Originally Posted by Denophile
A few weeks ago I updated my surround setup and changed my polk csi1 center for the 1000be and my large polk rti 150 surround speakers with the 1007be's. For those considering upgrading their surrounds or making a 2 ch setup expand to a 5 or 7.1 setup a few observations:
Setup: denon dvd 5910 digital source, samsung bd-up5000 hddvd-blu ray player, marantz TT15s1 analog source, parasound c1 preamp, sunfire cinemagrand 400X5 amp, kimbercable hero interconnects and 8tc speaker cables to front and center, monster cable to surounds. Focal electra be 1007 surrounds, 1000be center, and 1027be mains. front speakers 8.5ft from listening position; center 8 ft, surrounds 5 ft. Front speakers toed in, rear speakers at 120 degrees from listener seating access also toed in toward listener. velodyne splr-1200 sub 15 ft away. Speakers were adjusted to 75 db using a radio shack sound meter and distance was set via the c1's microphone distance calibration setup.
First, being well aware of the break in issue, I subjected the whole setup to 100+ hours of break in. I listened after each consecutive 24 hour period to se if there was discernable change. I did notice significant reduction in mid-high frequency "presence region" energy in subsequent listening sessions. Call me crazy or you could argue that my ears were adapting to the speakers but the difference was not subjectively subtle. I had a harder time noticing qualitative differences after 4 days of break in (played tv on "party mode' all day and night at about 75-80db).
I listened to several movies with this setup. I expected to notice the least change in movie soundtracks. Boy was I in for a surprise. Sure there was more detail retrieved from the disks, dialog was more intelligable, and the soundfield made more sense with timing cues but what really blew me away was the coherence
. This is indeed a difficult attribute to describe. I thought the soundfield was pretty good with the old setup but this was, but the ability of these speakers to present the details of sound from a truly voice matched source had an amazing impact on the sound. It was much more immersive and really made me wish I had a projector--just like watching a movie on a 57" crt compared to a 120" projector screen makes the movie viewing experience much more immersive (I have a good friend who does have such a device!-wow, what a differenct experience watching movies!), having this speaker setup made that much of a difference on the audio side compared to having the polks in the center and surround.
Digital Music performance:
Well, detail retrieval is the word here. Not surprisingly, listening to 5.1 ch dvd-a and SACD was much more pleasant than with the old setup. Again, more detail was present. What was most striking to me was that the air around instruments, decay of notes, and ambiance of the music on the disk was dramatically enhanced. Norah Jones, Dianna Krall, Hiromi, natalie merchant, dire straits, classical...Jeez. Listening to these soundes much less like listening to something in "surround sound" and much more like being present in an authors creation of a sound field. Schubert and mozart sounded much more like being at a live event--again, the cohesiveness of the soundfield was amazing. Air and ambiance were simply fantastic. It sounded like a veil had been removed from the tweeter on the rear speakers.
Analog Music performance:
There is a special place in my heart for the sound of good quality vinyl played back through the focals. It almost seems like Focal voiced these speakers for use with good vinyl because the realism imparted by this combination needs to be experienced in order to be believed. I would strongly encourage all of you out there in focla land to buy an entry level turntable or borrowo one and play it through your existing system. The soundstage is perfectly 3 dimensional with pin point localization of instruments. What amazes me most is just how much you connect
with analog. WIth that said I did my listening with analog for comparison purposes with neo6 music mode.
Sarah Mclachlan's etherial performance on her 200gram Mirrorball
LP sounded angelic indeed. Norah Jones made me want to "take the long way home" with her on her feels like home
album. Metallica's black album was dark, punchy, and oozing with despair as it should be. Joni Mitchell brought me back in time.
Please, focal owners--find a way to audition analog through your speakers. You won't regret it. You may end up throuwing your digital source component on the auction block! Well, maybe not, Nonethleless, digital is always an approximation of the real thing while vinyl gives you the real thing. It is simply easier to connect with music on this level.
I will say that comparing Metallica's black albom to the LP did reveal that teh digital source sounded brighter, whereas the analog source sounded "right."
This was pretty much my universal impression across formats and music types. Truly a veil seemed to be listed off the upper midrange and tweeter both with the rear surrounds but also with the center channel. Listening to multichannel dvd-a and sacd the sound was extraordinarily detailed, cohesive, airy with an excellent soundstage. At times depending on the recording it did seemed like the presence region was tilted up a bit. On the good side this did improve the presentation of detail but at times there was a sense that they coming across as tilted up a bit. This came across clearly when comparing the metallica lp compared to the dvd-a. Again., the LP sounded right whereas the guitars sounded like they had the treble pumped up 2-3db.
While focals are legendary for detail what I was most amazed by was the cohesiveness of the sound field. These attributes provided a significantly improved sense of realism and took the "surround sound" notion and transformed it into something much more realistic. I frankly did not expect such a dramatic change but I am indeed grateful. Whether listening to 2 channel, processed multichannel analog, digital source material, the change to the matching focal setup from the polks made a huge difference for the better, which was not entirely anticipated.
I was indeed surprised by how much of a difference these speakers mads in my system. I did expect a change for the better but I was no t prepared for how much more realistic the soudstage would be or how much more detail there would be in the speaker upgrades.
Having seen how much difference they have made in my setup I would strongly recommend that anyone who is able to step up to a whole matched focal system. You won't be disappointed.