Focal Electra 1000 Be Series
Focal has all its bases covered with the Electra 1000 Be Series of speakers. Two-ways, three-ways, centers, surrounds, and subs should be enough for even the most elaborate entertainment system. There is nothing like the look of a complete Focal speaker system with matching Burgundy Cherry finish. The Electra 1000 Be series is between the 1000 S and the stratospherically priced Utopia III series of speakers. The 1000 Be series has no doubt benefited greatly from the years of research and development that have gone into the Utopia speakers. The Utopia series can be seen as the award winning Formula One Ferrari racing cars while the Electra 1007 Be series is the Ferrari road car like the new Ferrari California. The trickle down effect is working miracles at Focal.
The Electra 1007 Be loudspeakers have the typical Focal fit and finish. The metallic slate gray piano lacquer and the curved aluminum plate across the front of the speaker make a fabulous first impression. The hefty 33 lbs. per speaker weight also contributes greatly to the first impression. There is something to be said for the experience of lifting a heavy bookshelf speaker out of the box. Not only is the speaker likely to benefit sonically from this heft but weight often equates to build quality and attention to detail. While it's certainly not the only indicator, nor is it an infallible indicator, of quality weight surely helps the consumer feel gratified after spending a few thousand dollars on speakers that have similar looking off-brand cousins weighing in at 5 lbs. and $250. The rear of the 1007 Be speakers is equally as nice as the front. The aluminum plate etched with the Focal logo and model specific details is a mark of quality and attention to detail. A single pair of "input sockets" accepts bare wire or any standard speaker cable termination. These binding posts are liberally sized and are very easy to tighten with bare hands. There is no need for any tools or the five year old neighbor kid with tiny hands to complete the speaker setup process.
It's well known that the cabinet has much to do with the final sound of a speaker. However, without the internal components there would be no sound at all. There would also be no break-in period or worries of blowing tweeters. Anyway, the Electra 1007 Be is a two-way bass reflex speaker. The 6.5" mid-bass driver is Focal's patented W design and reaches down to 41 Hz. The overall frequency response (+/- 3db) of the speaker is 46 Hz - 40 kHz. In my opinion the real star of this show is the 1" pure Beryllium inverted dome tweeter. Beryllium is used in some of the best drivers available today. The two manufacturers that immediately come to mind when I think of Beryllium are Focal and TAD. Over dinner at CES this year I had a detailed conversation with TAD's Andrew Jones about the differences between the TAD Beryllium and the Focal Beryllium drivers. In addition I spoke with Audio Plus Services' Jonathan Baker about Focal's Beryllium drivers to make sure I received a plethora of information from both representatives. While the material is the same the process of manufacturing the Beryllium drivers couldn't be more different for each company. The technical details of these processes could encompass a complete book full of enough engineering detail to make anyone's head spin. This is why I'll skip to the end and admit I can't begin to understand all the details but I do know for sure the final products for TAD and Focal are some of the best.
Listening to hundreds of Gigabytes worth of music through Focal Electra 1007 Be speakers for the last several months has really been a treat. I had a plethora of components in for review during this time and was able to use each one with the Electra 1007 Be speakers. One nice combination I am currently listening to is the 1007 Be speakers and the April Music Aura Note integrated with USB input. I won't go in to detail as a full review of the Aura Note is forthcoming. I've also had two iterations of the Sonic Studio Amarra software / hardware solution during this review period. Both Sonic systems brought out wonderful detail through the Electra 1007 Be speakers. Most of my listening time was spent using my reference Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC paired with a McIntosh MC275 stereo tube amplifier. I used both Windows XP, Vista and Mac OS X computer sources with this combination. On Windows I use MediaMonkey 99% of the time because of its support for all sample rates and auto sample rate recognition. Using OS X I used iTunes unless I had a Sonic Studio system in place with the Amarra application. With the exception of the Sonic firewire digital I/O I used Lynx AES16/e digital I/O cards feeding a bit perfect signal into my Alpha DAC for my listening sessions. All the source music was between 16/44.1 and 24/192 and stored on a Thecus 5200B Pro NAS wired via Gigabit Ethernet to my music network. Yes, you read that correctly. I have a Gigabit music network separated from all the other network traffic in my house. I couldn't be The Computer Audiophile with anything less :~)
Notable Listening Sessions
I've had the opportunity to listen to almost every piece of music in my collection through the Focal Electra 1007 Be speakers. Most of my listening sessions have been very good to say the least. A couple sessions have been spectacular and worthy of mention in this review.
