Dynaudio vs. Focal - Bookshelfs - Help me Decide!


Hi - first post here and trying to decide between the twice as expensive Dynaudio Special 40 and the Focal 906 bookshelf speakers. I've heard both (in different systems, different dealers) but since a month went by in between visits, I cannot say for sure that the Dyn S40s sounded twice as good and warrant paying $3,000 vs. $1,500 price tag.  These are my top 2 contenders. 

Anyone else compare these 2?  My room is 12 wide by 20 long, using 250 wpc hafler modded DH500 and Vincent tube preamp. I do have a PSB sub I can use as well. 

If I do spend $3,000 range, then perhaps the choice is between the Floorstander Focal 926 vs. the Dyn S40 bookshelf. I'd appreciate any advice, anyone who has owned these, or compared these at the same dealer side by side. Thanks very much !!
kansas400
I agree with your assessment that the 906 competes very favorably against the Special 40 (which I also like). 

In this case, I'd go 926 allllll day over the Special 40.  The 926 is also the perfect speaker to get a really nice "full range" sound in your room size.
Ok thank you and yes the full range sound and sound stage from floor stander would be best. So next decision point may be - are the 926 Focal Arias $2,000 better than the 726 chorus floorstanders? I really liked the 706, so the 726 would be the floorstander model at about $1,300 new. Some have also commented that the 7 series had a nice (not bright) tweeter which I would favor.  Anyone heard the 926 side by side against the 726 chorus?

Thank you! 
Why would you not want to purchase the finest tweeter (Esotar Forty) and a mid range driver with the largest voice coil on the planet, that is inside the Special Forty is puzzling? Do not be fooled by the price difference, there is a reason the Dyns are twice as much. I would buy the better book shelf speakers and give them proper stands and a MUSICAL amplifier with power. Of course that will add to the cost of ownership. Adding a Sub (JL Audio, REL) would catapult this set up several levels higher than those focals as well. Over the long run the Dyns will be much more enjoyable to own and they are a special speaker indeed.

Matt M
@mattmiller  -- you haven't even heard the Focal 906 or 926 have you?  Don't lie....

@kansas400 The 726 are nice, but honestly the Arias are considerably better.
Contuzzi you havent heard the Dynaudio Special Forty, the facts speak for them selves. Focal’s lower end speakers vs Dynaudio Special Forty OK. Not to mention resale value is way higher with the Dyns later if you want to sell them.
Good points made, and just a comment that I tried my PSB towers in this smallish room and the bass tended to overwhelm the room, so the bookshelf idea like the S40s have good bass, but not overwhelming and can be paired with a sub to control bass vs. a floorstander. 

So the decision point could be S40s paired with a good sub vs. floorstander Aria like the 926 or 936. That would be an interesting audition but I don't have dealers around where I could actually pull this off! 
Just a bit more on my setup and I appreciate the advice; it's 100% music 2 channel system, 80% rock/jazz, 20% classical. I don't have enough room to place the speakers on the long wall - it's 12x20 so the speakers will have to go against the shorter 12ft wall. But I can bring them out from the back wall between 2-3 feet. I'm a little concerned that I can only bring them out from the side walls about 2 feet. The room is carpeted. 

I don't want just a 'studio monitor' pair, too analytical, bright, etc. I'd rather have some 'fun' factor in the speakers, very musical, non-fatiguing highs where I can listen for long periods.  Thank you! 


If you're in the $3k range there is a pair of Contour 20 w/stands listed here, not mine. He has them listed else where for $3500. I would get those over the 2 models you listed. 
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Interesting on the in-home trial of the S40 - what was your main issue with them when you got them home? Too much bass for a small room?  Finicky if near a wall, etc?  

I did compare the Kef 50s in store vs. Focal 706 and preferred the Focals; seemed easier to listen to vs. analytical so I guess my preference is in the Focal camp at this point unless others have similar suggestions.  Thanks  
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I am also considering the Aria 906 but I am very limited to what’s available to audition, has anyone compared them to the new Totem Acoustic Sky or Signature One? 
I just moved from the Aria 906 to the Special 40, and I found the Special 40 to be significantly better than the 906 in my system.  Using a Musical Fidelity M6si to drive them.  The 40s have much deeper bass, a clearer midrange, smoother highs, and a more cohesive sound overall.  My room is 13x16 (with bass traps and acoustic treatment), and they fit perfectly.

Of course, my ears, my system, my preferences, etc.

Best, Scott
Twice the price, I’d hope so.  ;)
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+1 for the suggestion of Focal 1008be2's. focal seems to be retiring that line in favor for the Kantana (sp). you might find them for around 3k or so. don't be shy about asking.

They are wonderful speakers.
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heard the special 40s extensively and they sound metallic and edgy, vs the contour 20 which sound smooth as silk.  shame you have to spend $5K for them.  
focals do absolutely nothing for me.  none of them, but this is my developed preference in sound.  no offense meant to anyone.  my advice is to get the best deal on a harbeth or spendor speaker that you can find.  the C7ES sound better than the dyn contour 20.  happy hunting....
There is nothing at all about the special 40s that sound metallic, edgy, harsh, etc. they are the definition of smooth, big, bold, with slight warmth, tremendous bass, sweet high end and have amazing imaging and soundstage width and depth. These are the best speakers I’ve had in my room under $10k. I’ve had a lot. The 40s need the right amp. Not watts but current. I’m running them in my 12x13 room with a 20 watt tube amp, a 40 watt tube amp and a 200wpc solid state. By far, these open up and give the most magic with a 20wpc raven nighthawk v3 amp. I couldn’t want for better or more. These speakers are jaw dropping good. With the wrong amp they can sound thin, and a tad hard. That’s the amp, not the speakers. They beg for tubes... 
@stevehuff  I’m running a tubed preamp into solid state AB amp and the Special 40’s are at the top of my list (others include Canton Ref 9.2 Vento’s and Holt Hill Cionnsaile Monitors).

I currently have Focal 807v’s which I really like but not an endgame speaker for me. Mostly does to wanting more bass and midbass to fill the sound out.

Im hoping to hear the 40’s in the next few months.
The Focal 906 really does punch several times over its weight class. Not sure it woukd be as good as the Special 40 but I would assume woukd be more amp friendly. I had the Contour 20 and it was a pig to drive although sounded really nice. 
Dynaudio S40's all day long;
I owned them and loved the sound so much I wanted more of it (bass reach, scale, volume) I wound up with Contour 30's then Contour 60's; Definite house sound all the way through. 
In my very simple 5.1 home theater sound setup I have Focal Aria 906 with the matching stands. I am very used to the Aria 906 sound; I really like these speakers and they do a lot right. Very expressive and open; seems to do great with movie-audio content; Probably the speaker to beat in the ~1K mark;
The S40s are more finesse sounding, airy sweeter treble but the biggest thing, they sound more 3D; the 906 are flatter sounding, not as 'deep'; Overall the Dyns sound more natural to me and less strained. IMHO the Focals can sound shouty at times (Focal's I have owned over the last 12 months; Aria 948, Aria 906, Sopra 2);
If possible, audition both in your own space with your own equipment;