• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Focal SOLO6 ST6 Monitor Review

Rate this monitor speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 2 0.9%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 40 18.0%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 144 64.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 36 16.2%

  • Total voters
    222

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
44,173
Likes
231,814
Location
Seattle Area
This is a review, listening tests and detailed measurements of the Focal ST6 SOLO6 powered studio monitor/speaker. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $1,599 each.
Focal Solo6 6.5-inch Powered Studio Monitor ST6 Speaker Review.jpg

This generation of SOLO6 looks gorgeous especially in this market where a lot of speakers are utilitarian. It would look just as good in a studio as it would in an executive office! The enclosure is extremely solid and heavy for its size, adding to feeling of value and luxury. Back side shows the controls and connectivity you have:
Focal Solo6 6.5-inch Powered Studio Monitor ST6 Speaker back panel Review.jpg

Note that the speaker is analog (no DSP). As such, while I attempted to set the EQ controls to center, there can be variations from other samples or from flat response (by small amount at least). Nice set of screw mounts allows easy mounting to ceiling and such for spatial audio/Dolby Atmos applications.

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%. Reference axis is approximately the center of the tweeter.

I have run the measurements you are about to see by the company and there is general agreement around them.

Focal SOLO6 ST6 Measurements
Let's start with our standard anechoic frequency response measurements: [actual measurement level = 86 dBSPL]
Focal Solo6 6.5-inch Powered Studio Monitor ST6 Speaker Anechoic frequency response Measurement.png


While the response is broadly flat a peak around 60 Hz stands out. There is also extra off-axis energy kicking in from 3 to 8 kHz or so. That extra energy naturally impacts our off-axis measurements:
Focal Solo6 6.5-inch Powered Studio Monitor ST6 Speaker Anechoic early-window frequency respon...png


Combined the two deviations stand out in the predicted in-room response for far-field listening:
Focal Solo6 6.5-inch Powered Studio Monitor ST6 Speaker Anechoic predicted in-room frequency r...png


Near-field, non-anechoic measurement of the radiating components shows excellent control of resonances from the port/cabinet, but there is some from the woofer:
Focal Solo6 6.5-inch Powered Studio Monitor ST6 Speaker driver near field frequency response M...png


That may be the reason for the few resonances we see in the waterfall:
Focal Solo6 6.5-inch Powered Studio Monitor ST6 Speaker CSD Waterfall Measurement.png


Something I have experienced in other Focal speakers is nice control of distortion which is reflected here as well:
Focal Solo6 6.5-inch Powered Studio Monitor ST6 Speaker THD Distortion Measurement.png


Focal Solo6 6.5-inch Powered Studio Monitor ST6 Speaker Relative THD Distortion Measurement.png


At 86 dB the level of distortion rivals large tower speakers!

Horizontal directivity plots show the increased off axis response in treble region:
Focal Solo6 6.5-inch Powered Studio Monitor ST6 Speaker horizontal beamwidth Measurement.png

Focal Solo6 6.5-inch Powered Studio Monitor ST6 Speaker horizontal directivity Measurement.png


Due to shallower waveguide, you do benefit from wider beam width which enlarges the sweet spot/region.

Vertical directivity is typical of 2-way non-coaxial response which means it is best to stay at tweeter axis:
Focal Solo6 6.5-inch Powered Studio Monitor ST6 Speaker vertical directivity Measurement.png


Finally, here is the step response:
Focal Solo6 6.5-inch Powered Studio Monitor ST6 Speaker Step Response Measurement.png


Focal ST6 SOLO6 Listening Tests and Equalization
On first playback, I was impressed by the dynamics and level of bass, in addition to clean sound. I could have lived with the speaker as is but thought I should play with EQ to see if I can improve on it:
Focal Solo6 6.5-inch Powered Studio Monitor ST6 Speaker Equalization Filter.png


Pulling down the 60 Hz hump resulted in "tighter" bass but then it was a bit light in that department and the highs stood out more. I dialed in the dip for the highs and that helped but still too much of a trade off. So I added the third filter in upper bass to fill that region. With all three there, I liked the sound better. Clarity was improved and vocals came more to the forefront. But I could see someone liking the stock sound as well given the small amount of adjustment here.

I could detect no distortion even after the clipping light came on. On that note, the above EQ postponed the onset of the light by a bit, getting me more volume. I could only detect some muddiness starting to set in as the clipping light was more on than off. Playing music with extreme sub-bass resulted in playback of such with mild amount of distortion. Many speakers either don't play these notes or severely distort them.

With the EQ in there, I could sit there and enjoy the speaker for hours.

Conclusions
The new generation of SOLO6 is gorgeous to look at and sports some nice engineering in the form of very low distortion, likely due to design of drivers in-house. Large port with right absorption internally means that you don't have the usual problem of resonance coming out the front. There is some extra off-axis response which was also there in previous generation but I think exaggerated a bit here. Seems like the company has compensated by allowing more bass enhancement through the port. I can see that as one solution or deploying the EQ as I quickly designed.

I should note that the company reached out to me to test this speaker which speaks volume to their level of transparency and confidence in the design.

Overall, I like the Focal SOLO6 ST6 and I am going to put it on my recommended list.

