Focal Chorus 726 V - The Sort Of Speaker That Knows How To Make An Entrance

11/24/2013 9:37:25 AM

A large, visually imposing floor stander, this has the look and feel of something much more expensive

Here’s a brand that’s had rather mixed fortunes in the UK over the years, proving that our speaker market is a hard nut to crack even if you’re as big as Focal! Now allied to Naima Audio, it may make a bigger splash. Certainly the Chorus 726 V is the sort of speaker that knows how to make an entrance; if ever there was a box in this group that has showroom appeal, then this is it. Firstly, it is very big – it makes the little Splendor look like a car speaker! Secondly, it has a super-impressive finish – lots of piano lacquer and leather cloth, and the trim rings around the multiple drive units have interesting surfacing. The overall effect is very flash, and many would likely guess this speaker costs closer to $3,207.

Description: Focal Chorus 726 V

Focal Chorus 726 V

It is a three-way design, with a 25mm aluminum/magnesium inverted dome tweeter, plus three 165mm polygalas drive units, one for the midland, two for the bass, crossing over at 3kHz and 300Hz respectively. The cabinet is solidly built, well braced internally and sports a very large front baffle-mounted reflex port, said to be aerodynamically profiled. Round the back, there are single-wired terminals; full marks for these, as they are the easiest to use here.

The manufacturer claims a high sensitivity, and this is borne out by listening; these speakers will be ideal partners for lower-powered Class A amplifiers, and/or tube amps. They prove to be a little fussier about positioning than some, but the good news is that some experimentation yields results!

Sound quality

An interesting design, this. It gives a big, powerful sort of sound that is superficially very ‘fast’; it seems to delight in every steel guitar strum from the High Llamas track, for example. It broadcasts to the world its agility and great transient speed. But hang on, listened to back to back against the Splendor – which is an altogether more refined design – the Focal isn’t actually any faster at all. It’s a bit brighter and the drive units seem edgier, but it doesn’t get the job done any more impressively. And there’s a downside, which is that this speaker keeps drawing attention to itself in the wrong way. It gives you the sense that instead of listening to the music, you’re listening to Hi-Fi.

Description: It gives you the sense that instead of listening to the music, you’re listening to Hi-Fi.

It gives you the sense that instead of listening to the music, you’re listening to Hi-Fi.

Indeed, the Focal sounds like it looks – which is big, showy and with lots of superficial detailing, which begins to lose its appeal as you try to relax into the music. So yes, it can conjure up a wonderfully punchy bass drum sound on the New Order track, chuck loads of detail at you and spray massive amounts of treble information out, but somehow the overall effect is underwhelming. And worse still, it can be tiring. The 726 V newer quite manages to disappear into the middle distance, and let the music take control.

Bass is impressively extended, and there’s obviously a lot of firepower, which really comes into its own at high levels when smaller designs like the Acoustic Energy and the Splendor begin to give away their diminutive dimensions – but still it always sounds a little leaden. Firstly, you can hear the cabinet joining in the fun slightly in the upper bass, and secondly it just doesn’t flow particularly well, as the Lou Donaldson track shows. The tweeter sounds like a metal dome of yesteryear, which is to say crisp and well detailed, but slightly clang and forced. I suspect extended tuning and careful system matching would help with all the above (I’ve heard the 726 V sound better in other venues), but it’s not a speaker for all seasons.

One test

Description: The CSD waterfall shows fast initial energy decay, but some low-level resonance at treble frequencies.

The CSD waterfall shows fast initial energy decay, but some low-level resonance at treble frequencies.

Our measured pink noise sensitivity of 89.6dB falls short of Focal’s claimed 91.5dB, but still puts the 726 V above the group average. A minimum impedance of 2.9 ohms is specified, but we measured a dip to 2.7 ohms at 114Hz, neither figure being consistent with the claimed 8 ohms nominal. Impedance phase angles are also large at low frequency, reducing the minimum EPDR to an amp-challenging 1.1 ohms at 74Hz. Above-average frequency response error of ±5.1dB was the same for both speakers, principally because the output begins rising before 20kHz due to the tweeter dome resonance at 23.4kHz. Pair matching was group best at an excellent ±0.8dB, and bass extension of 52Hz a little better than the group average with an initially gentle roll-off below 95Hz. The CSD waterfall shows fast initial energy decay, but some low-level resonance at treble frequencies.

Our verdict

·         Sound quality: 3.5/5

·         Value for money: 4/5

·         Build quality: 4.5/5

·         Ease of drive: 4.5/5

·         Like: Big sound; goes loud with little power; fine finish

·         Dislike: Doesn’t gel rhythmically; lacks subtlety and finesse

·         We say: Lots of speaker for your money, but sound is not to all tastes

·         Overall: 4/5

Technical specs

·         Product: Focal Chorus 726 V

·         Origin: France

·         Type: Floor standing loudspeaker

·         Weight: 23.5kg

·         Dimensions (W x H x D): 222 x 990 x 375mm

·         Features: Three-way, reflex ported loudspeaker; 1x 25mm inverted dome tweeter, 1x 165mm mid, 2x 165mm bass; Claimed sensitivity: 91.5dB/1W/1m

·         Distributor: Focal JMLAB UK Ltd


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