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Focal Domes


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Though I love love LOVE their sound, I'm just not willing to sacrifice the desktop real estate necessary to keep using my Sonus Faber Concertinos as my computer setup. They are stuck so far out to the sides that the imaging just isn't right and they look a little silly. I need something smaller and more appropriate for the space. After looking around a bit, I'm liking the looks and the size of the new Focal Domes. I know they are relatively new, but has anyone given them a try yet?

 

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Well, I decided to just go ahead and get a pair and give them an audition myself. They should arrive Friday so I'll have them in time to play around over the weekend. I just went with the 2.0 setup as I will pair them with a more capable sub. Keep your fingers crossed for me and I'll report back next week with any impressions.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

After a week with my new Focal Domes, I’ve concluded that they are nice little speakers, though they do have the limitations common to little speakers. The Dome is a very compact and attractive 2 way speaker with a 5" Polyglass mid-bass and a 1" Al/Mg inverted dome tweeter. Here’s a picture of one with the grill off.

 

 

The grill is well secured with plastic guides that lock onto the front speaker posts. Since the manual does not specify how to remove the grill, I suspect someone will accidentally pull too hard and break the plastic. The plastic is strong, but not unbreakable so be sure to turn the grill (counterclockwise) to remove it; don’t pull on it.

 

 

The speaker connections are accessed through the bottom with a small hexnut holding each wire very securely.

 

 

A rubber bottom normally rests under the speaker base and prevents slippage or scratching when the speaker is sitting on a desktop. Small extensions fit into matching holes in the speaker to keep the rubber bottom in place. One very nice design element is that the hex wrench needed to tighten or loosen the speaker wires has a storage space molded into the inside of the rubber bottom to help ensure it is readily available should you ever need it. Nice touch.

 

 

A sturdy wall plate is also provided to allow these speakers to be mounted.

 

 

The speakers tilt up and down, with a spring that keeps them pointed exactly where you set them. They can’t quite point 180 degrees straight out from the base, but they come pretty close. In this picture, you can also see the hexnut opening at the base that attached to the wall plate when wall mounting.

 

 

The speakers themselves are a glossy black aluminum. They are so glossy in fact that you can see reflections of the surrounding room in the attached pictures. When pointing down, they reach a 90 degree angle from the mounting so their range of movement is just shy of 90 degrees total.

 

 

Looking at the speaker straight on, you can see the hinge channel but it isn’t overly distracting.

 

 

I was, however, a bit surprised to see how the silver decorative border on each speaker had slight margins and did not tightly align. Perhaps this is a result of the speaker being handmade instead of machine tooled down to the millimeter, but it was clearly noticeable. On a desktop, this section of the speaker points down and is hidden but it would be visible on a ceiling mount.

 

 

In terms of sound, these speakers have nice tone and imaging, but they clearly are lacking at the low end of the spectrum. While the specs show them extending to 80Hz, I can hear a clear drop off at 100Hz when playing test tones. The speaker manual seems to confirm my impressions. While I purchased a 2.0 configuration, the speakers are individual components with a single common manual. When you examine the subwoofer section, the manual shows the recommended crossover frequency and Focal appears to recommend a setting of 110+Hz.

 

 

Since I am using these speakers on a desktop and don’t care about the aesthetics of the subwoofer, I decided against the matching 8” Focal model and instead married my Domes with B&W ASW650 12” sub and I find the pairing to be very complimentary .

 

At the end of the day while these are nice sounding speakers, I don’t expect many will hear a set of Domes, have their ears fall in love, and then ask what speakers are producing that terrific sound. These are speakers where you fall in love with their looks and then give them a listen and decide the overall package is perfect. I think they sound fine. I’m not at all disappointed by their sound – for speakers their size they are quite nice. But why I bought these speakers and why I would recommend them is because they look great on my desk.

 

 

 

 

 

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I had an opportunity to hear a set of Orb Audio speakers recently and to compare them to the Focal Domes. As I expected, there is no comparison. The Focal Domes definitely need a subwoofer to fill in the bottom, but with that support they sound excellent and they go down far enough that the subwoofer bass is just on the verge of becoming directional. The Orb is missing significantly more of the bottom range and the sub becomes clearly directional. More importantly though is the difference at the top end. Without a dedicated tweeter, the orbs just don't have the musicality of the Domes.

 

In terms of sound quality the Orbs are not in the same ballpark as the Domes, or even in the same city for that matter. Orbs might be acceptable as an inexpensive low profile home theater speaker, but I couldn't imagine any true audiophile thinking of them as a serious option for music. The Domes need support at the low end, but they are quality speakers. While it is their profile that makes them truly remarkable, their sound is solidly acceptable as a musical speaker. And thus far, they remain the most attractive low profile speaker about which I can say that.

 

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  • 2 years later...

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