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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

Red5

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Mar 18, 2023
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Did you actually read the data? These are far from "endgame" and can be improved literally everywhere. ;)


Yes.

Nope. You really need to do better researches or change your news channel...:facepalm:


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 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.
I sit at about 6.5ft from the speakers which are 6ft apart. I normally listen at about 65db average so no need high SPL. The low sensitivity though
 

bennybbbx

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- 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.

I think this speaker look amazing for this price. sure all can make better. small spikes need not correct. EQ with high Q is always not good. hearing work in Bands. I think the list good excpetion the lowest (50 hz band). the bands are used in ERB smoothing and the bands are list in the bark scale. but the bad side there is no Bark EQ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bark_scale the bark scale is also old. maybe there do some scientiest a new scale because today we have better measure features
 

Rottmannash

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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!
All modern day movies...
 

TonyJZX

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maybe there's a language issue

the 70yrs thing is a joke about the retirement age in that country

and again I ask, can you show me a comparable product for $500 or less that perforns as well or better?
 

Robbo99999

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Nice, I like the look of this speaker, both measurements & aesthetics, pretty darn good for a not too expensive speaker, nice! (nearly voted it Great)
 

stunta

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A local dealer had these so I went and picked up a pair (slightly higher than the price quoted by Amir). Haven't set them up yet.

While at the dealer, I listened to it side-by-side with Revel F35. I asked for a single speaker (mono) and the sales rep thought I was from another planet but didn't argue much. Thanks @amirm for making me look like an alien ;-)

The current living room setup is Revel 126Be with a tiny 8" sub. I have always wanted to try floor-standers hoping to get better dynamics (and get rid of the sub), so my fingers are crossed. I am fairly certain these won't be as refined as the Revels.

The physical dimension specs on Focal's website are misleading as they include the stands. I was pleasantly surprised by how much smaller they actually are. They are also lighter than I expected. Build quality seems comparable to the F35s, but the 126Be is on a whole new level.

Side note: while checking out, another salesman was talking to a couple of other customers about how he hears a difference between an $8000 streamer and a $4000 one and he can't explain it, so everyone should just listen. There was more of this about speakers, amplifiers, etc. but I took a deep breath, kept quiet, collected my speakers, and left. I haven't purchased much at dealers for a long time, so this brought back some memories.
 

AnthonyH

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Apart from the narrow vertical dispersion and the minor inconvenience of needing equalization, the Focal Chora 816 looks like an excellent speaker. The price is about $500 each in the US, which is still competitive.

At higher frequencies. the distortion is greater than that of the Revel M106 (the gold standard in this price range) but still acceptable.

I was pleased to see in the review that sensitivity was quoted as 91+ dB The spec sheet has 89.5/2.83V/m, which is pretty close. This tells me that in my room (60 m3 , carpeted and lined with books), I could drive these speakers with a modest amplifier.

I’m going to explain why I think that speaker sensitivity is an important measurement. Admittedly, the size of the room and your preferred listening level have a huge influence on how much power you need but a 3 dB difference in speaker sensitivity is as important as whether your amp delivers 150 W or 300 W.

I’ve owned a pair of Magnepan MG1.6 flat panel speakers for a long time, driving them with a Mackie M1400 amplifier. The M1400 is a Class H amplifier intended for use by musicians (425W per channel into 4 ohms at 0.025% THD, according to the specs). I thought that switching to an audiophile amplifier would be a good move because it wouldn’t have a fan and might have better performance but the two I tried sounded worse. I stayed with the Mackie but moved it out of the room so I wouldn’t hear the fan.

Recently, I began to suspect that the reason the Mackie sounded better was that I really did need all that power. The Magnepans are very insensitive (a review in Stereophile stated 83.7 dB(B)/2.83V/m). I played music at my normal listening level (~80 dBSPL) while monitoring the speaker terminals with an oscilloscope; there were transients as high as 70V pk-to-pk. The power supply rails of this amp are ±80 V so there isn’t much headroom even with this 425 W amp. I’m pretty much convinced that the audiophile amplifiers that I tried were clipping in normal use.

Based on the sensitivity values, the 816 needs only 25% of the voltage for the same SPL so 50W should be plenty in my room. Note that Amir tested it with an 800 W amplifier but that was plenty to spare. By the way, the Revel M105 and M106 have sensitivities around 87 dB so they need more power than most, as Amir commented when reviewing them.

Great job, Amir. Please continue to quote speaker sensitivity in your reviews!
 
OP
amirm

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Great job, Amir. Please continue to quote speaker sensitivity in your reviews!
I keep forgetting. :) Then again, some speakers make it hard with uneven response.....
 

JAJDACT

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By the way, the Revel M105 and M106 have sensitivities around 87 dB so they need more power than most,
I thought 87 db was on the higher end these days,especially for bookshelves. Seems like the majority are 85 or even less. Would they really require that much power?
 

Alice of Old Vincennes

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A local dealer had these so I went and picked up a pair (slightly higher than the price quoted by Amir). Haven't set them up yet.

