Sound & Vision

The Road to Utopia

SOME MAY see France’s Focal as a maker of $100,000-plus speakers and $4,000 headphones. But while the company does maintain a high profile in the high-end through products like its Utopia towers, the reality is that Focal makes speakers—and headphones—that cover a wide range of price points. It’s been nearly ten years since Sound & Vision reviewed a full-scale Focal home theater speaker system—a $25,000 rig with beryllium tweeters. This time out we’re looking at the company’s affordable new Chora series, a lineup that notably includes speakers with upfiring drivers to handle Atmos and other immersive formats.

The Chora 826-D ($2,790/pair) is a 4-way speaker available in black, dark wood, and light wood finishes. As mentioned above, Focal’s tower features a full-range upfiring driver that bounces sound off the ceiling to deliver overhead effects in movie soundtracks. The rest of its driver array consists of a pair of 6.5-inch Slatefiber cone woofers, a 6.5-inch Slatefiber cone midrange, and a 1-inch aluminum/magnesium inverted dome tweeter. Slate what? Slatefiber is a composite material made from recycled non-woven carbon fibers and thermoplastic polymer. According to Focal, the cones, which are designed and manufactured at the company’s facility in Saint Étienne, offer the dual benefits of lightness and rigidity, resulting in “dynamic, rich, and ultra-balanced

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