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Focal Chora 816 Speaker Review

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 5 1.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 27 9.1%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 167 56.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 98 33.0%

  • Total voters
    297

valerianf

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@VintageFlanker "any passive Focal has single binding posts"
Non non.
The new Maestro Utopia Evo has the bi-amp binding.
"4 exclusive WBT connectors – for bi-amping/bi-wiring"
 

MarcT

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The Sopra models I've heard at audio shows did not seem overly bright to me. Now, the B&W 800 series....
 

Fidji

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About Focals, that is not really true, at least not any more.
I was clearly referring to my personal perception of Focal speakers, not trying to give any objective evaluation.
Actually lot of people like this type sound, good for them and good for Focal.

I had recently the chance to directly compare Neumanns and latest Pro Focals, and it was no match, even with Be Tweeters and 10 in woofer. Not bad, but nowhere near.
 

stren

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Sopra 1's at my dealer sounded incredible. They also look really good which is Revel's downfall IMO. I'd love to see more data from Focal in general.
 

Jim777

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Thanks for measuring this. I think it really correlates with my experience listening to some Focal offerings.
 

bennybbbx

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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).

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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/

this speaker have too a Slate Fibre 6.5 woofer . the focal alpha 65 evo have that too, but focal alpha 65 have much more distortion in bass and high bass 200 hz. maybe enhanced slate fibre woofer ? https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...cal-alpha-65-evo-review-studio-monitor.28832/
 

subframe

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Sopra 1's at my dealer sounded incredible. They also look really good which is Revel's downfall IMO. I'd love to see more data from Focal in general.
Agreed on all accounts. I’ve auditioned a lot of speakers recently. The Sopras and Revel F228BE took 2 of the top 3 spots, but I just can’t abide the Revels’ look. My subjective analysis is that as you move up the Focal line, you get clear performance improvements at every step.

Bryston Model T and Middle T share the 3rd spot by the way, fantastic speakers.
 

Axo1989

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It does. Otherwise, any passive Focal has single binding posts.;)

Any passive Focal ?

Focal-Grande-Utopia-22062022-07.jpg



... this pair goes back a way, but I think bi-amp terminals now go all the way down to Scala Utopia (baby floor-stander of the range at a svelte 85 kg and tres elegant in noyer natural finish). :)

Edit: ahhh ninja'd by @valerianf I see ... can't put anything past ASF posters can we?
 
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Axo1989

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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."

Qiuite possible. I've only heard Utopia series which sound reasonably balanced to me (it's been a while but I do hope to come across Sopra or Kanta for a proper listen at some stage).
 
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Bfg_audiophile

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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)?


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...:(
I don’t think the Vestia is the direct replacement. Check out the search result for Focal Theva—someone leaked some photos and a brief video. The Theva, to me, looked like a more likely replaced to the Chora.
 

Bfg_audiophile

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Thanks for reviewing these. I fell in love with these at a dealer. I then bought the 816, 826, and the 806 (in walnut). The 816 is my favorite. They’re the perfect height for my main listening position. So good in fact I moved the 826 to surround duty. FYI, I found Focal’s posted measurements for the height of the 826 and 816 to be “off”. The 826 is a bit even taller still to the 816 than listed. Perhaps if I was able to sit further back as a result, I’d prefer the sound of the 826, but the 816 are great. And when paired with a subwoofer, even better!
 

VintageFlanker

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I don’t think the Vestia is the direct replacement. Check out the search result for Focal Theva—someone leaked some photos and a brief video. The Theva, to me, looked like a more likely replaced to the Chora.
Thanks! Missed that one.

Non non.
The new Maestro Utopia Evo has the bi-amp binding.
Any passive Focal ?
Any passive but Utopias, I should've said... Which is virtually 99% of speakers they sell.;)
 

Hapo

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...if you want these speakers methinks you better buy them now...

...this might be a good speaker for the hearing impaired...(people like me)...

 
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TonyJZX

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at $500 apiece are these still made in france?

I mean they have until 70 years of age to make them now

also it feels like we've come to the endgame as far as well priced box speakers like this are? i mean where else can the improvements come
 

PeteL

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at $500 apiece are these still made in france?

I mean they have until 70 years of age to make them now

also it feels like we've come to the endgame as far as well priced box speakers like this are? i mean where else can the improvements come
I feel very different, I believe tranducers and the physic side of audio reproduction and acoustics is probably the one area where there is the most room for R&D.
 

tktran303

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at $500 apiece are these still made in france?

I mean they have until 70 years of age to make them now

also it feels like we've come to the endgame as far as well priced box speakers like this are? i mean where else can the improvements come

Are you able to go and listen to the Utopia series?

If there’s no difference then count your lucky stars.

Ritz biscuits are as good to me as truffles. It’s a good problem to have!
 

Axo1989

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Are you able to go and listen to the Utopia series?

If there’s no difference then count your lucky stars.

Ritz biscuits are as good to me as truffles. It’s a good problem to have!

Unfortunately (from the fiscal perspective) when you crank up the Grande Utopias they really do their thing.
 

Red5

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I have Chora 816 for my 90/10 movies/music use and I enjoy them very much as a 2.1 system with my Denon 8500. I am thinking to try 5.1, and bviously I can choose 806 as rear and Chora centre, but I am also considering switch camp to full LS50 meta. Ls50 route is more expensive but manageable. Any suggestion please? Pros/cons?
 

VintageFlanker

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also it feels like we've come to the endgame as far as well priced box speakers like this are? i mean where else can the improvements come
Did you actually read the data? These are far from "endgame" and can be improved literally everywhere. ;)

at $500 apiece are these still made in france?
Yes.
I mean they have until 70 years of age to make them now
Nope. You really need to do better researches or change your news channel...:facepalm:

If there’s no difference then count your lucky stars.
If one hears no difference between Chora and Utopia, then what's needed is to see a doctor ASAP and certainly not to buy a new pair of speakers. :p

Speaking of which, I read quite a few misconceptions in the last few pages. Just my two cents:

- This speaker is good for the price, and Amir likes it. Great. Yet it is not perfect at all. Look at predicted in-room and think that these ER will be really hard, if not impossible to EQ.
- Subjectively, I find them to sound alright, but heard plenty of alternatives at 1k that hasn't been measured yet.
- I haven't heard one typical Focal sound signature in their entire line nowadays. Aria sounds (& measures) absolutely different than Sopra, that sounds different than Kanta that sounds different than Chorus... Goes without saying, sure, but I'm really talking about intentional tweaks on FR, the flatest being the Sopra. The only thing these all seem to have in common is their (wide) directivity profile (and above average sensitivity).

Ls50 route is more expensive but manageable. Any suggestion please? Pros/cons?
LS50 measures way better and its downsides (sensitivity, bass distortion at high SPLs) could be solved if you use some high pass filters along with subs, what your AVR can do.
 
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