-----------
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 ST6.zip
    59.7 KB · Views: 84
Last edited:

Blockader

Active Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2021
Messages
228
Likes
565
Location
Denmark
Impressive! ST6 is an excellent choice for those who are looking for wide dispersion speakers. And yes, I'm disregarding their price/performance compared to Revel speakers, which are also designed to have wide dispersion. For the majority of people using them domestically, I believe wide dispersion speakers are a better choice because, as Sean Olive puts it, they disappear better in rooms.
 
Last edited:

thewas

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
6,550
Likes
15,584
Given the typical limitations of such a 2-way design with a too small waveguide not bad but on the other hand in that price range it gets close to quite superior 3-way designs like the Neumann KH310.
 
Last edited:

dogmamann

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 16, 2022
Messages
791
Likes
501
I had a chance to listen to the twins before, from the hifi world I felt that was very similar to another speaker in general nature of sound - the Quadral aurum 8r. Only the Quadral sounded way larger in presentation and slightly bit tamed on highs than the focals. But somehow they still sounded very similar in tone.
 

tktran303

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 27, 2019
Messages
680
Likes
1,160
Improved from previous generation Solo 6 BE. Bravo !
 
Last edited:

notsodeadlizard

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2023
Messages
403
Likes
360
Given the typical limitations of such a 2-way design without a waveguide not bad but on the other hand in that price range it gets close to quite superior 3-way designs like the Neumann KH310.
There is no silver bullet, and waveguide as the kind of "horn adapted for manufacturingability" is not a silver bullet also.
They are using transmission line topology obviously (because of very special form and placement of the open port) and it works.
It's a pure engineering where there is no single best overall solution and will never be.
 

tktran303

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 27, 2019
Messages
680
Likes
1,160
Given the typical limitations of such a 2-way design with a too small waveguide not bad but on the other hand in that price range it gets close to quite superior 3-way designs like the Neumann KH310.
$USD 3200 vs US$ 5000

Comparison should be made to KH150 to which similar from a size and price point of view.
 

thewas

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
6,550
Likes
15,584
There is no silver bullet, and waveguide as the kind of "horn adapted for manufacturingability" is not a silver bullet also.
Waveguide is not a must but one of the options to match the directivities, especially for a 2-way, for a 3-way for example this can be achieved with a small mid driver.
They are using transmission line topology obviously (because of very special form and placement of the open port) and it works.
Not really, that's just a BR design, a TL is large and would show a dip which can be seen for example in comparable PMC models.
It's a pure engineering where there is no single best overall solution and will never be.
Of course not, but for me this 2-way model is a too big compromise compared to other great competitors.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
44,173
Likes
231,814
Location
Seattle Area
What's the 'focus' in/out loop/light all about?
From what I recall, it butches the frequency response to just play the midrange as to emulate the sound of old clock radios. :) Kind of like mixcube emuation.
 

thewas

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
6,550
Likes
15,584
$USD 3200 vs US$ 5000

Comparison should be made to KH150 to which similar from a size and price point of view.
In Europe the price difference is smaller and some months ago before Neumann increased its prices it was even smaller.

On the other side you are right that the KH150 is a better comparison due to the size and even that is from objective point of view superior.
 

GXAlan

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
3,747
Likes
5,797
That 3 kHz and up bump is the effect of the inverted dome,
It gives Focal a characteristic sound because you get more on axis treble when you are off axis.

It doesn’t follow the concept of a smooth directivity index slope but you can see that it is wider dispersion than anything that isn’t a Bose 901.
 

sarumbear

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 15, 2020
Messages
7,604
Likes
7,293
Location
UK
...a bit sad that none of Focal active monitors are assembled in France...
It says "Made in France" at the back and it is an active speaker, which means it is not only assembled in France but most parts are made in France as well. Do you mind why you said the above?
 

dogmamann

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 16, 2022
Messages
791
Likes
501
It says "Made in France" at the back and it is an active speaker, which means it is not only assembled in France but most parts are made in France as well. Do you mind why you said the above?
Again made in France doesn’t mean anything special. The KEF LS50 and R Series are made in china but yet has amazing build quality than many European made speakers.
 

VintageFlanker

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
4,899
Likes
19,420
Location
Paris
It says "Made in France" at the back and it is an active speaker, which means it is not only assembled in France but most parts are made in France as well. Do you mind why you said the above?
Because Alpha EVO are indeed Made in China... But, yes this isn't. My mistake ! ;)
Again made in France doesn’t mean anything special
What the heck?! o_O
Sorry, but performance aside, it does mean quite a lot. At least for the dozens of people working for Focal here.
 

delta76

Major Contributor
Joined
Nov 27, 2021
Messages
1,591
Likes
2,393
Again made in France doesn’t mean anything special. The KEF LS50 and R Series are made in china but yet has amazing build quality than many European made speakers.
don't know about you but made in the same country as the maker is founded is always a bonus for me. not deciding factor, but nice bonus. And in many cases, I am a little happier to see the workers/engineers work in decent conditions to produce the products I buy. It is a relief to see the Focal factory tour after the one at Triage factory in China.
 

thewas

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
6,550
Likes
15,584
Top Bottom