FOCUS AUDIO MODEL FC6 SE standmount speakers
THE Toronto, Canada-based company doesn’t immediately come to mind when you’re shopping for speakers, but Focus Audio has turned out some impressive work over the years, especially in the mid-to-high-end realm of hi-fi.
The current range comprises four lines – the flagship Master series, Prestige, Signature and entry-level Classic. Except for the Master, the other lines comprise standmount, floorstanding and centre-channel units. No sign of a sub-woofer anywhere, though.
It is the Classic line we cast our eyes on here, specifically, the Model FC6 SE standmount, which is the “baby” of the series. Small it may be in size, but not in price or performance.
BITS AND PIECES: Focus employs drivers from famed Danish specialist manufacturer Dynaudio, made its specifications – here, we have a one-inch tweeter and 5.5-inch woofer.
The soft-dome tweeter unit is air-cooled, with non-resonant chamber-damping that pushes treble response beyond 25 kHz – Focus claims low distortion even under high-powered operation. The woofer is a long-throw design that uses a glass fibre cone.
The cabinet is an impressive piece of work, and constructed from premium grade one-inch MDF and real wood veneer – fine furniture comes to mind when you gaze at the FC6 SE. The well-sculpted design is also supposed to enhance imaging.
The crossover uses high quality components, including non-inductive wire wound precision resistors, ultra-fast polypropylene capacitors, high-purity copper induction coils and internal wiring. The computer-aided design has hand-assembled circuitry with silver solder.
Heavy gauge, gold plated bi-wire binding posts are provided, strangely not colour-coded – the “+” and “-” signs are marked on the rear baffle above the termination panel.
Frequency response is quoted at 45Hz-25kHz, sensitivity at 86db, nominal impedance at eight ohms.
Each cabinet measures 330 x 178 x 254mm (h/w/d) and weighs a bit more than 8kg. Built quality and finish are impeccable – the cabinet’s damping is on par with more expensive models.
IN CONCERT: Given the compactness of the cabinet, I was expecting something less encompassing in sonic presentation than what the FC6 SE threw at me.
While there is a limit to the depth of bass such a speaker can dish out, if you play the FC6 SE in a small-to-mid-sized room, you’re not going to miss the impact of its lows – they’re smooth, detailed and punchy. And they don’t get in the way of the frequencies higher up.
The treble response is smooth and detailed, while the midrange is neutral, both areas depending of course on the quality of the signal fed to the speakers. Importantly, played loud with good recordings, nothing grates on the ears… no hint of glare or brightness, or any lumpiness in the lows.
What also impressed me was the solidity and weight in presentation, the FC6 SE sounding like a larger speaker than its physical dimensions would lead you to believe. The staging was not forward or recessed, and once set up properly, the pair imaged very well, although I’ve heard more precise imaging from speakers around this price.
However, the FC6 SE is very musical, with a quick transient response, and once run in over days, will get your feet tapping immediately with the right sort of music. The resident ATC is more revealing but the Focus model has a bit more vitality in presentation. In my room, they were nothing less than entertaining, whatever the music I played on them.
APPLAUSE: The call card, for many, is the luscious finish of the cabinet, but the FC6 SE backs its excellent outward appearance with great performance. Don’t let the compact dimensions turn you away, these speakers sound big and go reasonably loud.
BUT…: Bigger rooms may pose an issue… anything else would be nitpicking.
FINALE: I would recommended them, certainly, if you’re shopping around at the price, but there are a number of other significant players in the range that will give the Focus Audio FC6 SE a run for the money. A recent experience with another speaker proved this to be true.
The FC6 SE is fine wine, certainly.. but perhaps, ultimately, not French or Italian enough for some. You’ll need to taste to decide…
Sources: Ayon CD-1s, Toshiba laptop running foobar2000, Marantz CD6005 / Amplification: Odyssey Audio Tempest SLB preamp, Odyssey Audio Khartago Extreme SE monoblocs, Rega Elex-R / Speakers: Magneplanar MG1.7, ATC SCM11 Mk 2 / Interconnects: MIT, DHLabs, Gotham Cables, Straightwire / Cables: MIT, Gotham / Power cords: Furutech, DH Labs / Power accessories: Frank Acoustics Power Bank, AVIA balanced Powertrans