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Focal Scalas or Diablos with subs?

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Neuphonix's picture
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Hi all,

was looking for peoples thoughts regarding a purchase that I am considering.

I currently own a pair of Focal Diablos which I have had for around 6months (on & off, don't ask!). Amplifier is Musical Fidelity AMS Primo pre amp / AMS35P 35w class A amp. Source is Linn Akurate DS streamer.

Room size is fairly small, 4mtr x 4mtr x 2.4mtr ceiling, carpet floor on concrete slab, brick render walls front & rear, glass door/window one side & open to dining room on the other side. Listening position is about 2.5mtr from the fronts. Both the lounge & front speakers are hard up against the front & rear walls due to size restricton.

Musical tastes are electronic/dance, blues/acoustic, reggae/dub, bit of rock, some classical but not too much.

Listening volumes are typically soft to medium, I don't often crank it too loud.

I am very happy with the sound quality that the Diablos give me & feel that they suit the size of the room quite well. Synergy with the MF gear is good, the warmth of the a-class amp fits well with the detailed nature of the Focals, nice & silky.

At times however I do feel that they lack a little in the bottom end. Recently had a chance to listen to a pair of Scalas which a local dealer has as trade in, was very impressed. Everything that the Diablos offered and so much more. They will push my budget but with a trade in on the Diablos it can be done.

However I have just started using my JL Audio F110 sub with my hifi & I have to say that it has made me stop & think. I can appreciate that the bass is not as tight or as perfectly integrated as the Scalas but it would be a lot cheaper to buy one more sub than stretch for the Scalas. It would also have the added advantage of beefing up the sub section of my HT set-up. 

I have played around with the freq response & phase on the sub's set-up & feel that it is working OK. Still some fine tuning to be done. Volume can tend to move slightly with different source material. I don't have it set too high as I'd prefer a seamless sound rather than overpowering or muddy. less is more.

The pre is hooked up to the power via balanced XLR connection & the sub via RCA. From what I have read an external active cross over might be the best way to get the sub integrated but I would prefer to avoid this expense if I can.

Unfortunately I don't think that home demo of either the Scalas or a second sub will be possible. I could definitley take my amp for a run with the Scalas so this should help, but I doubt that he would want to let me borrow them. Already having one sub I can make a fairly good guess as to how that will sound.

So questions are:

1) Thoughts on comparison of Scalas to Diablos/subs

2) Suitability of Scalas to room size. This would seem to be the biggest concern. Asthetically they will be much more imposing, will the listening position be too close for such a big speaker?

3) Suitability of Scalas in a HT set-up (I use the same speakers for both)

4) Suitability of AMS35P to run the Scalas (won't be able to change the amp any time soon, have been told that it should be up to the job)

5) Placement of subs. Any thoughts on taking the Diablos off their stands & placing them directly on top of the subs?

TBH I already feel that the Scalas are the way to go, they pretty much blew me away when I listened to them & I think that the deal I can strike is great value. But interested to get thoughts/advice from those with more experience than myself. It's a pretty significant purchase & I'd like to get some objectivity if possible?!

CnoEvil's picture
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RE: Focal Scalas or Diablos with subs?

Neuphonix wrote:

So questions are:

1) Thoughts on comparison of Scalas to Diablos/subs

2) Suitability of Scalas to room size. This would seem to be the biggest concern. Asthetically they will be much more imposing, will the listening position be too close for such a big speaker?

3) Suitability of Scalas in a HT set-up (I use the same speakers for both)

4) Suitability of AMS35P to run the Scalas (won't be able to change the amp any time soon, have been told that it should be up to the job)

5) Placement of subs. Any thoughts on taking the Diablos off their stands & placing them directly on top of the subs?

TBH I already feel that the Scalas are the way to go, they pretty much blew me away when I listened to them & I think that the deal I can strike is great value. But interested to get thoughts/advice from those with more experience than myself. It's a pretty significant purchase & I'd like to get some objectivity if possible?!

1. Depends on the Sub and its integration. As your system stands now, how close do you think it gets to the Scalas (given as a percentage eg. 70%). You can then put a value on that percentage, and so see if you think it's worth it.

2. You are possibly on the limit (size-wise), and may mean you have to pay attention to acoustic treatment (eg. Bass Traps etc)

3. They're as good as it gets.....though getting a matching centre will be expensive.

4. IMO. No problem; as if anything, they may be easier to drive than the Diablos. The 35P has plenty of current (4 times that of the 35i)

5. Don't like that idea....but you would need to try it. The dedicated stands are probably making a good difference.

Nb. I'm not necessarily right

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Helmut80's picture
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RE: Focal Scalas or Diablos with subs?

