Focal Chora 806 bookshelf speaker review: A taste of high-end audio

French audio maker Focal is one of the storied brands in high-end audio. The company’s products range from loudspeakers costing upwards of $200,000, to headphones, and automotive audio speakers. Focal’s Chora 806 bookshelf speakers ($990 per pair) is part of Focal’s latest speaker lineup that looks to merge modern styling with more down-to-earth prices.

To that end, the company is joining its sibling brand—Naim Audio—to offer a series of bundle deals from November 1 to December 31, 2020 (while supplies last). Buy the Chora 806 together with a Naim Uniti Atom integrated amplifier for $3,290 and you’ll also get a 4-meter pair of Naim’s NAC A5 speaker cables and an extended warranty for five years. That’s like getting the speakers, the cables, and the extended warranty for free.

Superb Fit and finish

The Chora 806 bookshelf speaker is part of the Chora family that includes two tower speaker models, a surround speaker, a center channel, and a subwoofer. The Chora line targets two-channel purists as well as audiophiles looking for full-blown home theater setups.

Theo Nicolakis/IDG

A detail view of the Chora’s exquisite veneer finish.

Unpacking the Chora 806, I couldn’t help but notice their solid build quality and styling. The Chora’s satin finish wood-grain veneer is superb. The Chora 806 comes in three finishes to suit your tastes and decor: Light wood (a maple-like finish), dark wood (a walnut-like finish), and black. My review sample came in dark wood. The baffle’s color varies with each veneer.

On my dark-wood review sample, the speaker’s slightly glossy, slate-colored front baffle stands out as a prominent feature. You’d better love the baffle color because unlike most loudspeakers, the Chora 806 grille doesn’t cover the baffle. Instead, Focal takes a different design aesthetic with the Chora 806.

The inverted dome tweeter sits behind an exposed, perforated metal cover and the front-firing port is visible at all times. Only the 6.5-inch driver gets a magnetic grille. The look a conversation starter that puts visitors on notice that you’re armed with a high-performance loudspeaker you’re itching to show off.

The circular magnetic grille is finicky, however; it must be exactly dialed in to grab the baffle. In order to get the grille to sit properly, I had to rotate it like a steering wheel until I felt the magnets align.

The Chora 806 is a two-way design. Focal uses beryllium—arguably the best tweeter material available today—on its flagship speakers. But that element is very expensive to work with, so Focal opted for a more economical aluminum/magnesium tweeter in the Chora 806. The driver is a Slatefiber cone. Slatefiber is a composite of recycled, non-woven carbon fibers and thermoplastic polymer. Focal says its the first audio brand to use recycled carbon fibers in drivers, and that the combination of these two materials results in excellent acoustic performance as well as rigidity and damping.

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