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Focal Chora 816 Speaker Review

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 5 1.9%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 23 8.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 158 58.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 84 31.1%

  • Total voters
    270

amirm

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This is a review, listening tests and detailed measurements of Focal Chora 816 floor-standing/tower speaker. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $499.
Focal Chora 816 Tower Speaker standmount review.jpg

Despite the low price, the speaker is beautifully finished with a curved port and beautiful light oak finish:
Focal Chora 816 Tower Speaker standmount vertical review.jpg


A magnetic grill covers the dual woofers but leaves the port and tweeter alone as there is nothing to damage there.

Speaker is made in France which again, is surprising given the low cost.

The design is 2.5 way, seemingly aimed at home theater applications. Past 2.5-way designs we have reviewed have had issues so let's see if they persist here as well.

Note: by experimentation, I arrived at the reference axis at the upper rim of the mid-woofer below tweeter.

Focal Chora 816 Measurements
Let's start with our usual anechoic frequency response measurements:
Focal Chora 816 Tower Speaker frequency response measurements.png


At "macro" level the response is good with more or less flat on-axis. There are however small chewiness especially in midfrequencies. And somewhat elevated treble. Sensitivity is high at 91+ which is a benefit of large enclosure of a tower speaker. Bass extension is down to 45 Hz or so (F6). Measuring each driver at point blank gives us more insight at the reasons for above:
Focal Chora 816 Tower Speaker near-field  frequency response measurements.png


With cabinet/port and lower frequency woofer resonating, we get fair bit of variations in mid frequencies as noted. Nicely though, the mid-woofer (blue) resonances are at higher frequencies and lower amplitude so not as destructive.

Early window reflections average out to smoother response but with a pronounced peak around 8 kHz. Given how broad it is, it will be pretty audible:
Focal Chora 816 Tower Speaker Early Window Reflection frequency response measurements.png


It shows up clearly in predicted in-room response:
Focal Chora 816 Tower Speaker predicted in-room frequency response measurements.png


So we are going to have some brightness but otherwise, response is pretty smooth.

Benefit of the 2.5 way design comes from two woofers holding hands to produce much more power relative to distortion they produce as each working in more linear region:
Focal Chora 816 Tower Speaker thd distortion measurements.png


Focal Chora 816 Tower Speaker relative thd distortion measurements.png


Horizontal beamwidth is fairly controlled which was a pleasant surprise:
Focal Chora 816 Tower Speaker horizontal beamwidth measurements.png


From memory, I thought it narrowed sooner than typical 2-way designs:
Focal Chora 816 Tower Speaker horizontal directivity measurements.png


Vertically there is good bit of narrowing so best to position your ear at the upper rim of the mid-woofer:
Focal Chora 816 Tower Speaker vertical directivity measurements.png


Impedance curve is complex due to the design but has a typical 4 ohm low point:
Focal Chora 816 Tower Speaker impedance and phase measurements.png


Waterfall display shows fair bit of resonances:
Focal Chora 816 Tower Speaker CSD Waterfall decay measurements.png


And here is the step response for fans of that:
Focal Chora 816 Tower Speaker Step Response measurements.png


Focal Chora 816 Speaker Listening Tests
Upon power up, I immediately noticed the extra sharpness. Mind you, it was pleasant in the way it brought out so much detail but still, it was too much. Per measurements, I dialed in a single filter for that:
Focal Chora 816 Tower Speaker standmount equalization eq home theater.png


The sound was still a bit bright but I wanted to keep that character there so did not play with it more. On bass heavy material, the response from speaker went down low enough to activate the room mode I have at 105 Hz so I quickly dialed in a dip for that (not a fault of the speaker). That tightened the bass and now the sound was very enjoyable. What really impressed me was the incredible dynamics and power handling of this speaker. Powered by my 800 watt amplifier, it played effortlessly with impressive, gut feeling bass. Sub-bass response (below 30 Hz) was there and only slightly distorted. Certainly far, far above any 2-way speaker I have tested in this regard. And probably the best sound I have heard out of a tower speaker at this price point!

I sat there in amazement and enjoyed track after track. Yes, small filters for the various resonances in mid frequencies would likely make things better yet. But I was satisfied enough to not want to mess with them.

