Focus Audio Classic

Unfortunately I can not afford the Focus Audio Sigs which I love and have never really considered the classic line until now.

What do you think about them and what have you compared them too.

The more I can learn about these beauties the better.

No one out there has ever heard the classic series???

For those of you out there that like the signatures. what other speaker has the same virtues of subtle warmth, detail, sound-stage, amazing mids and of course excellent musicality?

Any input at all would be appreciated. Good or bad.
Hi Nick, I responded to your post over at AA. I guess very few have heard any FA speakers since, only Phil and me responded.

Go back to AA and do a word search for the Focus Audio FC-70. There was a poster at AA who no longer posts since he has finished his system.

But you can look up his posts and get some insight. You might also still be able to email him. If I remember right he listened to over 50 speakers before deciding on the 70's

Good luck!
Nick one more thing. Although Focus Audio dosen't have these listed at their website there are 3 professional reviews of the classic series.

Go to and type in focus audio and you will find 2 reviews of the 70's and 1 review of the 10's.

As Maxxc said, I responded to your post about the Classic series on Audioasylum. Basically the Classic series was designed and voiced by the same designer as the Signature series, so within the limitations of parts, materials, etc, you will get a speaker that has the same sensibilities as the Signature series speakers but without the obvious benefits of the best parts/materials.

Here are a couple of professional reviews of speakers from the Classic series:
Hello Guys,

Thanks for your input. I acually spoke on the telephone to the guy with the FC-70s. He is looking to upgrade and spend about $4000 USD on some new speakers.

I saw them for sale on an online add. He is acually only about 3 hours drive from me. I am going to arange a listen in a few weeks. I just wanted some other peoples input before hand.

I did email a few dealers for input too.

Thanks again for your help guys.
Phil, if your still around :) I saw over at AA where you posted the list of the "top 10 bookshelves" from the Yk Audio magazine original article. I've never been able to find the article on line. looks like a interesting read.

Do you have the web address?


I have a .pdf copy of the original article (where the Focus FS688 is listed as #3), but it is in Chinese and I don't have the rights to post it on the web.

I also have an english translation of YK Chan's followup review of the FS688 where he says that after spending more time with it, the FS688 should have been #1 on the list. You can find that one here:

Here's the actual list (without discussion of why each was picked):

1 - Focus Audio FS688
2 - B&W Signature 805
3 - TAD TSM-300
4 - JMLabs Micro Utopia
5 - Goldmund Epilogue One
6 - ProAc Reference 8 Signature
7 - KEF LS3/5A
8 - Krell Lat-2
9 - Sonus Faber Guarneri
10 - Wilson WATT
Thanks Phil, So no actual discussion of why they were picked? That was actually what I was interested in: the why?

Best Wishes Maxx

There is discussion in the article as to why they were picked, but the article is written in Chinese, and I haven't gotten a formal English translation. Am still working on finding a translator (my wife, who is Chinese, tried, but there were too many audiophile terms that she didn't know how to translate to English). :-(

Thanks Phil. If you get it translated would love to get a copy.

Hi Guys,
So there are some poeple that have hear the incredible sound of the f688 out there. i have owned b&w 805 sigs, green mountain europas, dynaudio 1.3se and many more monitors...the f688 were ahead by leaps and bounds

I had all these speaker hooked up to sim audio gear and the result with the f688 took my breath away. I had to sell them because of money problems,
everyone regrets selling an audio item at some point in their life, selling the f688 was by far the biggest regret in audio. I will be getting anothe rpair in the near future
Sorry to hear that Jason. I had to sell my Jolida tube amp to buy the FS688's. So I hear what you are saying with money problems and having to sell beloved equipment.

Best Wishes Maxx
i have another pair on order as we speak!!
since i live in canada you would think the audio store I am dealing with would be able to get a pair in a couple far i have been waiting for a month...there are some poeple out there that know about true audio quality when they hear it..Enjoy
ps Maxx what do you have powering your f688?
Mail me the PDF. I can read Chinese & I'm happy to translate a sumarized version.

Whitty, I've Sig 805. How is the 688 better?

FYI - Focus has been swamped with orders from their distributors in the Far East, so they have been in short supply, particularly in the wood finishes. But the good news is that they have just completed a new production run, so if you have a pair on order, they should be available this week.
Glai, you've got email...

Don't get me wrong the 805 sigs IMO are a great speaker, second on my list of the speakers I have owned.
I listen to jazz, classical, old rock. The f688 do all types of music very well, there mid range really is second to none (that i have heard anyway). I find the f688 to pull you into the music, 3d sound stage, amazing imaging. There are songs where you can actually hear that the singer is sitting at the piano, A little to the left of center and lower (seated position. I have had friends come over and show me their goose bumps after listening to a track from Norah jones and many other artists.

the sound from the 805 sig IMO are more separated, no musical flow or involving pace. Also the 805 sigs do not do rock music very well, probably because they are so acurrate.

