Dali vs MA vs Focal - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 15 Old 07-13-2015, 04:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Dali vs MA vs Focal

Hi everyone,

I'm upgrading an old setup based on a Sony STR-K670P. I have a dedicated room in the basement with an Epson tw6600w. Room is ~6mx4, projected image is ~2.9mx1.7. Main usage would be HT (70-80%), and some music (20-30%, classic, blues, pop).

After several demos in stores, I've narrowed down my choice to:
- Dali: Ikon 6 (or 7), Ikon Vokal 2, Zensor 1 (or Icon 1) and Ikon Sub
- Monitor Audio: Silver 8, Silver Centre, Silver FX, Silver W12 Subwoofer
- Focal: Aria 926, CC 900 centre , SR 900, Sub 300P (or 500P)

I like all three, issue is that I could not try them all in the same room at the same time. Also I could not listen to them powered by my Denon X4100W, thus it's a bit hard to make a final decision. Of course I'll get a demo of my final choice to bring home to validate it, but I'm trying to avoid carrying all three home and back to the stores Any thoughts on how those 3 options compare, in particular when driven by my Denon?

Additional bonus questions are:
- any input on the sub choice (i.e., is any of the three better that I could bring to the chosen config even if not same brand?). Would it make any sense to get two subs instead of a more powerful one (e.g., 2x Sub 300P instead of 1x Sub 500P, or 2x ASW608 instead of Ikon Sub)?
- if I want to move to 7.1, would it make any sense to use 2 of the old Sony speakers for it?

Thanks in advance for your wise advice!

G.
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post #2 of 15 Old 07-13-2015, 09:21 AM
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I owned the Dali Ikon 6's last year, and thought they were great.
Was used for a music stereo 2.0 setup, and had plenty of power and good quality. I heard they were introducing a new line instead of ikon, but I might be wrong.

I think the consensus around here is to go for 2 or more subs, instead of one powerful.
Perhaps something other than the Ikon subs would be better, theres a lot of recommended subs in the subwoofer forum, from some of the ID companies.
I think you will get the best bang for the buck going for some of the internet direct companies for a sub.

Im sure you could use your old sony speakers for back channels in your 7.1, and upgrade along the line if needed.
My experience is that for pure movies it is not as critical with a bit of mix'n'match, when its not the front 3.

Last edited by Superfrg; 07-13-2015 at 09:29 AM.
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post #3 of 15 Old 07-13-2015, 09:42 AM
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I would research subs separate and get 2x.

Not familiar with MA or Ikons. but Focals sound pretty sweet to my ears on music like steely dan or pink floyd

Power: Marantz sr7008, NAD C 275Bee x 2, Video: Oppo 103, Samsung 75un6300
Speakers: Focal aria 948, Focal cc900, Klipsch synergy KSF 10.5, Magnepan LRS
Subs: Rythmik FV25HP, Rythmik FV15HP
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post #4 of 15 Old 07-13-2015, 10:38 AM
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As someone who mixes and masters audio for film, I always suggest going with speakers known for their accuracy or speaker brands used for mixing and mastering in recording studios. Of the 3 brands you are looking at, only Focal (to my knowledge) has any foothold in the music / movie mastering world.

You probably haven't heard any local demos, but you might also check out JBL. Over 80% of all movie soundtracks are mastered on JBL speaker systems, and about half of all music recordings. I know that the Focals are well regarded in the pro world. This way you have a better chance of hearing what the engineer heard when mixing the recording. Of course, personal preference plays a factor as well; I just know for me I want the most accurate representation of the original recording as possible.

Generally speaking, two subs are usually better than one in cancelling out room modes and delivering you the SPL you want.

As Superfrg mentioned, you really want to make sure speakers are matched with your LCRs. For 7.1 surrounds, it's not quite as critical, but ultimately you want to match the speakers all around as closely as possible.

Unless one of these speakers represents some kind of bizarre load to the amplifier section, your Denon should work just fine. Years and years of blind testing has convinced me that one receiver sounds pretty much like another unless the manufacturer made some particularly bad design choices. I've never found any validity to the idea that you need to match speaker to receiver / amp, except in some extreme circumstances involving some pretty esoteric speaker or amp designs

Good luck!

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JS Music and Sound Film Scoring and Sound Design
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post #5 of 15 Old 07-13-2015, 01:50 PM
 
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Quote:
I've never found any validity to the idea that you need to match speaker to receiver / amp, except in some extreme circumstances involving some pretty esoteric speaker or amp designs
I can pair up one of my amps with one of my speakers and you'll ask to turn it off. Change the amp, and it's much better.

Amps do sound different. If I change from Roksan Kandy K1 to a Arcam Alpha, the differences are obvious.
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post #6 of 15 Old 07-13-2015, 04:31 PM
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I can pair up one of my amps with one of my speakers and you'll ask to turn it off. Change the amp, and it's much better.

Amps do sound different. If I change from Roksan Kandy K1 to a Arcam Alpha, the differences are obvious.
Of course I can't speak to your personal experience, but during all the blind amp comparisons I have either participated in or conducted, as soon as you made sure volumes were matched and the tests were blinded, audible differences disappeared. And of course no one has tested every single amp / speaker combo possible, so no absolute claims can be made.

