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Focal Solo6 Be Review (Studio Monitor)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Focal Solo6 Be studio monitor (powered active speaker). It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $1,499 each.

Unlike most studio monitors that have industrial looks, the Solo6 Be comes across as a high-end home speaker with its nice wood finish:

Focal Solo6 Be Review Powered Speaker.jpg


Despite its small size, it is incredibly heavy! I can't figure out where all the weight has gone but this is one sturdy "bookshelf" speaker.

The back panel is much simpler looking than typical monitor as well:

Focal Solo6 Be Review back panel Powered Speaker.jpg


The frequency shaping is all analog with a detent which is what I used to adjust the two controls. Assuming it is analog in nature, there may be some small variations.

After testing, I was surprised that the back panel was quite warm. Not at a level that would concern me but in this day and age of class D based amplifiers, they usually run cooler than this. The wide and large metal surface is likely used to dissipate needed thermal energy.

The claim to fame of this monitor is use of Beryllium for the tweeter. Company marketing video says no other speaker at is price has such.

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 performed over 1000 measurement which resulted in error rate of about 1%. Clear high frequency response is responsible for ease of measurement in this regard.

Reference axis is approximately the center of the tweeter.

Focal Solo6 Be 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 Solo6 Be monitor Frequency Response Measurements Powered Speaker.png


Hey, this is nice! Yes there are some resonances here and there and a broad boost between 200 Hz and 3 kHz on axis but as a whole, this is good. No waveguide is used so naturally we see some directivity error as the woofer gets directional but then the tweeter takes over and it is not. This is happening at rather high frequency so hopefully its impact is lower.

Near-field response shows very good control of cabinet/port resonances which we almost always find to be a problem with front-ported speakers. Not so here:

Focal Solo6 Be monitor Driver and Port Frequency Response Measurements Powered Speaker.png


The tweeter shows wavy response but I wonder if that is due to the sound bouncing back and forth between the inverted dome tweeter and my measurement microphone. I say this because our spin graph doesn't show this type of variation.

Early window which is computed for far-field listening shows the main issue being vertical directivity:
Focal Solo6 Be monitor Early Window Frequency Response Measurements Powered Speaker.png


Having a high ceiling and or using absorber at first reflection plus doing something about console bounce could be advised. There is also sharp drop off of high frequencies but in near-field listening, this may not be a big deal.

Predicted-in-room response is once again for far field listening so not very applicable:
Focal Solo6 Be monitor Predicted In-room Frequency Response Measurements Powered Speaker.png


Still, not bad.

Distortion at 86 dBSPL is very low and impressive:

Focal Solo6 Be monitor Distortino Measurements Powered Speaker.png


Focal Solo6 Be monitor Relative Distortino Measurements Powered Speaker.png


Horizontal beamwidth is wider than normal and decent:

Focal Solo6 Be horizontal beamwidth vs Frequency Response Measurements Powered Speaker.png


And by the same token, horizontal directivity:
Focal Solo6 Be horizontal directivity vs Frequency Response Measurements Powered Speaker.png


Due to the ditch created by ceiling and floor bounce, vertical directivity is something you need to be mindful about (common among non-coaxial 2-way speakers);

Focal Solo6 Be vertical directivity vs Frequency Response Measurements Powered Speaker.png


Our 3-D contour plot at three different frequencies shows good behavior:
Focal Solo6 Be 3D contour plot Frequency Response Measurements Powered Speaker.png


Finally, for time domain fans, here are the waterfall and impulse responses:

Focal Solo6 Be CSD Waterfall Response Measurements Powered Speaker.png


Resonances are visible.

Focal Solo6 Be Impulse Response Measurements Powered Speaker.png


Focal Solo6 Be Listening Tests
A few seconds into my first reference test track and it was clear that the tonality was right on the money. Continued to the rest of the test tracks and the theme stayed constant. The sound is just right. I did experiment with a broad filter to pull down the response from a few hundred Hertz to a few Kilohertz and it was a tossup as to which one was better so I am not going to show it to you.

What was such a pleasant experience was the ability to play as loud as I wanted with nary a sign of distortion or strain. This speaker just does what you ask it to do. You don't have to bend to its limitations. It follows you. So many small powered speakers run out of amplification juice, woofer excursion or both, ruining an otherwise excellent speaker. Not the Focal Solo6 Be.

Nice.