Conclusions
The positive look and feel of Chora 816 put me in good mood for testing of the speaker. On the other hand, once I saw the 2.5-way designation, I thought we were going to have problems. It seems that Focal has managed to keep most of the negatives of this approach to acceptable levels while bringing its high output capability to the table. The tweeter plays a bit bright. I imagine this is by design to give it some "showroom sound." In that regard, it is much more tasteful than others in its price class. A single filter was enough to deal with that. Alternatively you could toe out the speaker to accomplish something similar (I always listen on-axis).

Story becomes very convincing when one considers the low price and manufacturing in France! Clearly Focal knows what they are doing in their vertical integration to bring such a solution to market.

The Focal Chora 816 is an easy recommendation for me given its amazing power handling, great looks and very good performance at low price. It is now my favorite in this price range (and even higher).

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

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Attachments

  • Focal Chora 816.zip
    61.9 KB · Views: 33

Maiky76

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This is a review, listening tests and detailed measurements of Focal Chora 816 floor-standing/tower speaker. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $499.
View attachment 272090
Despite the low price, the speaker is beautifully finished with a curved port and beautiful light oak finish:
View attachment 272091

A magnetic grill covers the dual woofers but leaves the port and tweeter alone as there is nothing to damage there.

Speaker is made in France which again, is surprising given the low cost.

The design is 2.5 way, seemingly aimed at home theater applications. Past 2.5-way designs we have reviewed have had issues so let's see if they persist here as well.

Note: by experimentation, I arrived at the reference axis at the upper rim of the mid-woofer below tweeter.

Focal Chora 816 Measurements
Let's start with our usual anechoic frequency response measurements:
View attachment 272092

At "macro" level the response is good with more or less flat on-axis. There are however small chewiness especially in midfrequencies. And somewhat elevated treble. Sensitivity is high at 91+ which is a benefit of large enclosure of a tower speaker. Bass extension is down to 45 Hz or so (F6). Measuring each driver at point blank gives us more insight at the reasons for above:
View attachment 272094

With cabinet/port and lower frequency woofer resonating, we get fair bit of variations in mid frequencies as noted. Nicely though, the mid-woofer (blue) resonances are at higher frequencies and lower amplitude so not as destructive.

Early window reflections average out to smoother response but with a pronounced peak around 8 kHz. Given how broad it is, it will be pretty audible:
View attachment 272097

It shows up clearly in predicted in-room response:
View attachment 272098

So we are going to have some brightness but otherwise, response is pretty smooth.

Benefit of the 2.5 way design comes from two woofers holding hands to produce much more power relative to distortion they produce as each working in more linear region:
View attachment 272099

View attachment 272100

Horizontal beamwidth is fairly controlled which was a pleasant surprise:
View attachment 272101

From memory, I thought it narrowed sooner than typical 2-way designs:
View attachment 272103

Vertically there is good bit of narrowing so best to position your ear at the upper rim of the mid-woofer:
View attachment 272104

Impedance curve is complex due to the design but has a typical 4 ohm low point:
View attachment 272105

Waterfall display shows fair bit of resonances:
View attachment 272106

And here is the step response for fans of that:
View attachment 272107

Focal Chora 816 Speaker Listening Tests
Upon power up, I immediately noticed the extra sharpness. Mind you, it was pleasant in the way it brought out so much detail but still, it was too much. Per measurements, I dialed in a single filter for that:
View attachment 272111

The sound was still a bit bright but I wanted to keep that character there so did not play with it more. On bass heavy material, the response from speaker went down low enough to activate the room mode I have at 105 Hz so I quickly dialed in a dip for that (not a fault of the speaker). That tightened the bass and now the sound was very enjoyable. What really impressed me was the incredible dynamics and power handling of this speaker. Powered by my 800 watt amplifier, it played effortlessly with impressive, gut feeling bass. Sub-bass response (below 30 Hz) was there and only slightly distorted. Certainly far, far above any 2-way speaker I have tested in this regard. And probably the best sound I have heard out of a tower speaker at this price point!

I sat there in amazement and enjoyed track after track. Yes, small filters for the various resonances in mid frequencies would likely make things better yet. But I was satisfied enough to not want to mess with them.

Conclusions
The positive look and feel of Chora 816 put me in good mood for testing of the speaker. On the other hand, once I saw the 2.5-way designation, I thought we were going to have problems. It seems that Focal has managed to keep most of the negatives of this approach to acceptable levels while bringing its high output capability to the table. The tweeter plays a bit bright. I imagine this is by design to give it some "showroom sound." In that regard, it is much more tasteful than others in its price class. A single filter was enough to deal with that. Alternatively you could toe out the speaker to accomplish something similar (I always listen on-axis).

