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Focal Chora 816 Speaker Review

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 5 1.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 24 8.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 164 57.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 92 32.3%

  • Total voters
    285

VintageFlanker

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Also does the second pair of binding posts belong to the angled top driver then.
It does. Otherwise, any passive Focal has single binding posts.;)
not sure if this feature can be disabled for stereo only as there are dual pair binding posts at the back.
If there's no need for this, just get the regular 826.
 

Pritaudio

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Yes, but how effective is this angled top driver.
are there any comparable speakers out there?

I suppose if a significant amount of music is recorded with Dolby atmos, it maybe good for future music releases.
can non atmos music be remastered?
and is it only used for orchestra music?
 

Morpheus

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Great review and surprise.I it baffles me how you can get this much speaker from an European speaker company ( though I bet everything is manufactured elsewhere) for this money in the U.S, even cheaper than here in E.U... I never completely liked any Focal, they were always too showoffish or U shaped, or had some nasty resonances in sound signature for me, but this one looks very easily and effectively fixed, excellent find..!
If you can bring a big, costly item to make and market, to the public at this price, there really is no excuse for not producing competitive priced and featured amps and streamers in the E.U, of wich there are preciously few.

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/
 

VintageFlanker

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Great review and surprise.I it baffles me how you can get this much speaker from an European speaker company ( though I bet everything is manufactured elsewhere) for this money in the U.S, even cheaper than here in E.U...
It's not cheaper than in EU. None Focal is.

Amir is obviously talking about pricing per piece, not pair. Before being sold-out (what I recently realised, at least for French market), I saw many discounts on Chora 816s these past few months, down to sub-500€ for the pair.

Focal also has an even cheaper line, the old Chorus 700, that are still assembled in France. In fact, every passive Focal speakers are assembled at the St Etienne factory. Only active/pro monitor are manufactured in China.
 

dogmamann

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Nope.

If there is a high pass filter on the midrange driver (or midwoofer), it's a 3-way speaker, not a 2.5 way.

There is no highpass filter on the upper midwoofer in this speaker.
I was wrong about it, the ones I checked were all 3 ways!
 

jhaider

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The tough part is how to get Atmos music with our home theaters.

Not really. You just have to use one of the appropriate streaming services (Apple, Tidal) and hardware (e.g. AppleTV).

I happen to use Amazon Music as my service and my understanding is that I only get Atmos with Amazon products and Sonos.

Curious what Amazon gives you that Apple/Tidal don’t, especially given that Amazon (currently) fails at immersive.
 

Ra1zel

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There are many subwoofer review curves showing 60 db at 30 hz, which makes me shake my head in disbelief :)
I hope you understand that frequency response of a sub doesn't really matter that much, you can hammer it flat with DSP and it will play much louder anyway. My 18" DIY subs roll off by 3dB at 55hz in free space... but maximum SPL is 120dB at that frequency.
 

elvisizer

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not sure if this feature can be disabled for stereo only as there are dual pair binding posts at the back.
disabled == don't hook up the posts for the atmos speaker :)
How much music is released in multi-channel?
decent amounts, I've got over 200 albums in surround between SACDs and blu rays.
focal markets these as home theater speakers anyway, so atmos makes sense.
 

Fidji

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I just can’t help myself - all the Focals just hurt my ears. All I can hear are their tweeters and nothing else.
B&W‘s are even worse.
 
Last edited:

Jambarino

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Not really. You just have to use one of the appropriate streaming services (Apple, Tidal) and hardware (e.g. AppleTV).



Curious what Amazon gives you that Apple/Tidal don’t, especially given that Amazon (currently) fails at immersive.
After the last update I can get Atmos on Amazon music through my Firestick 4k max connected to my Denon AVR.
 

MattHooper

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I just can’t help myself - all the Focals just hurt my ears. I hear only their tweeter and nothing else.
B&W‘s are even worse.

Every Focal speaker I've ever heard at a show or auditioned at a dealer shouted "Listen To This Tweeter!"

I can appreciate some things in the Focal sound, but I just can never totally get my attention away from those upper frequencies. I do find this is mitigated more in their much larger speakers, for instance the Sopra line upwards. The added richness in the mids/bass seem to better balance out the tweeter to my ears.
I tried auditioning some of their high end stand mounted models and it felt more like "all tweeter."
 

stunta

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The cabinet size of this 2.5 way speaker is larger than that of Focal's own Vestia 3-way speaker. What are the likely trade-offs?

Vestia No. 2:
1679082298238.png




Chora 816:

1679082337470.png
 

Fidji

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How much music is released in multi-channel? I thought this site was all about good SQ for music. Anyway, off to bed!
More than you would think. My BR Audio / DVD A colletion is quite sizable and growing.

usually SQ and dynamic range are on completely different level to 2CH mastering. And stereo is just inferior format technically. Of course proper MCH setup costs multiples of 2CH, which is one of the reasons why it never took off.
 

damirj79

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I just can’t help myself - all the Focals just hurt my ears. All I can hear are their tweeters and nothing else.
B&W‘s are even worse.
About Focals, that is not really true, at least not any more.
 
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