Conclusions
By now the message should be clear. The Solo6 Be is a well engineered speaker with slight compromise in objective measurements. What small faults exist there, were not a factor in listening test where super dynamics and correct tonality leads you to garden path. Combined with its attractive looks, this speaker is not only good for professional applications, but also where you want superbly cable and beautiful looking speakers.

It is my pleasure to recommend the Focal Solo6 Be. It is a job well done.

-----------
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 Solo6 Be Frequency Response.zip
    88 KB · Views: 59

eriksson

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Thanks for the review!
Glad to see Focal nailing it with this montior. Seeing several German speaker MFG's (Canton, Quadral, Nubert) pumping out impressive powered floor-standers I await Focal to follow suit. They sure have the speaker platform ready.
 

Sonny1

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Wow! I’ll keep an eye out for sales at my usual pro audio outlets. These look really good and the performance is what I’d expect from Focal. Great review.
 

Matias

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If only they could tame that 6 kHz directivity somewhat...
 

MZKM

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Doodski

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Quote, "The amplifier used is BASH technology is a hybrid amplifier comprising (typically) a class AB low-power stage and class-D high-power stage. You can think of them as operating together, class AB at low levels and class D at high levels."
 

Helicopter

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Thanks Amir. A great product from my favorite speaker company.

If I find an excuse to get studio monitors this series will top my list. The combination of dynamics, transparency and sharp looks is very competitive.
 

sam_adams

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Quote, "The amplifier used is BASH technology is a hybrid amplifier comprising (typically) a class AB low-power stage and class-D high-power stage. You can think of them as operating together, class AB at low levels and class D at high levels."

This explains the weight. Probably a LPS with a large toroid.
 

eriksson

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Quote, "The amplifier used is BASH technology is a hybrid amplifier comprising (typically) a class AB low-power stage and class-D high-power stage. You can think of them as operating together, class AB at low levels and class D at high levels."
I was wondering about this BASH thingy myself. Found this forum post.
https://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/threads/what-is-bash.54779/
The "BASH®" circuit uses a high-efficiency, fast-response, pulse-width modulated (PWM) power supply to provide the main voltage rails for a linear class AB amplifier. It varies the output voltage of the power supply in sync with the audio signal being amplified to maintain a constant voltage drop across the output transistors of the amplifier. As a result, the power dissipation (power waste) in the output transistor is greatly reduced compared to traditional class AB amplifiers, therefore the amplifier runs more efficiently."

Yes it's good and very efficient.

I think BASH is an acronym for something like "Bridged Amplifier switching hybrid" or something along those lines. Klipsch has been using this technology for quite a while in their subs.

Jeremy

Focal uses BASH amps in some of their subs. https://www.focal.com/en/home-audio/high-fidelity-speakers/subwoofers/sub-1000-f.
 

Χ Ξ Σ

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So, Focal and its Beryllium tweeter are known for high frequency extension beyond human hearing, all the way to 40kHz. Instead we saw predicted in-room response and early reflection both peak at 5kHz-6kHz and then drop more rapidly then other 1" tweeters from its competitors.

I would take waveguides over exotic tweeters.
 

MZKM

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So, Focal and its Beryllium tweeter are known for high frequency extension beyond human hearing, all the way to 40kHz. Instead we saw predicted in-room response and early reflection both peak at 5kHz-6kHz and then drop more rapidly then other 1" tweeters from its competitors.

I would take waveguides over exotic tweeters.
They only are talking on-axis ;)

A well designed 3-way could get away without a waveguide, but I for sure would like to see one in a 2-way with a 6.5” woofer.
 

don'ttrustauthority

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These guys seem to be making the best measuring and excellent sounding speakers if the flax cone tech is representative. Shows what a large dedicated independent company can do. Makes it expensive to support smaller companies that simply don't have the economies of scale Focal can take advantage of. If only they didn't do it so well!
 

napilopez

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Focal Solo6 Be studio monitor (powered active speaker). It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $1,499 each.

Unlike most studio monitors that have industrial looks, the Solo6 Be comes across as a high-end home speaker with its nice wood finish:

View attachment 144745

Despite its small size, it is incredibly heavy! I can't figure out where all the weight has gone but this is one sturdy "bookshelf" speaker.

The back panel is much simpler looking than typical monitor as well:

View attachment 144746

The frequency shaping is all analog with a detent which is what I used to adjust the two controls. Assuming it is analog in nature, there may be some small variations.

After testing, I was surprised that the back panel was quite warm. Not at a level that would concern me but in this day and age of class D based amplifiers, they usually run cooler than this. The wide and large metal surface is likely used to dissipate needed thermal energy.

