From the frequency response graphs you can see that the mid-range and treble are a bit of a roller-coaster and the frequency response goes up and down a few times. Compare this to the response of the Bowers 606 and Klipsch RP600M does give a lot of insight into how these speakers sound different and you can see why the Chora 806 sound warmer and a littler softer in area creating the smoothed over sound I experienced.
I then carried out a full DIRAC Live custom calibration to allow the Chora 806 to get the best sound out of them in my room as possible.
The midrange and vocal delivery is an instant standout from the Focal Chora 806 speakers, providing a lot of life and energy to both male and female singers and sounding really big and full in the process. They deliver a good level of micro-detail and micro-dynamics layered within. The Chora 806 are not a typical ‘fast’ speaker system that can often sound quite lean in the process to create the fast sound, on the contrary the Chora 806 go the other way delivering a very full sounding midrange combined with speed and detail as mentioned. This is impressive if not quite perfect in its delivery. You can certainly hear the Focal design heritage coming through. In this respect they are very similar in sound presentation to the Wharfedale EVO 4.2, although the EVO 4.2s do have a cleaner sound with better resolution. The Chora 806s are a little softer and smoother sounding in some areas where the EVO 4.2 sound punches through.
Focal are famous for making their own drivers and, indeed the benefits of very made drivers is evident with the Chora mid-bass. Focal utilise a very clever combination of materials called Slatefiber so the mid bass driver sounds both like a paper cone( smooth and full), combined with being almost as fast sounding as an aluminium cone based driver. This is a well-executed combination of the two, sitting firmly between the two types, not quite all the way to one side or the other.
I found the Chora 806 bass delivery to be very music dependent, sometimes sounding a little too lean but in other music they could also be full and punchy. Bass is certainly not overblown, I would just borderline being enough to create a nice foundation to how they sound. When I customised the frequency response with DIRAC Live, I set them slightly ‘hot’ in the bass order to benefit their overall balance, this did cause some slight congestion, but I preferred this for a more balanced sound overall.
After my custom DIRAC Live calibration the delivered a quality and quantity of bass similar to the Wharfedale EVO 4.2, a small floorstander speaker like bass which is impressive. Compared to the Klipsch RP-600Ms the Focal Chora 806 are a little more sophisticated sounding in their midrange but not as sure footed in their bass.
Focal are also famous for manufacturing inverted dome tweeters from interesting materials with the Chora 806 tweeter being made from an aluminium/magnesium alloy. The tweeter produced a good treble balance of liveliness with detail, a little forward sounding but, without going too far into being over-analytical. I was never made artificially aware of the Chora 806 treble due to its balance and refinement unlike the with Klipsch RP 600M and Bowers 606 where their treble delivery is very present. The slightly forward presentation of the Focals works for allowing brass type instruments to retain their "raspiness" and the forward and open presentation helps to create a soundstage with a sense of height and spaciousness.
Overall the Focal Chora 806 deliver a large scale lively and dynamic sound with good soundstage clarity, dynamics and control of bass and vocals and they fall just a little short of being really very very good.
In terms of looks the Focals are, perhaps, may least favourite of this group test, I cant quite understand the circular disc grille design and with this black finish The blue drivers are probably the most visually engaging feature which are then covered up if you use the grills. The tweeters are nicely protected from prying finger tips even if done so in a garish way. The Chora 806 are available in three finishes, the gloss black, which I reviewed, a dark wood veneer with grey fronts and my favourite, a light oak veneer with a cream front. The review pair had certainly seen some use and, unfortunately, I found it impossible to clean off some marks on the gloss finish which I think is something to bear in mind, try and look after their gloss fronts. In terms of build quality they appear to well made and have excellent quality speaker cable terminals.
At a price point of £599 they deliver a musically engaging sound with a toe-tapping performance. They are not overly analytical, or tiring, although they still provide what I call an ‘active listen’ experience, encouraging you to pay attention and listen to the different elements of the sound mix, they keep music entertaining and tread a fine line between being too much and not enough in that regard and this aspect could very much be what you love or maybe dont love about them
Drivers: - 6.5” (16.5cm) Slatefibre mid-bass
1” (25mm) TNF Al/Mg inverted dome tweeter
Frequency Response - 58Hz – 28KHz ±3db
Style - Two way vented box
9Sensitivity - 88db/1m
Normal Impedance - 8Ω
Power - 25w – 120w
An Essential Audition Award is granted in recognition of a products high performance but with a certain uniqueness that makes auditioning even more essential