• Focal Electra 1007 Be Loudspeaker Review

    Immediately upon arrival the Focal Electra 1007 Be loudspeakers transformed my listening room into a mini Louvre Museum. OK, maybe that's a stretch but the Electra 1007 Be bookshelf speakers are truly a thing of beauty. Quality endlessly oozes from the 1007 Be's design before a single note is even reproduced. These substantial two-way speakers not only look fabulous they reproduce music as veraciously as the source material and components can supply it. The external structure of the Electra 1007 Be speakers will add glamour and color to any room while the inside components won't add glamour or color to any music. As Paula Abdul articulated so well back in 1989, opposites certainly do attract.
     

     



    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.

     

    Exterior

    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.

     

    Interior

    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.

     

    Sonic Bliss

    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 amateur night New Year's Eve. Needless to say the Focal Electra 1007 Bes really rocked my listening room. These things can handle most rock music with ease. My only complaint is a little looseness in the very bottom end, but some of this certainly due to the rock recordings and lack of quality production. The second listening session that sticks in my mind came about because of a free album I received while at lunch in Berkeley California. I was at lunch with a few people in the high-end industry and a few people I did not know. One of these people I did not know was Tim Gorman. Tim is a legendary session keyboardist who has worked with bands like The Who and Jefferson Airplane. Toward the end of lunch Tim passed me a copy of his new album Cowboy that included a redbook CD version and a data disc with the 24/96 version of the same material. The album is purely instrumental keyboard, piano, and acoustic guitar. I don't normally listen to much of this style of material, but I heard the Electra 1007 Bes would be a perfect pairing for this music. I scrolled to the 24/96 version of the album and gave it a shot. Before I knew it all twenty-five tracks were over and I wanted more. Listening through the Focal Beryllium tweeter did not produce a single moment of fatigue during the entire album. I felt like I could listen to Tim's album over and over for days and still be impressed. Cowboy was recorded and mastered at Skywalker Sound in Northern California with great attention to detail. This high quality of production in combination with the high quality of the Focal Electra 1007 Be loudspeakers was really pleasant and relaxing.

    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.

     

    Conclusion

    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
    Price: $4,500
    a) User Manual
    b) Product Specifications
    c) Electra 1000 Series Literature
    d) Focal Product Literature




    Manufacturer: Focal
    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.




     

     

    Focal Electra 1007 Be
    Focal Electra 1007 Be
    click to enlarge


     

     


    Focal Electra 1007 Be
    Focal Electra 1007 Be
    click to enlarge


     

     

    Focal Electra 1007 Be
    Focal Electra 1007 Be
    click to enlarge


     

     

    Focal Electra 1007 Be
    Focal Electra 1007 Be
    click to enlarge


     

     

    Focal Electra 1007 Be
    Focal Electra 1007 Be
    click to enlarge


     

     

    Focal Electra 1007 Be
    Focal Electra 1007 Be
    click to enlarge


     

     

     

