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Author Topic: Focal Twins Be  (Read 10114 times)

Glenn Bucci

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Focal Twins Be
« on: August 17, 2010, 11:20:53 am »

Focal Twin6 Be

Focal Professional is a French company that manufactures three lines of monitors that fall in different price categories: The high end SM 11, mid line SM 6, and their good but more affordable CMS line. Focal Professional has two factories in France with over 200 employees. One factory makes the beautiful cabinets and the other manufactures over 200,000 drivers a year. It is refreshing to see a company that manufactures in their country and do not send all their product to Southeast Asia for manufacturing. The Focal Twin 6 Be’s along with the smaller Solo 6 and Sub 6 are part of the SM6 line. This line is categorized as a reference analog series that was created for studios in search of monitors that reveal all information in the audio spectrum without any masking effect.

Focal’s has interesting designs in their monitors that make them quite special.
The first is their inverted dome tweeter. With the positive dome only being joined at its edge, the inverted dome allows it to be inactive beyond 16 kHz for a flexible surface. Its design also allows the response curve to be more linear.

Tweeters have been made of several materials over the years. They were first made of small paper cones like the midrange drivers and woofers. They then started to make them out of silk and thinly coating them with polymer. Aluminum is another material used for tweeters that has an atomic number 13 with a mass chart of 26.98. Titanium which is also used is number 21 with a mass chart of 47.86. Why the chemistry lesson you ask, well Beryllium’s a number is 4 with an atomic mass is 9.01. What this means is if you make a tweeter dome out of beryllium at the same thickness as an aluminum dome, it is going to be three times lighter in weight. That means less harmonic distortion since there is less inertia. The bad points about working with Beryllium are its expensive and toxic. However I was told it’s only dangerous if inhaled. So the Beryllium in the tweeters is safe unless they are torn or otherwise damaged. Focal put nice protective cover on the tweeters when shipped.

Focal uses BASH technology for the amplification. This technology is a patented high efficiency power amplifier circuit that takes the best of Class D and Class AB and created a new class of its own. The BASH amplifier has its load directly connect to a power amplifier. This gives an advantage in both linear frequency’s response and EMI performance. Their “W” cone design uses polyglass cones for the woofers. What they do is apply molten glass microballs on cellulose pulp cones. This process Focal claims is an excellent paper damping with glass rigidity that they claim exceeds a single skin of Kevlar and is almost ten times superior to one of polypropylene.

Type of monitor: The Focal Twin6 Be’s is an active monitor designed for near field or midfield applications. It has an attractive red veneered top and bottom panels, while the rest of the 19 mm MDF box is finished in black. The power LED is above the Focal logo. The bass loading has two ports at the sides of the baffles. I have to admit that these monitors look very appealing to the eye. I had several people comment on them without me bringing them to their attention. Each twin 6.5 drivers has its own 150 watt BASH amplifier, and the inverse tweeter that a 100 watt class AB amplifier. The SPL is 115db, which I found loud enough for most situations. Though the two drivers are identical, one handles 40Hz to 300 Hz, while the second driver handles the frequencies from 40 Hz to 2.5k. Even though they both handle the low end, they don’t share the low end equally. If the did, the mid/low woofer would not allow you to hear the wonderful mid range as they do. The frequency response on these monitors is from 40Hz – 40 kHz. Though we can’t hear frequency’s past 20 kHz, Focal and other company’s claim tweeters that go in the higher range affect the frequencies in our hearing range. Bu restricting the mid range to only one of the two drivers, it offers more midrange detail than many two-way systems. In addition by having smaller bass drivers (6.5” compared to 8” or 10”) the drivers can move faster than larger drivers for improved micro dynamic upper bass detail. All of the controls are on the rear panel, which includes the power switch, a knob to control the high frequency (5 kHz) and low frequency (150 Hz). Since their release, some mentioned a concern about the toggle switches in the back, which could get damaged in transit. Focal has since put a protective brackets on toggles to help protect them for impact. These controls are helpful to contour the sound to your taste. How much acoustic treatment in the room will also affect the sound of the monitors. There is also a switch that allows you to choose which woofer will handle the bass/mid. You need to make sure that both monitors choose the same woofer (either the inside or outside woofer). Each monitor weights 30lb so stable stands are needed.

