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Need help from hifi anonymous to not buy Focal Aria 948

eriksson

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#1
Few months ago I decided to spend some money on "good" speakers (finally) and got new pair of Focal Aria 926. Unboxing them after long day at work I was questioning why I spent money on two wood boxes with 4 drivers since I already had a pair of similar wood boxes with 4 drivers, my Dali Zensor 7 speakers. Thankfully, after connecting the 926 and listening to few songs I stopped questioning and fell in love with my new Focals.

This love affair lead to the purchase of Focal subwoofer and center speaker. So I now have 5.1 home cinema with my Dali speakers as surround. All driven with Denon AVR3600. I also have Denon 1600ne amp I sometimes use for pure stereo listening.

But there is a problem. My local Focal dealer has Focal Aria 948 for sale, at somewhat attractive price, and for some reason I can't get the idea of buying them out of my head. After discovering how much I liked the 926 the thought process was, since these sound good, the 948 must sound even better? I have tried doing listening test at my dealer but I have had no luck, there is something wrong with his setup and neither speakers sound very good in his "listening" area.

My logical side tells me it's nonsense. The only thing 948 have over 926 is more bass with it's bigger bass drivers. But I have plenty of nice bass already. Still - the idea keeps popping up to get the 948 and use the 926 as surrounds. I also enjoy "multi channel stereo" with both my Focals and Dali speakers, it would likely be even better with the 926 and 948.

I guess I am becoming Focal fan boy. Perhaps I should just get another sub - for good measure. However, locally here in Iceland, I honestly believe the Focal Aria 948 have no match for price/sound ratio. They are old stock so to speak. Price comparison to European or U.S. markets is difficult, listening and comparing to something else - even more.

Excuse my rambling, first world problem I know - any input could be useful or just fun.
 
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MarkS

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#4
"since these sound good, the 948 must sound even better?"

Seems very unlikely, except for more bass. But if you already have a subwoofer, why would you want bigger heavier main speakers?

But if you want to be sure, can you get a home trial period from the dealer?
 
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#6
My logical side tells me it's nonsense. The only thing 948 have over 926 is more bass with it's bigger bass drivers. But I have plenty of nice bass already.
Both 926 and 948 are great speakers! The only difference is in bass. So, since you already have a subwoofer I think it's better to keep your new 926s instead of risking to a used pair of 948 that may have some issues....
 
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eriksson

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Thread Starter #8
"since these sound good, the 948 must sound even better?"

Seems very unlikely, except for more bass. But if you already have a subwoofer, why would you want bigger heavier main speakers?

But if you want to be sure, can you get a home trial period from the dealer?
This is good, hard questions force one to think. Perhaps I am influenced by all the reviews I have read about the 948. They are "the top" of the Aria line from Focal and have drawn most of the attention and there are many reviews to be found. Sure there are few about 926 but they are usually mentioned in passing when discussing the 948. So the psychological impact is along the lines - the 948 are the thing, or "better". Not having them one is missing out.

Thanks!
 
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eriksson

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Thread Starter #9
Both 926 and 948 are great speakers! The only difference is in bass. So, since you already have a subwoofer I think it's better to keep your new 926s instead of risking to a used pair of 948 that may have some issues....
I was planning to keep the 926 and use them with the 948 in multi channel stereo and as surround speakers. The 948 Arias I am considering are new in the box, but have been sitting in storage for few years I guess.
 
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#10
I was planning to keep the 926 and use them with the 948 in multi channel stereo and as surround speakers. The 948 Arias I am considering are new in the box, but have been sitting in storage for few years I guess.
OK this is not an issue then. I thought they were used.
 

MarcT

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#11
Well, I will venture a word of some caution about the 948s, having heard them a couple of times. How big is your room? I don't think I would buy them without an in-home trial because I was able to hear the 948s at an audio shop a couple of years ago, and it seemed that they completely overwhelmed the room they had them in, to the point that the upper mid range was hurting my ears. I think perhaps that room would need to be heavily treated for the 948s. They then played a smaller speaker from another brand and the sound was much better overall to me.