Seen a pair of ex-demos for half price online!

I will keep it brief. Subs? Don't be silly. Even though I have heard some  pretty decent systems with subs, I'd pick floorstanders every time. Every single time. Surely a purchase of that magnitude should allow for a home demo (point 2)?

 

I find subs in hifi a fascinating issue. Seems much more common in the states. People with high end SFs + subs. Don't know if they just like their BOOM to shake the room or what it is? On the other hand there seem to be plenty of people in the hifi world who just associate subs with bad bass and boy racers. I am sure the truth is somewhere in between, A lean floorstander a la PMC 20s, fair enough, but a floorstander this size? I cannot imagine that anyone would need a sub. But i digress. 

Moral of the story: GET the Scalas!*

 

 

 

*Acalex seems to have reached the end of his journey more or less, we need others to vicariously indulge. 

Neuphonix's picture
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RE: Focal Scalas or Diablos with subs?

CnoEvil wrote:

 

1. Depends on the Sub and its integration. As your system stands now, how close do you think it gets to the Scalas (given as a percentage eg. 70%). You can then put a value on that percentage, and so see if you think it's worth it.

2. You are possibly on the limit (size-wise), and may mean you have to pay attention to acoustic treatment (eg. Bass Traps etc)

3. They're as good as it gets.....though getting a matching centre will be expensive.

4. IMO. No problem; as if anything, they may be easier to drive than the Diablos. The 35P has plenty of current (4 times that of the 35i)

5. Don't like that idea....but you would need to try it. The dedicated stands are probably making a good difference.

Nb. I'm not necessarily right

[/quote]

Thanks Cno,

thought it might be better to move this subject off your DS thread!

I am doing some acoustic testing of the room tomorrow with my old man which should be interesting.

Hard to come up with a percentage with out doing a home demo. The more I think about it the more I am inclined to force the dealer on this one. It's a big spend & if he wants to do the deal it may just have to happen.

I have been speaking to a guy on another forum who is very familiar with the Focal utopias. he has some reservations about the 35p, but given my listening volume I cant really see this being a problem.

I probably miss my old floor standers in the HT set-up more than music. As good as the Diablos are for sound quality there is no denying they have much less impact during a movie. I probably listen to my movies louder than my music.

Thought the sub placement wouldn't be a good idea, just putting it out there. If this won't work then this becomes probably as big an issue as the size of the Scalas.

Neuphonix's picture
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RE: Focal Scalas or Diablos with subs?

Helmut80 wrote:

Seen a pair of ex-demos for half price online!

I will keep it brief. Subs? Don't be silly. Even though I have heard some  pretty decent systems with subs, I'd pick floorstanders every time. Every single time. Surely a purchase of that magnitude should allow for a home demo (point 2)?

 

I find subs in hifi a fascinating issue. Seems much more common in the states. People with high end SFs + subs. Don't know if they just like their BOOM to shake the room or what it is? On the other hand there seem to be plenty of people in the hifi world who just associate subs with bad bass and boy racers. I am sure the truth is somewhere in between, A lean floorstander a la PMC 20s, fair enough, but a floorstander this size? I cannot imagine that anyone would need a sub. But i digress. 

Moral of the story: GET the Scalas!*

 

 

 

*Acalex seems to have reached the end of his journey more or less, we need others to vicariously indulge. 

How's that for a dose of objectivity!!!  Wink

You're right, there certainly does seem to be a range of opinions on the use of subs, personal taste, integration etc. I must say I do quite like mine, has definitely added something that i was missing.

I suppose my main concern is the room size. Home demo here we come!

Thanks for the reply  Smile

CnoEvil's picture
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RE: Focal Scalas or Diablos with subs?

Neuphonix wrote:

I have been speaking to a guy on another forum who is very familiar with the Focal utopias. he has some reservations about the 35p, but given my listening volume I cant really see this being a problem.

How familiar is he with the 35P, which has 80 Amps of peak to peak current, compared to the 20 Amps of the 35i?  I certainly don't approach max volume on my 35i in a room that's 15ft x 21ft x 11ft.

My Refs......90dB Sensitivity / Min. Impedance 3.2 Ohms

Diablos.......89dB / Min. Impedance 4 Ohms

Scalas.........92 dB / Min. Impedance 3.1 Ohms

IMO. High sensitivity but low impedance speakers, play to the strengths of an amp whose power doubles as the impedance halves: http://www.hifigear.co.uk/media/uploads/AMS35p-brochure.pdf

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acalex's picture
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RE: Focal Scalas or Diablos with subs?