     
    Comments 29 Comments
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Thanks BEEMB - Yeah, they are very good looking in person. I know Focal has very nice photography work done, but it doesn't do these speakers justice. They are a must see!
    1. firefly0071's Avatar
      firefly0071 -
      Excellent review!<br />
      <br />
      Were you able to assess the floor standing speakers vs the Focal Electra 1007 Be Bookshelf Speakers?<br />
      <br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Thanks firefly0071. I wasn't able to compare the Focal floorstanders v. the 1007 bookshelf version. Maybe at a later date :~)
    1. Cyrin's Avatar
      Cyrin -
      I have tried the Electra 1027 on my high end system, they were good, but not as great as my Jadis Orchestra speakers on my system.
    1. RDawkins's Avatar
      RDawkins -
      It's amazing how much more the average stereo consumer is willing to spend for looks.<br />
      The SM6 Twin6 Be, a Focal pro unit aimed at the studio market, has two 6.5" drivers and the inverted dome tweeter, plus 400 watts of internal amplification - 2 X 150W (it's a 2 1/2 way) and 100 W for the tweeter and has a MSRP of £829 a piece or $2325 USD a pair. They are not as gorgeous as these, but for a studio speaker they are very good looking - and look at the difference in spec! If performance per se means anything to you, it would seem to be the proverbial no-brainer.<br />
      http://www.focalprofessional.com/en/products/tween6Be.html
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi RDawkins - Your thoughts echo what I've heard from a few other people as well. Thanks for joining the site and leaving a comment :~)
    1. MahlerFreak's Avatar
      MahlerFreak -
      Chris,<br />
      <br />
      A slightly off-topic comment/clarification: it's worth noting that the latest versions of both J River and WinAmp also support all sample rates, and automatic sample rate recognition, as well as all current lossless formats, under Windows. From an audio perspective, MediaMonkey offers no advantage or disadvantage. Which interface you prefer is another story - the differentiating factor for me is J River's support for user-definable metadata fields, but that is something others may not prioritize.<br />
      <br />
      iTunes, of course, has significant limitations in both audio and library management, which makes its apparent popularity with audiophiles hard to understand.
    1. tino's Avatar
      tino -
      Hi Chris,<br />
      Don't want to start another heated debate so I'll word this carefully - IN YOUR OPINION how do these sound compared to the many active monitors you may have listened to, say upto about $2000 - $2500 ?? Things such as Dynaudio, Genelec, Mackie (which I have), Avi even. Do they have a better sound to your ears ??<br />
      Thanks<br />
      Martin
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Martin - I haven't heard many actives although I do hear great things about them from many people in the industry. In my opinion these Electra 1007 Be speakers sound better in my system than any of the active loudspeakers I've heard in my system to date. As I said in the review, the Beryllium tweeter is really magical. It's to hard to compare the Focals in my system with other speakers in a totally different system and listening room. I wish I could provide a black & white answer but that would be more of a disservice than anything.<br />
      <br />
      Thanks for the question Martin. I'm sure there are many others who want the same information :~)
    1. VincentH's Avatar
      VincentH -
      I can say from experience that the Focal Twin6 BE are great actives. I auditioned them side-by-side with Adams P33a actives, but the Focals moved me more and were better integrated. The tweeter is the star indeed. I combined the twins with the matching Focal Sub6 to get a really good full-range experience.<br />
      <br />
      The twins do give a soft hiss when no music is played. You have to stand very close to the speaker to hear that though, and it completely disappears when music is played (event at low volume).<br />
      <br />
      I'm very happy with them; see my Sig :-)
    1. VincentH's Avatar
      VincentH -
      Hi Chris, when you say the Electra 1007 Be sound better than any actives that you had in your system, does that include the AVI ADM 9.1s?<br />
      <br />
      I always wondered how my Focal Twin6 Be's would compare to the AVIs...
    1. RDawkins's Avatar
      RDawkins -
      was not included in your list of active speakers for comparison.<br />
      <br />
      There's no question that a pair would not turn your living room into le Louvre, but they might turn it into a place you would not want to leave - and for the same price ($4500 street), including built in tri-amplification.<br />
      <br />
      This is an 8" sealed 3-way (no ports) with a 3" mid dome that renders vocals like nothing else I've heard, ever. This is critically important to me as a recording engineer specializing in acoustic instruments and choir.<br />
      I understand the 0410 is slightly better still, at $8500 a pair and roughly triple the power, and has been described by very particular engineers of my acquaintance as the best sounding speaker they have ever heard, and this includes all the high end pro brands such as ATC, PMC, and Westlake. I have yet to hear them - they are difficult to find - but may well buy a pair if funds permit.<br />
      Once again, though, the enormous disparity between the pricing of these models and consumer hi-fi shocks me.<br />
      Klein und Hummel, it should be noted, made the world's first powered studio monitor in 1967 - the OY _ and it was a three way. Here's the 0300: http://tinyurl.com/5s8j3k<br />
      Here's me: http://www.6moons.com/industryfeatures/armenia/armenia.html
    1. Opusover21's Avatar
      Opusover21 -
      I'm slightly skeptical Chris how these have made it as an audition item and more so how they have made it onto the cash list. Can you comment on how you receive items for review and on what commercial basis? I've listened to these speakers on a demo on more than one occasion and have my own views but can you be clear about your policy of reviewing equipment? Do you own it first? Did you buy these? were they given to you? I think its worth noting this as your sight grows and why/how audition items reach you as these have been out some time now so I'm curious WHY these stand mounts compared to countless others which I could name....
