Originally Posted by mjbuoni
I heard both the Focus SE and Whisper HD back-to-back in the same room with the same electronics at the RMAF 2009. IMO, the differences are two-fold. First, the Whisper throws a more directional sound field (by design), which creates more precise imaging, but at the expense of soundstage width. Second, the lower midrange and bass of the Whisper is higher resolution, but at the expense of deep bass extension. This is again by design which makes the Whisper easier to integrate into typical rooms than the Focus.
As I own the Focus SE's, I can say they have all the resolution I could ever want and the soundstage width is just right IMO. I do have a smaller room (13' x 16' open), and have found that plugging the ports on the rear of the Focus gives a nicely balanced room response down to below 30 Hz.
Hope this helps!
Jeffkad and mjbuoni:
I would agree with mjbuoni's comments. The Whispers and Focus load the room differently in the bass regions (by design). From my listening auditions, I love both presentations, which are excellent. For my taste, I would add subwoofers to the Whispers in my room for a little more oomph in the nether regions, while I could feel very comfortable listening to the Focus without any subs at all for music. (I know, I couldn't believe it either!)
The Whispers avoid interactions with the side walls, so you can even tuck them back into corners without overloading the room. The soundstage is huge in the sweet spot when they are placed in corners 10 or 12 feet apart, with the listening position also about 10-12 feet away, and angled in. The 4 15" open baffle woofers per side do move alot of air, but they are super quick with zero overhang, which gives the Whisper its tremendous accuracy in the bass. The Whispers reveal everything in the recording with crystal clarity, layered imaging, and tonal accuracy - even in the bass. For example, if you love upright jazz bass, I can't think of a better speaker. I am a drummer and have played many gigs beside bass players. The Whisper nails all the detail and body of an upright bass. Fingerboard sounds, fingers on strings, the woody roundness of the tone - it's all just right, and very natural.
On a side note, because the Whispers are so natural sounding and revealing of the recording, they might come across as "boring" in a show situation. They don't clobber you over the head with "sizzle and boom" - they are subtle and steathly - perfectly capable when the music demands it, but fast and quick, without all the extra resonances that box speakers can exhibit. I can say that the more you listen to the Whispers the more you appreciate them for their neutrality and transparency. If you are used to box speakers, it might be a bit of an adjustment, although it doesn't take long to learn how great these speakers really are. Also, I should mention that the Wavelaunch processor that comes with the system allows alot of flexibility to tailor the sound of the system in your room to your specific tastes. And you can save a bunch of different settings if you want. Bill D. will even help customize them for your room.
The Focus HD and SE models are much more refined than their earlier versions, IMHO. The new silver graphite woofers and ribbon midrange and tweeters are much better. The presentation of the Focus is also big, but weightier than the Whispers, I wrote a bunch about the HD model above, so I won't rehash it here.
I have my plane tickets to Legacy for the last week of Jan, and I will get lots of time to listen to the whole line. I'll post more after that. I'm anxious to see/hear the Focus SEs, and the new Whisper XD. Bill Dudleston tells me that the Whisper XD beefs up the bass with built-in amplification, so it will be interesting to hear how it compares to the HD model and Focus.