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Focal Chorus OD 706 V Outdoor Speaker Review

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Focal Chorus OD 706 V outdoor speaker. It was purchased new by a member and kindly drop shipped to me. The retail cost seems to be over US $400 (each!) but I see it on sale for US $300 or so. One site says it is now replaced with a newer model.

Outdoor speakers are usually sold to the custom install (CI) industry. It is a very competitive market with the top feature often being how much margin there is for the dealer! Needless to say, many corners are cut to get such high margins for the channel. Trying to compete with a quality speaker is hard.

Anyway, from the outside the Focal looks like any other outdoor speaker:

Focal Chorus OD 706 V Outdoor Speaker Review.jpg


The back panel shows better binding posts than typical but that is it:
Focal Chorus OD 706 V Outdoor Speaker Back Panel Binding Posts Review.jpg


But maybe it is better quality plastic that won't yellow over time.

FYI the owner wants to use these for Atmos indoor rear speakers due to availability of mounting hardware. It is tough to do that with typical hifi speaker whereas here you have ready to go brackets and screws in the back.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

I used 800+ measurement points which was not quite enough for upper frequencies resulting in error that approaches 2% instead of my usual target of 1%.

Temperature was 71 degrees. Measurement location is at sea level so you compute the pressure.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

For reference point, I used the tweeter axis. I left the grill on as this is their typical use mode.

Spinorama Audio Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

Focal Chorus OD 706 V Outdoor Speaker  Frequency Response Measurements.png


There is some jaggedness which is likely caused by reflections from the grill. I like the overall flatness of the response from upper bass to lower mid-range. Bass though is accentuated some which is probably good for the target application. Don't like the tweeter going crazy as we get above 10 kHz.

Directivity is generally smooth which means you can use equalization to improve the response if needed.

Early window response is a bit chaotic:

Focal Chorus OD 706 V Outdoor Speaker Spinorama CEA-2034 early window  Frequency Response Meas...png


Putting the two together calms things down though:

Focal Chorus OD 706 V Outdoor Speaker Spinorama CEA-2034 Predicted In-room  Frequency Response...png


While I have liked a bit of bass boost in the past, this may be a bit much causing boominess. And the tilt of the response seems a bit shallow so perhaps it will sound a bit bright.

Driver response shows two fault areas:

Focal Chorus OD 706 V Outdoor Speaker  Woofer Tweeter Frequency Response Measurements.png


Impedance dips really low so best to have good amplification:

Focal Chorus OD 706 V Outdoor Speaker  Impedance and Phase stereo Measurements.png


We also see the resonances causing the two problem areas.

Distortion is quite high in bass:

Focal Chorus OD 706 V Outdoor Speaker  Distortion stereo  Measurements.png


Focal Chorus OD 706 V Outdoor Speaker Absolute Distortion stereo  Measurements.png


We have a little plastic box here so hard to expect a lot better.

Horizontal dispersion seems very good:

Focal Chorus OD 706 V Outdoor Speaker  horizontal beamwidth  Measurements.png


Focal Chorus OD 706 V Outdoor Speaker  horizontal Directivity Measurements.png


Vertically is chewed up though so you need to make sure you are not below the tweeter axis:

Focal Chorus OD 706 V Outdoor Speaker  Vertical Directivity Measurements.png


Otherwise you fall in that "blue eye" and loos fair bit of response in 2 to 4 kHz.

Speaker Listening Tests
Instant impression with no EQ was "boy this sounds boomy." I turned on my usual room mode filter for 100 Hz and that helped at the cost of some loss of bass. Going through a bunch more tracks, the boominess remained so I used the Predicted-in-room response and decided to lower the upper bass even more:

Focal Chorus OD 706 V Outdoor Speaker EQ.png


That cured the boominess but at the cost of amount of bass. A few times I liked it better with no EQ.

During the testing there was some lisping especially in female voices but even in some male vocals. I tried many filters but at the end I gave up. It is not a huge problem but it is definitely there.

Bass handling was excellent in that it would not bottom out (with or without EQ) even on my "speaker killer" tracks. And the mid-range response was good to excellent.

Conclusions
The Focal OD 706V is definitely a huge step above typical outdoor speaker. It plays louder and has a much more balanced response than many. Alas, if compared to other hifi speakers, there is definitely compromises. Fortunately the main issue which is the bass can be corrected in EQ and at any rate, is highly modified due to room response. In my case it landed on top of the room mode I already have so perhaps my case is tougher than normal.