Story becomes very convincing when one considers the low price and manufacturing in France! Clearly Focal knows what they are doing in their vertical integration to bring such a solution to market.

The Focal Chora 816 is an easy recommendation for me given its amazing power handling, great looks and very good performance at low price. It is now my favorite in this price range (and even higher).

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

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

Here is my take on the EQ.

Please report your findings, positive or negative!

The following EQs are “anechoic” EQs to get the speaker right before room integration. If you able to implement these EQs you must add EQ at LF for room integration, that is usually not optional… see hints there: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...helf-speaker-review.11144/page-26#post-800725

The raw data with corrected ER and PIR:

Score no EQ: 3.8
With Sub: 5.9

Spinorama with no EQ:
  • Many, many resonances (driver and box)
  • HF ?
  • Will probably react well to EQ
Focal Chora 816 No EQ Spinorama.png

Directivity:
Better stay at tweeter height
Horizontally, better toe-in the speakers by 10/20deg and have the axis crossing in front of the listening location, might help dosing the upper range.
Focal Chora 816 2D surface Directivity Contour Only Data.png

Focal Chora 816 LW data.png

EQ design:

I have generated two EQs. The APO config files are attached.
  • The first one, labelled, LW is targeted at making the LW flat
  • The second, labelled Score, starts with the first one and adds the score as an optimization variable.
  • The EQs are designed in the context of regular stereo use i.e. domestic environment, no warranty is provided for a near field use in a studio environment although the LW might be better suited for this purpose.
Score EQ LW: 4.6
with sub: 6.6

Score EQ Score: 5.2
with sub: 7.3

Code:
Focal Chora 816 APO EQ LW 96000Hz
March162023-142841

Preamp: -2 dB

Filter 1: ON HPQ Fc 50.25,    0.00,    1.24
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 91.59,    -1.87,    1.57
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 659.24,    -2.40,    6.92
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 1695.21,    -0.96,    2.83
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 3422.33,    1.92,    1.41
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 7503.62,    -1.92,    2.00

Focal Chora 816 APO EQ Score 1 96000Hz
March162023-142841

Preamp: -2.2 dB

Filter 1: ON HPQ Fc 51.10,    0.00,    1.33
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 93.69,    -1.97,    1.09
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 669.40,    -2.40,    5.43
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 1780.97,    -1.26,    4.24
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 3168.17,    1.80,    2.00
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 7960.21,    -2.86,    1.37

Focal Chora 816 EQ Design.png



Spinorama EQ LW
Focal Chora 816 EQ LW Spinorama.png


Spinorama EQ Score
Focal Chora 816 EQ Score 1 Spinorama.png


Zoom PIR-LW-ON
Focal Chora 816 Zoom.png


Regression - Tonal
Focal Chora 816 Regression.png


Radar no EQ vs EQ score

Nice improvements

Focal Chora 816 Radar.png


The rest of the plots is attached.

Score EQ Score: 5.4
with sub: 7.5


Code:
Focal Chora 816 APO EQ Score 2 96000Hz
March162023-143427

Preamp: -2.2 dB

Filter 1: ON HPQ Fc 51.10,    0.00,    1.33
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 95.69,    -1.97,    1.09
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 671.40,    -2.40,    5.20
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 1769.39,    -1.26,    6.25
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 3210.86,    1.80,    2.44
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 7606.63,    -3.58,    1.07
Focal Chora 816 EQ 2 Design.png


Focal Chora 816 EQ Score 2 Spinorama.png
 

Attachments

  • Focal Chora 816 APO EQ Score 2 96000Hz.txt
    346 bytes · Views: 12
  • Focal Chora 816 APO EQ Score 1 96000Hz.txt
    346 bytes · Views: 14
  • Focal Chora 816 APO EQ LW 96000Hz.txt
    339 bytes · Views: 11
  • Focal Chora 816 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    Focal Chora 816 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    296.9 KB · Views: 18
  • Focal Chora 816 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    Focal Chora 816 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    447.1 KB · Views: 17
  • Focal Chora 816 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    Focal Chora 816 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    442.9 KB · Views: 14
  • Focal Chora 816 Normalized Directivity data.png
    Focal Chora 816 Normalized Directivity data.png
    313.8 KB · Views: 15
  • Focal Chora 816 Raw Directivity data.png
    Focal Chora 816 Raw Directivity data.png
    491.1 KB · Views: 12
  • Focal Chora 816 Reflexion data.png
    Focal Chora 816 Reflexion data.png
    146.4 KB · Views: 19
Last edited:

My adventures in stereo

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One of my friends, picked this up at my recommendation, about a year back
No detailed objective reviews could be found online
From whatever objective information, I could found on the net
I felt that, this was a good value
He has been happy with them & now the objective data from this review, justifies my reccomendation

85 db at 30 hz, is pretty impressive :)
 

pierre

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Hello, here is my take on an EQ. I let the optimiser run freely, it choose to optimise for a flat PIR.

