Focal-JMLab Aria 948 Floor standing speakers

Focal began the work upon Aria series literally from scratch, because the company not only changed construction of the body, but also designed new drivers. The most important direction of the researches is the creation of diffusers with improved sound characteristics. Ideally it must be lightweight, hard and acoustically neutral in order not to bring extraneous sounds in. In the course of experiments it was found out that multilayered diffusers have the most acceptable combination of these properties. As a result, Focal engineers created such materials like Polyglass and very expensive in production "W" composite. Three years ago the search of new structure began, which would allow to make well-sounding LF and MF drivers at lower cost. In early 2013 the company patented a sandwich with "F" symbol, the basis of which was a flax fiber. Due to porosity and unique cell structure it leaves behind many famous materials by mass to strength ratio and damping coefficient. To protect against atmospheric moisture and to increase rigidity the fabric is covered with a micron layer of glass, and a result a unique material is obtained.

High (115 cm) body with non-parallel side walls is slightly raised above the cast aluminum base. The bass-reflex port is placed into this gap so there is the best possible load for two LF-drivers with 21-mm Flax diffusers and elastic suspensions, designed for big amplitude displacement. The declared lower border of the working range is like in an impressive sub - 31 Hz. The second port is at the bottom in front; it was required in order to reduce the speed of air flow and accompanying turbulent side-tones at high level. According to our measurements, the purpose was achieved. Midrange driver has the diffuser made of the same material but with slightly smaller caliber, 15,5 cm, and with a phase-leveling body in the center.

At the top of the front panel there is an inch tweeter Focal TNF with a dome made of aluminum-magnesium alloy. The dome is a bit sunk into an elliptical flange, forming a waveguide, which levels the frequency response in the upper range. The bands are divided into 280 and 2600 Hz, bi-wiring in crossovers is not provided.

The thickness of the body in most critical places reaches 2,5 cm, side walls are non-parallel and slightly rounded in front. They are glued with vinyl, imitating nut veneer, and the faceplate is finished with artificial leather with a large relief. Grills (acoustically transparent fabric at a convex plastic frame) are fixed on magnets. Spikes, on which you can put plastic caps on if necessary, are screwed into an aluminum platform.

For full reproduction of bass these giants need big volume, otherwise standing waves are inevitable even at low volume. And it is the volume not square, as the height of ceilings is of paramount importance. And when I wrote about Focal Aria 926, "Bass character is moderate, without attempts to boil an ocean and extremely accurate", in this case the first impressions can be formulated much shorter: bass depth seems to be neutral and at the same time it is extremely accurate. It is a mystery for me how the French engineers managed to expand working range down almost without increasing inertia of moving system. Bass is fast and legible so that even the lowest notes do not seem to be heavy or monotonous. The loudspeaker demonstrates the most powerful energetic potential. And despite of high sensitivity it will not be possible cut corners on amplifier. Focal Area 948 are extremely demanding to current, and if they do not get it, they can show simultaneously impressive monumentality and the comfort of sound. This is a consequence of small nonlinear distortions, the absence of body's side-tones and consistency of work of all four drivers.

I have already spoken about TNF tweeter - this is perhaps the most striking feature of new series of Focal. They differ by excellent transparency and liveliness, complete lack of veil and ability to accurately focus imaginary sources in HF-range.

If you ignore the particulars and begin to perceive sound picture as a single whole (it is easy in this case), you can note almost the same property as in the younger models - detailing of Focal Aria 948 combines with more impressive dynamics and sound stage of the increased scale. The imaginary sources, at the same time, do not swell and on the contrary, are withstood with correct proportions. And already in half an hour after listening you involuntarily relax, stop thinking in details and start to listen to music, even that which you know by heart.

Focal-JMLab Aria 948 Floor standing speakers photo