I have been interested in a set of 948 myself, but that demo, as well as some concurring online comments, has given me pause ever since. Focal's web page for each Aria model lists an optimal room size, and the room size for the 948 is 30m2 and up, while their recommended room size for the 926 is 20m2. My understanding is that, while the drivers within a line, such as Aria, may look similar, Focal optimizes the drivers for each model in the line. If this is true, it might result in the 948s not sounding so great in a smaller room.
 

Astrozombie

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#12
Save for the next tier up as full-range system. What kind of sub do you have? Get another sub is what I'm probably going to say. Have you Mini-DSPed your sub? Do you have an external Amp yet?
 

tifune

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#13
My logical side tells me it's nonsense. The only thing 948 have over 926 is more bass with it's bigger bass drivers. But I have plenty of nice bass already. Still - the idea keeps popping up to get the 948 and use the 926 as surrounds. I also enjoy "multi channel stereo" with both my Focals and Dali speakers, it would likely be even better with the 926 and 948.
I used to have the 948s, they're pretty great if your amp can handle it. When I was shopping around, I had a really hard time finding measurements so i've attached some here to hopefully make your life easier (from audio.com.pl) Notice around 100Hz the dip to about 2.5 ohms so I'm not sure your Denon is the best candidate. 948's are single terminal so can't even use Denon's bi-amp option. That being said, I probably overdid it by buying a MC152 - these days with EVAL-1's to be had for just over $1k I see little reason to look elsewhere. Not sure about availability in Iceland. For whatever reason the 948's sounded better to me using the 152's 4 ohm tap, maybe placebo maybe not given their bass output.

I haven't looked into the 926; if I were to ever go back to the Aria's I'd want to try the 936 which has an extra driver. the 948 really is great. I liked them more than the F208's, although I've learned since then the room in which I heard the F208's was actually too dead so it probably wasn't the fair comparison it should've been. Some of the more common criticisms, you're probably already familiar with by owning 926s. The TNF inverted dome can come off as shrill to some people although I suspect that often stems from a bad room setup. I don't know anything about Dali's but in my limited experience there is quite a bit to be said for speaker matching in upmixing. Not sure if any of this is helpful, but if upmixing is something you do often, the price is as good as you say, and the other critical pieces are already aligned (room treatment, amp) I would probably go for it.
 

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MarcT

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#14
I used to have the 948s, they're pretty great if your amp can handle it. When I was shopping around, I had a really hard time finding measurements so i've attached some here to hopefully make your life easier (from audio.com.pl) Notice around 100Hz the dip to about 2.5 ohms so I'm not sure your Denon is the best candidate. 948's are single terminal so can't even use Denon's bi-amp option. That being said, I probably overdid it by buying a MC152 - these days with EVAL-1's to be had for just over $1k I see little reason to look elsewhere. Not sure about availability in Iceland. For whatever reason the 948's sounded better to me using the 152's 4 ohm tap, maybe placebo maybe not given their bass output.

I haven't looked into the 926; if I were to ever go back to the Aria's I'd want to try the 936 which has an extra driver. the 948 really is great. I liked them more than the F208's, although I've learned since then the room in which I heard the F208's was actually too dead so it probably wasn't the fair comparison it should've been. Some of the more common criticisms, you're probably already familiar with by owning 926s. The TNF inverted dome can come off as shrill to some people although I suspect that often stems from a bad room setup. I don't know anything about Dali's but in my limited experience there is quite a bit to be said for speaker matching in upmixing. Not sure if any of this is helpful, but if upmixing is something you do often, the price is as good as you say, and the other critical pieces are already aligned (room treatment, amp) I would probably go for it.
Well, looking at the response graph you provided, I can see why. Although it seems that some of the measurements I've seen of the other Aria models seem to show a downward sloping result in the high frequencies, one that is said to be the subjectively desired slope, so I'm not sure what to make of this. I also think I would want to try the 936 for my room, given the size.
 