Philnyc Hope you are right, I can't wait to get my focus f688 back... they really are second to none

best wishes
Have any of you guys ever managed to take a listen to any of the classic series?

While I would love to buy some sigs, I think the classic range is a little more realistic for me (but still a strech). The three professional reviews I have found for the FA classics were not that good. I am hopping that it was just there amplifcation was not up to par. What are you guys using, what do you find works well? Would my Bryston 3B be up to the task?

Thanks for you guys help.

P.S. I do live in Canada so I can get a pair for a realitively good price.
My wife would rather I take the money by a new dining room set to replace and our smaller one. But truth be told, I would happily eat sitting on the floor listening to some 688's. :)
This is what the dealer in my area told me (calgary)
The fit and finish of the older model are a not as refined
The drivers used are a lower grade (the 9900 tweeters on the f688 are worth 400 USD)
But he said one of the biggest differences is that the crossover and the tolerance between drivers (less than wilson watts speakers)

With the older f68 you do not get same refined imaging, and 3-d sound stage, The new cross-overs bring out the liquid mids and highs. The eton drivers produce a dense (for lack of better word) bass that you would not think to come out of such a small driver.
But remember this is all coming from a dealer.
Heh Nick,

The FC-70's are only 2.5hours away from you
Bring your source/pre/amp and have a listen.

I'm a Focus Audio dealer, and the orders I had placed a few weeks ago all just shipped from Focus earlier this week, so if you had yours on order for a few weeks, I'm sure you will see them soon...

Just got a call today, dealer has the invoice the f688 where shipped on monday i believe...the waiting is almost over...better get the merlot and some good canadian beer ready!!!!

Jungson JA-88D. Pure class A 80wpc integrated that sells for $1500. I got mine last May. Bound For Sound Magazine just released their review of the amp in the last few weeks.

The verdict from Bound for sound was that it is the best audio electronic value since the early 1980 when NAD introduced the 3020 integrated.

Based on Sound, quality and construction they felt its peers would be the Jeff Rowland Concerto integrated ($5800) or the Gryphon Callisto integrated ($7000).

Andy from can send you a link to the review if your interested.

It really does deliver a very, very good mix of tube and SS sound in one package. Mates very well with the FS688's.
Nick is asking about the new "Classic Series". A less expensive current offering from FA. The 68 you mentioned was the forerunner to 688 and was from the original Signature series.

The Dealer is correct. The 9900 revelator (currently used in the 688) was only used in the $8800 flagship 88 speaker.

The dealer is also correct about the tolerances. Wilson matches its drivers to within 0.5db. Focus Audio matches their drivers within 0.25db.

Doug from Soundstage magazine on one of his posts at AA said in measurements at the NRC, the drivers in the FA688 were the closest matched of any drivers that Soundstage had ever tested. The 788's werent reviewed at the time and I'm sure they would test similar.

From what I have been told FA buys their drivers in batches of 200 then matches them and keeps a record of their results of file. Should a driver ever blow the measurements are on file so the replacement driver would be almost identical.
Hello Philnyc,

Here is a question for you seeing as you are a Focus Audio dealer and a Blue Circle dealer. The Blue Circle CS integrated has always peaked my interest seeing as it is very afordable and has great sonics from what I have from other people. However that fact that it is only 50 watts has always been a bit of a turn off. I know that 50 watts can go a long way, however it aslo can only go SO far before it runs out.

That being said, what do you think about this little guy. How does he sound? How would you compare it to my current amplification (Linn Pretek and an older Bryston 3B). My current amplification does pretty well, its sins are sins of ommision. There is lots of things it could do better, but only one thing that it does badly. Its bass can be a little tubby, that was a common complant with the older brystons up until the ST series.

Does this amp have the power to drive a pair of Focus Audio's. Say a pair of 688's or say some FC-70's? Do you know if it is Class A or AB? really I am just wondering how it sounds and does it have the guts to diliver slam when required? There are no Blue Circle dealers close to me so it would be one of those order whithout hearing items.


I'll try to be objective...

I absolutely love the Blue Circle CS Integrated! :-) As you say, it's "a little guy", but I like to think of it like you'd see a cute little kid with some serious talent. Certainly it is not on par with decent separates, but for $1150 I do think you get great value for the performance it does deliver.