Getting into a subjectivist vs. objectivist debate is probably not helpful to the original poster, so I'll just leave it at that.

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post #7 of 15 Old 07-14-2015, 02:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Superfrg View Post
I owned the Dali Ikon 6's last year, and thought they were great.
Was used for a music stereo 2.0 setup, and had plenty of power and good quality. I heard they were introducing a new line instead of ikon, but I might be wrong.
You're abosultely right. They will be launching a future Ikon named Opticon on Aug 6. I'll be auditioning those in a few weeks. Though if they drop the price of the Ikon at the same time, this might make the balance tilt.
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post #8 of 15 Old 07-14-2015, 02:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by John Schuermann View Post
As someone who mixes and masters audio for film, I always suggest going with speakers known for their accuracy or speaker brands used for mixing and mastering in recording studios. Of the 3 brands you are looking at, only Focal (to my knowledge) has any foothold in the music / movie mastering world.

You probably haven't heard any local demos, but you might also check out JBL. Over 80% of all movie soundtracks are mastered on JBL speaker systems, and about half of all music recordings. I know that the Focals are well regarded in the pro world. This way you have a better chance of hearing what the engineer heard when mixing the recording. Of course, personal preference plays a factor as well; I just know for me I want the most accurate representation of the original recording as possible.
Thanks. An additional question as you are the expert Focal and others make a surround variant of their bookshelf for 5.1/7.1 systems, like the Aria SR 900. I know those are bipolar speakers, and they should make a more envelopping sound. Trade off is that thus they would be less directional. Are they really a positive evolution for HT, or just a marketing trick? If not, are there movies that are better on these vs the traditional bookshelf? Or is it just a matter of personnal preference?
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post #9 of 15 Old 07-14-2015, 02:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Superfrg View Post
Perhaps something other than the Ikon subs would be better, theres a lot of recommended subs in the subwoofer forum, from some of the ID companies.
I think you will get the best bang for the buck going for some of the internet direct companies for a sub.
Thing is that I live in Northen Europe, so the typical ID companies in US work through distributors here, so a lot of the benefit of pricing is lost. So they would need to really make better subs than Dali, Focal etc., to be competitive. I'll go through the subwoofer forum to look for options.
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post #10 of 15 Old 07-14-2015, 05:12 AM
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Yea I live in Europe too, so I know.

When I was looking for a sub, I read a lot of good stuff about Paradigm, REL and SVS.
I ended up with a higher series paradigm, which is practically overkill galore for my use - but I got a good price on it.

If possible try to get a home audition and play around with them.
Remember to do the Subwoofer crawl and all that jazz
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post #11 of 15 Old 07-14-2015, 05:20 AM
 
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Originally Posted by gtubert View Post
Thing is that I live in Northen Europe, so the typical ID companies in US work through distributors here, so a lot of the benefit of pricing is lost. So they would need to really make better subs than Dali, Focal etc., to be competitive. I'll go through the subwoofer forum to look for options.
Not really. Subs from Kef, B&W are pretty lower in quality than US ID subs. You're not getting a much as a bargain as US natives, but it's still better.
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post #12 of 15 Old 07-14-2015, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by gtubert View Post
Thanks. An additional question as you are the expert Focal and others make a surround variant of their bookshelf for 5.1/7.1 systems, like the Aria SR 900. I know those are bipolar speakers, and they should make a more envelopping sound. Trade off is that thus they would be less directional. Are they really a positive evolution for HT, or just a marketing trick? If not, are there movies that are better on these vs the traditional bookshelf? Or is it just a matter of personnal preference?
This is a question without a definitive answer. For most home theater systems, you want the surround speakers to be bipolar, as directional speakers make sitting in the sweet spot much more critical. Unless someone is sitting in the right position, they are likely to lose the surround effect.

If you have the space and money for several arrays of surround speakers, you can get around this by installing more surround speakers. I have seen large rooms with two or three pairs of side surround speakers (much like a commercial theater) to cover additional seating, but this is absolutely the exception rather than the rule. Like I said, unless you have the space and $$$ to put in extra rows of surrounds, you are better off with bipoles.

The downside of bipoles come if you ever plan on listening to SACD or DVD-Audio music recordings that are specifically mixed for surround. Those are mixed with directional speakers in mind. High end systems like JBL Synthesis allow you to configure the surround speakers so they are switchable between bipole and direct modes, so you can switch back and forth for music surround and music surround applications. Surround music recordings are (sadly) few and far between, so unless you are a big fan of mixed-for-surround music, again, bipole makes the most sense.

Good luck!

John Schuermann
The Screening Room Home Theater Sales and Design
JS Music and Sound Film Scoring and Sound Design
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post #13 of 15 Old 07-14-2015, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the detailed answer. My music listening is mostly from stereo sources, so I think the bipoles are the way to go.


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post #14 of 15 Old 07-14-2015, 11:59 AM
 
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Also it depends how close you are to side/surrounds. If you're pretty close I would recommend diffused speakers. I am about 4' so use bipoles for sides and rears. I've used dipoles on the sides as well.

There are also dipoles and tripoles, they are wired differently.
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post #15 of 15 Old 07-19-2015, 12:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks. Indeed I'm not far from side/rear. Further reinforced the bipole choice.


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