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Focal
Old 3rd September 2004
  #1
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Ruphus's Avatar
 

Focal

Hello,

This is just for general interest, not for purchase evaluation.

As I was speaking to a friend about eventual hype in the audio community ( towards a certain mic in that case ) and on the other hand about the difficulties and expenses for the last 5% to top notch sonics. He mentioned B&W speakers as an example saying those to be hyped and to his ears too much buffering / being slow and smearing in the bass.

He meant Cabasse and Focus speakers to be more musical, faster and dynamical.

One day later it came to my mind that I had passed the Focal stand on AES twice ( same day where I experienced my new Adams which arrived just this week ). Indeed I remember to have been pretty impressed when I passed the Focal stand and for a moment really wondered how come them never being mentioned on GS. A forum with so much experience.

I speculated that they possibly might just sound too good, making up the source and thus be not suiting for mixing as they´d translate maybe not that well to external systems. I completely forgot about that brand again.

But as the name popped up again I thought to ask you guys who have experienced speakers from this company.

How do you like these and how do you think them serving for AE tasks?

Thanks,

Ruphus
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Focal-sm11.jpg 
Old 3rd September 2004
  #2
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Bigs
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Old 4th September 2004
  #3
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Noone.

I´m not surprised after having made an internet search after posting the above question.

There seems hardly any information out there about this brand. Couldn´t even find out prices as there was no single offer anywhere. You find plenty offers about their car stereo cons, but none for monitors.
We seem to have one person on GS though who uses Focal speakers, Fab from NYC.

Assumed these would be translating well (?) and not be too expensive ( I fear though they damn are ) they could be a sleeper however to the audio making department. I remember them like sounding very warm, present and unconstrained ( almost like those vintage tube radios, ya know ), but not mushy at all.

Should anybody hear of them or use these by time, don´t forget to report. Could be pretty fresh news.

Ruphus
Old 4th September 2004
  #4
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Oh, and while at AES Berlin ...
I have a silly question, maybe someone can still help me with that.

There was a stand of a company which had mixed brands of the rather less expensive sort. I think to remember a big keyboard from Alesis maybe with Gigastudio samples or something and there was also some crappy DJ stuff on the right side of the stand.

I´d like to find out about that glaring red kitchen radio they had on a shelf on heads hight. The housing was all plastic, it was shaped like vintage radio, had stereo radio and CD, was quite heavy and surprisingly well sounding.
Maybe some would remember by chance and could give me a hint as to where to search. I´d like to bookmark that thing.

Thanx,

Ruphus
Old 4th September 2004
  #5
bee
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I would be interested in knowing the focal price list in US$. The bigs look cool.
Old 4th September 2004
  #6
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I couldn´t find any note about prices, Bee. ( But I tried only google. )
So far got only manufacturer´s info. Sounds interesting to my technical layman ears on the fly.
http://www.focal.tm.fr/gb/pro/sm/tek/pda.htm
http://www.focal.tm.fr/gb/pro/sm/tek/sweetpot.htm
http://www.focal.tm.fr/gb/societe/tek.htm
http://www.focal.tm.fr/gb/pro/sm/tek/equalisation.htm

Ruphus
Old 4th September 2004
  #7
Re: Focal

Quote:
Originally posted by Ruphus
Hello,

This is just for general interest, not for purchase evaluation.

As I was speaking to a friend about eventual hype in the audio community ( towards a certain mic in that case ) and on the other hand about the difficulties and expenses for the last 5% to top notch sonics. He mentioned B&W speakers as an example saying those to be hyped and to his ears too much buffering / being slow and smearing in the bass.

He meant Cabasse and Focus speakers to be more musical, faster and dynamical.

But as the name popped up again I thought to ask you guys who have experienced speakers from this company.

How do you like these and how do you think them serving for AE tasks?

Thanks,

Ruphus
I've never heard these personally.

Looks similar too a Dunlavy/Legacy design.

The Focus Audio speakers are great speakers.

They are finding lots of fans among Jazz and classical engineers.
Old 4th September 2004
  #8
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Hi Thrill, you havn´t heard of that brands prices anywhere, have you?

