Reviews // Speakers

Focal Chora 826 Review • High quality stereo system

Over the past ten years, our understanding of how floor standing speakers should look and sound, costing about $ 1000, has changed significantly. The “fault” is the appearance in this category of a fairly large number of models with very high performance and first-class design. Now the Focal Chora 826 has joined them and that quality bar seems to be rising even higher.

Borrowing some design elements from the much more expensive Kanta range, the Chora speakers feature a distinctive two-tone finish. Either a dark wood combined with a cool blue-gray facade, or a light wood with a cream front panel, or a simpler gloss / matte black combination for the lovers of the classics

The Focal Chora 826 features a 25mm aluminum / magnesium inverted dome tweeter (with perforated grille), a 6.5 ” Slatefiber cone midrange and two 6.5 ” woofers with the same cone. Crossover filters in these speakers are tuned to frequencies of 2700 Hz and 270 Hz, and the bass reflex is located at the very bottom of the front panel. The frequency response of the Focal Chora 826 starts at a very decent 48Hz (-3dB) or 39Hz at -6dB. This is very good performance for speakers measuring 105 cm high, 39 cm deep and 30 cm wide.

The Slatefiber material of the speaker cones is designed by Focal and manufactured in France. It is a composite of carbon fibers and a thermoplastic polymer. The diffusers are obviously stiff, lightweight and perfectly damped. But in addition, these diffusers also look luxurious, which is why most of us would prefer not to wear protective mesh on the speakers.

The appearance of the Focal Chora 826 is also given by the base, which is attached to the base of the speakers using the included key. It provides the speakers with a slight tilt back (about five degrees), which allows the tweeter to be directed more accurately towards the listener – which is very useful given the relatively low speaker height. In addition, the plinth makes the speakers more stable.

In general, despite the budget price, the Chora 826 looks surprisingly attractive, and for a while they will surely become the stylistic center of your living room.

Installation and connection

Since the Chora 826 is relatively small and lightweight for a 3-way floorstanding speaker, unpacking is easier than you might expect. In the box, besides the speaker itself, there is a package with a base-stand and all the necessary accessories. The protective mesh with magnetic holders is also laid separately.

Chora 826 has a pair of screw input terminals, so they cannot be connected using Bi-Wiring. The screw terminals are very reliable and even look nice. If you decide to use cables with banana connectors to connect the speakers, then the plastic plugs from their end part will need to be removed. It should be noted that they sit quite tightly, but with some patience they can still be taken out.

Due to the fact that the bass reflexes of the speakers are located on the front panel, Focal Chora 826 can be placed quite close to the wall. To evaluate the sound quality of this speaker, I first connected it to a Denon PMA-150H integrated amplifier, and then tested them with the more powerful Peachtree Nova220SE. I used ELAC Sensible speaker cables, and the main sources were the Maingear Vybe media center and gaming computer.

Sound quality

After some preliminary listening in the background, I began to seriously assess the sound quality of the Focal Chora 826. Lido Shuffle from Boz Scaggs’ Silk Degrees sounded surprisingly correct, with clear vocals and backing instruments. I struggled to hear the difference in the sound of this song on the Chora 826 and my favorite Paradigm Studio 100 v5, almost twice the cost, and did not find it.

Upon closer examination, I concluded that the Chora 826 sound more transparent and airy on the treble, while the Paradigms seemed more assertive and powerful on the bass. Then I decided to swap the 35W Denon PMA-150H per channel on the Peachtree Nova220SE. Thanks to this change, the lower octaves of the Focal Chora 826 literally came to life, the differences between the speakers almost disappeared, and the overall airiness of the stage increased even more. From all this, an important conclusion can be made that the increased output power of the amplifier allows the speakers to fully open, and is of great importance not only for the volume of sound and bass, but also for the overall quality of the stereo picture. And if for the Chora 826 speakers the recommended amplifier output power is from 40 to 250 watts per channel, it is better to choose a model with an indicator closer to the upper limit of this range.

Focal Chora 826 disadvantages

I don’t want to call this a “disadvantage,” given all the circumstances and especially the price, but while the Chora 826 does have a surprisingly wide directivity, its off-axis sound is not as good as the more expensive speakers. This means you may have to spend some time figuring out the correct placement of the Chora 826 in the room.

You should also make sure that the tweeters are aimed at the listening area as much as possible. This is easy because the speakers are tilted backwards. But I did have to tinker a bit with the speaker angles to get the perfect stereo image, and overall I have to admit that the Chora 826 is indeed very flexible in placement.

Competitors and comparison

With a price of about $ 1000, the Chora 826 speakers have quite a few strong competitors. Some of the more obvious ones include the GoldenEar Triton Five, Bowers & Wilkins 603, or Monitor Audio Silver 300. The GoldenEar Triton Five has excellent sound, thanks in large part to its fantastic ribbon tweeter, and a wide directivity pattern. However, the design of the Triton Five is no match for the sleek Chora 826.

I admit, I have not tested Bowers & Wilkins 603 for a long time, but having good experience with the speakers of this company I have no doubt about its excellent sound characteristics. But again, purely aesthetically, B&W loses out to Chora 826.

Monitor Audio’s Silver 300 floorstanding speakers are one of the few loudspeakers in this price range that, in my opinion, can really rival the Chora 826 in terms of finish quality and overall aesthetics. In terms of sound, this acoustics, however, is also very good.

Specifications:

Type: 3-way bass reflex speakers
Woofers: 2 x 16.5 cm Slatefiber diffusers
Midrange speaker: 16.5 cm, Slatefiber diffuser
HF speaker: 25mm, TNF invested dome Al / Mg
Sensitivity: 91 dBA
Frequency range: 48 Hz – 28 kHz (+/- 3dB)
Resistance: 8 ohm
Recommended amplifier power: 40 – 250 W
Crossover filter setting: 270 Hz, 2700 Hz
Dimensions (W x H x D): 30 x 105.3 x 38.8 cm
Weight: 21.2 kg

Conclusion

The sound quality of this acoustics is difficult to find fault with. Now you don’t have to pay too much money for great speakers, and that’s great. The Focal Chora 826 is a very good choice for those who would like to create a high quality stereo system that is beautiful and easy to place.