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Focal Aria 906 Speaker Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf/stand-mount speaker. It was kindly purchased by a member and drop shipped to me. I think it costs US $2000 for a pair but I see it on Amazon including Prime shipping for half that at US $999. Better yet, they have a $100 discount coupon right now bringing the price down to $899! For a French manufactured speaker from a top brand, this is an excellent price.

What's more, the color and style is gorgeous to look at:

Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker stereo review.jpg


The woofer is made out of the fibers of flax seed. Yeh, the same stuff health food people put in smoothies and such. :) Apparently France is the #1 exporter of Flax seeds. It does give the speaker a very modern and nice look. As does the leather baffle, very nicely down vinyl wrap and glossy top. The port looks a bit cheap but that's it.

Back panel has custom binding posts with plastic handles which I have not seen before:

Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker back panel binding posts stereo review.jpg


My overall impression is very positive seeing how they matched the color of the cabinet to that of our forum! We must have similarly good taste.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

I used nearly 1000 measurement point which produced a very accurate grid for sound field prediction, indicating a clean response form the speaker at high frequencies.

Spinorama Audio Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker can be used. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker spinorama CEA2034 frequency response measurements.png


I always look at at the response up to 1 kHz first and there, the 906 is doing a very good job. There is a bit of peaking around 800 Hz but it is minor. Above that, we have a broad dip and some directivity error but in grand scheme of things, this is good response.

Early reflections has a similar dip:

Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker spinorama CEA2034 early reflections frequency res...png


Ceiling and floor contribute the most to that dip so if you absorb them, it should reduce their impact. The "front wall" (your back wall) helps in this regard so don't try to absorb that.

Predicted in-room response which is the sum of what we have already seen presents a good picture:

Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker spinorama CEA2034 Predicted In-room Response  fre...png


Overall signature then should be more or less neutral which is what we want out of a speaker.

Listening window is wide and smooth to -6 dB level:

Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker beamwidth directivity frequency response measurem...png


So you don't have to worry too much about exact toe-in. And the room sides will be illuminated with response that is close to direct sound.

Similar view exists in directivity plot:

Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker horizontal directivity measurements.png


Vertical is chewed up as it typically is:
Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker Vertical directivity measurements.png


Focal talks a lot about the reduction of woofer distortion through its construction and seems like there is something to that if you keep the levels low:

Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker Relative THD distortion measurements.png


Compare this to a studio monitor I recently reviewed:



In absolute levels we get this:

Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker Relative THD distortion absolute measurements.png


I like to see nothing peaking above 500 Hz or so and we are almost there at 86 dB.

Trying to find the source of that, I made a near field measurement of the woofer:

Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker  Woofer near-field measurements.png


Looks like break up modes are way above the 1 to 2 kHz where we see the distortion.

Here is the port response:

Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker  Port near-field measurements.png


This is showing the issue but I am thinking it is the tweeter that is breaking up there. Open to other suggestions.

Here is our waterfalls for fans of this graph:

Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker CSD waterfall measurements.png


Finally, some of you keep asking for phase response. Here it is:

Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker Group Delay measurements.png


Edit: adding the impedance graph:

Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker imnpedance and phase measurements.png


Subjective Speaker Listening Tests
I always observe how a speaker sounds the moment I turn it on. Here, the 906 did well! It sounded warm and nice with fair bit of detail.

Further listening showed a bit too much bass so I went after correcting that 800 Hz peak and boosting some of the dip:

Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker correction EQ in Roon player.png


The tonality improvement with the 800 Hz was very welcome. And positive across all content.

The fix at 3000 Hz made things brighter in a good way for most content but not all.

At this point, I sat back and enjoyed the speaker. It was a delight to look at and very nice to listen to. Here is a sample track from my reference list, Allan Taylor's Let The Music Flow (sounds awful on youtube):


I was able to play quite loud without causing the 906 to fall apart. Credit for this is the speaker not attempting to play too low and hence be able to get loud without severe distortion/bottoming out. As a result content with deep bass doesn't sound as full. It is a much better fit to content like above.

Conclusions
The Focal Aria 906 is gorgeous to look at and comes at a very low price for a French made speaker from a top brand company. It only has small imperfections and seemingly low distortion, making for a very pleasant and nice speaker to listen to with a bit of EQ.

Overall I am going to recommend the Focal Aria 906.

Would be interested to know what it goes for in EU market. If it is similar to US discounted pricing, it should provide a great option for our European members that have trouble getting access to American brands.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Given the nice sound of the Focal 906, I am thinking of growing some speakers in my yard. Flax seed is easy to get. Wonder what fertilizer I need for the plant to produce woofers. No doubt I would have to import some secret sauce from France which won't come cheap! So please donate what you can using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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edechamps

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I have added the Focal Aria 906 to Loudspeaker Explorer where it can be compared to other speakers.

Don't put these above ear height:

visualization(110).png


And since I'm the first one here for once, I'll take the opportunity to announce an Olive Preference Rating (without sub) of 5.6.
 

maty

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VintageFlanker

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I waited for this one so long, @amirm !:)

This is absolute Bang for the buck when you consider these are made local and the ridiculous price Focal asks for it (in France)

Still love mine. In fact, I subjectively prefered my 906s to Kef R3s in my room. Here are my In-Room captures:

R3 Vs 906 Avg.jpg



I think it costs US $2000 for a pair but I see it on Amazon including Prime shipping for half that at US $999. Better yet, they have a $100 discount coupon right now bringing the price down to $899! For a French manufactured speaker from a top brand, this is an excellent price.
They can be had for £700 from several suppliers in the UK.
...Or less than 450€/pair from HomeCineSolutions during every Summer Sales (starts from 15th July).

PS: By the way, I'm waiting for a pair of Dynaudio Evoke 20. If I happen to prefer the Evokes over the 906s, I could put my pair on sale here. 380€/pair with S900 Stands (costing 299€/pair alone) or 280€/pair without S900 Stands.
 
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#12
Would be interested to know what it goes for in EU market. If it is similar to US discounted pricing, it should provide a great option for our European members that have trouble getting access to American brands.
Wee Amir Senpai reviewed my speakers. :D
I got mine last Dec for around 230€ per speaker from here, thanks to a tip from @VintageFlanker
https://www.homecinesolutions.fr/c/482-enceintes-bibliotheques?b=138

While the 230€ was definitely some lingering November madness, they seem to hover around 400€ with 450-500 being the MSRP that can be negotiated down.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #15
Why only the bemused panther given the performance (I haven't quite internalized the panther-gradient yet)?
He is one notch below the best. If the response did not have that dip, it would have gotten the soccer panther (best for EU products). I did debate that and almost gave the highest honors. So was not an easy decision. :)
 

DivineCurrent

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#18
Looks like the Elac DBR 62s just found a challenger.
Yeah, these look really good. I like the look of the DBR62s better, and they're probably a better fit for me with the slightly warmer tone (And cheaper than the Aria in the US.)
 

MZKM

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