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Focal Electra 905
17 Reviews
rating  4.71 of 5
MSRP  2300.00
Description: 2 Way ported MTM, 2- 5"woof and 1 Inverted dome Tioxid tweet


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Reviews 1 - 5 (17 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Frank a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: August 31, 2002

Bottom Line:   
My search for speakers to mate well with my system may finally be over. (boy is my wife happy ! ). I've been auditioning speaker for a few months now. Speakers I've had in my home to audition with my system include the B&W N804, Dynaudio 1.3MkII, and 1.8mk2, B&W CDm1SE, Thiel CS1.6, and finally the JMLab 905. In dealer showrooms I've listened to Audio Phyics Yara and Spark, Aerial 6, Totem Hawks, JMlab 926, and some Harbeth and Martin Logan, JMlab Chorus and Cobalts (sorry don't recall the model#'s).

My system consists of a Pass Aleph 5, Adcom GFP750 pre, Rotel RCD-971 CD player, Nordost Blue Heaven speaker wire, Cardas 300B XLR's, and transparent interconnect for CD player. My room is small and all hardwood and is on the bright side.

So how do the JMlabs compare to the others...phenominal...I will be keepiong them. First of all I was looking for a speaker that could disappear in my room with my equipment and sound as accurate and detailed as possible. If the speaker did not do that in the showroom they didn't come home with me. The only speaker of the ones listed that did sound good in the showroom which has not made it home yet was the Aerial 6 (Although sounded a little thin in the lower midrange). So of the ones I brought home here's what I thought..

The Dynaudio 1.3 SE's where unlistenable. At first I thought they sounded nice. Very detailed and the soundstaging was good. But after about ten minutes the fatigue and lack of bass set in. 30 minutes later I was boxing them back up. Now I know my Cd player has some bright tendencies and could be to blame, but that's what I had.

Dynaudio 1.8Mk2's sounded very detailed and had good bass, but somewhat bloated depending on the recording. They still had an ever so slight brightness to them with my gear. I enjoyed alot of time with these speakers. (Second choice)

B&W N804 sounded very good at first, but, to me, where lacking in the midrange. I had to crank up the volume to get midrange detail and when I did the tweeter was to much for me.

Thiel CS1.6 where very detailed and soundstage was deep but was not full and was lacking in the lower end.

The kicker for me was that I went to see Martin Sexton live last night and today I put on his new Live Wide Open Cd and the JMlabs made me feel like I was back at the show while the Thiel CS1.6 which I still have sounded very thin.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Price Paid:    $1200.00

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Bob a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: December 17, 2001

Bottom Line:   
I have the now discontinued 905's in my home along with a pair of Revel M20's for 1 day of comparison. (Similar review posted for the M20's)

My room is large and open to other areas of my home. The listening room itself is 20'x23' with a ceiling sloping up to a flat 12'. The area is open to our dining room, foyer, kitchen and morning room. In all, I've roughly calculated 10,000 cubic feet.

I should point out that I previously had a pair of Electra 915.1's on loan for about a month earlier this year. They are a great speaker in many ways, especially for big symphonic pieces or instrumental's.

My concern with the 915's was with voice. Both male and female vocal had a thin quality as if not fully fleshed out. Once I became aware of this sonic characteristic, I could not listen without focusing on it. I did return the speakers to the retailer as they were the demo pair anyway.

Back to the 905's. The speakers were moved on and off of the same pair of stands left in the same position. The power amp is a B&K Reference 2220 (220 wpcx2) with a B&K PT3 preamp (weaklink, I know) and Rotel RCD 971 CD player. All cabling was high end Monster interconnects and speaker.

My taste in music covers all types with the exception of rap. I really appreciate big symphonic pieces as well as artists as varied as K.D. Lang, Leonard Cohen and Diana Krall. I have an M&K MX700 sub which was not used for the comparison.

