Focal Aria 926 – Ownership Impressions

Easy EMI Options at HiFiMART.com

fLUX

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2012
Messages
1,267
Points
113
Location
Bangalore
Focal Aria 926 – Impressions



Introduction

I started my journey as an audiophile with interest towards exploring various alternatives somewhere back in 2010 with headphones & IEMs. I was into the same world till 2020 barring a few HtiB setups (Polk TL1600/Phase Cinemicro) and multimedia active 2.1 setups. Just before the major lockdown happened, while I was on lookout for a projector I stumbled upon bookshelfs in this very beloved forum. While I do not have the experience with speakers for as many years many esteemed forum members have , have had exposure to good amount of various sound signature in the portable side but this jump into Bookshelfs got me totally spellbound by the stereo presentation. One thing led to another and I was in the hunt for Floorstanders for a 15 by 11 room and after numerous auditions ended up with a Focal Aria 926 despite knowing I did not necessarily have the chain to drive them (had X4500H AVR and a Crown xls1502) .

The other options considered during purchase were KEF Q950, XTZ Spirit 11, XTZ 95.44 , Qacoustics 3050i , Focal Chora 826 , Klipsch RPM and RP series of floorstanders , Polk RTI A7, Sonodyne and SVS Prime & Ultra. Short impressions on this link https://www.hifivision.com/threads/ht-upgrade-recommendations.80392/post-897024





Specifications


Details of the specs in depth can be obtained online but here is a link for quick access
https://www.crutchfield.com/S-FUU4sRpEvbA/p_091A926BPL/Focal-Aria-926-High-Gloss-Black.html

Though these are rated at 8 ohms @91.5 DB these are not the easiest to drive , these have dips to 2.6 ohms below the 500hz region and you may find bass to be weak if you do not get a good power amp to drive these. A good power amp is needed to drive these to their potential.



Outer Packaging & Build Quality

The packaging these arrived were really underpar. The outer box was a cardboard box which had become very flimsy after surviving some transportation through a rainy season and I was honestly worried about the contents. Upon opening the box the fears were put to rest as there is very good packaging via thermocol cutouts holding them tightly , but still does not give you the feeling of something premium being inside (in contrary the XTZ Spirit 11 packaging was so good that even if you knocked the box multiple times nothing would happen inside).

The accessories which come with the speakers are a good lot with an allen screw, base plate to mount the speakers on & spikes for the base plate in a single package. The magnetic grills are packed in a separate packaging and finally the manuals come packed with a velvety cloth to clean the speaker. The assembling of the above feels quiet satisfactory with the process being quiet straight forward and each component being quiet sturdy. I had an issue with one of the magnetic grills which was promptly replaced by the distributor via the dealer.

The speakers are not very heavy and can be moved around if needed for few feet forward and backward as needed and has a good grip to hold on too.

0NQc19c.jpg

3G1B9DM.jpg

xEZEa2j.jpg


Impressions

While I got the speakers they were intended to be used for both stereo and HT alike. The out of the box setup was via the X4500H connected to the Crown XLS 1502. They sounded fairly good but not like how they sounded when I demoed them (which was again with a Yamaha RN803 but that sounded better than the above pairing).

As further acquisitions I got hold of the below chain eventually after a brief stint with the PM8006 which was certainly far better than the X4500H but one thing led to another which resulted in the below chain eventually
Source – Paradigm PW Link + Denafrip Ares II / Denon X4500H / Pro-ject Carbon Debut
Preamp - Schiit Saga+ (with RCA tube) + Nelson Pass Class A dual mono ACP preamp
Power - Indiq Saptak 4-ch dual monoblocks
Cables – Interconnects (Belden 8402) and Speaker cable (Mogami 2804)


Performance – Movies

Combined with the Focal CC900 , these are very difficult to beat as a HT unit. I used to be a huge movie buff , but with time limitations and need for something to relax end of the day have turned more towards music than movies/tv series alike. However I have watched a fair bit of movies on this setup and my previous QAcoustics Concept 20 + 3090i setup and can say that as far as the center speaker is concerned this is a clear cut improvement over the 3090i with much clearer and crisper dialogues, very dynamic sound for scenes needing the same and has never failed to deliver for any kind of movies. The Front L/R being the Focal Aria 926 also do a very job in keeping up with center wherever needed and you have a very coherent experience when the music/dialogues move left to right.



