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Focal Aria 906 Speaker Review

Chromatischism

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Focal Aria seems to be a more "muscle-y" sound than Revel. More meat and fewer flashlights in your face. You heard that here first. Maybe I should try my hand at Hi-Fi reviews.
 

lc155

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Must be an old one, none of the 906s I've seen have that wall mount on the back.

Unless that's supposed to be a discontinued 905?
 

VintageFlanker

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echopraxia

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Wondering if anyone else also experienced this: I’ve owned the Focal Aria 926’s for a few weeks now and despite a -3db treble reduction (via three band EQ), I’m still finding them painfully fatiguing to my ears. Unfortunately the mid treble also sounds a bit recessed in this case (they sound simultaneously dark in terms of low and mid treble and bright in terms of the upper treble), so I think it must still be the rising response after 7khz that gets to me over time, which perhaps is an area where most people just no longer have any hearing remaining (I can hear 17.5kz, and for example those “teenager repellent” tone generators are extremely painful to my ears).

Also, I have noticed that if I turn my head around 180 degrees or block the direct sound to the speakers, the fatiguing harshness mostly goes away, which I assume is related to walls being more absorptive of the higher frequencies. But even then, the harshness does not 100% go away, only maybe 50-90% gone.
 
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The Focal website shows three finishes - Black, Noyer and Prime Walnut - along with pictures

The Noyer has the horizontal grain and the Prime vertical.

1600700615259.png
 

lc155

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Wondering if anyone else also experienced this: I’ve owned the Focal Aria 926’s for a few weeks now and despite a -3db treble reduction (via three band EQ), I’m still finding them painfully fatiguing to my ears. Unfortunately the mid treble also sounds a bit recessed in this case (they sound simultaneously dark in terms of low and mid treble and bright in terms of the upper treble), so I think it must still be the rising response after 7khz that gets to me over time, which perhaps is an area where most people just no longer have any hearing remaining (I can hear 17.5kz, and for example those “teenager repellent” tone generators are extremely painful to my ears).

Also, I have noticed that if I turn my head around 180 degrees or block the direct sound to the speakers, the fatiguing harshness mostly goes away, which I assume is related to walls being more absorptive of the higher frequencies. But even then, the harshness does not 100% go away, only maybe 50-90% gone.
I don't get any fatigue with my 906's, with a similar rising response. I'm nearing my 30s, but can still quite clearly hear that mosquito tone (which is grating as hell). You just must have an extreme sensitivity to it, I guess.
 

daftcombo

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Wondering if anyone else also experienced this: I’ve owned the Focal Aria 926’s for a few weeks now and despite a -3db treble reduction (via three band EQ), I’m still finding them painfully fatiguing to my ears. Unfortunately the mid treble also sounds a bit recessed in this case (they sound simultaneously dark in terms of low and mid treble and bright in terms of the upper treble), so I think it must still be the rising response after 7khz that gets to me over time, which perhaps is an area where most people just no longer have any hearing remaining (I can hear 17.5kz, and for example those “teenager repellent” tone generators are extremely painful to my ears).

Also, I have noticed that if I turn my head around 180 degrees or block the direct sound to the speakers, the fatiguing harshness mostly goes away, which I assume is related to walls being more absorptive of the higher frequencies. But even then, the harshness does not 100% go away, only maybe 50-90% gone.
Can you name a few songs showing the issue?
 

echopraxia

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Can you name a few songs showing the issue?
Just about everything and anything with any content above 10khz at all. The 'airy' aspect of voices, instruments, etc. is just really boosted, or something... all I can say is that I get a feeling of discomfort/pain after I've been listening for a few hours. I can still hear it when I first start listening, but it's so subtle and not necessarily painful until listening for a while when my ears start getting fatigued. I'll try to find some though this evening.
 

echopraxia

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I don't get any fatigue with my 906's, with a similar rising response. I'm nearing my 30s, but can still quite clearly hear that mosquito tone (which is grating as hell). You just must have an extreme sensitivity to it, I guess.
I definitely do have a higher pain sensitivity to treble across the spectrum. I honestly don't know why though, because I can turn my favorite speakers (Genelec 8351B / Salon2's) up to extreme loudness overall, and don't feel pain/fatigue -- and surely at that point, there must be 10-20khz sounds at least as loud as when I play these at lower levels? So I'm not sure why treble tones would only be painful/fatiguing to me when not masked by a balanced response on the rest of the spectrum, but that does seem to be the case.

BTW I'm curious, if you try this tone generator, where does your hearing start to roll off? For me, the loudness does not start to roll off at all until after 14khz. Then after 14khz it rolls off pretty quickly until after 17khz or so, after which I can't really hear it at all. However, if I do turn my volume up 10db or so I do hear 17khz, and very painfully so. That does align with that I see here from the Focal Aria's on-axis response:

 

napilopez

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Wondering if anyone else also experienced this: I’ve owned the Focal Aria 926’s for a few weeks now and despite a -3db treble reduction (via three band EQ), I’m still finding them painfully fatiguing to my ears. Unfortunately the mid treble also sounds a bit recessed in this case (they sound simultaneously dark in terms of low and mid treble and bright in terms of the upper treble), so I think it must still be the rising response after 7khz that gets to me over time, which perhaps is an area where most people just no longer have any hearing remaining (I can hear 17.5kz, and for example those “teenager repellent” tone generators are extremely painful to my ears).

