The Focal Chora range of speakers offers plenty of home cinema options, with dedicated centre and surround models, but it’s the 826-D floorstander that will pique the interest to anyone looking to build an immersive audio system. What makes the 826-D unusual is the Dolby Atmos-certified upward-firing full-range driver built into the top, adding a vertical dimension to the soundstage and bringing object-based immersion to any multichannel installation.
The Focal Chora speakers deliver subtle musicality, combined with a dynamic and expansive front soundstage. The big floorstanders creates plenty of dispersion and width, while the centre speaker provides clear and focused dialogue. The use of identical tweeters and woofers across the entire range also ensures a pleasing tonal balance from speaker to speaker.
This system reveals all the high frequency detail in a recording, while simultaneously working as a single cohesive unit, giving music a fantastically energetic presence. The surrounds play their part, ensuring complete envelopment, while the floorstanders and subwoofer combine to produce an impressive foundation of deep but responsive bass.
The upward-firing drivers prove very capable at creating the illusion of overhead channels, but the effectiveness will depend on the type of ceiling. The lower, flatter and more reflective, the better. While this technology is a compromise, it’s considerably less intrusive than cutting holes in your ceiling, and the built-in nature of the upward-firing driver in the 826-D is an elegant solution.
The climatic showdown in John Wick: Chapter 3 is a perfect demonstration of this system’s abilities: bullets ricochet around the room with exacting precision, the upward-firing drivers give the hotel lobby a sense of space, and the sub gives every shotgun blast a seismic thump. The enthusiastic delivery of this system is sure to put a smile on the face of any fan of action movies.
The sense of space and detail can diminish slightly at lower volumes, so for the best results crank it up. The 5.1.2-channel system is also sound a bit front-heavy, but if you have the budget, a second pair of 826-Ds on surround duties would add overhead channels at the rear and further balance out the overall bass response – resulting in an awesome 5.1.4-channel setup.
The Focal Chora 826-D sports plenty of Gallic flair, with a design that’s clearly been influenced by the company’s high-end Kanta range. A bolt-on plinth provides solid support, tilting the speaker for improved time alignment, and there’s a choice of light wood, dark wood or black finishes, with black fabric magnetic grilles.
The rest of the Chora line-up is composed of the non-Atmos 826 and 816 floorstanders, along with the 806 bookshelf speaker. For home cinema fans there’s the dedicated CC800 centre speaker with its own base for tilting, and SR800 surround speaker, with a slim cabinet designed for wall mounting using an included bracket.
The speakers in the Chora range are all based around a 1in aluminium/magnesium (Al/Mg) inverted-dome tweeters, 6.5in Slatefiber midrange drivers, and 6.5in Slatefiber woofers. In case you’re wondering, Slatefiber combines thermoplastic polymers and recycled non-woven carbon fibres, for increased rigidity and lightness (it also doubles as a bullet-proof vest).
The Dolby Atmos speaker is a 13cm full-range driver composed of a Slatefiber cone and Al/Mg tweeter. This is housed in a directional baffle that fires sounds upwards, bouncing them off the ceiling and down at the listener – creating the illusion of overhead channels. While this approach is effective, it is limited to the mid-range and higher frequencies because bass doesn’t bounce.
This particular 5.1.2-channel system comprises a pair of 826-Ds, a CC800, and a pair of SR800s. While the floorstanders deliver a decent bass response, a Focal SUB 1000F is required for the heavy lifting at the low-end. This sealed unit uses a forward-firing 12in woofer and 1000W of amplification to generate a deep and powerful low-end presence.
La La Land
This romantic tale of aspiring actors and musicians in Hollywood boasts a jazzy score full of catchy numbers, and the Focal Chora speakers deliver them all with a lightness of touch that’s infectious, effortlessly recreating the film's frenetic energy and bubbly sensibility.
John Wick: Chapter 3
This action-packed Dolby Atmos soundtrack provides plenty of opportunity for the Focal Chora 826-Ds to generate some lovely overhead effects, while the extensive gunplay is given added bass impact through the combination of the two floorstanders and the subwoofer.
Zombieland: Double Tap
This IMAX Enhanced DTS:X soundtrack amps up this action-comedy’s undead antics with liberal use of low frequency effects. The Focal Chora system renders the object-based audio with precision, while the muscular subwoofer digs deep to produce tight and controlled bass.
The Focal Chora speakers may sit lower down the brand’s range, but they retain the style, superior build quality, and outstanding performance expected of the French manufacturer. They combine a clean delivery with exceptional tonal balance, producing a seamless blend of overhead effects and enveloping soundstage. The result is an accomplished immersive audio speaker and subwoofer system that will elevate any home cinema.