Overall, I went back and forth on whether I should or should not recommend it. I simply could not decide. It is too good in many respects to say no. But clearly has some bothersome attributes that keeps me from saying "go and buy it" without reservations.

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

Decided to plant a dozen zucchini plants this year and as you can imagine, we had a massive harvest. I dehydrated a bunch but we make a nice lamb stew with them where we first roast them in oil, a bit of salt and turmeric:

zucchini  roasted.jpg


So we decided to prep a bunch of them this way and freeze them. We must have 10+ bags of them so far. They are great by themselves roasted that way. You can eat them plain (they become sweet and delicious) or you can have bread and side of yogurt (or Raita for those of you who know what that is).

Back to misery around the house, spent $300 yesterday on the plumber just to tell us the septic tank is full. The pumping guy is coming today so hopefully we will be back in business but not without $600 or so these guys charge. Needless to say, I feel fruit rich, and cash poor so appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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richard12511

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Conclusions
The Focal OD 706V is definitely a huge step above typical outdoor speaker. It plays louder and has a much more balanced response than many. Alas, if compared to other hifi speakers, there is definitely compromises. Fortunately the main issue which is the bass can be corrected in EQ and at any rate, is highly modified due to room response. In my case it landed on top of the room mode I already have so perhaps my case is tougher than normal.

Measurements look quite a bit better than the Revel M55XC outdoor speaker that was reviewed, at least prior to EQ. Revel was way too bright, while this seems more neutral. Both seem to have good directivity, though I would give the edge to the Revel. The Revel might be more EQable.

Subjectively, you seemed to enjoy the Revel more, despite the measurements. What would you say is the biggest difference between the two, subjectively(if you can remember back that far)?
 
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amirm

amirm

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Subjectively, you seemed to enjoy the Revel more, despite the measurements. What would you say is the biggest difference between the two, subjectively(if you can remember back that far)?
I just remember the Revel sounding close to my other Revel speakers. This one does not. Likely would need to AB them side by side to give you a definitive answer.
 

MZKM

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Measurements look quite a bit better than the Revel M55XC outdoor speaker that was reviewed, at least prior to EQ. Revel was way too bright, while this seems more neutral. Both seem to have good directivity, though I would give the edge to the Revel. The Revel might be more EQable.

Subjectively, you seemed to enjoy the Revel more, despite the measurements. What would you say is the biggest difference between the two, subjectively(if you can remember back that far)?
Don’t forget that at its sale price, the Revel was basically 1/2 the price of this Focal.
 

richard12511

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I just remember the Revel sounding close to my other Revel speakers. This one does not. Likely would need to AB them side by side to give you a definitive answer.

Interesting. I wonder what could cause that? Objectively, this seems to measure much closer to the other Revel speakers than the Revel outdoor speaker did, at least tonally. Almost seems like there's a Revel "house sound" that's not captured well by the spinorama, though maybe I'm just not looking close enough. I don't really know how to compare the distortion graphs(% vs dB).
 
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Cahudson42

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$400? Each? Distortion thru the roof? Where is Piggy Bank Panther?
 

Chromatischism

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Not worried about bass distortion if crossing to subwoofers, which these do need. That will slash excursion and in turn, distortion.

Here are the notes I jotted down during my listening to these before Amir measured them:

I initially set one up on a stand front and center, about one inch from my plasma TV for reinforcement. I laid it on its side because that is how they will be mounted. I took the metal grille off and ran the speaker full-range.

My first impression was that it sounded...a little weird. Boxy and closed in. Orienting the speaker in its native vertical orientation was a small improvement, but I realized that my stereo tracks aren't suited to this test. I'm only hearing one channel of the recording. Because my past experience downmixing to mono wasn't positive, I opened up a 2nd speaker and set them up as a stereo pair on my S400 stands. If they can be good speakers here, they will be good speakers anywhere. Sorry I don't have a good mono test report for everyone.

Things improved quite a bit with both of them playing. They're still a little boxy but I'm thinking it's the plastic enclosure.

I let them play through a few of my tracks and I didn't get annoyed. They are not bright, which is a big relief. Overall tonal balance is somewhat in the ballpark of my S400's. A bit less refinement in the details, a little bit more energy at 3-4 kHz, a lot less bass, a tiny bit less sparkle up top. All of these traits are expected. Fairly neutral to slightly punchy/energetic sound. Good.

