To Hans Wetzel,
You asked me to keep you posted, so I’m sharing my final actions and decision.
Yesterday I worked out a deal to borrow KEF R700s, which I used to conduct a side-by-side comparison with the Focal 836 W Prestiges. Upon listening to the R700s, I was immediately surprised with how much bass they produced. In fact, it was quite boomy. Unfortunately, the demo pair were missing three of their four port plugs, so I didn’t have the opportunity to tighten things up a bit. Also, since I didn’t have the R900s, I could only imagine that they would have greater bass. However, given that I’m a bit of a bassaholic and that I could tune out some of their boominess with the plugs, I quickly dismissed my reaction.
Treble/mids -- this is where I felt the comparison was similar to if I had the R900s. Just as I noticed the boomy bass of the R700s, the R700's midrange sounded more cupped or boxy compared to the 836’s midrange. Imaging also seemed better with the 836es than the R700s. After approximately two hours of auditioning the two pairs in question, I decided that I preferred the 836es. I was a little disheartened because I went into this wanting to buy the KEFs, but I had to go with what I liked to hear.
Then some Focal Electra 1008 Be speakers were thrown in the mix. After I decided on the 836es, I asked if there was a speaker in the Electra line that was close to my “original” budget. In all of my research, I never included the Electra series because at that time I thought they all were outside of my budget. Well, I immediately fell in love with the 1008s and, after negotiating for more Wife Acceptance Factor, decided to up my budget. I’ve never heard highs and mids that sounded that good. Also, for a bookshelf, they produced just as much bass as the 836es. However, there were two negatives to considering the 1008s. First, they are not as efficient as the 836es and second, I learned that the stands were not included. Well, to make this shorter, I decided to up the budget and spring for the larger 1028 Be speakers.
Thanks again for responding to my initial inquiry.
John, it's funny how things work out, right? Do not for one second think that you're somehow making a wrong choice here. While the R900s are definitely my cup of tea, they may not be for everyone. And I know what you mean by the R700s having a "boxy" sound to them. Their sound is not as divorced from the cabinet as a more sophisticated, or at least a smaller, loudspeaker would be. Also, Focal has been making good loudspeakers for a long time, so I think you did well.
As far as springing for the Electra line, I can't blame you. Frankly, I think the Electra line is the looker of Focal's various ranges, and their beryllium tweeters are phenomenal. While surely a step- up in price, I would probably have made the same decision that you did. Enjoy. . . . Hans Wetzel