Preference score goes from 3.8 to 5.5 which is a nice improvement.

filters_eq.jpg


Looking at what the optimiser does exactly, it is mostly flattening the PIR: as often optimising the score or the PIR give more or less the same results.

spider.jpg



The Focal is very close to the Wharfedale Linton or the Infinity R162:
newplot (2).png
newplot (3).png


If you compare these EQ with the 2 computed by @Maiky76 you see a few differences. The blue one is going lower in frequency which is not useful, it is
under Schroeder frequency and that part needs to be corrected in-room. The blue one is less sharp at 600Hz and doesn't try to fix the dip. I am not sure
it is very audible.

EDIT: fix computation of HPQ filter (thanks to @Maiky76).
eq_compare.jpg
 

Attachments

  • eq_compare.jpg
    eq_compare.jpg
    23.1 KB · Views: 951
Last edited:

VintageFlanker

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Thanks, @amirm !

Glad to see it doesn't suck.:)

There may be better deals even.
Oh there is was. ≈470€/pair in this specific color.

Despite the low price, the speaker is beautifully finished with a curved port and beautiful light oak finish:
Hum. I feel the opposite. The few Chora I put my hands on all had mediocre finish quality, with cheap vinyl wrap, that sometimes even lift off... I'm wondering if they sort the best ones for US export. :p
 
Last edited:

delta76

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Thanks, @amirm !

Glad to see it doesn't suck.:)

Oh there is. ≈470€/pair in this specific color.

Hum. I feel the opposite. The few Chora I put my hands on all had mediocre finish quality, with cheap vinyl wrap, that sometimes even lift off...
;) shhh. compared to higher series like Aria, yes, but don't spoil Amir, yet
I was sure you'd know of a better deal ! :)
Where is that ?
https://www.idealo.fr/prix/6761849/focal-chora-816.html . lowest recorded in last 1 year is 239EUR/each. this does not include things like coupon however. check the Europe deals frequently, I am sure @VintageFlanker will post it if he sees one
 

VintageFlanker

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Where is that ?
Not currently, but during last Winter Sales at HomeCineSolutions, as usual. The pair was also at good price at mainstream stores, such as Boulanger or Darty.

But I just noticed... These (816) are now sold-out at many French stores! I wonder if the new Vestia line is finally going to replace Chora (instead of 10-years old Aria)?

check the Europe deals frequently, I am sure @VintageFlanker will post it if he sees one
I see none interesting at the moment (except Dark Walnut 816s at 549€ in Elecson Paris):
Still possible to get a pair 806s at 278€. Regarding the bigger 826s (last deal at 678€/pair), these also seem to be sold-out...:(
 
Last edited:

PeteL

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All Focal speakers to me sound a bit bright, it's their signature but I have to say I did not know you could get an entry into this brand at such a low price especially in tower / dual woofer format and still get a good over all performance option and a fair bit of that nice esthetics they are also master at.
 

delta76

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All Focal speakers to me sound a bit bright, it's their signature but I have to say I did not know you could get an entry into this brand at such a low price especially in tower / dual woofer format and still get a good over all performance option and a fair bit of that nice esthetics they are also master at.
if you are in EU, you're in for a treat. Aria 906 was also reviewed highly by Amir here, and it's significantly cheaper than in US.

Good performance + great price (on the perceived value) + made in France are main reasons I bought them. all thanks to ASR.
 

delta76

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Focal Chora 816 + Topping PA5

or

Kali IN-8 v2

?
where are you? if you are in Europe, Aria 906 + amp would be more "comparable". but still apple vs orange, as Kali one is a nearfield monitor. 906 would suck if it is put close to you (that's @VintageFlanker's words, not mine, but I assume it's true because of the directivity etc.)

And I would not buy PA5 - unless you already have one.
 
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