I had the opportunity to compare them to my Tannoy Precision 8D’s, the Focal Solo 6’s, and JBL LSR6328’s. Before I tested these monitors, it was recommended by many for a 60 – 90 hours break in period. Without a long break in period, the tweeters could sound harsh many had said on the forums. What needs to settle in is the rubber suspension on the speakers. To help break them in, I opened up Cubase in my studio and created a loop of two songs that had good bass and high end. I then played the songs at a moderate level in my studio 60 hours.

In playing the Focals out of the box, the bass was tight and the tweeters sounded a little harsh. After 60 hours of non-stop playing, the bass sounded a little fuller, and the tweeters sounded a little smoother. When I heard the Focals, the Tannoy’s in comparison had a stronger forward mid range. I worked the Tannoy EQ settings and reduced the mid’s by a – 2db, and a little boost on the bass. Though I got them to improve in their sound, the depth of all the instruments was very similar. On the Focals’, the instruments were at different depth’s which allowed me to hear each instrument more clearly. The Focals gave a more 3 dimensional sound compared to my Tannoy’s and separation. The JBL’s had a solid full bass, and also had a forward and slightly more aggressive sound. Many like that aggressive sound, but it did not suit my taste. The Focal Solo’s had a surprising bass impact for their size. It sweet spot was smaller than the Twins or the Tannoy’s, but its definition was easy to work with, and it had the family Focal sound. The Solos have a denser sound compared to the Twins.

These monitors were found to be very quiet and only a little hiss. I also tried placing them vertical with the bass woofer on top. With this position, I found a more solid sound coming at me. In the horizontal position, the sound was more spread out, and more pleasing for my taste.

To really understand how well the monitors are, you need to listen to mixes you have done with them on several sources. I took one song I mixed on the Tannoy’s and then listened to the mix on the Focals. The Focals revealed the ride cymbal was a little harsh. I found with only 40 hours on the monitors, the harshness I heard was inaccurate on the different sources I played them back on. After another 20 hours, I found the tweeters to sound a little smoother. They revealed that the ride was a little too loud, and the the snare was a little too loud in the mix. The snare reverb was a little too dry and I increased it a tad. Next was the bass guitar. The Focals revealed too much low frequencies (below (80Hz) was being heard. By working with a HP filter on my Cambridge EQ, I was able to correct it while still having the oomph in the low end. In addition, the guitar sounded a little pointy. A little Waves Ren compressor with a ratio of 2.5 fixed that. I could of used my Portico compressor, but the plug in did what I needed and rather quickly.

The Focal Twins have proven to be very competent monitors. After having them in my studio and hearing the extra detail in my mixes, I decided the Focals Twins are staying in my studio. All the high praise it receives on the forums is warranted. Cons with the Twins; none that I can think of. Other monitors in this price category that you may want to also check out in the quality/price of the Twins are the PMC TB2S-AII, Event Opals, and Quested S8R Actives.
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Samc

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2010, 01:54:54 pm »

Glenn Bucci wrote on Tue, 17 August 2010 16:20


Focal Professional has two factories in France with over 200 employees. One factory makes the beautiful cabinets and the other manufactures over 200,000 drivers a year. It is refreshing to see a company that manufactures in their country and do not send all their product to Southeast Asia for manufacturing.

I live near the Focal/GM Lab headquarters in St. Etienne, France and I'm not so sure about this assertion, in fact I'm quiet certain that they produce a lot of components in China.
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Sam Clayton

Glenn Bucci

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2010, 02:12:28 pm »

Focal told me their car stereo, and the smaller CMS monitor was made in China. It's tweeter though is made in France. However the SM11, SM6, and larger CMS monitors are made in France.  My review was referring to the manufacturing of their studio monitors not other speakers they make.
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Samc

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2010, 06:31:14 pm »

Do you realize that their monitor line makes up a very small part of their production, with their car stereo line making up the biggest part by far?