That warm tone, I thought to be colour somehow ( the music was not familiar to me. Nice guitar rock, btw.) It sounded great on the rock music they were playing, but when classic guys like them they must be rather neutral.
They must be detailed very likely. That´s how it appeared to me. And my friend said listening to them you would be recognizing to hear a really good guitar player while through B&Ws you´d just think that your listening to a nice piece of music.

I wonder how people get to them when there hardly seems any offering.
Apart from France. I read on their web that they have over 20% market share already there.

Ruphus
Old 4th September 2004
  #9
Quote:
Originally posted by Ruphus
Hi Thrill, you havn´t heard of that brands prices anywhere, have you?

That warm tone, I thought to be colour somehow ( the music was not familiar to me. Nice guitar rock, btw.) It sounded great on the rock music they were playing, but when classic guys like them they must be rather neutral.
They must be detailed very likely. That´s how it appeared to me. And my friend said listening to them you would be recognizing to hear a really good guitar player while through B&Ws you´d just think that your listening to a nice piece of music.

I wonder how people get to them when there hardly seems any offering.
Apart from France. I read on their web that they have over 20% market share already there.

Ruphus
Ruphus,

Are you speaking of the Focal speakers or the Focus Audio?

I've heard the Focus Audio line but have never heard of Focal.
Old 5th September 2004
  #10
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hey,

A topic I know a bit about.... as I sold super high end audio for a while.

Focals are great, KRK use their drivers for their high end stuff.
The ones with the inverted dome tweeters, they used kevlar for a long time and those always sounded pretty "bright" to me. The new line uses a new tweeter which they say is Titanium Oxide.... whatever that is. I have not heard any of their new stuff and it may be better I.E. less bright/aggressive.

If you have some $$$ and want the best monitors/speakers, you need to hear these.

http://www.linn.co.uk/spec_sound/pro...TOKEN=60106414

or these

http://www.americansound.com/Eggleston.htm

I've heard both the Linn Komri and the Eggleston Savoy and while both are awsome the Linns are really in a league of their own.... so accurate from top to bottom it's amazing yet they never rip your ears off. I really think they would be the BEST mastering speakers/large monitors you could get.

If you get a chance you have to hear them.... even if you don't have the $40,000.00 they cost. Which BTW is really a bargin.

next time,
jfg
[url]www.jacklord.us
Old 5th September 2004
  #11
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Thrill, I meant the Focal-JMlab Sm-11s, as I think those were the ones they had switched on when I passed by.

15000 bucks, huh? Alright, I seem to have an expensive taste, and my friend anyway ( didn´t know he was so spoiled ;O).
You know the funny thing is I thought like "Look there, an unknown company and their speakers look a bit unusual. Probably for relatively little money, but hey they sound damn nice, maybe you should ..." hahahaha. heh
Anyway, I just got some freaking nice ones of whom I´m sure they will let me detect and position in a quite accurate way and they give me a ton of fun already.

Focals as it seems now to me must be aimed to sheikhs and mastering guys.
Btw, meanwhile I searched a bit more and it seems like they deliver also inexpensive to affordable range in car audio and home hifi. People seem to like them.

And it was mentioned indeed that their older lines or what have been somewhat on the bright side, but with their new tweeters which are of beryllium ( the most expensive metal for that I believe ) they are smooth now.
I can confirm that from what impressed me on AES. Absolutely no sharp hights, as I said it reminded me of the ol´tube radios. Albeit, they from capacity can reach 40 kHz or so.

When I picture myself if I had gone closer remotely thinking of eventually getting them and said something like "these little ones sound nice, how much?" and the guy smiling "14000 Euros" and my jaw dropping on the counter. hihi

And the big ones what would they cost then? I don´t wanna know at all. What I know though is that they weigh 200 kg a piece or something thelike.

Guys, thanks a lot for the interesting insights!

Best,

Ruphus

PS: Spectacular, the buyers wife would trouble him if he bought those Egglestones. They look exactly like wive´s-hating objects. Like him -> hihi
When will the night rider-look be out among gear makers? Before the updates I had been striving to get rid of anything black, even paintend black things over ... and now I´m surrounded again by black.
Old 6th September 2004
  #12
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Ruphus
And the big ones what would they cost then? I don´t wanna know at all.
Sure you don't want to know?

http://www.stereophile.com/loudspeak...al/index2.html
Old 6th September 2004
  #13
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Madre mia!
Take these 80 000$ speakers with those Japanese 250 000$ amps Thrill mentioned lately and you should have a decent stereo.