Also, I have noticed that if I turn my head around 180 degrees or block the direct sound to the speakers, the fatiguing harshness mostly goes away, which I assume is related to walls being more absorptive of the higher frequencies. But even then, the harshness does not 100% go away, only maybe 50-90% gone.
I don't get any fatigue with my 906's, with a similar rising response. I'm nearing my 30s, but can still quite clearly hear that mosquito tone (which is grating as hell). You just must have an extreme sensitivity to it, I guess.
I'm using the Chora 806 - which has a very similar treble response -- as my daily driver again and have personally never noticed that. I'm 29 and I can still hear 20kHz with a bit of extra volume and can hear 19 kHz without an issue.

1600704291667.png


Have you tried simply changing the toe-in? The treble drop-off above 10kHz is super steep off axis so at 30 degrees it should no longer bother you, unless you're more sensitive above 18khz than you think!

1600705148112.png



That said, it may be specifically the 6kHz to 10kHz region that bothers you. Most speakers will drop off rapidly past 6kHz (or drop off smoothly with large waveguides) while the Focals maintain a lot of energy up to 10kHz. The region from 6-10kHz is exactly what makes the Focal's special to me and helps them sound expansive, but it's also likely what makes them bright to some people.
 
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echopraxia

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I'm using the Chora 806 - which has a very similar treble response -- as my daily driver again and have personally never noticed that. I'm 29 and I can still hear 20kHz with a bit of extra volume and can hear 19 kHz without an issue.

View attachment 84090

Have you tried simply changing the toe-in? The treble drop-off above 10kHz is super steep off axis so at 30 degrees it should no longer bother you.

View attachment 84093


That said, I expect it's specifically the 6kHz to 10kHz region that bothers you. Most speakers will drop off rapidly past 6kHz (or drop off smoothly with large waveguides) while the Focals maintain a lot of energy up to 10kHz. The region from 6-10kHz is what makes the Focal's special and sound especially expansive, but it's also what makes them bright to some people.
Yeah it's really interesting... I don't quite understand why, but my ears have what seems like unreasonable pain/fatiguing response to any sort of elevated treble frequencies vs the rest of the spectrum, even on frequencies that are already rolling off to my hearing. Perhaps related to tinnitus and chronic ear infections when I was younger? I don't know.

Anyway, what remains true is that I can listen to Revel Salon2's or Genelec 8351B's at quite high levels without issues or fatigue over hours, but for some reason, not as much these. (Might be fix-able with EQ, but I don't have the ability to custom fine tune EQ on this system for where I have it set up.)
 

daftcombo

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Just about everything and anything with any content above 10khz at all. The 'airy' aspect of voices, instruments, etc. is just really boosted, or something... all I can say is that I get a feeling of discomfort/pain after I've been listening for a few hours. I can still hear it when I first start listening, but it's so subtle and not necessarily painful until listening for a while when my ears start getting fatigued. I'll try to find some though this evening.
Here's the EQ I apply to my Aria 906. I can't really hear the difference, to be honest.

1600706075282.png
 

BYRTT

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@echopraxia, any chance your DAC for Focal 926 system is upsampling without any smart SOX SRC filter so that you run audio at lower rates without native reconstruction filter and open for the digital image to pass downstream.
 

echopraxia

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@echopraxia, any chance your DAC for Focal 926 system is upsampling without any smart SOX SRC filter so that you run audio at lower rates without native reconstruction filter and open for the digital image to pass downstream.
I'm using Sonos Amp with digital streaming sources like Tidal/Spotify/Airplay. Not sure if this has any problems like that.
 

BYRTT

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I'm using Sonos Amp with digital streaming sources like Tidal/Spotify/Airplay. Not sure if this has any problems like that.
Most players for audiophiles can be set to exclusive use so native rates of the track material will be commanded to DAC chip for whatever track, but as you not sure then try shift one Revel or Genelec to problem system or vice versa.
 

Chromatischism

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I definitely do have a higher pain sensitivity to treble across the spectrum. I honestly don't know why though, because I can turn my favorite speakers (Genelec 8351B / Salon2's) up to extreme loudness overall, and don't feel pain/fatigue -- and surely at that point, there must be 10-20khz sounds at least as loud as when I play these at lower levels? So I'm not sure why treble tones would only be painful/fatiguing to me when not masked by a balanced response on the rest of the spectrum, but that does seem to be the case.

BTW I'm curious, if you try this tone generator, where does your hearing start to roll off? For me, the loudness does not start to roll off at all until after 14khz. Then after 14khz it rolls off pretty quickly until after 17khz or so, after which I can't really hear it at all. However, if I do turn my volume up 10db or so I do hear 17khz, and very painfully so. That does align with that I see here from the Focal Aria's on-axis response:

My past experience with a tone sweep was similar. I could hear to 18.1 kHz with a lot of gain, however after that, no amount of gain did anything. That was on the Mackie MR624s. I should try it on my S400s since the smaller tweeter doesn't give up until much higher. I don't expect a different result, by I want to rule out speaker rolloff.
 

TankTop

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I’ve contemplated getting a dozen of them from accessories for less for a surroundsound system. A pair of good subwoofers in a medium size room could be fantastic.
 
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