Focal Chorus 726 HCM review: French home theater speakers that combine dynamism and precision

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The Focal Chorus 726 HCM home theater speakers pack includes a pair of Focal Chorus 726 floorstanding speakers, a Focal Chorus CC700 center speaker and a pair of Focal Chorus 706 compact speakers used as surround speakers. These speakers, which are designed and manufactured in France, feature tried and tested technologies developed by Focal’s engineers. In particular, they use Polyglass cone midrange drivers and woofers as well as an aluminum-magnesium inverted dome tweeter.

The Focal Chorus 726 HCM speaker pack is made to provide an impressive home theater and musical experience.

Described by the manufacturer as being traditional speakers that are both powerful and affordable, these speakers from the Focal Chorus 7000 range are designed to offer a full and generous sound combining dynamism and precision.

Does this €1090 Focal Chorus 726 HCM home theater speaker pack live up to these promises?

Focal Chorus 726 HCM: the brand

The Focal-JMLab company was founded in 1979 in Saint-Étienne by the engineer and hi-fi journalist Jacques Mahul. Right from the very beginning, Focal stood out as an innovative company and, as a result, quickly became an icon of the French hi-fi industry with a global reputation. In particular, Focal proudly designs its own drivers thanks to modern and efficient production machinery.

A look at the Focal driver production line.

Since its inception, Focal has always invested a great deal in research and development. As a result, Focal engineers designed the first inverted dome and fiberglass cone tweeter in 1981. The manufacturer has tested and introduced many new materials for its high-frequency drivers, including the Beryllium used for the tweeters of Focal Utopia speakers.

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The Focal Scala Utopia’s tweeter features a Beryllium dome.

The French manufacturer’s midbass drivers have also been the subject of multiple innovations. In the mid-80s, the brand created a Polykevlar sandwich cone called Poly-K. It was made up of two layers of aramid fibres placed on either side of a hollow micro-ball structure. This design optimizes the cone’s weight/rigidity/damping ratio, and provides excellent driver responsiveness.

The K2 sandwich cone was first released in 1986 and used polykevlar. It was featured on both JMLab speakers and Focal Car Audio loudspeakers. The yellow aramid fiber cone became a symbol of Focal speakers during this period. Recently redesigned, the new K2 cone now has an ultra-light foam core in between a layer of aramid fibers and a  layer of fiberglass. Despite these changes, it still retains the characteristics that made the original model a success.

In 1988, these sandwich cones benefitted from a major innovation: Focal Polyglass. This technology consists in applying delicate glass microbeads to a cellulose pulp cone, combining the excellent damping properties of paper with the strength of glass.

The Polyglass cone drivers that are used on loudspeakers such as the Focal Chorus 726 are a  signature of the Saint-Étienne company.

In addition to the speakers from the Focal Chorus 726 HCM pack, Polyglass cones can be found on the Focal Alpha monitoring and studio speakers, certain Focal in-wall/in-ceiling speakers (100 Series) and many models of Focal car loudspeakers.

In 2015, Focal made its mark once more with the Focal Aria speaker range. The drivers in this series were the first to use the Flax cone, a sandwich cone featuring a thin layer of linen in between two layers of fiberglass. With a naturally hollow structure, linen fibers combine neutrality and lightness; their low elasticity and high rigidity are similar to that of carbon and Kevlar.

In 2019, the Focal Chora speakers were released. These models are meant to replace the Focal Chorus speakers and are equipped with a new cone called Slatefiber.

Focal Chorus 726 HCM: packaging & accessories

Inside their cardboard box, the speakers in the Focal Chorus 726 HCM pack are protected by polystyrene blocks. Each speaker comes with a grille that is attached using tabs. With the Focal Chorus 726 speakers, the manufacturer includes a set of decoupling spikes with locking nuts for height adjustment, as well as spike covers.

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The height of the Focal Chorus 726 floorstanding speakers’ decoupling spikes can be calibrated by adjusting the position of the locking nut. Plastic covers that can be screwed onto the spikes are provided for fragile floor surfaces (wood, tiles, resin…).

Focal Chorus 726 HCM: presentation

Made in France

Like all the speakers from the Focal Chorus 700 range, the speakers in the Focal Chorus 726 HCM speaker pack are designed and manufactured in France inside the company’s workshops, from the drivers to the cabinet. Focal is devoted to keeping as much of its production as possible on its own premises, which ensures total independence in developing and designing its speakers and headphones.