These seem numbers related to pi x contents of the Milky Way. I bet you have to put them on diamant cones to decouple them from your neighbours.

Ruphus
Old 6th September 2004
  #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ruphus


PS: Spectacular, the buyers wife would trouble him if he bought those Egglestones. They look exactly like wive´s-hating objects. Like him -> hihi
When will the night rider-look be out among gear makers? Before the updates I had been striving to get rid of anything black, even paintend black things over ... and now I´m surrounded again by black.
These are not black

http://www.stereophile.com/loudspeakerreviews/555

and these are the real heavyweights...... hmm $80,000.00 us

http://www.stereophile.com/loudspeakerreviews/921

Poor me, I've got these

http://www.stereophile.com/loudspeakerreviews/284

not the most accurate .... but I love em.


next time,
jfg
www.jacklord
Old 6th September 2004
  #15
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Spectacular,

What am I seeing there on the pic of the Vandersteen speakers? Are they housed with glass or is that just a prepared image to show the interieurs?

Besides, as you are knowing about audiophile stuff.
I have a pair of big ones here from a company named "Klangräume". They must have been top shelf in the early eighties. Three-way builds with shell and tweeater separately on top. They must have costed about 30 000 DM or so.

However the company has vanished from earths surface, no support and noone seems to know about them.

Their tweeters aren´t feeded and I suppose the big tube capacitors inside to have dried out. Have gotten good advice already from fellas here with what to replace the caps, but if ever possible I´d like to know more about them.

Yet without the tweets they sound so nice to my ears. Very souvereign and unobtrusive. Never bothering or fatigueing. You just don´t realize the volume until you go into other rooms or have your neighbours ringing, which happened a couple of times.

I have attached a picture where one of them is visible in the background. Just in case you could eventually identify that dang.

Thanks,

Ruphus
Attached Thumbnails
Focal-image016.jpg  
Old 11th September 2004
  #16
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The SM11 and SM8 were supposed to get picked up by Focal America. I don't know if that fell through or is still being worked out. Either way, I don't believe that they're available in the US yet. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

They look interesting to me, especially the SM8. They're one of the only digital speakers that I know of that use FIR phase linear crossover filters.

These sites have prices listed online: http://www.jukeboxltd.com/ http://www.univers-sons.fr/ These came up in searching on Google. Just listing them to give you an idea of pricing. If I'm reading right they're saying the SM8s are around 4000€/pair and the SM11s are around 10000€/pair plus taxes.
Old 11th September 2004
  #17
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In the arena of rarefied and expensive speakers you might want to check out these:

http://www.avalonacoustics.com/sent-grand.html

About $110,000.00 a pair

The tweeters have diamond diaphragms.

I am using these for 2-channel work:

http://www.avalonacoustics.com/dia-grand.html

and pair of these run about $35,000.00

They use the same diamond tweeter.

For 5.1 work I use:

http://www.avalonpro.com/mixing_monitor.htm

These have all ceramic drivers and a set of 5 will run you about $20,000.00 with the powered sub.

Mike Pappas
Old 11th September 2004
  #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ruphus
Spectacular,

What am I seeing there on the pic of the Vandersteen speakers? Are they housed with glass or is that just a prepared image to show the interieurs?

Besides, as you are knowing about audiophile stuff.
I have a pair of big ones here from a company named "Klangräume". They must have been top shelf in the early eighties. Three-way builds with shell and tweeater separately on top. They must have costed about 30 000 DM or so.

However the company has vanished from earths surface, no support and noone seems to know about them.

Their tweeters aren´t feeded and I suppose the big tube capacitors inside to have dried out. Have gotten good advice already from fellas here with what to replace the caps, but if ever possible I´d like to know more about them.

Yet without the tweets they sound so nice to my ears. Very souvereign and unobtrusive. Never bothering or fatigueing. You just don´t realize the volume until you go into other rooms or have your neighbours ringing, which happened a couple of times.

I have attached a picture where one of them is visible in the background. Just in case you could eventually identify that dang.