They perform research, design and assemble a lot of stuff here in France but most of the heavy lifting is done in China where most of their cabinets are made, even for their high end loudspeakers.

This is a far cry from what was insinuated in your post.
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Sam Clayton

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2010, 08:41:19 pm »

If I may Wink

You are right about Professional monitors being a small % of our production. However, the largest division is HiFi, not Car Audio (HiFi is double the car audio and car audio is about double the Pro audio)

In the HiFi line, some of the lines are made in China but the vast majority is made in France. Some cabinets are made in Belgium though (for 2 models that require certain tooling to make round cabinets)

All the high-end cabinets are made in the Bourbon-Lancy cabinet factory.

Before you say things like "most of the heavy-lifting is done in China" check your sources Cool or come visit the factory.

Let me know if you want to know anything else!

Cheers!

Simon Cote
Focal Professional
North America

 
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Glenn Bucci

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2010, 09:40:53 pm »

I was not aware of the home audio speakers as much. Now I am interested in the Profile 918 or Electra 1027.

Here are the Twins in my studio.
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FocalPro

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2010, 07:47:11 am »

Glenn Bucci wrote on Tue, 17 August 2010 20:40

I was not aware of the home audio speakers as much. Now I am interested in the Profile 918 or Electra 1027.

Here are the Twins in my studio.


You know how to reach me!
Smile


Simon Cote
Focal Professional
North America
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Eric H.

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2010, 01:08:38 pm »

I was at a listening demos in a studio almost 5 years ago. I loved the SM6 line. Only listened to a few songs but it was amazingly well balanced, much better than any genelec, dyn or b&w i ever heard. Some Adams have that balance, but I don't remember which (maybe S3A).
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eric harizanos

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2010, 01:26:15 pm »

I just discovered the woofers in the KRK K-Roks I've been using at home for years were made by Focal.  They do sound good for an inexpensive monitor.

KB_S1

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2010, 02:55:19 pm »

I had an extended loan of a pair of Twin 6 BE monitors.
I loved them.
Found that I was able to get mix balances much quicker.
Pretty good for tracking drums too. Enough bass to hear what was happening low down and plenty of transient detail without harshness.

Lovely finish too.

Hopefully be able to get a pair soon.
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Samc

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2010, 07:24:30 am »

FocalPro wrote on Wed, 18 August 2010 01:41


Before you say things like "most of the heavy-lifting is done in China" check your sources Cool or come visit the factory.

We have established that your company does quiet a bit of manufacturing is China which is different from what was implied in the OP and that's enough but thanks for the offer.  
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Sam Clayton

bob ebeling

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2010, 05:55:29 am »

Sam Clayton has established that he has a vendetta out for Focal.

Focal Twin-6's RULE.

The new NS-10 by a landslide and that sounds horrible to say. What I mean is that what the NS-10 supposedly was, the Focal tuly is.

Focal Twin 6's are the most honest monitor ever, force you to work harder than any other monitor to get the magic happening, and reward you with incredible results that go beyond what you expect, pulling new heights out of your own mixing.

If you don't understand working hard to get a great mix then don't buy Focal monitors.  If you are confused by what you hear when you listen to Focals in a good room, chalk it up to your own inexperience.  

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Bob Ebeling
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Glenn Bucci

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2010, 10:35:10 pm »

I wanted to give you an update on the Twins. The bottom line is the monitors allow me to hear lower frequencies that my Tannoys Precision 8D's never did. The Precision are good monitors in their price range, but they don't compare to the Focal Twins. I am able to control the low end on instruments and 2 bus mixes that was not possible before. I have noticed an improvement when playing mixes on different sources as well. In addition the Twins separate the mid range instruments and voice so you can really focus on a particular track to better Eq or adjust reverb tails. My Tannoys allowed me to hear everything but the sound in the mid's was blended together. The highs sound a little smoother as well with the Twins. Again my mixes sound better with monitors that allow you to hear things with more detail for that fine tuning. I am very happy I moved up to the Focal Twins.  Very Happy
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bob ebeling