Performance – Music

This was the primary reason the speakers were chosen for else would have probably settled for something at a lower price range. During the audition this speaker connected very well for different kinds of music I auditioned and wowed me on the way it handled the top range.

The Aria 926 go easily till about 35 hz (although rated till 39 hz) and provide clean and tight bass. During the initial 20-30 hours bass is missing by a good margin and you start doubting the bass capabilities of these as floorstanders. After that they open up fairly well, around 30+ hours bass started to show itself but felt it really opens up post a good period of time (not sure how much but certainly felt it was 150+). I subjectively felt the cables influence this aspect and have settled with a Mogami 2804 having tried Terminator MIT cables and Belden 8477 in the past (8477 is a better match and most vfm cable for this system). As of today, there is nothing lacking with the bass being in great quantity and is very clean, tight and punchy. It took a fair amount of time to open up and I believe have opened up fully in the recent months. I think the amount of bass being offered should be enough for a small to medium sized room , for rooms my size you will need to do some amount of room treatment to treat the bass via bass traps.

The vocals in Focal Aria 926 are not too laidback or forward. Using a R2R DAC the mids sound lush & intimate, there is a good body to the mids (even more so while using a TT) which feels like the singer is actually present in the room. While these might not be the best speaker out there for older Bollywood recordings (specially the badly mastered digital recordings) they do not sound harsh with the same and nail it perfectly for renditions from A.R Rahman, Arijit Singh and post 90s Bollywood numbers. My favorite speakers amongst one I listened till date for vocal based numbers are the Dynaudio M20/Achal and these come very close to them when considering such tracks alone.

The highs in Focal Aria 926 is what makes them stand apart from the rest of the crowd. I am fairly sensitive to treble and have always found myself preferring sources/transducers leaning towards the warmer sound. But in the journey I have noticed is that lot of equipment’s in quest of warmer sound, they roll off and smoothen out the highs to extremes. The Aria 926 for me are the definition of the subtlety of not being bright but at the same time being at its sparkly best wherever needed. There are no second thoughts about these having the best highs amongst all the speakers I auditioned, guitar sequences from “Keith Don’t Go” , the guitar sequences combined with vocals on “No Sanctuary Here” , drum sequences from “Chase” Indian ocean all sound so natural and exquisite. The highs are what made me fall in love with Aria 926 on first listen and continue providing the same level of excitement while listening to them.

The soundstage is very holographic and the chain also has a good deal to contribute on this aspect. I am a huge advocate of getting separates if one is really looking to achieve a particular signature with desired resolution levels as it allows you to experiment and this has contributed a huge deal in getting a very holographic soundstage which is very wide and deep, instrument clarity and placement is as good as I have heard across any setup (sure there would be far better) and stereo imaging is quite good.

All these aspects combined the Focal Aria 926 do make up for a very good all round system which can be enjoyed across majority of music genres but do really well in classic rock, pop, rap music , post 90s Bollywood and Sufi. These perform really well for old Bollywood numbers too on a TT setup but on a digital setup the Platinum Achal/Dynaudio M20 seem to be better suited.

If one would ask me to list out something which I feel could be improved on these I would say that some might find the lows to be a little less in quantity but are presently adequate for me. Mids are not the best in class but come very close to being best in class and the musicality makes up for this aspect. Overall these are worth their weight at a price of under 2L, if am paying beyond 2L I would like to factor in the Revel & KEF R series too which unfortunately I could not do a demo off. Also do factor in the cost of a good IA/chain of separates you will need to spend on to get these to sing while budgeting for these speakers.
 

