Which system sounds better to you?
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I have some experience with both speakers so bear with me...
About a year ago I bought a Focal dome 2.1 system for our living room as my wife was using my rather expensive stereo set-up to watch the news and nat. geo. :)
The Focal sub is crap (sorry but there is no other way I can put it) it also looks like a vacuum cleaner :) but this is less important. Luckly, I was able to sell it quickly and I bought a Rel Quake instead - a much much better and versatile sub which cost me less than I got for the Focal.
The Focal Dome monitors are decent and fine if you want life style speakers, but they are not in the same class with the B&W 686. The B&W 600 speakers are very fine "hi-fi" speakers that are extremely good for the money. If you pair them with a Rel sub and a NAD or Rotel integrated you will have a system that will play pretty much any type of music right (of course the system will be very good also for movies).
I have started with a Rel-B&W600-NAD combo and trust me when I tell you that most systems costing 5 times more than that system can't play any type of music right, they will be more refine yes but not suited for any genre.
Consequently my advice is to sell the Focals and invest the money you get for them to buy a Rel sub and a NAD/Rotel integrated.
Finally, if you compare directly the 2.1 Focal system against the B&W 686 (without a sub) you might find the Focal system more exciting. But remember that the Focal system is a life-style system, i.e. crapy midrange (and not just that). The B&Ws, one the other hand, may not have very obvious highs or bass but have a good midrange which in the end is what really counts.
Good luck and keep us posted!
Happy new year to everyone!
I just bought some B&W 686s, and they are an order of magnitude better than I expected them to be. I discovered this by accident while putting together a system for my daughter. Not finding anything that really fit the bill on E-bay for cheap, or audiogon for a little more, I decided to up the budget and support my favorite local dealer, Audio FX, in Sacramento. Upon arriving at home, I decided to give the lil' 686s a test run in the main sytem. Not wanting to move my main speakers, which are Sonus Faber Electa Amators, or reroute my cables, I just set them up in a nearfield position, toed in on a couple of barstools with some audioquest type 4. I was amazed at the sound quality they offer. I'm still listening to them, three days later, in my main system. I think these things are Killers! They look like a thousand bucks, and sound like more. After two days of use with my Jadis Defy 7, I hooked up the amp they will be used with, a Hafler P1500 TransNova. Once again, I am blown away by these little guys. They can definitely be used in a primary system, in my opinion. All I was looking for was something better than the usual small bookshelf fare. Now I feel it will be an injustice if I don't perform wholesale upgrades to the front end of the system these speakers will be used with. So that's my opinion, may it reinforces yours.
I can't comment on your Focals, because I haven't owned a pair. But based on some previous speakers I've owned, the 686s compare favorably. I feel they're almost as good as Totem Model Ones, and Reference 3A MMs, for a LOT less money. Well done B&W!