The speakers from the Focal Chorus 700 series are designed and made in France.

Equipped with unique industrial tools, Focal is able to create specific drivers for each of its speaker ranges. In doing so, it retains total control over the manufacturing process, right up to the final quality control checks.

A design that benefits the sound

Designed by the Pineau & Le Porcher design agency, the speakers in the Focal Chorus 726 HCM pack have exchanged the sharp angles and hard lines of the previous Chorus ranges for a softer, more refined silhouette. The fundamental elements remain the same however, with an ultra-rigid MDF enclosure that reduces vibration and resonance. All the Focal speakers in this pack have panels that are up to 25mm-thick in places and benefit from internal supports through which the cables run.

The speakers in the Focal Chorus 700 range benefit from internal supports, as can be seen in this cross-sectional diagram of  the Focal Chorus 726 floorstanding speaker.

The non-parallel sides also help to limit the circulation of internal waves.

The left and right panels of the Focal Chorus 700 speakers (here the Focal Chorus 726 floorstanding speaker) are curved.

Lastly, to optimize the speaker’s decoupling and improve the sound in the lows, decoupling spikes can be added to the base of the Focal Chorus 726 floorstanding speakers.

Polyglass cone

This cross-sectional view of a Focal Polyglass cone reveals the glass microbeads that cover the cellulose pulp cone.

The speakers in the Focal Chorus 726 HCM pack all feature woofers and/or midbass drivers with Polyglass cones. This exclusive Focal technology provides the cone with an optimal weight/rigidity/damping ratio, which in turn offers a remarkably linear response curve. Moreover, the Focal Polyglass cone provides excellent definition in the midrange and contributes to the responsiveness and dynamism of the lows.

An exploded view of the Polyglass midbass driver that equips the Focal Chorus 726, Focal Chorus 706 and Focal Chorus CC700 speakers.

TNV2 tweeter

The speakers in the Focal Chorus 726 HCM pack are equipped with the TNV2 tweeter. The tweeter consists of an inverted aluminum and magnesium alloy dome mounted on a Poron surround, directly derived from the very high-end speakers of the Focal Utopia line. Poron is an extremely light type of memory foam. This not only prevents the surround from collapsing and wearing out over time, but also helps reduce distortion and improve the linearity of the frequency curve.

The Focal Chorus 726 floorstanding speaker’s TNV2 tweeter is protected by a metal acoustic grille.

The TNV2 tweeter’s sound is characterized by its precision. It offers exceptional harmonic richness and makes the soundstage more stable and precise.

OPC (Optimum Phase Crossover) filter

The function of the crossover is to distribute the electrical signal sent by the amplifier to the speaker’s different drivers (woofer, midrange, tweeter). The most critical area in filtering this signal is between the mids and highs. A low-pass filter cuts off the response in the upper midrange. A high-pass filter cuts off the response in the tweeter’s lower frequencies.

With OPC technology, Focal has managed to achieve an effective attenuation of 36dB/oct. for the midrange low-pass filter and the tweeter’s high-pass filter, while maintaining a perfectly aligned phase. This results in a sound that is extremely coherent with natural timbres due to the narrow overlap area of the two drivers. In addition, the soundstage is very precise and benefits from exceptional amplitude, providing consistent spatialization across a large listening area.

Focal Chorus 726

On either side of the TV-Video unit are the two Focal Chorus 726 floorstanding speakers.

Design

  • 3-way floorstanding speaker, bass-reflex enclosure
  • Aerodynamic port
  • Ultra-rigid MDF structure
  • Non-parallel left and right panels

Drivers

  • 2 x 6½” Polyglass woofers
  • 1 x 6½” Polyglass midrange driver
  • 1 x 1” TNV2 Al/Mg inverted dome tweeter
  • OPC (Optimum Phase Crossover) filter
  • Crossover frequency: 300Hz/3000Hz

Measurements

  • Frequency response (+/- 3dB): 49Hz – 28kHz
  • Frequency at -6dB: 39Hz
  • Sensitivity (2.83V/1m): 91.5dB
  • Nominal impedance: 8 ohms
  • Minimum impedance: 2.9 ohms
  • Recommended amplifier power: 40 – 250W

General

  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 222 x 990 x 343mm
  • Unit weight: 23.5kg

Focal Chorus CC700

The Focal Chorus CC700 center speaker features two 6½” Polyglass cone drivers and a TNV2 tweeter.

