Surround Sound Speaker Systems

Focal Chorus 700 5.1 Speaker System

ARTICLE INDEX

In Use

After putting away the trusty SPL meter, it was time for some serious listening. When the review period was over, there is one thing I knew I would certainly miss about these speakers: the tweeter. Thes 700s have the sweetest top end of any speaker I’ve heard in this price range. I’m not sure if the curved speaker grille was designed to be a cosmetic or performance enhancement, but I’m happy the decision was made, the aluminum/magnesium inverted dome tweeter is a jewel. Another honorable mention takes me back to the SW700V subwoofer. When I put this sub in one particular spot, I was totally prepared not to like it. I immediately thought it was too small to fill my 23 x 14 listening space with the type of deep bass I was accustomed to, I was wrong, sort of. As I mentioned earlier, if you’re looking for benchmark low frequency extension, you need to considere something larger, but if you want tight punchy bass in a compact and attractive frame, you’ll LOVE this subwoofer.

Music

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Norah Jones' Come Away with Me continues to be one of my favorite multi-channel SACDs. It’s a disc that I know well and one that I often turn to when evaluating new speakers. Track 3 “Cold Cold Heart” showcased the wonderful midrange and tweeter combination of the 726V towers. The center channel blended seamlessly with the towers, creating a wide and life-like soundstage. Norah’s voice can prove to be a challenge for lesser center channel speakers; the CC700V was up to the task. The CC700V actually sounds like a larger speaker; it has its limitations with frequencies below 80 Hz, but properly crossed over in a multi-channel system, the CC700V is a competent performer. Switching over to two-channel listening, the boundaries of the 726V towers became obvious. With the subwoofer disabled I wanted to see how the towers stood on their own. Bass is clearly the Achilles heel of 726Vs, as frequencies south of 60 Hz lack weight and are not well defined. But, just about every speaker benefits from a subwoofer, and the 726Vs are designed to be mated with a sub like the SW700V.

Movies

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Before the review period came to an end, I was able to get a copy of Dreamworks Kung Fu Panda on Blu-ray. This disc is loaded with a first rate Dolby True-HD track, a great workout for the Chorus system. Wow, this is a reference quality disc and the Focals did exactly what speakers should do, disappear. For 90 minutes I was not evaluating a speaker system, I was engulfed in the soundtrack. The 706Vs are more than capable surround speakers, rear effects and pans were spot on, creating a totally enveloping experience. The SW700V continued to shine, and Kung Fu Panda is loaded with tons of deep bass. The SW700V remained composed, providing tight and punchy sound. While I’m sure a bigger subwoofer would have sounded, well “bigger”, the SW700V survived the Kung Fu Panda LFE torture test.

As a whole, the speakers remained composed at high volumes. My ear drums gave out before the Focals did. They weren't as dynamic as my Klipsch reference speakers, but I've yet to encounter a non-horn-loaded speaker that could match my reference system. The Focals were definitely on the warmer sound of the block but didn't shy away from head banger volumes.

Voices were full and natural, even at high volumes, I never felt the center channel couldn't keep pace with the other towers.

There was a definite synergy to the system, pans were fluid, not once could I detect any speaker shift in the soundfield across the front three speakers.

I was really quite impressed with the focals, outside their performance below 60 Hz without the subwoofer. There was no boominess in the speakers, but there was a definite lack of articulation and definition at the low end, and everything came back into focus when I put the SW700V back in the mix.