MarcT

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#16
Bit of a pity to die one day without trying the 948 imo.
My local dealer used to have a set of 948 that he said I could try out at home, but I just haven't gotten around to it. I wasn't really ready to make a purchase at that time and didn't think it was fair to have them spend their time packing them and bringing them over if I wasn't serious about buying them. If he's willing to sell them for a great price, maybe I should take him up on his offer to try them at home.
 
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eriksson

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Thread Starter #17
Well, I will venture a word of some caution about the 948s, having heard them a couple of times. How big is your room? I don't think I would buy them without an in-home trial because I was able to hear the 948s at an audio shop a couple of years ago, and it seemed that they completely overwhelmed the room they had them in, to the point that the upper mid range was hurting my ears. I think perhaps that room would need to be heavily treated for the 948s. They then played a smaller speaker from another brand and the sound was much better overall to me.

I have been interested in a set of 948 myself, but that demo, as well as some concurring online comments, has given me pause ever since. Focal's web page for each Aria model lists an optimal room size, and the room size for the 948 is 30m2 and up, while their recommended room size for the 926 is 20m2. My understanding is that, while the drivers within a line, such as Aria, may look similar, Focal optimizes the drivers for each model in the line. If this is true, it might result in the 948s not sounding so great in a smaller room.
Thanks!
My living room is just about 30m2 with high ceiling (up to 4,5m) with open corridor in addition. I plan to built a house in the near future with larger living room, perhaps 50m2. However, with my music taste and listening habits, I doubt I will need more then the 926 arias for my future living room.
 
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eriksson

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Thread Starter #18
Save for the next tier up as full-range system. What kind of sub do you have? Get another sub is what I'm probably going to say. Have you Mini-DSPed your sub? Do you have an external Amp yet?
What do you have in mind for next tier up?
I got Focal sub1000, 12" (30cm) with internal amp. My Denon 1600ne amp has no subwoofer output and when using it I skip the sub. Using the Denon 3600 I rely on Audyssey to level the sub output, crossover @90hz if memory serves me.
 
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eriksson

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Thread Starter #19
I used to have the 948s, they're pretty great if your amp can handle it. When I was shopping around, I had a really hard time finding measurements so i've attached some here to hopefully make your life easier (from audio.com.pl) Notice around 100Hz the dip to about 2.5 ohms so I'm not sure your Denon is the best candidate. 948's are single terminal so can't even use Denon's bi-amp option. That being said, I probably overdid it by buying a MC152 - these days with EVAL-1's to be had for just over $1k I see little reason to look elsewhere. Not sure about availability in Iceland. For whatever reason the 948's sounded better to me using the 152's 4 ohm tap, maybe placebo maybe not given their bass output.

I haven't looked into the 926; if I were to ever go back to the Aria's I'd want to try the 936 which has an extra driver. the 948 really is great. I liked them more than the F208's, although I've learned since then the room in which I heard the F208's was actually too dead so it probably wasn't the fair comparison it should've been. Some of the more common criticisms, you're probably already familiar with by owning 926s. The TNF inverted dome can come off as shrill to some people although I suspect that often stems from a bad room setup. I don't know anything about Dali's but in my limited experience there is quite a bit to be said for speaker matching in upmixing. Not sure if any of this is helpful, but if upmixing is something you do often, the price is as good as you say, and the other critical pieces are already aligned (room treatment, amp) I would probably go for it.
Thanks for the input. According to Denon technical jargon my 1600ne integrated amp has good current output if I got that correctly. So I am not too worried trying it with the 948. It's a bummer the 1600ne doesn't have sub output - but lot of my listening is late in the evening at very moderate levels, and a tad more bass than the 926 have would be enough for me in most cases.

I have also seen people complain abut the TNF tweeter but it sounds great to me. I find it very pleasant and clear.
 
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