Thanks,

Ruphus
Ruphus,

sorry I'm late w/this... been pretty busy but,

The pic of the vandy's is a prepared image, the image on the left is accurate. Some people think they are ugly, but for the $$$ they are hard to beat "time and phase accurate".... hence the big offsets in the drivers fore and aft.

Very important, I think.

As for those "big's" you have hmm...

not sure, but with the "horn" midrange and the perched tweet I bet they could sound great. My advice would be to check out "Fostex" for replacment parts.

http://www.fostexinternational.com/d...ine_up_1.shtml

better yet if you want, try these guys I bet they might know what you have there.

http://www.westlakeaudio.com/Speakers/speakers.html

and check out those sweet studios while your at there site.

Hope this helps
jfg
www.jacklord.us
Old 11th September 2004
  #19
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Hey JFG,

Yeah, that "time and phase accuracy" thing has quite caught my thoughts over the last days. Seems like every thing else comes after it.

Thank you so much for the links! I have bookmarked them and will inquire them as soon as someone will show up here with a digital camera, so that I can show them the caps in there.

I suspect what helped them dry out must be that my silly sister kept them standing before heaters for years ( regardless of me grummling when being at her place. Sisters, ya know .. heh ).

It makes me wonder also whether their housing made of laquered ~ 3 cm MDF might have dried out, and I hope that it would recover over the years by regaining normal moisture.

If you have another minute: Is there any procedure one could do to refresh and conserve old paper cones?

Thanks a lot!

Ruphus
Old 11th September 2004
  #20


MDF shouldn't absorb moisture. When it does, it looses strength and falls apart. Dry is good.

For offset drivers of any size (other than a few inches for tweeters) you really need to have a big room. If your listening room is more than 25 feet wide and you can space the speakers more than 10 feet apart from each other, then this can work well.

The other way to get phase-coherent drivers is by careful design of the cross-over. Nearly all mid- to high-end (and most of the stupid-high-look-how-much-money-I-spent-end) do this to some degree or another. Sometimes, a design decision is made to go for a topology that requires off-setting the drivers.



-tINY

Old 11th September 2004
  #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by tINY


MDF shouldn't absorb moisture. When it does, it looses strength and falls apart. Dry is good.


-tINY

Sure so.
I meant that in other measures. Think of "moisture" as the state wood and wooden like stuff has ( maybe I used the wrong word? ) under normal room conditions and of "dry" as powder-dry and becoming light from years winters in warm and dryed air.

Ruphus
Old 12th September 2004
  #22
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Ruphus,

I've used this on paper cones in the past and I think it works well.
It is normally used for decoupage, people have used it to stiffen paper cones for a long time

http://us.shop.com/amos/cc/main/cata.../adtg/09060441

Put it on THIN and even, two coats will do the trick.... YMMV

hope this helps,
jfg
www.jacklord.us
Old 12th September 2004
  #23


Anything you do to the paper cones will change the sound. This could be for better or worse. The cone will be stiffer, so the wave propagation through the cone will be faster. It will also make the cone heavier, causing the alignment of the cabinet to change slightly.

You may like the results. If the cones are on the edge of deteriorating, you don't have much to loose.



-tINY

Old 12th September 2004
  #24
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Hi guys,

Thank you very much for helping me out with these questions. Very appreciated!

Besides, I like the "the stupid-high-look-how-much-money-I-spent-end" expression. It isn´t that I couldn´t appreciate what I heard from those Focus M-11s and I always enjoyed the crazy speakers my brother used to have at his places, but it seems clear to me that those prices are indeed fooling people.

It´s not related to the goods, but just to the wallet of those who can afford it - and the few customers who kill themselves for the utmost in sound. If there weren´t people who could spend the money for a house on speakers they would be existing too, but with reasonable price tags on them. That´s all.

About the cones: Don´t know how to evaluate their state, but they look strong and not mellow at all. ( Only bleached. I don´t think that they looked brown from beginning.)

Guess I should leave them alone then, huh?

Ruphus
Old 13th September 2004
  #25


...enjoy them and keep the cats away from those cones....




-tINY

Old 13th September 2004
  #26
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Thanks, Tiny! heh

I am very lucky with my cat. He really cares for me. When I bring in something new and don´t want him to touch it, it only needs a handful calm nos and he will stay away from it for the future. Like when I placed my new beloved Adams. Naturally he wanted to explore those strange smelling dangs. It took about 4 "U-uh!"s within a week. That should have been it.