While at the dealer, I listened to it side-by-side with Revel F35. I asked for a single speaker (mono) and the sales rep thought I was from another planet but didn't argue much. Thanks @amirm for making me look like an alien ;-)

The current living room setup is Revel 126Be with a tiny 8" sub. I have always wanted to try floor-standers hoping to get better dynamics (and get rid of the sub), so my fingers are crossed. I am fairly certain these won't be as refined as the Revels.

The physical dimension specs on Focal's website are misleading as they include the stands. I was pleasantly surprised by how much smaller they actually are. They are also lighter than I expected. Build quality seems comparable to the F35s, but the 126Be is on a whole new level.

Side note: while checking out, another salesman was talking to a couple of other customers about how he hears a difference between an $8000 streamer and a $4000 one and he can't explain it, so everyone should just listen. There was more of this about speakers, amplifiers, etc. but I took a deep breath, kept quiet, collected my speakers, and left. I haven't purchased much at dealers for a long time, so this brought back some memories.
How did the speakers compare?
 

Alice of Old Vincennes

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Apart from the narrow vertical dispersion and the minor inconvenience of needing equalization, the Focal Chora 816 looks like an excellent speaker. The price is about $500 each in the US, which is still competitive.

At higher frequencies. the distortion is greater than that of the Revel M106 (the gold standard in this price range) but still acceptable.

I was pleased to see in the review that sensitivity was quoted as 91+ dB The spec sheet has 89.5/2.83V/m, which is pretty close. This tells me that in my room (60 m3 , carpeted and lined with books), I could drive these speakers with a modest amplifier.

I’m going to explain why I think that speaker sensitivity is an important measurement. Admittedly, the size of the room and your preferred listening level have a huge influence on how much power you need but a 3 dB difference in speaker sensitivity is as important as whether your amp delivers 150 W or 300 W.

I’ve owned a pair of Magnepan MG1.6 flat panel speakers for a long time, driving them with a Mackie M1400 amplifier. The M1400 is a Class H amplifier intended for use by musicians (425W per channel into 4 ohms at 0.025% THD, according to the specs). I thought that switching to an audiophile amplifier would be a good move because it wouldn’t have a fan and might have better performance but the two I tried sounded worse. I stayed with the Mackie but moved it out of the room so I wouldn’t hear the fan.

Recently, I began to suspect that the reason the Mackie sounded better was that I really did need all that power. The Magnepans are very insensitive (a review in Stereophile stated 83.7 dB(B)/2.83V/m). I played music at my normal listening level (~80 dBSPL) while monitoring the speaker terminals with an oscilloscope; there were transients as high as 70V pk-to-pk. The power supply rails of this amp are ±80 V so there isn’t much headroom even with this 425 W amp. I’m pretty much convinced that the audiophile amplifiers that I tried were clipping in normal use.

Based on the sensitivity values, the 816 needs only 25% of the voltage for the same SPL so 50W should be plenty in my room. Note that Amir tested it with an 800 W amplifier but that was plenty to spare. By the way, the Revel M105 and M106 have sensitivities around 87 dB so they need more power than most, as Amir commented when reviewing them.

Great job, Amir. Please continue to quote speaker sensitivity in your reviews!
I suspect that is why many Maggie owners prefer Crown amps.
 

stunta

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How did the speakers compare?
Usual caveats of subjective comparisons apply. F35 sounded "smaller" and bass seemed a bit boomy (not sure if it was activating room modes but then the Focal was in the same room, so not sure. I erred on the side of going with the bigger drivers and better looks at a lower cost and brought home the Focals.

It is so helpful to have @amirm do these reviews and also give the EQ adjustments. The speaker is quite bright indeed and since I have the little miniDSP as my DAC, I was able to dial it in right off the bat. Thank you, Amir! Also, it appears Amir did not use the stands while listening? It tilts the speakers and is supposed time-align the tweeter and woofers.

Also, I just wanted to add - I am now convinced that floor-standing speakers provide more dynamics than bookshelves + sub. My main HT system has JBL 708s + 3 subs (see my sig) calibrated with Diract, but I just don't get the same dynamics as floor-standing speakers. Maybe its all in my head and I would love for measurements to confirm or deny this.
 
Last edited:

Alice of Old Vincennes

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Usual caveats of subjective comparisons apply. F35 sounded "smaller" and bass seemed a bit boomy (not sure if it was activating room modes but then the Focal was in the same room, so not sure. I erred on the side of going with the bigger drivers and better looks at a lower cost and brought home the Focals.

It is so helpful to have @amirm do these reviews and also give the EQ adjustments. The speaker is quite bright indeed and since I have the little miniDSP as my DAC, I was able to dial it in right off the bat. Thank you, Amir! Also, it appears Amir did not use the stands while listening? It tilts the speakers and is supposed time-align the tweeter and woofers.

Also, I just wanted to add - I am now convinced that floor-standing speakers provide more dynamics than bookshelves + sub. My main HT system has JBL 708s + 3 subs (see my sig) calibrated with Diract, but I just don't get the same dynamics as floor-standing speakers. Maybe its all in my head and I would love for measurements to confirm or deny this.
I agree. Floorstanders provide superior midbass. I have tried subs with dual 8 inch woofer floorstanders. I prefer no sub.
 

Xyrium

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I wonder if the white finish will age like a Les Paul Custom in white.... I've always enjoyed Focal designs, from looks to performance.
 
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