Best way for me to describe the sound is to quote two of my customers. The first bought one to replace a Manley Stingray that he had to sell; he said "it's close, really close. At half the price, there's no question I prefer the CS integrated." The other customer's first reaction to it was "there's no tube? Really?" So basically I'd describe the sound as warm, engaging, with a tube-like quality (I personally won't go as far as to say it sounds like a tube amp, but it is night/day from most analytical sounding solid state stuff).

As far as the power goes (and whether it can run the Focus FS688), I use this integrated with a pair of FS688's in my office. My office is relatively small (12ft x 14ft). Honestly, if I was using it in a bigger room that was more for listening (and less for work), I'd feel that I'd want just a bit more power than the CS Integrated delivers. If you try to push the speakers with it, you notice that the bass loses a little bit of control. In a smaller room at up to moderate listening levels, I think the BC integrated does a very nice job with the FS688 (the FS688 has a relatively flat impedence curve, so even though it has a relatively low sensitivity of 85db, they aren't tremendously hard to drive). It may be a tougher sell to drive the FC-70 (which is 4ohm and needs a good high current amp).

I'll say unequivacally that the FS688 deserves *far* better electronics than the CS Integrated. This is not a knock on the CS Integrated, but the CS Integrated is an entry-level product, and the FS688 is in a performance class far above.

I've never heard your Linn Pretek or Bryston 3B, but I have heard a later-model Bryston 4SST (?). Sonically, I think Blue Circle overall is much more engaging when comparing comparably-priced amps. Bryston, paired with the right preamp, can sound very good, tho (maybe a Blue Circle preamp? Hmmm.. ;-)).

Hope this helps!

Sonic Spirits Inc.
Thank Phil,

Just out of curiosity, what speakers or speaker brands would you mate with CS integrated? I am looking for something that sounds good, is very engaging, non fatiguing but it must still be true to the music. To me the music is what it's about. I am just trying to get closer to it, and feel what the artist really put into the album and wanted me to hear. I don't want my gear making things up. Or be stuck either side of the music spectrum, not to analytical and cold nor to warm and mushy. I guess I want to have the best reference quality system I can afford. Something more in the middle and little on the warm side if anything.

Currently I find my system a little harsh and etched. I am blaming my speakers for most of it, thus this thread, however I know my amplification needs and upgrade too.

Currently my room is 10x12, but once I have children (no plans yet) my system will move into the main room. 14x21 and will probably be set up along the 21 foot wall giving putting me about 10 feet back from the speakers.

Thanks and again. Everyones help here is appreciated.


I haven't tried pairing the CS Integrated with a lot of speakers, but the few that I've heard with good success matching (ie. customer systems) are the Aurum Cantus Leisure 2SE, and Triangle Celius. I also think the Von Schweikert VR2 might fill your needs, although I'm less of a fan of the VRs.

For the North American distributor of Aurum Cantus, see:

And for something a little more esoteric, the Vince Christian E5 (see

Just curious, what source are you using?
Oh, and Spendor seems to be pretty popular with Blue Circle owners, although I've never heard the pairing nor do I know anything about their sensitivity/impedence/etc....
Phil what is it you don't like about the VR's? Especially in comparison to Focus Audio?

One more question. My room is 12x13 and the bass is quite acceptable. Wondering though if I am missing out on much by not having a subwoofer? I listen primarily to Rock and Jazz. Also wondering if this might help liberate the little midbass drivers and open up the soundstage even more.

Any feedback from customers who have or have tried using a sub with the 688's?


I actually really like the VR4jr, but the VR2 (and VR1) to my ears just seem kind of bland to me. I've tried them both in my Blue Circle setup (BC3 preamp, BC28 amp), and I lose the richness and texture that I've gotten with a good number of other speakers.

Regarding a subwoofer, IMHO in a small room, it would be overkill. The FS688 has great bass extension (forget that it's a monitor, it reaches down to 40hz just fine with a good amp). To me, one of the greatest characteristics of the Focus Signature Series is how seamless it is through the frequency range. For rock and jazz, I would opt for an amp with more power before looking at a subwoofer. But as always, that's just my opinion... :-)

I've not yet had a customer using a sub with the 688 (that I know of), but I do have a potential customer who has been researching using a sub with the 788. Not sure if he's actually going to do it (he hasn't even placed his order for the 788 yet), but if he does and I hear the results, I'll be happy to share them with you.

Thanks for your help Phil,

I am currently using a Rega Planet 2000, however in the future I would like to upgrade it to something in the $3000-$4000 canadian range. Players I would start off considering would be a Wadia 302, Sim Nova, Audio Note, Linn Genki/Ikemi, Naim 3.5.

