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I have been resisting my lust for a pair of 1037be's. They do come up on occasion on AG, but so far, I have not pulled the trigger. I fell pretty hard for the Focal sound when I first decided to put a system together after demoing other brands within my price range ( Paradigm, PSB, B&W, NHT etc). In a year, I cycled through several models in the Chorus line, finally ending up with a pair of 836V's and an SW800 subwoofer.. I love my current setup, but wonder what incremental ( or exponential?) benefit comes from another upgrade to the Electra's.
Candidly, most reviews praise the replacement 1038be speakers. Why do you see them as having moved backwards?
I never auditioned the B&W 800 series - out of my price range. ( I paid $1200 for my 836V's and $400 for the SW800 sub). On the first listen at my local audio shop, they set up the smallest bookshelfs (knowing my budget). These were the 706v. They were so much more musical and lifelike in the midrange and upper end compared to even the 2 way floorstanders by PSB and Paradigm that I compared them to side by side, which sounded much drier. I then tried a 2 1/2 way floorstander (716v) which just built on the musicality but with a bit more bottom end.. I bought these.
Most agree that Focal's are not for those who want super bass but prefer fast and precise sound reproduction. That is my preference. But when a fellow I met on Audiogon ( I first bought a pair of 816V's and then bought his turntable) told me he had a friend with a pair of 836V's for sale, I jumped. These have downward as well as forward firing bass ports, plus 3- 6.5" woofers producing clean bass down to 40hz (33hz @+-6db). They sounded fast and clean with even better bass, the cabinets are beautifully made and the fact that the ports were not rear firing made placement a bit easier (I do not have the room to have my speakers more than a couple of feet from the rear wall). And they were CHEAP!
I still sought a bit more bass response, so when a sub came up for sale that matched (exact same cabinets = better WAF), I grabbed it. This sub goes down to 32hz @3db and 27 hz at 6DB - not as low as some but it was pretty CHEAP!
At about the same time I upgraded my integrated to a gently used Marantz PM-11S3 which doubles its output from 100wpc @8ohm to 200wpc @4 ohm ( although magazine tests show these are greatly understated figures - reporting as much as 169w/285w in 8/4 ohms). Even though the Focals are very efficient (92db), the resolution at low listening levels seemed to improve and , when I have the house to myself and crank the volume, the combination is pretty amazing.
So I am satisfied ( for now). But, in a perfect world, I would at least bring home a pair of 1037be's and see if the exponential cost resulted in a comparable increase in SQ and listening pleasure. My guess is it would be a close call compared to what I have now.
SJTM: I don't know what to attribute my (subjective) impression that the 1038BE is a bit less "special" than the 1037BE. I think Focal added a second bass port to the 1038BE, and perhaps that interfered with the "seamlessness" and cohesion that has me so enamored with the 1037BE. When I formed my opinion, I also noticed that Focal had dropped the price 2K, so I made an assumption that they must have scrimped on something. A total assumption/deduction on my part however.
I've heard most of the Focal line, except for the upper end Utopia. The 1037BE sounds very much like the old Diva Utopia BE, and also very similar to the larger Sopra (although the new Sopra is drop-dead gorgeous). I think you'll find the difference between the 1037BE (or 1038BE) more exponential than incremental, and I don't say that lightly because $$ definitely does not always = better sound.
I notice a pair of 1037BE just sold on A'gon. The listing was for $5500 but not sure what they sold for. There is another on now for $6500 I think. That seems a bit high given how rapidly loudspeakers depreciate across the board. Maybe he (she??) will take less? Good luck and enjoy the hobby!
I've owned several pairs of Focal's over the years, pleased with all of them, including the last pair which were the 1037 BE's. The most transparent and analytical speaker line I've ever heard or owned.
The Berylium tweeter is arguably the best there is IMO. I could not get the bass out of them I was looking for in a tower speaker w/o Subs but in the right room with the right gear not sure you could go wrong...
SJTM: My associated equipment is as follows:
Balanced Audio Technology VK500 amp
PS Audio PCA2 preamp with PS Audio HCPS outboard power supply
Cary Audio 303/300 tubed CD player
Rega P9 turntable with RB1000 arm and Apheta II MC cartridge
Musical Surroundings Nova II MC phono preamp
PS Audio PowerPlant Premiere AC Line Conditioner
Customized RBH subs with RBH 400 outboard amp
Musical Fidelity Eclipse tuner
Also, as I mentioned before, if you want to step outside the Focal line jump on a pair of Audio Physic Scorpios if you can find them. A bit less expensive used than the Focal 1037BE but also superb.
Klipschking - looks like an awesome setup. I almost went wit a BAT integrated for sale in my area, but it went before I acted. I am a newbie at this stuff, and still in the woods when it comes to the tube vs SS approach to systems.
I notice you have also supplemented your speakers with subs. Are you running two subs? 1 vs 2 is another area that seems widely debated on this forum. I have a single sub, but have it pretty dialed in to fill in the bottom end but still disappear into the soundstage.