CnoEvil wrote:

Neuphonix wrote:

I have been speaking to a guy on another forum who is very familiar with the Focal utopias. he has some reservations about the 35p, but given my listening volume I cant really see this being a problem.

How familiar is he with the 35P, which has 80 Amps of peak to peak current, compared to the 20 Amps of the 35i?  I certainly don't approach max volume on my 35i in a room that's 15ft x 21ft x 11ft.

My Refs......90dB Sensitivity / Min. Impedance 3.2 Ohms

Diablos.......89dB / Min. Impedance 4 Ohms

Scalas.........92 dB / Min. Impedance 3.1 Ohms

IMO. High sensitivity but low impedance speakers, play to the strengths of an amp whose power doubles as the impedance halves: http://www.hifigear.co.uk/media/uploads/AMS35p-brochure.pdf

 

Well, that's indeed not an easy choice. On the amp side I think the 35p will be up to the job and drive the Scala with ease. I don't see how 80amp of current cannot drive any speaker...especially if your room size is he one you mentioned.

I will also go for the Scalas if the purchase would be doable without stretching too much the budget... The only concern I would have is indeed the room size and the low ceiling. My dealer said for the Amati future I should have at least a 50sqm room to give them full justice...

I do think that at this level of price an home demo should be a must...don't give up. 

PS. My journey is not close to an end yet Wink

Neuphonix's picture
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RE: Focal Scalas or Diablos with subs?

CnoEvil wrote:

Neuphonix wrote:

I have been speaking to a guy on another forum who is very familiar with the Focal utopias. he has some reservations about the 35p, but given my listening volume I cant really see this being a problem.

How familiar is he with the 35P, which has 80 Amps of peak to peak current, compared to the 20 Amps of the 35i?  I certainly don't approach max volume on my 35i in a room that's 15ft x 21ft x 11ft.

My Refs......90dB Sensitivity / Min. Impedance 3.2 Ohms

Diablos.......89dB / Min. Impedance 4 Ohms

Scalas.........92 dB / Min. Impedance 3.1 Ohms

IMO. High sensitivity but low impedance speakers, play to the strengths of an amp whose power doubles as the impedance halves: http://www.hifigear.co.uk/media/uploads/AMS35p-brochure.pdf

TBH I'm not 100% sure, I came across him by searching through Scala threads over on Audiogon. I've started a similar thread over there if you want to check it out. I will ask him however.

Feel that his only real reservation about the power of the amp is for big music at high volumes & as stated earlier I don't think this is going to be much of an issue. Also being familiar with the MF/Focal synergy I feel confident that the sound is going to be fine.

The reviews that I've read about the Scalas do seem to indicate that despite their high sensitivity they are a fairly watt hungry speaker.

He seems to be very familiar with all of the current Utopia range having set up & tested/measured them for clients. He says that he's heard the Diablos on both Ayre & Pass Labs amps (not sure whcih models) & they sounded juicy/liquidy! A couple of his comments on other threads seem to indicate that he feels the Diablos are possibly the best value for money in the range, although he is an unabashed fan of the Maestro.

He has asked about the specific frequency response of my room before he gives an opinion. So I'll be seeing what I come up with after testing the room tomorrow. I'd say he's probably going a little deeper than I feel is necessary, but it is certainly interesting learning more. I have been meaning to test my room for a while, good to have a reason to get motivated.

Although he did say the sub option is possible, it was given with the caveat that it had to be integrated perfectly. Reading between the lines I don't think that he thought that this was something that was ever truly achievable.

 

 

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RE: Focal Scalas or Diablos with subs?

acalex wrote:

CnoEvil wrote:

Neuphonix wrote:

I have been speaking to a guy on another forum who is very familiar with the Focal utopias. he has some reservations about the 35p, but given my listening volume I cant really see this being a problem.

How familiar is he with the 35P, which has 80 Amps of peak to peak current, compared to the 20 Amps of the 35i?  I certainly don't approach max volume on my 35i in a room that's 15ft x 21ft x 11ft.

My Refs......90dB Sensitivity / Min. Impedance 3.2 Ohms

Diablos.......89dB / Min. Impedance 4 Ohms

Scalas.........92 dB / Min. Impedance 3.1 Ohms

IMO. High sensitivity but low impedance speakers, play to the strengths of an amp whose power doubles as the impedance halves: http://www.hifigear.co.uk/media/uploads/AMS35p-brochure.pdf

 

Well, that's indeed not an easy choice. On the amp side I think the 35p will be up to the job and drive the Scala with ease. I don't see how 80amp of current cannot drive any speaker...especially if your room size is he one you mentioned.

