The Focal Aria 906 K2 is a 2-way bass-reflex bookshelf speaker that is based on the excellent Focal Aria 906 speaker but whose Flax cone driver has been replaced by a new generation Focal K2 Power driver.
Made in France and available for €1,490 per pair, according to the manufacturer the Focal Aria 906 K2 speaker offers “mid-bass that reveals sonic precision, energy and great power handling” as well as “silky highs”. We hurriedly installed them in our test room to see if this was true.
Focal Aria 906 K2: packaging & accessories
The Focal Aria 906 K2 speakers come in a single box inside of which they are protected by polystyrene inserts and each wrapped in their own fabric cover. A pair of magnetic fabric grilles is also included.
Focal Aria 906 K2: presentation
The Focal Aria K2 speaker range uses the French manufacturer’s iconic K2 driver equipped with a bright yellow aramid fiber cone which was first revealed in 1986. This cone ideally combines the three essential qualities for a driver: rigidity, lightness and excellent damping.
Made entirely in France, the Focal Aria 906 K2 bookshelf speaker is equipped with the brand-new version of this driver made of an ultra-light foam core sandwiched between a layer of aramid fibers and a layer of fiberglass. The Focal Aria 906 K2 speaker can be used for both stereo hi-fi listening and in a home theater installation, as a front or surround speaker.
Focal Aria 906 K2: design
The Focal Aria 906 K2 speaker is understated and elegant. Its sides feature the high-end Ash Grey finish (lacquer), taken from the Focal Utopia range, without any other color choice. The front, bottom and back of the speaker are covered with an appealing leather effect finish. The top of the speaker is adorned with a plate of black glass which gives it an additional hint of refinement.
The fabric grille completely covers the speaker’s front panel, including the bass-reflex port. Once attached, the yellow Kevlar cone driver and metallic tweeter are hidden and the speaker looks much more discreet.
Focal Aria 906 K2: acoustic design
The Focal Aria 906 K2 bookshelf speaker is a two-way bass-reflex model equipped with a 6.5” K2 cone midbass driver. The latter is accompanied by a 1” TNF tweeter with an inverted dome made of an aluminum and magnesium alloy (Al/Mg), shared by the “standard” Focal Aria 900 speaker range.
Recognizable thanks to its yellow color, the Focal K2 aramid fiber – also known as Kevlar – cone was first revealed by Focal in 1986 and has continuously evolved over the years to equip some of the brand’s best speakers. Entirely manufactured in France, it combines the three essential qualities of a good driver: rigidity, lightness and excellent damping. The Focal Aria 906 K2 bookshelf speaker features the latest iteration of this driver, whose cone is made of an ultra-light foam core sandwiched in between a layer of aramid fibers and a layer of glass fibers.
According to Focal, this driver ensures great clarity and precision, all without coloration, regardless of the type of music.
As with the Focal Aria 900 speakers, the central phase plug of the midbass driver is conical in shape to eliminate turbulence and limit distortion in the very sensitive midrange.
The Focal Aria 906 K2 bookshelf speaker features an inverted aluminum and magnesium dome TNF tweeter to reproduce high frequencies over 2.8kHz. It is equipped with a suspension made of Poron, a memory foam microcellular polyurethane that drastically reduces distortion between 2000 and 3000Hz, a frequency range to which the human ear is extremely sensitive.
To optimize the spatialization and improve the very low directivity of the inverted dome, Focal’s engineers have developed a waveguide (the tweeter’s elliptical housing) made of matte black urethane that ensures a horizontal dispersion of high frequencies, guaranteeing an exceptionally consistent soundstage.
Focal Aria 906 K2: key specifications
- K2 aramid fiber midbass driver (6.5”)
- TNF Al/Mg inverted dome tweeter (1”)
- Crossover frequency: 2,800Hz
- Bass-reflex enclosure (front-firing port)
- Sensitivity (2.83V/1m): 89.5 dB
- Frequency response (±3 dB): 55Hz – 28kHz
- Low frequency cut-off (-6dB): 47Hz
- Nominal impedance: 8 ohms
- Recommended amplifier power: 30 to 120W
Focal Aria 906 K2: listening conditions
We connected the Focal Aria 906 K2 speakers to the Roksan Attessa BluOS connected amplifier (22×80 watts/8 ohms) with QED XT40i speaker cables mounted with banana plugs. We were able to listen to digital music via the Qobuz and Deezer online streaming services.
We also connected the optical output of a TCL 65C825 mini LED television to one of the amplifier’s two optical inputs to test these speakers in a stereo home theater setup. The amplifier was plugged into one of the Taga Harmony PF2000 power strip’s direct sockets, while the TV was connected to one of the filtered sockets.
Following the manufacturer’s recommendations, we placed the speakers about 2.5 meters from the listening position on a pair of NorStone Stylum 3 speaker stands. They were placed at about 2.6 meters from one another on either side of the TV and toed-in slightly towards the listening position in a 25m² room (listening area of approximately 12m²).
We first tried a few CD-quality and Hi-res Audio tracks on Qobuz before switching to Disney+ to test the performance of these speakers with a couple of movies.