Last week I heard from a guy who lost his 3000 € speakers to his cat. I strongly hope he was wise enough not to react stupid humanly.

The only points are two:

A. The first fly that will be so punk to fly across a woofer could be ending its healthy being. Because when it comes to flies Igor the cat forgets all of his really great self control.

B. Cats differ from dogs in that they will break their habits one single day on principle, just to see what happens or how a new habit could be. If you´re lucky you will be there and remind them of that you don´t agree and the problem should be banned for the next couple of years or so.

Ah, cats ... once you discover what it actually is about you´re completely sold for the rest of your life.

Greets,

Ruphus
Old 13th September 2004
  #27


But, can you dress your cat in a Tu-Tu on Holloween?


-tINY


Old 14th September 2004
  #28
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I fear if I tried my own dress could be fringed.
Not really, but I guess he wouldn´t speak for a a couple of days with me if I did that to him.
Gotta pass on that one.

But can your dog drink from your water glas when you go for a quick pee and lay there on your return just like if he hadn´t moved at all?
Damn, mine can.
I would had never found out about his blitz tricks if the water hadn´t tasted like crap after the gangster´s sip. heh

Oh, and can your dog start purring when he sees you handling with a steak or fright chicken and continue purring when it has become clear already that you don´t give him from it?

I have to watch out and look after his bowl, BTW, because if I forget to give him cat food he might not say a word. What he asks for though is that I shall knee down beside him when he eats. Not seldom when I just lay down the bowl and run further he follows me instead of the food. He is crazy.

And one other thing, can you imagine, he considers when I have guests. He likes to sit in the circle like all cats do, but keeps himself in the back consciously, knowing that I want to concentrate on the people. This can go on for days, only in the very moment the visitors leave he stands on my foot requiring attention.

Err ... and can your dog stroke with his paws? I swear my cat has done this on my face several times over the years and I tell you that is the funniest wadded fondling you ever felt on your cheek. heh Really cute, man.

Anyway, dogs are great too. The day I´d have the conditions for one I´ll realize my unfulfilled dream from childhood. And if it was high end conditions one or two horses too. ( dream on )

Ruphus
Old 16th September 2004
  #29
fab
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Focal SM8s and 11s

Hi guys,

I have the great pleasure to have a pair of both Focal SM11 and SM8 in my studio right now.
They have totally changed my outlook on monitoring speakers. My outlook, and the outlook of pretty much everybody I work with at the same time.

I, like Ruphus, just walked by the Focal booth at AES in Berlin and, like Ruphus, had to stop by because what I heard from the aisle just stopped me in my tracks.
I arranged with the manufacturer to try out a pair in my room in NYC as soon as possible and after 6 weeks I can't imagine giving them back. I'm totally hooked.

These things are truly stunning. Not hyped, not bright, just precise in a 'this music isn't coming out of a speaker' kind of way. They instantly made my beloved BM15a sound heavy and un-precise, which is pretty insane considering how much I loved this things up until 6 weeks ago.

I mixed a full lenght Jazz record on the SM8s right away, and the number one shock for me was the instant translation of the mixes everywhere else. Finally TRANSLATION.
With the Dyns I always had to check and adjust bass and low-mids on a combination of headphones,NS10, in cars, on boom boxes, etc, etc...
With the Focals, what I hear is what I get. Period.
I have moved them from room to room down here and it seems that they are the first nearfield that 'actually behaves like a nearfiled should behave', that I have ever listened to.
They are the most room independent speaker I've heard. And it's making a BIG difference int he way I mix, and the time I take to get where I want to be.
If you are in NYC and vicinity, come check it out for yourself.

The sound is amazing but the functionality is amazing too. They have both analog and digital inputs, the digital i/o can be clocked externally, even when you use the analog input, they have a full software control system,, with phase alignment, delays adjustment for surround set-ups, EQs, level matching, sweet spot tuning. It's crazy.
I haven't played with that stuff a lot yet, I've just been enjoying them flat :-)
I do use the EQ presets to notch out an annoying 31.5 Hz bump in my room and sometime to imitate ****ty speakers, by making an 'Auratone like' EQ curve, and recalling the preset to check out the mix in lesser conditions...on the same speakers...Yeah.