Like I said above, I just want to be closer to the music with a good system. I am only 22 now and by the time I am 25 I will probably have kids. So I trying hard to get as much upgrading done as possible before hand, I really only have time and money to upgrade each component 1 more time.

Some other speakers I like are were considering were PMCs, Totems and maybe even some Reference 3A's Duclets or Dicappo's.

The PMC's are designed with Bryston Amps in mind, so the upgrade path there would be a B60 or there new B100 that is coming out soon. The B100 will put a bunch of B60's on the used market.

With the totems they would like a Sim I-3 or Pilinius (<- spelling?) or maybe even a CS integrated if I got the Staff or Rainmaker.

Then if I am REALLY lucky some used Focus Audio's with a integrated. I am liking the sounds (and price) of the CS. It costs new what the other integrated costs used.

Money is a major obstacle right now and I have to work very hard for every dollar I can save. I am newly married I just bought our first home and I am trying to renovate, so the cheaper I can do things the better. However on the flip side I don't want to be disappointed in 5 years. It's quite a conundrum.

I would love it if I could trade some of my services in exchange for an audio product. I am a very talented graphic designer/web developer. I work for on the best design firms in British Columbia ( ). If you take a look on our portfolio, I have had my fingers in pretty much everything you see there. Both in the design end and coding. I think they look pretty awesome, except for were a few clients insisted on some changes which compromised design (however the customer is always right). The web are not my only talents, I come from a print background. I can easily do catalogs, brochures, advertisements, letterhead, etc... whatever there imagination could desire.

I have seriously considered contacting Blue Circle and Focus audio or another company to exchange services for product. It would be mutually beneficial as it would save both of us a lot of money. I am not some two bit design hobbyist, I take what I do very seriously. Both of their websites need help.

The Blue circle site has good content, however it just looks awful and is poorly designed in terms on functionality. It needs to be re-vamped and the navigation needs to more balanced, it just feels clunky. There current design has a solid base, it just needs an overhaul. Kinda like stripping a car down an rebuilding it. It's a lot of work, but in the end the two are not even comparable. What once was a beater car can now be a award winning beauty. Not all websites are worth saving, however I believe the Blue Circle site is.

The Focus Audio site looks nice IF you have a large enough screen, which most people don't (about 39% percent of people are still use 800x600). There are also lots of spelling errors and bad grammar. The site does not have much content and is a burden to navigate because it is all in shockwave. Since the site is using shockwave and frames it makes it impossible to bookmark what you are looking at. The "photos and stuff" page needs help too, the PDF files are to big, and the photos should come in LOW/MEDIUM/HIGH res.

I wish people would learn that good clean HTML or PHP or ASP is the way to go. All the other stuff is like adding tone controls to an amp; they are just frills and gimmicks which detract in the long run. There is no substitute to good clean balanced design and functionality.

Nuf said. End of rant of the day, and my plea too.

Also feel free to comment on my system and let me know if you see any gross errors in matching. Or if you feel one upgrade path will leave my feeling happier long term. I truly appreciated everyones help.

I am using a sim audio I-5 intergrated with stellar results
My room is 14 x 16 and the sim makes the f688 absolutely sing in my system. The 70 WPC is very under rated in my opinion, I have hear 6000 (CDN) separates that could not reproduce the sound quality and speed of the I-5.(not to mention PRAT)
I have also heard the mark levenson and jeff rowland intergrated at, at lease twice the price and i would take the I-5 anyday

just my 2 cents
Thats what I kind of figured but wasn't sure. Yes I have heard the 688's at Tonys. Very large room 26 feet long almost as wide and with vaulted ceilings and opening up into other rooms. In otherwords a Supersize great room.

Bass was real good but no where near as deep sounding as in my room.

Your right about the amp too. The Jungson has just a touch of bloom in the bass region and digs considerably deeper then the Jolida and Cambridge Audio I previously used.

I guess when I get my Eastsound CD5 CDP from Andy at Sekei in a few weeks I'm done. Should be a real nice step up from the $350 Cambridge 300 player I'm using now.

Thanks again Phil

BW Maxx
Great stuff! The I5 is suppose to be exceptional. Did you see the Review of the I5 limited edition in UHF magazine?

I think they are only making 250 units. I know UHF was absolutely in love with this amp. They are going to be using it to replace one of the amps in one of their reference systems.

