AMP for focal chorus 714
Jan 19, 2014 at 5:10 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

catspaw

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Hi guys,
Im going to upgrade my home speakers (from logitech Z-5500), going with th focal chorus 714 (due to price).
 
I need an amp for it and so far ive been looking at things like marantz PM6004 and Harman and Kardon 3490.
 
As my headphones  i Own Hifiman HE-400 with Schiit asgard as amp, and i love it, but i wanted something less V shaped.
 
Anyone can give me good advice for amps around the price of the PM6004 of the HK3490 for the focal chorus 714?
 
It can be amp only as i plan to add a DAC later on if necesary. This includes Tube amps assuming they pair well with full floorstanders.
 
I will be using it for gaming, movies and music, in a 20 m2 room.
 
Jan 19, 2014 at 10:52 PM Post #2 of 13

ProtegeManiac

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You might want to look into the Wadia 151. It only takes digital inputs but outputs an amplified analog signal to the speakers; it's almost all digital until the final output stage, eliminating the output stage (opamp or tube) after the DAC chip, the input stage on the amp, and the analog potentiometer. It's basically a DAC with a digital potentiometer (that really works on the digital signal) that feeds a signal straight into a power amp. Supposedly this circuit design is cleaner since there isn't much fussing with the analog signal. You won't need (can't use) a DAC with this, but it already upsamples to 24/384. No 24/88 support though.
 
I'm also going to set-up a speaker system (again) when I move next year, and I'm looking at the 706V and 806, and planning to use the Wadia 151 in silver right next to a used Mac Mac Mini, with my iPad as a remote. I'd use the Minix Neo and my Android phone as remote, but I read somewhere that it doesn't output native 24/96 through its SPDIF output, so it's cheap but won't allow me to transition to high res. Plus the silver looks nicer (same color as most other Wadia products) as far as my tastes are concerned. I've been looking for reviews but can't find any. Local distro/dealer is the same for Wadia and Focal, but they don't have the 151 and any of the Chorus speakers in their showroom right now. I just don't want to bother them to set them up and get the stuff from the warehouse since I'm moving and will buy the stuff wherever work sends me (which hopefully isn't anywhere isolated). However if any other local audiophile coordinates with me to try them out (either the dealer's unit or what they have at home) I'll update you on how they sound. They happen to have 714's at the dealer showroom right now.
 
Jan 20, 2014 at 5:23 AM Post #3 of 13

catspaw

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I belive that thing might be a bit too weak to properly power the chorus 714. 
I probably will go with a Different dac (no upsampling, thank you), if anything, just becouse in my country you cant get it.
 
Jan 20, 2014 at 5:56 AM Post #4 of 13

ProtegeManiac

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  I belive that thing might be a bit too weak to properly power the chorus 714. 
I probably will go with a Different dac (no upsampling, thank you), if anything, just becouse in my country you cant get it.

 
That depends on the room size.* I've tried my NAD304 before with all sorts of speakers - including the Focal 716, Dyn 42 and 52, B&W CMx towers** and Mirage towers - in large enough rooms (just enough that there is no localization of bass coming from below the rest of the instruments and cymbals above) and that "35 watts per channel" NAD wiped the floor with the "125w x 7" receivers there (in 2ch mode of course). Some friends I brought along and even the salesmen were surprised by that thing. This is one of those cases where that alien telling Will Smith that humans are wrong about size all the time comes in.
 
Of course, just because I don't discriminate purely on power output, I still rely at least on actual feedback on the sound***; I'll update my thread  on the 151 (since you can't get it there) and link it here if I get to listen to it with any Focals and any tower speakers this weekend.
 
 
*Although too small will result in localizing the sound source or at least the height within the soundstage to each driver
**The ones with the 6" midrange that almost had no surround on it
***Also why I phrased it as "look into," so we can gather more reviews - there has to be some people using it with Focals but just didn't post a review thread anywhere (especially over here where there is only one distro for both)
 
Jan 21, 2014 at 12:21 PM Post #5 of 13

catspaw

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I am going to audition focal chorus 714 and monitor audio rx6 at friday and was wonddering if anyone can recommend a good piano song to test them.
 
Jan 22, 2014 at 12:51 AM Post #6 of 13

ProtegeManiac

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I don't have any tracks specifically just for the piano and pianist, but for mixed piano, bass and vocals some of the tracks I use are by Jane Monheit - practically any album really. Oh and here are a couple of tracks from one of my Metal CD/DVDs:

Run For A Fall
 
Memory from Andrew Lloyd Weber's CATS
 
 
None of these are anywhere near audiophile CD piano imaging, but from the audience's standpoint, as amazing as those recordings are in pinpoint imaging of where the hammers are relative to the pianist, who the heck watches a piano performance sitting just behind the pianist?
biggrin.gif

 
I'll check my computer when I get home later though, chances are I actually have some of those accurate (for pianists) imaging tracks from old car audio competition discs.
 
Jan 22, 2014 at 10:30 AM Post #7 of 13

catspaw

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The songs are good but i need something different. I already got vocals covered. Looking for Piano only :D.
 
Jan 23, 2014 at 1:20 PM Post #9 of 13

catspaw

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Hmmm, anyone know a real tube amp at 40W per channel or more? I know only of Mistral MM-4 but it seems like its a bad idea as reviews are almost non existant and those that exis seem rather all over the map.
 
