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Focal Twins Be

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Glenn Bucci:
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.

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.

Glenn Bucci:
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.

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.

If I may

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 or come visit the factory.

Let me know if you want to know anything else!


Simon Cote
Focal Professional
North America



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