I've noticed alot of FA owners and even FA themselves when doing shows, tend to opt for quality SS rather then tubes. Real compliment to Focus Audio IMO. Unlike many highly resolving speakers you don't need to tame them, just pick an amp and CDP to allow them to live up to their potential.
"I've noticed alot of FA owners and even FA themselves when doing shows, tend to opt for quality SS rather then tubes"

FWIW, my favorite setup with the Focus speakers is using a hybrid Blue Circle amp (either BC28 or BC206), so technically there's a tube in there. And the folks at Focus tell me that a very popular combination for the 688's in Asia is with the Antique Sound Labs Hurricanes...
Right SS amp with tube pre. I noticed looking at the FS website they seem to have used SS amps at shows. The Ayre and PS Audio being the most common.

I never seen any pictures from shows where they were driver by tubes.

However Tony does use the Hurricanes in his setup along with Audio Aero CDP. Another owner of the 688s used both a Audiomatt tube and Gaincard SS and felt the Audiomat sounded considerably better. However I'm not so sure that 22 solid state watts was enough in his 18x22 room.

Phil, Do you know how much of FA's business in the Far East? Tony, a year ago August when I visited him indicated FA had sold over 1000 pairs of the 688. Amazing for a speaker less then a year old. I know they are the darlings of the orient and if one looks at audioreview of the previous signature series. Almost every owner/reviewer is from Hong Kong, Singapore or Maylasia.

I apprecitate your help. Had the speakers for just over 12 months now and want to do a formal review over at AA in a few months when my system is complete. Amazing IMO no OWNER has written a formal review that I can find, anyway.

Don't think it would hurt to have 1 review to balance those reviews of the Merlins, which seem almost daily, over at AA. Hoping to write something a little more insightfull and helpfull then: "The Merlins are perfect and Bobby is the Man" :) Amazing something so "perfect" turns up in droves used at here A'gon.

Thanks again
The i-5 I own is a limited edition (number 178 out of 250 i believe) and compared to the other regular i-5 in my previous system the sonic signiture has a blacker background and a new found clearity...great equipment
Focus usually uses PS Audio for the amp/preamp; the Ayre unit you usually see in the show coverage they get is what they use as a transport to feed a Weiss-Medea DAC. At HE2004, we used a Blue Circle BC206 hybrid amp with the Focus FS888.

I know about what Tony knows...that the majority of Focus' business is in the Far East. They are picking up some steam here in North America, with strong reviews from Soundstage, Wes Philips, and a few more. There is one "formal review" on Audio Asylum for the FS788:

And yeah, it would be great if more Focus owners were more active on AA. But I can tell you that the number of inquiries/sales for Focus at my dealership has been steadily increasing, so I do think word is getting out there...!
Thats way cool. Do you have your 'replacement' 688s yet?
The dealer said they where shipped on tuesday...the wait continues

Jason customers who had theirs shipped last Monday/Tuesday all received theirs today. I'm guessing you are listening to them right now... ;-)

I still haven't hear from the dealer???
Maybe I will give them a call and see how the progress is coming.
I have been listening to a old pair of bookselves that just don't make the grade for a while now. I have been waiting for a couple months now...They will probably sound great right out of the box (considering what I have been using lately)

If anyone is interested, glai has sent me an english translation of the original article from Hong Kong describing why each of the top 10 monitors was added to the list. Send me an email if you'd like a copy...
I would be interested in getting a copy of that list if you don't mind Phil

b.t.w do the trentes make the list

Bluemike, you've got email...

Btw - I posted the list earlier in this thread (see my post on 08-30-04)...
I do believe that you are a blue circle dealer

Would you know if the blue circle cs integrated used as a preamp and the bc 24 would be able to drive the Jmr trentes easily

Would I need to hook them up any differently considering the trentes are a 4 ohm load

Your input is appreciated


Yes, I am a Blue Circle dealer.

If you want to use the Blue Circle CS integrated as a preamp, you need to make sure you order one with the pre-out option (it's a US$75 option). Depending on the size of your room and the volume you like to listen, the BC24 should be fine for driving the Trentes. If you had a large 360+sqft room and liked to really liked to crank it, you might want more power. But I'm guessing that your room is smaller (or you wouldn't have gotten monitors).

FYI, I've never tried using the CS Integrated just as a preamp; have two customers who have bought the CS with pre-outs, but I haven't heard it used this way myself. That said, the CS Preamp is an excellent entry-level high-end preamp...

(I demoed the Trentes for a month using the BC28 (120wpc) as well a ML 383 integrated (100wpc), and both were more than enough for the Trentes).
Any recommendations for stands with the trentes besides the obvious (JMR'S own Magic stands)

Thx for your input
Check out Check out the Meibao stands. I'm using the taller 4FX stands with my 688's. The shorter ones (23.5") would probably be a better match for your Trentes.

Very well built. 37lbs each. Real cool looking. Dirt cheap $229 with free shipping.