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2010, 12:29:40 am »

Absolutely 100% agree with Glenn.  The Twins are so good they showed me things about me ears that I didn't even know.
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Bob Ebeling
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tom eaton

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2010, 01:42:59 pm »

bob ebeling wrote on Tue, 24 August 2010 05:55

Focal Twin 6's are the most honest monitor ever, force you to work harder than any other monitor to get the magic happening, and reward you with incredible results that go beyond what you expect, pulling new heights out of your own mixing.


Bob-

Seriously?  You've used every monitor in production?

How many mastering engineers are using the Twin 6's?

The NS10s are, and were, exactly what they are... not sure what they were supposed to be.  They certainly have been usable tools for many of us for years and years.  

Anything anyone ever said about them being the ultimate monitor, or any such thing, is about as bizarre as your post above.

You might go back in your archives and find the impulse spectral decay tests that Resolution Magazine did in 2007 on the NS10s and a bunch of other monitors.  They found some interesting info when they tried to uncover what exactly people liked about the NS10 (and Auratone, too).  Pretty interesting stuff.

tom

maarvold

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2010, 05:06:20 pm »

bob ebeling wrote on Tue, 24 August 2010 02:55


Focal Twin 6's are the most honest monitor ever, force you to work harder than any other monitor to get the magic happening, and reward you with incredible results that go beyond what you expect, pulling new heights out of your own mixing.

If you don't understand working hard to get a great mix then don't buy Focal monitors.  If you are confused by what you hear when you listen to Focals in a good room, chalk it up to your own inexperience.  




I would paraphrase what I think Bob is driving at by saying that I want my monitors to give me correct information... most, or all, of the information... that will make the decisions I make be reflected when my mixes are played back in the outside world.  When you can hear your mix played back on a laptop, in the car, coming out of a phone as a client plays back the MP3 you just sent, in a theater, over a tv set, etc., and you say to yourself, "that's what I did" your monitors are doing their job.  
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Michael Aarvold
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tom eaton

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2010, 06:37:53 pm »

Michael, that's very different from saying that one particular monitor will perfectly suit every user in every room with every tendency.

The reason there are so many professionals using so many different kinds of monitors is that every person's room and preferences are different.  

Are you still using room correction, Michael?  Have you heard the Focals in question?

t

bob ebeling

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2010, 08:36:42 pm »

Tom, calm down with the english lessons. 'ever' is my sentence, my experience.  

I believe they are amazing and have not found another monitor so honest, revealing, and dependable that gives me consistent incredible results.

I don't think I've tried every monitor ever made, but I've used probably 90% of the big hitters and alsays found myself puzzled and the results even more puzzling.

When I engineer in another room I make sure to take a CD of reference tunes, show up early and try to acclimate myself.  I've had nothing but bad experiences with Adams, Quested, and especially Genelec to name just a few.  Especially Genelec.

The Focal Twins for me are perfect. I trust absolutely what they tell me,the translation is always euphoric.  For me, they are easily the best monitor in the entire world, EVER!.
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Bob Ebeling
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Glenn Bucci

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2010, 08:05:15 am »

bob ebeling wrote on Sun, 29 August 2010 20:36

Tom, calm down with the english lessons. 'ever' is my sentence, my experience.  

I believe they are amazing and have not found another monitor so honest, revealing, and dependable that gives me consistent incredible results.

I don't think I've tried every monitor ever made, but I've used probably 90% of the big hitters and alsays found myself puzzled and the results even more puzzling.

When I engineer in another room I make sure to take a CD of reference tunes, show up early and try to acclimate myself.  I've had nothing but bad experiences with Adams, Quested, and especially Genelec to name just a few.  Especially Genelec.

The Focal Twins for me are perfect. I trust absolutely what they tell me,the translation is always euphoric.  For me, they are easily the best monitor in the entire world, EVER!.