    1. markr's Avatar
      markr -
      I know that Chris can speak for himself quite well, but I just HAD to look at the CASH list when you posted this. These speakers aren't there.<br />
      <br />
      - markr
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Opus - I'm a little surprised by your skepticism but nonetheless I'll try to provide some answers. One thing to keep in mind is that everything I write on this site is 100% wide open for everyone in the world to leave a comment in response/agreement/disagreement etc... This in itself is a major plus for the readers and myself. There is no way I could get away with anything that your skepticism is alluding to. Plus, I have no desire to get away with anything or pull anything over on the readers. It's not me and it's really not enjoyable. It much easier for me to write with 100% honesty and not have to worry about pleasing any manufacturer.<br />
      <br />
      <br />
      On to this review and your other questions. The equipment that I review is often the result of either a manufacturer or distributor contacting me or vice-versa. I'm not sure what you mean with your "commercial basis" comment. In this situation I had an integrated amp with USB input coming in for review and I wanted some bookshelf speakers to go along with this specific integrated unit. I received these Focal speakers after a conversation with the North American distributor Audio Plus Services. We discussed the integrated unit and what speakers would be a good match. We both decided on the Electra 1007 Be speakers. Receiving these speakers had nothing to do with how long they have been on the market. Your comments seem to suggest there is something wrong with reviewing a piece of equipment that is not new to the market or that there is a hidden agenda. There is nothing to hide here. I don't own the Focal speakers, I was not offered the Focal speakers, and plan to send them back very soon. I like to hang on to equipment for a little time after each review period incase I need to test something a reader brings to light or I need to answer some questions that require the physical unit to be here. I'm confused about your comment, <i>"...I'm curious WHY these stand mounts compared to countless others which I could name..."</i> You could say this for any stand mounted speaker I select. Replace Focal with Wilson or Sonus Faber and I imagine you'd say the same thing. Again, I'm not sure where you are going there. <br />
      <br />
      These speakers made the CASH List for ever single reason I spoke about in the review. I could restate everything here, but that would be counterproductive. It appears that your experience with these speakers is different although you haven't made it totally clear. I think it may be easier if you don't allude to things. Rather speaking clearly about your skepticism may allow me to address your skepticism a little better. I took a shot at it above and hope I answered your questions.<br />
      <br />
      Feel free to respond and keep the discussion going. I'm wide open to a healthy discussion at anytime.<br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi markr - I just haven't put them on the CASH List yet :~) By the way how are your big horns?
    1. markr's Avatar
      markr -
      ... Hey Chris - I must have missed that you were putting the Focal Be's on the CASH list somewhere in the article then (I confess that I just wasn't that interested in the review, though I did scan it...) - The horns are HONKING - as big, beautiful (ugly?), and pure as ever. Still lovin' them!<br />
      <br />
      - markr
    1. Opusover21's Avatar
      Opusover21 -
      Chris - I think you have responded well and what I wanted to hear. My skeptism is based on my own experience of these speakers...I actually think they are better than some of the others in the focal range but personally I dont agree with your comments on the sound - The treble for me is an issue on focals as quite a few others have experienced in the past - "Listening through the Focal Beryllium tweeter did not produce a single moment of fatigue during the entire album"...I personally couldnt agree with that one and other comments relating to the tweeter performance...which i find tiring and would cause me fatigue...but that fine as you state you reviews allow people to comment their own exeriences...I was quite suprised at your comments although system matching/room and those tubes would certainly help..<br />
      <br />
      My general questions were around as this sight is now getting bigger and advertisements/opportunity for manufacturers to advertise etc...a website can be very influential...I just wanted to ask about your "policy" on how you aquire/review potential items which you have answered....although personally your experience does not reflect me own but other items such as the Weiss Minerva I thought you were bang on the money in your review but on this occasion we dont share the same opinions I guess
    1. AV-OCD's Avatar
      AV-OCD -
      And that was about all I could take of them unfortunately. I'm with Opusover21 on this one. The Be tweeter in the Electra line sounds very edgy, grainy and unnatural to these ears (paired with a SS front end). Beautiful speakers for sure, and I like the Be tweet in the Utopia line, but I think that a warm, smooth sounding front-end (think tubes) is required to take the edge of the tweeter in the Electra's. <br />
      <br />
      You can see in the picture below, a somewhat comical attempt on my part to troubleshoot a problem I was hearing in the upper midrange / lower treble of the 1037's I owned. <br />
      <br />
      http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j193/ptwalker/tweetercheck002.jpg<br />
      <br />
      Sure enough, covering the tweeter made the problem go away.<br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />
    1. markr's Avatar
      markr -
      ... I would have liked to hear these speakers in the state that they are represented here. Funny.