DB1989

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2020
Messages
1,147
Points
113
Location
New Delhi
Focal Aria 926 – Impressions



Introduction

I started my journey as an audiophile with interest towards exploring various alternatives somewhere back in 2010 with headphones & IEMs. I was into the same world till 2020 barring a few HtiB setups (Polk TL1600/Phase Cinemicro) and multimedia active 2.1 setups. Just before the major lockdown happened, while I was on lookout for a projector I stumbled upon bookshelfs in this very beloved forum. While I do not have the experience with speakers for as many years many esteemed forum members have , have had exposure to good amount of various sound signature in the portable side but this jump into Bookshelfs got me totally spellbound by the stereo presentation. One thing led to another and I was in the hunt for Floorstanders for a 15 by 11 room and after numerous auditions ended up with a Focal Aria 926 despite knowing I did not necessarily have the chain to drive them (had X4500H AVR and a Crown xls1502) .

The other options considered during purchase were KEF Q950, XTZ Spirit 11, XTZ 95.44 , Qacoustics 3050i , Focal Chora 826 , Klipsch RPM and RP series of floorstanders , Polk RTI A7, Sonodyne and SVS Prime & Ultra. Short impressions on this link https://www.hifivision.com/threads/ht-upgrade-recommendations.80392/post-897024





Specifications


Details of the specs in depth can be obtained online but here is a link for quick access
https://www.crutchfield.com/S-FUU4sRpEvbA/p_091A926BPL/Focal-Aria-926-High-Gloss-Black.html

Though these are rated at 8 ohms @91.5 DB these are not the easiest to drive , these have dips to 2.6 ohms below the 500hz region and you may find bass to be weak if you do not get a good power amp to drive these. A good power amp is needed to drive these to their potential.



Outer Packaging & Build Quality

The packaging these arrived were really underpar. The outer box was a cardboard box which had become very flimsy after surviving some transportation through a rainy season and I was honestly worried about the contents. Upon opening the box the fears were put to rest as there is very good packaging via thermocol cutouts holding them tightly , but still does not give you the feeling of something premium being inside (in contrary the XTZ Spirit 11 packaging was so good that even if you knocked the box multiple times nothing would happen inside).

The accessories which come with the speakers are a good lot with an allen screw, base plate to mount the speakers on & spikes for the base plate in a single package. The magnetic grills are packed in a separate packaging and finally the manuals come packed with a velvety cloth to clean the speaker. The assembling of the above feels quiet satisfactory with the process being quiet straight forward and each component being quiet sturdy. I had an issue with one of the magnetic grills which was promptly replaced by the distributor via the dealer.

The speakers are not very heavy and can be moved around if needed for few feet forward and backward as needed and has a good grip to hold on too.

0NQc19c.jpg

3G1B9DM.jpg

xEZEa2j.jpg


Impressions

While I got the speakers they were intended to be used for both stereo and HT alike. The out of the box setup was via the X4500H connected to the Crown XLS 1502. They sounded fairly good but not like how they sounded when I demoed them (which was again with a Yamaha RN803 but that sounded better than the above pairing).

As further acquisitions I got hold of the below chain eventually after a brief stint with the PM8006 which was certainly far better than the X4500H but one thing led to another which resulted in the below chain eventually
Source – Paradigm PW Link + Denafrip Ares II / Denon X4500H / Pro-ject Carbon Debut
Preamp - Schiit Saga+ (with RCA tube) + Nelson Pass Class A dual mono ACP preamp
Power - Indiq Saptak 4-ch dual monoblocks
Cables – Interconnects (Belden 8402) and Speaker cable (Mogami 2804)


Performance – Movies

Combined with the Focal CC900 , these are very difficult to beat as a HT unit. I used to be a huge movie buff , but with time limitations and need for something to relax end of the day have turned more towards music than movies/tv series alike. However I have watched a fair bit of movies on this setup and my previous QAcoustics Concept 20 + 3090i setup and can say that as far as the center speaker is concerned this is a clear cut improvement over the 3090i with much clearer and crisper dialogues, very dynamic sound for scenes needing the same and has never failed to deliver for any kind of movies. The Front L/R being the Focal Aria 926 also do a very job in keeping up with center wherever needed and you have a very coherent experience when the music/dialogues move left to right.



Performance – Music

This was the primary reason the speakers were chosen for else would have probably settled for something at a lower price range. During the audition this speaker connected very well for different kinds of music I auditioned and wowed me on the way it handled the top range.