Wow, well I can't say the Focal Twins are the best, since I have not yet heard the PMC TB2S AII   http://www.gearslutz.com/board/good-news-channel/524655-pmc- tb2s-aii-monitors-amazing.html  The Genelec 8260A's that Bob Katz uses, or the new Adam  S3X-H. I think once you get to this quality, a lot of it (besides room treatment) has to do with your personal taste on what kind of monitor character you like best. However I had a very hard time finding monitors that I liked better than the Focal Twins that were under $4,000. When I work with the Twins, I forget about the monitors, I focus on the music. That is the biggest compliment I can give a speaker.
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tom eaton

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2010, 08:11:05 am »

Hi Bob-

No English lesson, just a question of perspective.  Glad you've found a monitor that really works for you!  

I've never heard an Adam, Quested or Genelec that sounds right either!  I so want to love point source Tannoys because the concept is so intellectually right, but they all sound broken to me.  It took me years and years to settle on what I have (Dynaudio M2), but I still spend 10% of my work time on other sets for additional perspective.

I find the design of the Focals really interesting, because they are a three-way, but backwards from every other three way ever made.  Usually you get articulate midrange by getting the low end out of your midrange driver, but in the Focals they're doing exactly the opposite.  Both 6.5" drivers carry all the bottom, and one does midrange also.  The crossovers must be really well designed if they sound good, given that one driver is rolling out midrange (with no phase shift?) while the same driver right next to it carries the midrange in its original relation to the bottom.  I would think you'd get all kinds of weirdness where the "bass" driver rolls out against the "bass and middle" driver.

Does Mercenary have a demo pair of these that circulate?  i'd love to hear them.

tom


Glenn Bucci

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2010, 08:15:33 am »

My understanding is there is less low end on the mid/bass woofer, compared to the dedicated bass woofer. So this is one of the reasons why this system works the way it does.

Tom, I checked out your studio....very nice! I am sure Mercenary Audio has the Twins for you to check out. I think you would be very pleased with the Twins.
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bob ebeling

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2010, 11:12:32 am »

Cool Tom!  Sounds like we are in the same boat full of ears.  hehe

I'm sure Mercenary loans to a cat such as yourself, or I could PM you my guy at Sweetwater who has been the coolest proaudio guy I've ever dealt with and I'm sure he would set you up, (with a little 30 day return policy method, maybe better?)

God, of all the things in the world I could wish for it would be that Tom Eaton gets to have some Focal Twins in his control room for the next couple months.  Seriously.  If you are doumbfounded with Genelec and others like I am, I would love knowing that your life would be filled with joy and learning for a long time.

I honestly didn't know what to think when I first got the Twins in.  I switched up from the Solos, and the Solos were obvious intantly to me, I loved them but they were light as hell below 50.  

Reading the threads, good trustable sources were saying just go up to the Twins, screw the sub, and I'm not a sub guy, so that's what I did.

The first few months I actually felt disappointed.  The Solos were funner to listen to and I used to put CD's on just for enjoyment.  I couldn't do that with the Twins.  I expanded the GIK trapping in my room and things got a bit better.  I bought more GIK, things started to get really good.  I redid the room.  Studied some physics and 30 degree angles, etc.. redid my room.

The Twins will not lie!  Until I got 23 GIK Monsters and 244's in my control room, they showed me that my room sounded bad.  When I finally got things right in the room, I noticed a big difference between my left and right ear midrange response.  I wanted to blame the speakers, but switched them and couldn't blame them.  I went through my entire system.  Nothing to blame.

I went to a specialist (Dr.) and he showed me how I have a slight difference in the angle and shape of my ears.  My left ear is ever so slightly tighter to the head and doesn't have this fun little bump near the main entrance.  The difference is about 3% by sight, but until I had the Focal Twins I would have never known!  The Twins make it glaringly obvious every day.  I have some tricks to work around it and a possible invention in the works.  

I think this in itself is pretty crazy and amazing.