Jan 23, 2014 at 1:26 PM Post #10 of 13

catspaw

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Well, there is a Mingda 34 also but that looks like a chinise knock off of a good company (and according to reviews its not good unless you rewire it, change tubes and god knows what else.... No offnce tom  DIYers but im not yet ready for so much).
 
Jan 23, 2014 at 10:12 PM Post #11 of 13

ProtegeManiac

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Check out the Cayin A-55TP - I['ve heard these pushing Aurum Cantus tower speakers (the smallest tower in the same series as the V2M standmounts) and Duevel Planets. Didn't break a sweat.
 
BTW I can't find y discs; must have packed them along with a bunch of other stuff and already stored in my cousin's garage.
 
Jan 24, 2014 at 3:54 AM Post #12 of 13

catspaw

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Looks like a great amp, but its a bit out of my price point :D.
I was guessing if i cant find anything good ill just wait and save up for the Schiit Ragnarok.
 
Im going back to hunting for good gear :D.
 
Also note that i Live in poland so the price would be about double that becouse of taxes.
 
Jan 24, 2014 at 2:51 PM Post #13 of 13

catspaw

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Fot those who are interested:
 
I auditioned the Focal chorus 714, The Monitor Audio Rx6, The Focal Aria 906 and some HECO bookshelves i didnt quite get the name (was following the lead of the shop guy at this point).
 
 
The songs i used were: 
 
-Enya - Onoricco flow (Soundstage test)
 
-Vanessa Mae - Devils thrill (highs test)
 
-Sucide mission soundtrack from mass effect 2 as a personal enjoyment
 
-Florence - Rabbit heart for femele vocals
 
-30 seconds to mars - Up in the air for Male vocals and Decay
 
 
I was using a Cowon i9 as source with all WAV files, to make sure i used the same source as compared to my Logitech Z-5500 and the Hifiman HE-400+schiit asgard at home.
I was using the jeteffect "crystal clear" wich i belive to be a slightly V shaped EQ.
 
 
 
The amps used were the following:
 
-Marantz 6005
-Denon 720
-Fatman Tube  (not sure waht version, i think 302, but dont quote me on this)
 
Bare in mind all comparisions are to hifiman HE-400, wich is Planar magnetic.
 
1)I started with the MA rx6. With the Marantz The MA rx6 sounded good. plainly good. While the bass as controled win the first two songs, once florence kicked in i was having an unpleasent grin.
The bass was boomy, not controled and the worst part, it cloded the mids. The highs were ok, but didnt feel natural. I quickly moved on to the Denon Amp
 
The diference was very small. The only thing that i enjoyed more with the dednon was the mids were not as clouded, but still not felt good.
 
*At this point i clearly favoured the denon amp.
 
2)I then moved to the Focal 714.
 
The first two songs did not feel much diferent from the Ma rx6, just slightly more natural highs at vanessa mae violin.
 
The sucide mission felt great, yet the bass was still slightly boomy and uncontroled, but the difference with the MA rx6 was considerable. I was able to hear the mids very clearly, theere was a bit of clouding by the bass but I was certain it was due to the EQ settings.
 
Florence and 30 seconds to mars felt as good as the sucide mission, and at this point i was inclined to go with the focal 714.
 
2)I moved to the focal aria 906. The difference was almost non existant untill the last 3 songs, where the driver clearly did not manange to keep up with the decay between the lows and mids. 
 
3) The shop keeper suggested the HECO bookshelves.
At the first 2 songs, i was able to hear more in the music. The separation was clearly better than with any previous speakers. However when the bass hit, The bass felt really lacking. Not that there was too little of it, just felt as if the amp was underpowered, or as I think, the speakers could not match the focal in terms of capacity.
 
Finally, when i was quite decided on the Focal 714, I recalled seeing a tube amp at their shop. I asked if they had any and the shop keeper said they had one (the fatman), that was rated at 25W per channel.
 
I was quite sure it would not manage the speakers well but the shop keeper suggested trying it anyway.
 
Now, here is where i found that there was a huge differencce, but i could not for the love of me say what was it. It wasent better highs, or cleaner mids, or even more controlled bass, but over all the sound felt more real.
 
I asked about the prices and OFC it was out of my pocket at this moment.
 
 Its quite clear that the Focal 714 are a lot different from the HE-400, but Even with only 50 minutes of time (for all of the equpiment tested, so just the 5 songs, and more than once skipping one when something didnt sound good enought) I was able to enjoy the focal greatly.
 
The only problem was the bass
It still felt boomy (ofc after planar bass, hard to complain).
 
I did not order them on the spot becosue i wanted to go back to listen to my Z-5500 from the same source to make sure it was not placebo.
 
the first 2 songs felt similar, A bit better on the focal but clearly not worth buying a new set of speakers.
 
Then the breaking point came: Wheni was listening to the sucide mission, the Z-5500 felt like a small kid crying "I cant do that" since it was so weak in keeping up to give me the same spectrum at highs/mids as the focals did.
 
Overall, I can say the focal 714 is in general about 20-30% better than the Z-5500, but when it comes to beeing able to reproduce diferent frequencies togheter at the same time, its about 80% better.
 
When it comes to mids/highst, the decay and crossover is almost as good as the HE-400.
 
This means i am going with the Focal 714, but Im still on the hunt for the perfect amp :D.
 
I hope this mgiht help somone who is looking for a rather cheap speaker setup. (and if any of you can give me more info on maps, im very interested).
 

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