The claim to fame of this monitor is use of Beryllium for the tweeter. Company marketing video says no other speaker at is price has such.

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 performed over 1000 measurement which resulted in error rate of about 1%. Clear high frequency response is responsible for ease of measurement in this regard.

Reference axis is approximately the center of the tweeter.

Focal Solo6 Be 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:

View attachment 144747

Hey, this is nice! Yes there are some resonances here and there and a broad boost between 200 Hz and 3 kHz on axis but as a whole, this is good. No waveguide is used so naturally we see some directivity error as the woofer gets directional but then the tweeter takes over and it is not. This is happening at rather high frequency so hopefully its impact is lower.

Near-field response shows very good control of cabinet/port resonances which we almost always find to be a problem with front-ported speakers. Not so here:

View attachment 144748

The tweeter shows wavy response but I wonder if that is due to the sound bouncing back and forth between the inverted dome tweeter and my measurement microphone. I say this because our spin graph doesn't show this type of variation.

Early window which is computed for far-field listening shows the main issue being vertical directivity:
View attachment 144749

Having a high ceiling and or using absorber at first reflection plus doing something about console bounce could be advised. There is also sharp drop off of high frequencies but in near-field listening, this may not be a big deal.

Predicted-in-room response is once again for far field listening so not very applicable:
View attachment 144750

Still, not bad.

Distortion at 86 dBSPL is very low and impressive:

View attachment 144751

View attachment 144752

Horizontal beamwidth is wider than normal and decent:

View attachment 144753

And by the same token, horizontal directivity:
View attachment 144754

Due to the ditch created by ceiling and floor bounce, vertical directivity is something you need to be mindful about (common among non-coaxial 2-way speakers);

View attachment 144755

Finally, for time domain fans, here are the waterfall and impulse responses:

View attachment 144756

Resonances are visible.

View attachment 144757

Focal Solo6 Be Listening Tests
A few seconds into my first reference test track and it was clear that the tonality was right on the money. Continued to the rest of the test tracks and the theme stayed constant. The sound is just right. I did experiment with a broad filter to pull down the response from a few hundred Hertz to a few Kilohertz and it was a tossup as to which one was better so I am not going to show it to you.

What was such a pleasant experience was the ability to play as loud as I wanted with nary a sign of distortion or strain. This speaker just does what you ask it to do. You don't have to bend to its limitations. It follows you. So many small powered speakers run out of amplification juice, woofer excursion or both, ruining an otherwise excellent speaker. Not the Focal Solo6 Be.

Nice.

Conclusions
By now the message should be clear. The Solo6 Be is a well engineered speaker with slight compromise in objective measurements. What small faults exist there, were not a factor in listening test where super dynamics and correct tonality leads you to garden path. Combined with its attractive looks, this speaker is not only good for professional applications, but also where you want superbly cable and beautiful looking speakers.

It is my pleasure to recommend the Focal Solo6 Be. It is a job well done.

-----------
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/

Fascinating! My measurements of the Focal Solo6 Be were a bit different, and I was a bit disappointed with the results, given what else is on the market -- and that's coming from an unabashed Focal fan. They were decent but not exceptional measurement wise, especially compromised off axis. In listening I thought they were a bit recessed in the mids but did otherwise enjoy them alot -- as always I prefer wider directivity.

My measurements are similar but yours don't show the slight on-axis mids scoop dip that mine do. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that my units had the tweeter grille, although I don't see why that on its own would have such a large effect.

Here were my measurements:

1627781627618.png


I hate it because now I want to remeasure for my sanity. Here's the overlay with the NFS measurements (just LW and PIR for clarity):

Solo6 comparison.png


Directivity is very similar though.

Sound and recording shows a similarish but once again different on-axis response.

Solo6 OA comparison SR.png


However, it's also worth noting that all three of these versions seem to be different revisions.

I believe S&R's is the oldest as it has a different back panel layout without the BASH label. It also had no grille like the one Amir reviewed. The backplate on my unit looks like the one Amir measured except the backplate is a black metal and it had the tweeter grille. So it's possible all these versions just do measure slightly differently.
 
Last edited:

Doodski

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flax cone tech
They also have a glass bead coated design of woofer construction where molten glass beads are set on/into the cone material and it is very stiff. Then there is the "W" process of a Glass/Foam/Glass layered composite which is what the reviewed speaker uses. It's a foam core sandwiched between two thin woven-glass tissues.
 
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