Focal Aria 906 K2: listening impressions
We began our test by listening to the soundtrack from the movie Birdman. With the track “Dirty Talk”, we appreciated the clarity of the cymbal hits: the highs were aerial, direct and perfectly transparent. On “Schizo”, the Focal Aria 906 K2 provided great impact: the hits on the bass and tom drums were energetic and perfectly paced. The nuances in the drummer’s performance were excellently rendered, allowing us to appreciate his impressive playing. The spatialization was remarkable, the various drums were precisely positioned and occupied the entire breadth of the soundstage, the bass drum dominating the center and the cymbals ideally placed on both sides, vertically. We simply had to close our eyes to visualize the artist and his instrument right in front of us.
With Deep Purple’s new album, the energy of the British group was palpable. Oh Well carried us away from the very first notes: in between two a capella verses by Ian Gillan, we enjoyed the soaring guitars punctuated by drums and a bass guitar that were full of vitality. Same thing on the following tracks: the sound was tidy, well defined and perfectly controlled. Even at high volume, the speaker handled the watts without becoming unbalanced, preserving the coherence and dynamism of the track, encouraging us to turn the volume up…
In home theater mode, the Focal Aria 906 K2 speakers reproduced movie soundtracks with authority and clarity. During the prison escape scene in Guardians of the Galaxy, they expressed themselves with great efficiency: despite the simple stereo configuration, the many drones shooting at Groot and Rocket were realistically spatialized.
With Peter Jackson’s King Kong, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves during the scene in which the gorilla and several hungry tyrannosaurus rex clash. Despite the absence of a subwoofer, the impact of each hit was pronounced and the raucous cries of the giant ape had substance.
After listening to the speakers for several hours, we could only praise the work of Focal’s engineers, who have created a lively, balanced and versatile bookshelf speaker with the Focal Aria 906 K2. The soundstage was wide, high and deep. The stereo effects were pronounced, even outside the axis of the speakers. The TNF tweeter was beautifully bright while providing clarity and softness to the highs, effectively illuminating the sound without generating any fatigue. The mids and lows benefited from the liveliness of the K2 cone, which ensured that the former were expertly expressed and had a certain sense of nuance, while the latter were tight and impactful.
Focal Aria 906 K2: compared to…
Focal Aria 906 K2 vs KEF LS50 Meta
Available for €1,299, the KEF LS50 Meta speakers have won many awards. Precise, natural and transparent, they demonstrate a great liveliness and provide a wide and spacious soundstage, with a multitude of micro details brought to the listeners’ attention. However, they are not as good as the Focal Aria 906 K2, which are more generous and impactful in the lows with their larger K2 driver (6.5” compared to 5” for the KEF speaker). The Focal speakers are just as precise as the KEFs in the high frequencies, resulting in a more balanced and no less energetic listening experience. The three dimensional soundstage is also one of the French speaker’s many strengths.
Focal Aria 906 K2 vs B&W 706 S2
Sold for €1,590, the B&W 706 S2 speakers are more generous in the lows and offer more substance in the mids thanks to the Continuum driver, unbeatable in this frequency range. Extremely precise and detailed, the Nautilus tweeter is more directional than the French speaker’s TNF tweeter, requiring careful placement of the 706 S2 to benefit from an optimal spatialization of the soundstage. The Aria 906 K2 offers more flexibility in this respect. In terms of finish, the French speaker is more elegant and refined in our opinion.
Focal Aria 906 K2 vs Focal Aria 906
Sold at half the price of the K2 version, the original Focal Aria 906 speaker equipped with the Flax cone is a little softer to listen to with a midrange that is more velvety and has a little more substance. Both speakers have a very convincing bass response, but the Focal Aria 906 K2 seems a little more reactive and impactful in this register. It is as if the K2 cone has given this speaker a little more vitality and drive in the lows.
Focal Aria 906 K2: who are they for?
The Focal Aria 906 K2s allow you to enjoy music and movie or video game soundtracks in excellent conditions. They will impress those looking for a pair of bookshelf speakers to listen to music with nice amplitude, impact and substance. They will also please all those who wish to equip their home theater with a pair of energetic speakers, as front and/or surround speakers. They can be combined with the Focal Aria 936 K2 floorstanding speakers and the Focal Aria CC K2 center speaker, and ideally with the Focal Sub 1000F subwoofer to enjoy punchy lows.
Focal Aria 906 K2: conclusion
The Focal Aria 906 K2 speakers benefit greatly from the new Focal K2 cone which gives them an undeniable authority in the low end of the spectrum as well as great vitality in the midrange. The bass is impactful yet nuanced, the midrange well embodied, the highs precise and crisp. The sound is beautifully balanced with no coloration whatsoever. Spatialization is the main strength of this speaker, with its impressive three-dimensional soundstage. The Focal Aria 906 K2 speaker is comfortable in all frequency ranges and will easily express itself in a room of 20 to 30m² (or even a little more), together with an amplifier delivering at least 50 to 60 watts of power per channel.
Visually, it is a shame that the finish is limited to the Ash Grey color, even though it is particularly appealing. Lastly, one may wonder if this finish inherited from the Utopia range and the new K2 driver warrants the price difference with the Flax driver version of this speaker, whose acoustic qualities are pretty similar (read our review of the Focal Aria 906 speaker).
- The vitality of the K2 cone
- The bright TNF tweeter
- The remarkable 3D spatialization
- The overall balance
We would have liked
- For the price to have been lower
- More color choices