They can keep up with metal! They never got mushy and I could hear everything clearly. That is not easy for cheap speakers.

Vocals, both male and female, are very good. Clear, full, and present. The midrange and treble presentation on these will make for good effects speakers for sure.

Whatever I did, I couldn't get them to annoy me. A little brighter than my S400's but some of that can be attributed to having less bass and again I think I'm hearing more in the 2-4 kHz region. Not dramatically. It's probably mostly flat - the S400's have a dip in sound power there by comparison so while the direct sound of the S400 is flat, the room is receiving less and thus reflecting less back at me in the crossover region, putting the Focals ahead in the perceived energy there. I don't consider this a positive for music listening but they will be great for effects.

They would be an interesting comparison to my Mackie MR624s which have a similar sound. They might even be a little bit better. Hmm. Maybe.

Next, I had to run Audyssey to get bass EQ up to 300 Hz as is customary for my room. I wanted to hear how they did with a flat bass response and Dynamic EQ. Not only do I love the way it sounds, but it puts all speakers that I test on a level playing field.

The result was really good. I was getting nice bass out of them in my soundtracks. Not quite enough to feel, like S400's can, but enough to produce a nice musical experience. Although they will ultimately be powered by my Denon X4500H as Atmos top speakers, I was using my NCore NC252MP-based Audiophonics amp, which had a tight grip on these guys. I was spelunking in the dark of the Oblivion OST by M83 with deep, suspenseful bass when suddenly I was taken out of the illusion by some rattling noises. On closer inspection, it turns out the woofers weren't liking the excursion in the 40 Hz range at -20 MV. I started to worry if these were going to work. They have to be able to handle up to -15 MV with Dynamic EQ ON without complaint.

Then I realized that I'm going to be running subs so excursion is going to be cut by 50%. They should be fine :). I also brought my expectations back down to earth with the fact that these are sealed $400/pr speakers that are getting me nice balance, soundstage, imaging, and low fatigue. In that context, these aren't bad at all.

They ran for the next 2 hours as I sat there writing this review on my phone. Honestly, if I don't turn the speakers off, we're getting along ok.

Don't get me wrong - there's a clear gap between these and my daily drivers. They are not as smooth and refined, but no one would expect that anyway. However I was surprised by them and I think they will play together well.

Why these speakers?

As Amir noted, I want competent Atmos channels that are easy to mount, don't suck, and don't break the bank. I became more confident in these after seeing the Aria measurements and figuring that these should have similarly competent engineering. I'm glad Amir was able to confirm that.

So ease of mounting, tonal balance, power handling to keep up with the rest of the system were my reasons for choosing them.

There is some concern that the metal grilles could be the cause of the jaggedness of the response. I'll run without them as I don't mind seeing drivers.
 
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Ilkless

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Interesting. I wonder what could cause that? Objectively, this seems to measure much closer to the other Revel speakers than the Revel outdoor speaker did, at least tonally. Almost seems like there's a Revel "house sound" that's not captured well by the spinorama, though maybe I'm just not looking close enough.

In my opinion the Revel house sound is the result of the smoothly downward-sloping in-room curve, ER and power response, plus flat LW. ie. Good FR and smoothly, gently narrowing directivity. This is in contrast to, say the JBL LSR school of constant directivity as much as possible in the design format. For instance, in the LSR705, the LF/MF have a smoothly-declining trend as the directivity of the midwoofer gradually narrows, but the waveguided compression driver is designed to maintain constant-directivity over much of its passband, and this means the in-room, ER and power response curves have a distinctive "kink" from smooth downward slope to flat >1.8kHz, the crossover to the HF. Charles Sprinkle, of JBL M2 and subsequently Kali Audio fame, thinks it may sound less "natural". This is an insight that has shaped my view on directivity. The kink is ultimately a form of discontinuity in the DI, just a different sort of discontinuity from the typical one resulting from bad engineering, because the directivity at crossover is still matched (ie. there's no off-axis narrowing or flare). Our auditory systems may well be latching on this discontinuity. Of course, there are confounding factors like program material and room effects that mean you can't isolate this discontinuity in room, but it certainly provides a compelling account that is both intuitive and consistent with empirical evidence.
 

napilopez

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Oh wow -- this is surprisingly good. I have to imagine the little squiggles don't matter much, especially given the intended usecase. Smooth out the bumps and extend the bass and this almost looks like my ideal response.