So after a year of totally questioning the Twins, actually at times hating them, after this knowledge about my ears came to light, I suddenly loved the Focals with a pure love reserved for only very special things.

Like, I know my wife will not lie to me and that forms part of the foundation of our beautiful marriage.  Well, I know the Focal Twins will not lie to me and since I accepted that fact as reality and started working from that premise, I have made many miracles happen with these Twins.  Because as soon as I hear something, I have a judgement that is so purely tied to knowledge now, that I am able to know the right thing to do or not to do instantly.

The quality of my work is steadily increasing almost in reciprocal proportion to my knowing the Twins.

I could understand why alot of people would hate these.  I just don't think they understood why they hated them.

On a pure enjoyment factor I have to give them a zero out of 10!  maybe a 1.
On a pure truth to microscopic scintific rediculous proportions i have to give them a 9.8 or 9.9 out of 10.

They are the tools of a scientist.



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Bob Ebeling
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Samc

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2010, 09:15:28 pm »

bob ebeling wrote on Tue, 24 August 2010 10:55

Sam Clayton has established that he has a vendetta out for Focal.

Didn't say single a word about their monitors, didn't say anything bad or untrue about the company....

Dude, how long did it take you to arrive at this brilliant conclusion?    
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Sam Clayton

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #23 on: September 15, 2010, 07:36:46 am »

I'll let your own words speak for you here Sam, sorry if my conclusion is off, but when you start throwing out the big C word on a pro audio forum it's usually not a supportive gesture.
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Bob Ebeling
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Barish

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #24 on: September 24, 2010, 06:26:35 pm »

In the last studio I have done the acoustic treatment for, they had a pair of Focal Twin Be's and a pair of Adam S4As. I have used both of them for weeks while tuning the room to the customer's satisfaction, and after judging the results with the outside world for some 20 days, neither me nor the client considered to hold on to the S4As in the room anymore.

B.
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Glenn Bucci

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #25 on: September 25, 2010, 09:37:04 pm »

Update on mixing with the Twins:
I found in my room when the bass is full and strong on playback, it's too much in the car or home stereo on playback. When the bass is well balanced with the high's and mid's, it sounds perfect on other sources. For playback for customers when you want to impress them with a big sound, I think having the Sub 6 with the Twins would be best. I don't need it for mixing, but for playback on a finished product, it would be nice. It would be helpful in mastering as well to hear freq's lower than 40Hz. Not buying it at this point, but it is something in the back of my mind.

What I have done to help my situation is I boost the bass contour to the 1st line past 0. This adds a little more umph to the bass so my mixes sound fuller on playback, and I now mix with the slightly stronger bass which in turn sounds great on different sources since in reality the bass is really more even on different sources. Don't need the sub now, though it still could be nice.
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Nicky D

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #26 on: September 29, 2010, 09:47:33 pm »

I'm gonna go ahead and say that I'm in agreement with Bob...they are not great to me because they sound good...not at all....but for some reason, they do make you work really hard  especially in the low mids to get something exciting and for some reason they translate really well everywhere else...they don't lie.
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Glenn Bucci

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Re: Focal Twins Be
« Reply #27 on: December 09, 2010, 05:18:56 pm »

I had a chance to compare the Focal Twins to the Genelec 8050's. The Genelec's sound great and have a great stereo image.

I have to admit that I prefer the sound of the Gen's in my studio. They have a more even and relaxed sound. The Twins are a little too mid forward (in comparison) and they lack some of the depth I hear with the Gen's. I don't hear a 3 dim sound with the Twins like I did with the Gen's. With that being said, I found I preferred mixes with the Twins on many difference sources. Since the end results is the most important thing, I choose to stay with the Twins. The vocals and guitars are more forwward in the mix and the high hat sound and mix was better. The Gen mix's are more even sounding with the instruments and vocals in my studio. If I had a pair of Yamaha NS 10's or another mid forward monitor to work with the Gen's, that would probably be the best of both worlds. But I have a lot of respect for the newer Genelec monitors. They are pretty quiet too.
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