I will also go for the Scalas if the purchase would be doable without stretching too much the budget... The only concern I would have is indeed the room size and the low ceiling. My dealer said for the Amati future I should have at least a 50sqm room to give them full justice...

I do think that at this level of price an home demo should be a must...don't give up. 

PS. My journey is not close to an end yet Wink

Hey Alex,

I think you're right, time to dig my heels in and be a demanding customer.

Glad to hear your journey is not over, someone has to keep buying things around here!!!! beauty, eh

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RE: Focal Scalas or Diablos with subs?

acalex wrote:

Well, that's indeed not an easy choice. On the amp side I think the 35p will be up to the job and drive the Scala with ease. I don't see how 80amp of current cannot drive any speaker...especially if your room size is he one you mentioned.

I listed the speakers (above), to show that the Scalas are even more sensitive than my 205/2s.

A quote from the brocure I linked to - "The 35P drives most speakers easily. We do not recommend speakers below 86dB*, unless you are using them in a relatively small room...because of it's peak current (over 100 Amps peak to peak), the AMS 35P is, in real life, a really big amp".

*Your Diablos are well above this, and the Scalas are more sensitive again (beating my Refs by 2dBs)

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RE: Focal Scalas or Diablos with subs?

All very good points. As I said I'm less concerned with the amp than the room.

& then we come back to your point about % return. Even though the Scalas are a superior speaker in some ways are they suitable for the room? If they are better in which ways & by how much? Is the money worth the difference?

All quite subjective, but it would seem that unless I can do a home demo with the Diablos side by side there will be no way to say for sure.

Thanks again for all the repsonses, keep em coming  Smile

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RE: Focal Scalas or Diablos with subs?

Neuphonix wrote:

All very good points. As I said I'm less concerned with the amp than the room.

You will have a better idea when you assess the room......and you will know for sure with a home dem. Hopefully, any problem can be mitigated.

Can you provide a link to your other thread*....there is a lot of good knowledge over there.....and I only made the comment because I think very few people are familiar with the 35P, as I don't think they sold many.

*Don't worry - I've found it.

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ID.
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RE: Focal Scalas or Diablos with subs?

I think subs can work well in stereo set ups, and I've heard some interesting demos with two subs (one for each channel) doing a good job working together with relatively bass light floorstanders to really provide full range. I use a sub with my DB1i, and it's great, but admittedly not as well integrated as a good floorstander. Then again, I think I'd need to spend more than the price of the DB1i + the sub if I wanted to equal the SQ using floorstanders.

For me, the factors that make this combination work best are (1) budget, (2) room size and (3) space.

As these don't seem to be issues with you, I'd encourage you to go for floorstanders and post pics of your setup once it's completed.

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RE: Focal Scalas or Diablos with subs?

ID. wrote:

I think subs can work well in stereo set ups, and I've heard some interesting demos with two subs (one for each channel) doing a good job working together with relatively bass light floorstanders to really provide full range. I use a sub with my DB1i, and it's great, but admittedly not as well integrated as a good floorstander. Then again, I think I'd need to spend more than the price of the DB1i + the sub if I wanted to equal the SQ using floorstanders.

For me, the factors that make this combination work best are (1) budget, (2) room size and (3) space.

As these don't seem to be issues with you, I'd encourage you to go for floorstanders and post pics of your setup once it's completed.

My friend, all three are issues!

Budget Crying

Room size? Well if I stuck to my budgets I could probably be living in a place with bigger rooms! rolling on the floor laughing

Space? refer to comment above!!

Having trawled around a bit there certainly is a divergence of opinion on the hifi/sub discussion. It does work pretty well for me, I have definitely been enjoying my music more since I started using mine. & you're right when you apply the budget measure it does stack up well.

 

 

 

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RE: Focal Scalas or Diablos with subs?

Neuphonix wrote:

My friend, all three are issues!

Sorry, I misread the tone of the thread, I thought the thread had turned into "egg Neuphonix on to greater and greater hi-fi decadence so we can live vicariously through him.

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RE: Focal Scalas or Diablos with subs?

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I get the feeling you really would prefer the Scalas and you will always have that nagging doubt until you are able to have a home demo... so be strong and hold out for one.

Mac

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