I usually stick to what I call "real" music during my listening sessions. No test tones or audiophile test albums have ever moved me. Somewhere between audiophile test discs and "real" music lies a track I heard in the TAD room at CES this year. The track was brought in by Bill Schnee of Schnee Studio. It's a pure drum track that was recorded and mixed live to 2-channel at 24/192 high resolution digital. The drums used in this recoding were a brand new state-of-the-art Yamaha drum set brought into the studio specifically for this purpose. Since CES I've probably listened to this drum solo through the Electra 1007 Be speakers so many times that the neighbors think I purchased a drum set. The 1007 Bes display tremendous tightness and control at most frequencies of this solo. The upper extension of the cymbals is reproduced wonderfully as is the most of the music from the lower mid-range and up. Delicate cymbals coinciding with awesome punch from the rest of the drum set makes for a truly great listening experience. The 1007 Bes are obviously not the Grand Utopias and thus can't reproduce the powerful visceral impact of a full range loudspeaker with very sizable woofers to move massive amounts of air. The 1007s also don't come with the price tag of those full range speakers and will fit nicely where floor standing speakers are viewed as eyesores.
One of the benefits of a music server is the simplicity of scrolling through thousands of albums and plucking out some music not heard in a long time. One night I powered up the tube amp and started scrolling through my collection. I had no idea what I wanted to listen to but I figured I'd know it when I saw it. A minute later I landed on Lauryn Hill's MTV Unplugged 2.0 and I instantly knew this was the album I had to hear. As the title suggests this is an all acoustic album not anything like Lauryn's massively successful Miseducation of Lauryn Hill hip-hop album. Literally five minutes into the live performance the Focal speakers had disappeared and I got lost in the music. I was left with the glow of the MC275 tubes and a dimmed out Alpha DAC. In a huge departure from Lauryn's previous recordings she made no attempt to use her voice to the best of her ability. Throughout the whole performance her raspy voice and what sounded like damaged vocal chords came through the Focal speakers without any hint of gloss or smoothing over. At times Lauryn's voice was painful to listen to and these Focal speakers didn't help ease that pain. Lauryn's acoustic guitar had a very nice liquid sound to it that I attribute to the combination of McIntosh tubes with the Focal speakers. None of the other components I swapped in and out of the configuration during this review sounded anywhere near this nice in combination with the 1007 Be speakers.
Two other listening session from this review period are still very much in my mind. The first is from New Year's Eve 2008. That day I was looking for some Led Zeppelin music on my music server when I realized I did not own Led Zeppelin II. I ran to the store and picked up a copy and proceeded to spend the rest of the day and night reviewing speakers with Zeppelin tunes. I know this is clearly the behavior of a party animal on
During the review period I had an opportunity to compare the Electra 1007 Bes with the Avalon Acoustics NP 2 Evolution speakers. Two prominent differences stand out most. First the Beryllium tweeter in the Focal speakers was far smoother, more transparent, and had greater resolution as it extended to the upper frequencies. The Avalon ceramic tweeter was very grainy in direct comparison to the 1007 Be's Beryllium tweeter. This is not to say the Avalons are not a very compelling speaker for less than $2,000, but in my system the Focals clearly came out on top. Second I thought the Focals had a wider soundstage and a more compelling live presentation to them. The Avalon NP 2 Evolution speakers reproduced the music but I felt like I was listening to the speakers not the music. The Avalons were almost over-focused, compared to the Electra 1007 Bes, possibly due to the felt placed around the tweeter mounting plate of the NP 2 Evolutions. Both speakers are very capable of reproducing all types of music with great accuracy, but in direct comparison I prefer the Focal Electra 1007 Be loudspeakers hands down.
The Focal Electra 1007 Be loudspeakers have more than a few things going for them. Not only do they have impeccable loudspeaker lineage but they deliver the goods. My first impression of these speakers was as good as it gets. From the moment I lifted them out of the box I knew the Electra 1007 Bes were no ordinary bookshelf speaker. Wonderful attention to detail is a building block of a product of this caliber. External good looks and build quality coupled with the internal components to match. The Electra 1007 Be is certainly a product that sounds as good as it looks. Good looks and good sound can be an elusive combination unless the product designers are very skilled. Matching a Beryllium tweeter with the aluminum face plate, piano gloss lacquer, and beautiful wood finish is a winning combination for Focal. Over the course of the review period I can distinctly remember several sonically blissful listening sessions. From the hard punch of a drum solo to the painfully accurate vocals of Lauryn Hill to legendary rock and roll to relaxing, non-fatiguing piano, the Focal Electra 1007 Be bookshelf loudspeaker can transparently reproduce a very wide range of music despite its small footprint. It is with great pleasure I announce the Focal Electra 1007 Be loudspeakers as the newest addition to the CASH List.
Focal Electra 1007 Be loudspeakers
a) User Manual
b) Product Specifications
c) Electra 1000 Series Literature
d) Focal Product Literature
US distributor: Audio Plus Services
PO Box 3047
Plattsburgh, NY 12901
Phone: (800) 663-9352
Associated Equipment: Mac Pro, Lynx AES16e card, Dell PC, Lynx AES16 card, Kimber USB cable, Cambridge Audio DacMagic, Benchmark DAC1 PRE, Kimber Select cable, Avalon Acoustics speakers, McIntosh tube amplification, Virtual Dynamics power cables, Richard Gray's Power Company cables, Bel Canto USB Link., Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC, Sonic Studio Model 305 & Amarra software, April Music Aura Note, hFX Silent Music Server, Zalman TNN300 Silent Music Server.