Affordable loudspeakers. It’s an interesting area. There is a certain pleasure in getting a lot of sound from a modest outlay, although one person’s idea of modest can be another’s example of outrageous excess.
Focal certainly do breadth, and beyond their high end offerings, have a history of making rather noble low(ish) cost loudspeakers too. Our greatest issue with them has been that the stying can be a little bit, well, French. This can be a very conservative market.
On a memorably busy Tuesday in September (OK, yesterday), we were effectively ambushed by our existing Naim and our new Focal salesmen. The arrangement had been that they were dropping in some Kantas. We were also being introduced by Mike to our new Focal contact, conveniently also called Mike.
They oh so casually let slip that they had some of the new Chora range tucked away in the vehicle.
Enter the Chora 806 stand-mount (£599). We couldn’t resist a listen and, hooked up to a Uniti Aton and even fresh from the box, they sounded rather good. French made with French drivers for Chinese money!
The first pair we saw were in the dark wood which comes with a slate grey baffle. In our north facing smaller dem room, I thought they looked a little gloomy, so we opted for a pair in light wood instead. Either way, we figured that they were too appealing to ignore.
The bass / mid drivers are in a new compound called ‘slatefiber’, the slate tone of the drivers clearly runs a little deeper than just the colour. Tweeters are in a aluminium / magnesium alloy. Overall styling, though, is by brit, Simon Matthews, who has been Naim’s designer for many years and the look is refreshingly clean and paired back. Really crisp.
There were also some Chora 816 floor-standers available, so we unpacked them too. Priced at £1099, these answer a question that people actually ask. The black finish is utterly brilliant too, best of the bunch for us.
With a glossy front that mimics the glass fronts on Uniti products and a textured black outer wrap that looks and feels just like the black anodized brushed alloy uniti casework, a synthetic wrap has never looked so classy! The wood finishes are very good but, for us, this is the honest synthetic finish of choice. It’s so appealing that you could easily seek them out for this alone.
The larger 2.5 way floor-standers strike us as being even more compelling than the stand-mounts. Both seem happy to work fairly close to walls and have extended, tight and resolving bass. As I write, the larger speakers are in the smaller room on an Atom and the smaller ones in the larger room on a Supernait 3. It’ll be interesting to see where the run-in takes them but I suspect the 816s will hit the spot for many.
By the time you factor in some stands, the price diferential is quite small and the footprint similar. The sound quality difference is very significant, though. Focal do offer some angled stands that set the stand-mounts at a gentle raerward tilt to match the florr-standers.
This, of course means that we will need to look at getting some 826s. All this just as we are trying to cut down on ‘lumber’. . . We need to learn to say ‘NO’.
Some pictures: What do you think?