The only thing I'd question is the elevated bass. Since these speakers would usually be mounted right onto a surface the built-in bass bump seems unecessary. I would like to see better vertical directivity on an outdoor speaker especially considering you have fewer reflections to 'balance out' the sound.
 

richard12511

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In my opinion the Revel house sound is the result of the smoothly downward-sloping in-room curve, ER and power response, plus flat LW.

I agree, but the Revel M55XC seems to differ from that, yet still retains the same house sound. I might be looking at it wrong, but to me it looks to have a rising LW response(positive slope) and flat ER response(which should have a negative slope). These two things are reflected in the PIR, which has almost 0 slope. Directivity is excellent, though.

What do you see when you look at that spin? To me, this Focal speaker seems to have a LW and ER that matches closer to what you said, yet lacks that Revel house sound.

ie. Good FR and smoothly, gently narrowing directivity. This is in contrast to, say the JBL LSR school of constant directivity as much as possible in the design format. For instance, in the LSR705, the LF/MF have a smoothly-declining trend as the directivity of the midwoofer gradually narrows, but the waveguided compression driver is designed to maintain constant-directivity over much of its passband, and this means the in-room, ER and power response curves have a distinctive "kink" from smooth downward slope to flat >1.8kHz, the crossover to the HF. Charles Sprinkle, of JBL M2 and subsequently Kali Audio fame, thinks it may sound less "natural". This is an insight that has shaped my view on directivity. The kink is ultimately a form of discontinuity in the DI, just a different sort of discontinuity from the typical one resulting from bad engineering, because the directivity at crossover is still matched (ie. there's no off-axis narrowing or flare). Our auditory systems may well be latching on this discontinuity. Of course, there are confounding factors like program material and room effects that mean you can't isolate this discontinuity in room, but it certainly provides a compelling account that is both intuitive and consistent with empirical evidence.

Really interesting insight into the different thought processes at Revel and JBL. I'll definitely keep an eye on that for future JBL reviews. The Revel M105 definitely sounds better than the 308p to my ears, though I own the new 308p mkII(not the LSR version).
 

StevenEleven

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Looks like an unusually nice outdoor speaker, for a bit of a high price for the performance. Looks like it’s a speaker for people who want a decent outdoor experience and don’t mind paying a little more than money’s worth (IMHO, nothing wrong with that, if it fits your needs and budget).

My gut reaction though is that ideally for an outdoor speaker you’d want better vertical directivity? Listening location and positioning are likely to be highly variable? I doubt there is much of an on-the-merits “hifi” outdoor market though. This might be in the general area of as good as it gets. :) Edit: I see @napilopez beat me to it re: vertical directivity.
 
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Dj7675

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So ease of mounting, tonal balance, power handling to keep up with the rest of the system were my reasons for choosing them.
Looks like a nice speaker, in particular for an atmos install. I went with the Revel M55xc for the exact same reasons. An good mounting system is really important if you want to mount them safely on the ceiling or walls. Thanks for sending these in.
 

Chromatischism

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Looks like a nice speaker, in particular for an atmos install. I went with the Revel M55xc for the exact same reasons. An good mounting system is really important if you want to mount them safely on the ceiling or walls. Thanks for sending these in.
Yeah, I didn't want to drill into any bookshelf speakers and felt these were likely better than the SVS Prime Elevations with the big difference in woofer size (I have not heard them, though). I'm also not willing to cut and put in-ceiling speakers here so I needed to get creative and look beyond the traditional options. These wouldn't be the best choice for a large seating area due to vertical directivity but that isn't my situation. Hopefully they work out like I'm thinking.
 
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Chromatischism

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Looks like an unusually nice outdoor speaker, for a bit of a high price for the performance. Looks like it’s a speaker for people who want a decent outdoor experience and don’t mind paying a little more than money’s worth (IMHO, nothing wrong with that, if it fits your needs and budget).
While more than some cheaper brands, I think at $400/pair (the new version is $500/pair) that isn't bad compared to Revel, so they are middle of the pack it seems.
 

andreasmaaan

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For an outdoor speaker, the constant directivity makes sense. With few or no reflections outdoors, and little chance of critical listening from a single sweet spot, the goal has to be to provide an even soundfield over a reasonably wide horizontal range.

The only thing I'd question is the elevated bass. Since these speakers would usually be mounted right onto a surface the built-in bass bump seems unecessary.

Agreed. Although it may simply be a result of wanting to cram a lot of woofer into a small sealed box, as opposed to a deliberate engineering decision.
 
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