Design

  • 2-way center speaker, closed enclosure
  • Shielded cabinet in ultra-rigid MDF

Drivers

  • 2 x 6½” Polyglass midbass drivers
  • 1 x 1” TNV2 Al/Mg inverted dome tweeter
  • OPC (Optimum Phase Crossover) filter
  • Crossover frequency: 3000Hz

Measurements

  • Frequency response (+/- 3dB): 61Hz – 28kHz
  • Frequency at -6dB: 52Hz
  • Sensitivity (2.83V/1m): 91dB
  • Nominal impedance: 8 ohms
  • Minimum impedance: 5.2 ohms
  • Recommended amplifier power: 25 – 200W

General

  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 491 x 185 x 195mm
  • Weight: 7.5kg

Focal Chorus 706

The Focal Chorus 706 compact speaker (used as a surround speaker here) features a 6½” Polyglass midbass driver and a TNV2 tweeter. The flared front-firing port improves the speaker’s frequency response in the lows.

Design

  • 2-way compact speaker, bass-reflex enclosure
  • Aerodynamic port
  • Ultra-rigid MDF structure
  • Non-parallel left and right panels

Drivers

  • 1 x 6½” Polyglass midbass driver
  • 1 x 1” TNV2 Al/Mg inverted dome tweeter
  • OPC (Optimum Phase Crossover) filter
  • Crossover frequency: 3000Hz

Measurements

  • Frequency response (+/- 3dB): 55Hz – 28kHz
  • Frequency at -6dB: 47Hz
  • Sensitivity (2.83V/1m): 90dB
  • Nominal impedance: 8 ohms
  • Minimum impedance: 53.6 ohms
  • Recommended amplifier power: 25 – 120W

General

  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 220 x 390 x 263mm
  • Weight: 8.2kg

Focal Chorus 726 HCM: listening conditions

With this Focal Chorus 726 HCM home theater speaker pack, we were able to enjoy all the energy of the Mad Max: Fury Road soundtrack.

For our review of the Focal Chorus 726 HCM home theater speaker pack, we used the Onkyo TX-RZ840 A/V receiver and the Pioneer UDP-LX500 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player. We connected the receiver to the speakers using NorStone W250 Classic (floorstanding and center speaker) and NorStone B250 cables (compact models used as “surround” speakers).

The Focal Chorus 726 floorstanding speaker’s sturdy terminals paired with NorStone W250 speaker cable.

The Focal Chorus 706 speakers were placed on NorStone Stylum 2 stands so that they were at the ideal height.

Placed on NorStone Stylum 2 stands, the Focal Chorus 706 compact speakers were used as surround speakers.

We connected the Pioneer UDP-LX500 4K UHD Blu-ray player to the receiver’s HDMI-1 input, and the receiver’s HDMI Main/ARC output was connected to a 65” (164cm) LG OLED TV using NorStone Jura HDMI cables. The WiFi connection to our local network was handled by the satellite of our Netgear Orbi RBK50 pack.

The HDMI connections between the receiver, the Blu-ray player and the OLED TV were done using NorStone Jura HDMI cables.

We tested the Focal Chorus 726 HCM home theater speaker pack by itself before adding the REL Acoustics T9i subwoofer.

Once all the connections were set up, we chose not to run the automatic speaker calibration and carried out the basic distance and level adjustments available in the receiver’s settings menu.

Focal Chorus 726 HCM: listening impressions

Mad Max: Fury Road (4K Blu-ray)

The Onkyo TX-RZ840 receiver’s control over the often energetic soundtrack of George Miller’s movie quickly revealed the qualities of the speakers in the Focal Chorus 726 HCM home theater pack.

The responsiveness of the Polyglass cones was expertly harnessed: explosions were flawlessly controlled and credible, the engine noises of the vehicles racing across the screen were perfectly localized and very realistic.