The Aria 926 go easily till about 35 hz (although rated till 39 hz) and provide clean and tight bass. During the initial 20-30 hours bass is missing by a good margin and you start doubting the bass capabilities of these as floorstanders. After that they open up fairly well, around 30+ hours bass started to show itself but felt it really opens up post a good period of time (not sure how much but certainly felt it was 150+). I subjectively felt the cables influence this aspect and have settled with a Mogami 2804 having tried Terminator MIT cables and Belden 8477 in the past (8477 is a better match and most vfm cable for this system). As of today, there is nothing lacking with the bass being in great quantity and is very clean, tight and punchy. It took a fair amount of time to open up and I believe have opened up fully in the recent months. I think the amount of bass being offered should be enough for a small to medium sized room , for rooms my size you will need to do some amount of room treatment to treat the bass via bass traps.

The vocals in Focal Aria 926 are not too laidback or forward. Using a R2R DAC the mids sound lush & intimate, there is a good body to the mids (even more so while using a TT) which feels like the singer is actually present in the room. While these might not be the best speaker out there for older Bollywood recordings (specially the badly mastered digital recordings) they do not sound harsh with the same and nail it perfectly for renditions from A.R Rahman, Arijit Singh and post 90s Bollywood numbers. My favorite speakers amongst one I listened till date for vocal based numbers are the Dynaudio M20/Achal and these come very close to them when considering such tracks alone.

The highs in Focal Aria 926 is what makes them stand apart from the rest of the crowd. I am fairly sensitive to treble and have always found myself preferring sources/transducers leaning towards the warmer sound. But in the journey I have noticed is that lot of equipment’s in quest of warmer sound, they roll off and smoothen out the highs to extremes. The Aria 926 for me are the definition of the subtlety of not being bright but at the same time being at its sparkly best wherever needed. There are no second thoughts about these having the best highs amongst all the speakers I auditioned, guitar sequences from “Keith Don’t Go” , the guitar sequences combined with vocals on “No Sanctuary Here” , drum sequences from “Chase” Indian ocean all sound so natural and exquisite. The highs are what made me fall in love with Aria 926 on first listen and continue providing the same level of excitement while listening to them.

The soundstage is very holographic and the chain also has a good deal to contribute on this aspect. I am a huge advocate of getting separates if one is really looking to achieve a particular signature with desired resolution levels as it allows you to experiment and this has contributed a huge deal in getting a very holographic soundstage which is very wide and deep, instrument clarity and placement is as good as I have heard across any setup (sure there would be far better) and stereo imaging is quite good.

All these aspects combined the Focal Aria 926 do make up for a very good all round system which can be enjoyed across majority of music genres but do really well in classic rock, pop, rap music , post 90s Bollywood and Sufi. These perform really well for old Bollywood numbers too on a TT setup but on a digital setup the Platinum Achal/Dynaudio M20 seem to be better suited.

If one would ask me to list out something which I feel could be improved on these I would say that some might find the lows to be a little less in quantity but are presently adequate for me. Mids are not the best in class but come very close to being best in class and the musicality makes up for this aspect. Overall these are worth their weight at a price of under 2L, if am paying beyond 2L I would like to factor in the Revel & KEF R series too which unfortunately I could not do a demo off. Also do factor in the cost of a good IA/chain of separates you will need to spend on to get these to sing while budgeting for these speakers.
Now I'm having non buyers remorse :(
 

rsjaurr

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Messages
381
Points
63
Location
Gurdaspur
Congratulations on your new setup.
Focal aria will be my first in the list of probable speakers for my HT setup if and ever that happens.

Edit - What was your purchase price?
 
Last edited:

fLUX

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2012
Messages
1,267
Points
113
Location
Bangalore
Congrats on your purchase, they look great in Gloss Black..
Congratulations on your new setup.
Focal aria will be my first in the list of probable speakers for my HT setup if and ever that happens.