I'm totally in love.

The SM11s are also pretty insane. They go down to 20hz +- a couple of dBs. For real, without that stupid artificial bass sub crap I usually hear.
What stunned me about the SM11s was the imaging. Hard to describe other than feeling like it was the same feeling I get when looking at HDTV versus looking at regular TV.
My room was completely overwhelmed by the Sm11s. I would need to have an extra 4 feet on each side for the speaker to really sit well. The room reacted by clouding the lo-mids a bit, which impaired the mix translation wonders of the speaker.
I know the problem is my room because bringing the SM11 in my live room got rid of that problem and restored the feeling of wonder I had by listening to the SM8s in the control room.
I could have EQ-ed out some of the problems on the SM11 in the control room, but I went back to the SM8s. I miss the bottom extension a lot but the SM8s will be alot cheaper when they finally wake up and send me a bill :-)))
I think I'll keep my Dyn sub and find the right crossover point when I need that kind of bass.

Last but not least they look AMAZING. Beautiful, actual wood, just incredible build quality. The lacquer is like the lacquer you see on expensive HIFi speakers. No crummy badly covered black MDF that will look like crap in two years. They feel really precious. They shine softly under proper lighting too. Some of my pot addicted collaborators just stare at them all night long uttering soft things like 'coool dude', 'want some?' and 'I like the way it sounds in here'.

The reason why I, and you, hadn't heard about these guys before is because the professional line is brand new and not even in the US yet. They are planning to officialy release them as AES in SanFranscisco.
The Focal guys have been building great speakers for 30+ years, so I'm told. They have a HUGE share of the very, very, very, very high end HiFi market. (Think $80 000 pair of passive speakers)
My contact there told me that they started the professional division because one of the owners is a passionate musician and studio rat, like us. He wanted to make a no-compromise professional monitor utilizing the experience and resource of the company. I think they nailed it.
They will be distributed here by Wave Distribution (ELI, SRS, Tonelux)
I know that the first 40 SM8s are on a boat somwhere between France and New York City.
Thery are targeting the SM8 for a $4500-$5000 / pair price range.
I hope that that's what it's going to be. Considering that they kick the hell out of everything else I've heard, that they come with their full management system built-in, and that they are built like cathedrals, it's going to be worth it for me.

I have the manuals and specs and stuff, so if you have questions, ask away, I'm happy to share.

Ciao,

Fab
Old 16th September 2004
  #30
Re: Focal SM8s and 11s

Quote:
Originally posted by fab

These things are truly stunning. Not hyped, not bright, just precise in a 'this music isn't coming out of a speaker' kind of way. . . . Finally TRANSLATION.

With the Focals, what I hear is what I get. Period.

They are the most room independent speaker I've heard.

The sound is amazing but the functionality is amazing too. They have both analog and digital inputs, the digital i/o can be clocked externally, even when you use the analog input, they have a full software control system,, with phase alignment, delays adjustment for surround set-ups, EQs, level matching, sweet spot tuning. It's crazy.

I do use the EQ presets to notch out an annoying 31.5 Hz bump in my room and sometime to imitate ****ty speakers, by making an 'Auratone like' EQ curve, and recalling the preset to check out the mix in lesser conditions...on the same speakers...Yeah.

Last but not least they look AMAZING. Beautiful, actual wood, just incredible build quality. The lacquer is like the lacquer you see on expensive HIFi speakers. No crummy badly covered black MDF that will look like crap in two years. They feel really precious. They shine softly under proper lighting too.

They are targeting the SM8 for a $4500-$5000 / pair price range.

I hope that that's what it's going to be. Considering that they kick the hell out of everything else I've heard, that they come with their full management system built-in, and that they are built like cathedrals, it's going to be worth it for me.

Yeah - what fab said..!!! lol - Have only had them for an afternoon so far - but we did a listening test against some F.A.R's , Genelec 8040's & PMC AML1's - the Focal's smashed it....

In addition to the above glowing report.... the Beryllium tweeter thing makes the off-axis response AS even as the on axis... these things sound the same at any point in the room... phenomenal..... i can't wait to get them back next week and do some heavy mixing on them....
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