During the chase scene through the labyrinth of corridors in the Citadel, we felt all the intensity and dramatic tension as Max tried to escape his captors. The haunting voices unfolded extensively and resonated throughout the room, accentuating the danger of the situation and the anguish felt by the hero. We were just as out of breath and stressed as he was!

Precise and detailed, the TNV tweeter was equally as impressive and proved to be very effective at reproducing the metallic sound of crashing vehicles during the chase scenes. The almost imperceptible sound of the sand was also very accurately reproduced. After the sandstorm in the desert, the sounds effects of Max awakening with his face buried in the sand and then suddenly sitting up were particularly realistic.

The dialogues were faithfully reproduced by the Focal Chorus CC700 speaker, which wasn’t eclipsed by all the sound effects and engine noises. The dialogues were well-articulated and the actors’ voices clearly perceptible.

It was a near perfect performance, other than a slight lack of depth and density in the lows. As the Focal Chorus 726 speakers were very reactive and provided a generally satisfactory response in this frequency range, it wasn’t frustrating to listen to the soundtrack without a subwoofer. That said, we welcomed the magnitude, depth and density provided by the Rel Acoustics T9i subwoofer, especially since this movie uses a lot of infrabass.

The Revenant (Netflix 4K)

The opening scene of this movie by Iñárritu isn’t quite as frenetic as that of Mad Max, but we were still able to appreciate the precision and smoothness of the TNV2 tweeter/Polyglass midrange driver pairing. During the hunting scene, the sounds of the river were particularly realistic and helped immerse the viewers. It was almost as if we were standing next to the actors.

Later on in the movie when the Native Americans attacked the camp, the Focal speakers were able to reproduce the sound of the arrows flying past and the crack of the gunshots with incredible accuracy. The spatialization was particularly precise when the camera shifted from one character to another and the sound effects swirled around the room in a very realistic way. We were captivated and overwhelmed by the tension and violence of the attack taking place on the screen.

Hans Zimmer: Live in Prague (HD Blu-ray)

With the Blu-ray of the composer’s concert in Prague, the Focal Chorus 726 HCM speaker pack demonstrated its musical qualities. Fast and precise, the drivers responded instantly to the receiver’s every input. Whether it was with the notes of the keyboards, the guitar and string chords, or the choir, the sound didn’t lack energy or weight. When the composer spoke, his voice stood out clearly thanks to the Focal Chorus CC700 center speaker.

Focal Chorus 726 HCM: compared to…

Elipson Prestige Facet HCM 14F System 5.0: consisting of the Elipson Prestige Facet 14F floorstanding speaker, the Elipson Prestige Facet 6B compact speaker and the Elipson Prestige Facet 11C center speaker, this home theater speaker pack provides slightly rounder and deeper lows than the Focal pack, with more density and substance in this frequency range, but isn’t as responsive. The Focal speaker pack does better in the highs with more energy and precision thanks to the Al-Mg tweeter. Combined with the highly responsive Polyglass drivers, this pack provides a clearer sound in the mids and highs, which are beautifully textured and detailed. A little drier than those of the Elipson speakers, the lows have great impact and, above all, excellent reactivity. Adding a subwoofer, even a moderately powerful model, to this Focal speaker pack will increase its strength for an even more energetic and intense experience.

Focal Chorus 726 HCM: conclusion

Sold for little over €1000, the Focal Chorus 726 HCM home theater speaker pack is an excellent option for a mid-range installation. Designed and manufactured in France, these speakers use tried and tested technologies developed by Focal. The combination of the Polyglass cones of the midrange drivers and woofers and the aluminum-magnesium inverted dome tweeter provides a dynamic and precise sound, with a lot of “substance” and flawlessly consistent frequencies. These speakers are ideal if you wish to enjoy a realistic home theater experience in optimal conditions while staying on budget.

Pretty easy to drive thanks to their relatively high sensitivity, the speakers in the Focal Chorus 726 HCM pack will provide even more enjoyment when used with an amplifier delivering 50 watts or more per channel. The addition of a subwoofer, even a somewhat modest model like the Focal Cub Evo for example, will offer even more impact and excitement with action movies.

What we liked

  • The responsiveness in the lows and mids
  • The smoothness and precision of the highs
  • The rich and detailed sound
  • The perfectly coherent soundstage

What we would have liked

  • More powerful bass


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