Edit - What was your purchase price?
Thanks , had purchased them last September. I was quoted 1.85L as discounted price and was given a bulk discount on my purchases (had got XTZ 12.17 Edge sub , SVS SB4000 & a XTZ Spirit 11). The discounts in recent time seems to be way lesser for Focal from what I have heard.
 

rsjaurr

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Messages
381
Points
63
Location
Gurdaspur
Thanks , had purchased them last September. I was quoted 1.85L as discounted price and was given a bulk discount on my purchases (had got XTZ 12.17 Edge sub , SVS SB4000 & a XTZ Spirit 11). The discounts in recent time seems to be way lesser for Focal from what I have heard.
That price was only for front L&R and not including CC?
 

sachin.shiva

Active Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2014
Messages
257
Points
43
@ flux
I am having Focal 714 ,tempting toward focal aria ummm. Thanks for review. In case if you are upgrading to focal higher chain let me know, I will buy those Focal aria 926 .:).After pandemic is over looking forward to visit ur setup ,of course after vaccination and with all protocols ,if u allow.
Thanks for review again.
 

fLUX

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2012
Messages
1,267
Points
113
Location
Bangalore
@ flux
I am having Focal 714 ,tempting toward focal aria ummm. Thanks for review. In case if you are upgrading to focal higher chain let me know, I will buy those Focal aria 926 .:).After pandemic is over looking forward to visit ur setup ,of course after vaccination and with all protocols ,if u allow.
Thanks for review again.

Haha sure, i dont have any plans for upgrading from Focal Aria 926 (but then i never had the plan to buy them a year back either :p) . Sure, hoping the situation diffuses down sooner rather than later and all of us can do what we love the most, gather for listening sessions :)
 

fLUX

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2012
Messages
1,267
Points
113
Location
Bangalore
I see no subs in your stereo rig.... just saying ;)

I got dual xtz 12.17 hooked up via a minidsp to the AVR, thinking of a way to use the 2nd input in the minidsp to hook it up to the preamp and set it up accordingly & can then switch the minidsp input based on stereo/avr.
Another alternative is to integrate them with the fronts such that the AVR runs as no sub and treats the front L/R as full rangers but this will need to be well integrated giving a good amount of time to that exercise
 

DB1989

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2020
Messages
1,147
Points
113
Location
New Delhi
I got dual xtz 12.17 hooked up via a minidsp to the AVR, thinking of a way to use the 2nd input in the minidsp to hook it up to the preamp and set it up accordingly & can then switch the minidsp input based on stereo/avr.
Another alternative is to integrate them with the fronts such that the AVR runs as no sub and treats the front L/R as full rangers but this will need to be well integrated giving a good amount of time to that exercise
Try using your high level inputs directly run from the amps speaker terminals. That's how I used my sub with my AVR also while listening to music before i got the CXA81. Coincidentally, i was doing an A/B (i know, i do a lot of those) today using a subwoofer cable Vs high level and the latter Audibly integrates better.
 

fLUX

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2012
Messages
1,267
Points
113
Location
Bangalore
Try using your high level inputs directly run from the amps speaker terminals. That's how I used my sub with my AVR also while listening to music before i got the CXA81. Coincidentally, i was doing an A/B (i know, i do a lot of those) today using a subwoofer cable Vs high level and the latter Audibly integrates better.
The XTZ do not support high level inputs unfortunately and only via xlr/rca cable.
 

drkrack

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2016
Messages
1,393
Points
113
Location
Hyderabad
Very Good Review @fLUX ..
To the amount of Gears you have, how soon can we expect a dedicated hifi YouTube channel? ;)

Regarding Focal 926 Speakers, I owned these for Stereo for almost 18 months (I still have them) , at a near 50% discount during sale period it was a no brainer to pick them against the competition. They're one of the very finest speakers which excel in most of the music genre. They're quite transparent and reveal the deficiency in upstream electronics. They go pretty loud without distortion.
I agree with findings of @fLUX one more thing to improve or nitpicking is, the vertical dispersion or Soundstage is bit limited (height of the Soundstage). That I realized after listening to the B&W 804 d3, but again they're totally in a different bracket altogether.

One of the important Upgrades I found was changing the default spikes to isoacoustics Gaia 3s, which tightened the bass resolution, improved the mid range clarity and overall SQ. Do try using isoacoustics Gaia 3s if available, in fact isoacoustics uses focal 926 for demo videos.
Finally, Focals 926 are gateway of upgrading from master of All types of mainstream speakers, to more serious audiophile speakers which bring terrific hifi experience and resolution .
 
Last edited:
Top