Review: Focal Aria 905

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Test Focal Aria 905

This week we tested the Focal Aria 905 compact loudspeakers, the latest addition to the Focal Aria 900 range.

Focal Aria 905: presentation

The brand’s addition of a number of innovative white models to their product line gave us the opportunity to listen to the relatively small Focal Aria 905, newcomer to Focal’s Aria range. Its big sister, the Focal Aria 906, knew how to charm us with its relaxing sound and quickly became one of our favorite bookshelf models.

Test Focal Aria 905

The Focal Aria 905 is a 2-way model with a circular, front-firing bass-reflex port. A keyhole slot on the upper part of the cabinet?s back panel allows for wall mounting if desired. The Focal Aria 905 can even be installed ? why not ? on a bookshelf, thanks to its compact size (33 cm high, 24 cm deep). With its front, bottom and back panels sporting a leather finish, this loudspeaker knows how to make a remarkable first impression.

Test Focal Aria 905
The loudspeaker?s side panels have a matte white finish, while its top panel is composed of black tempered glass stamped with the Focal logo.
Test Focal Aria 905
The cabinet?s base panel also has a fine leather finish. As the Focal Aria 905 has no feet, the leather serves to keep it securely positioned on any surface.
Test Focal Aria 905
A plastic grill, covered with black acoustic cloth and held in place with magnets, protects the cabinet?s front panel.

Focal Aria 905: drivers and filter

The Focal Aria 905 has two transducers: a 5-inch flax cone driver and a 1-inch aluminum/magnesium alloy inverted dome tweeter. The bass driver is relatively similar to the 6.5? model which can be found on the Focal Aria 906, Aria 926 and Aria 936 . However, its half-roll surround seems more flexible, and its flax cone is left in its untreated, natural state (the cone on the Aria 906 is coated with a varnish).

Test Focal Aria 905
Focal’s use of flax enhances the cone?s damping capacities, an absolute must for reducing distortion.

This driver is fitted within a bass-reflex enclosure. Focal claims a response in the low register down to 60 Hz (-3 dB) and even 52 Hz (-6 dB), which is in line with what can be expected from any driver of this size mounted on a flexible surround within an enclosure of similar dimensions. The flax cone is composed of composite and natural linen, grown and processed in France by Focal. Linen provides several key advantages, including an excellent natural damping capacity and minimal sound coloration. Linen fiber is also as inflexible as carbon and nearly as rigid as Kevlar.

Test Focal Aria 905
The circular bass-reflex port is positioned beneath the flax driver.

The tweeter, one of Focal’s famous aluminum/magnesium inverted models with a frequency response up to 28 kHz, is similar to that of Focal’s Chorus range. The brand has nonetheless opted for one important modification’

Specifically, the dome is mounted on a Poren surround with damping qualities ? inherited from the Utopia range ? which reduces distortion by 50% between 2 to 4 kHz, a frequency range to which the ear is very sensitive.

As a result, the Aria 905?s tweeter can cover relatively deep mids, down to 2,5 kHz to be exact, without becoming tiresome for the listener.

Test Focal Aria 905
Focal’s aluminum/magnesium inverted tweeter dome is the loudspeaker?s centerpiece.

The Focal Aria 905’s frequency response ranges from 60 Hz to 28 kHz (+/- 3 dB), for a sensitivity of 89 dB (for 1 W at 1 m). Its nominal impedance is 8 Ohms at 1 kHz, with an impedance of 4 Ohms in the higher frequencies of the low register?which is a common trait of bass-reflex enclosures. Given its technical characteristics, the Aria 905 can be combined with any amplifier able to supply at least 20 Watts of power.

Focal Aria 905

Focal Aria 905: test conditions

We listened to the Focal Aria 905 with Hegel H80 and NuPrime IDA-8 amplifiers as well as with the Denon DRA-100 network stereo receiver, and we used Audioquest Rocket 88 and Viard Audio Premium HD HP cables. Our source was a Raspberry Pi 2 with Volumio in DLNA streaming mode connected to the Hegel H80 and NuPrime IDA-8 amplifiers via USB. For the Denon DRA-100, we used a smartphone and a computer to listen to HD and CD-quality FLAC files in DLNA streaming mode.

Test Focal Aria 905
The screw terminals are padded with rubber, making them much easier to handle. No need to break a sweat in order to obtain a secure fit.

Focal Aria 905: listening impressions

The Aria 905 offers the same tonal balance as that of the 906?namely, restrained and convincing lows. The low-mediums are very rich, which contributes to the characteristic sound shared by all models in Focal’s Aria range. The bass driver takes charge of mids up to 2 kHz with plenty of clarity and detail (articulated brass sections and richly detailed string instruments, extremely enjoyable on such tracks as Muddy Waters? ?My Home is in the Delta?). The tweeter?s delivery of the high-medium and treble registers is smooth and delicate with a slight accent which colors the sound from time to time. Above all, the Aria 905 is characterized by a ?soft? sound signature which aims to please and is incredibly easy to listen to. Meanwhile, it can deliver a thunderous performance as a home cinema speaker, with an impressive amount of punch in the lows considering the model’s compact dimensions. The Focal Aria 905 is yet another example of the brand’s commitment to impeccable craftsmanship.

test-focal-aria905-06

Focal Aria 905: conclusions

What we liked

  • The smoothness of the highs
  • The rich low-mids
  • The ?soft? sound signature
  • The refined tonal balance
  • The high-quality craftsmanship

What we would have liked

  • A slightly more exuberant performance with modest amplifiers

The Focal Aria 905 is very similar to the 906, from which it inherits many of its qualities. Soft, full-flavored and capable of delivering voices in a very convincing way, this loudspeaker can be both delicate or powerful as needed. A perfect fit for those looking for a dependable bookshelf model which provides a lively listening experience, especially in the high medium and treble registers. We recommend pairing the Focal Aria 905 up with a powerful amplifier in order to optimize its performance at low volume.

Test Focal Aria 905

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