I was surprised by how well both speakers were able to fill the room. They both presented a wide and deep soundstage with excellent imaging. Both speakers disappeared when setup 4 feet from the back wall and 6 feet from the closest side wall. The speakers were about 6 to 7 feet apart and my listening position was 7 to 8 feet back limited somewhat by furniture placement in the room.

Playing a large venue of music left me with the following impressions:

Both speakers are extremely quick and dynamic. The 905's may have a very slight edge here. This is probably due to their higher sensitivity which measured to be 3.5 to 4 DB greater at 3 feet from either speaker with pink noise.

The bass on the M20's is much deeper and more powerful than the 905's. For many types of music, I could live with the M20's in this room without a sub. The 905's definitely need a sub.

The M20's sound smoother through the mid-range on some recordings where the 905's can be ever so slightly aggressive. In some cases this was to the advantage of the 905's. They can sound more open and revealing. On Telarc "William Tell and other Favorite Overatures" the opening cello solo on the "William Tell Overature" had more of a sense of air and space. I could also hear the rosin sounds on the strings with the 905's that was absent with the M20's, even with the tweeter adjustment set to +1.

Turning to rock & blues, the M20's seemed to "boogey" better, probably due to their more solid, deeper bottom end. Although this also made Leonard Cohen's voice (Ten New Songs CD) sound a little too boomy with a bit too much bloom. His voice sounded more believable and natural on the 905's.

Which speaker to purchase is a really difficult decision. For my taste, because I already have a high quality musical sub, I will probably stay with the 905's. The added openess and air is important to me although the M20's are certainly very detailed, high resolution speakers. In small to medium sized rooms, I belive the M20's would be fantastic all by themselves with no real need for a sub with the exception of organ music.

I would really prefer a larger speaker such as the Revel F30 but the spousal acceptance factor is very low because of their boxiness and very contemporary styling. I am also audtioning the new Revel F50 because my wife does find this speaker decor friendly.

I have been very pleased with the overall performance of the 905's with the M&K sub in this listening evironment. This combination has been more successful than the 915.1's for my taste.

This may seem odd as the 905 is essentially identical to the 915.1 with the exception of the 8" woofer and larger cabinet. IMHO I believe the crossover in the 915.1 at 350 HZ is the culprit. Either the crossover or the interaction of the woofers and mid-range or both causes a low-mid, upper bass coloration on the 915's that is not evident on the 905's.

The 915's are also a very difficult load with large swings in phase angles and impedence dips throughout the low frequency and mid-range area. This could also be part of the problem.

I did get a fantastic deal on the 905's, new in factory sealed boxes in light cherry. I am still within my 30 day return period and trying to decide whether I should keep them.

All in all an excellent speaker. Too bad JM Lab discontinued the 905's as I've heard that the 906 is also excellent but does take a slight step backward from the 905's in some areas. This is not based on my personal listening but a discussion with an individual closely associated with JM Lab.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2001

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Shawn Chow a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: November 11, 2001

Bottom Line:   

I bought this pair because of the great looks and and it was
a totally brand new set at bargain price. It goes well with my Aragon Palladium II monoblock .

There is nothing much to complain about except for the bass
which I think is a let down. The overall quality built is excellent and I think the newer version 906 is nowhere near in terms of looks and performance .

It's a good buy anyway you look at it.

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Used product for:   3 months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1999

Price Paid:    $1000.00

Purchased At:   local dealer

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Scott Churchill a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: November 3, 2001

Bottom Line:   
I spent about 6 months visiting showrooms to find the speakers I liked best then brought 4 speakers to my house to evaluate them in my system.

I bought the JM Labs Electra 905 because they did very well consistently across the 13 cuts and the movie sound track from the landing sceen of "Saving Private Ryan" I used to evaluate the speakers.

I now use a Revel Performa B15 subwoofer with the speakers and strongly recommend that the 905's only be used with a subwoofer. My other components include an Onkyo Integra Research RDC7 surround processor and Sony 7000 DVD. The amps used were Proceed HPA and Parasound 2003A. The Proceed's are used now because the balanced connections drop the noise floor in my system about 20db.

My evaluation cuts included Jassha Heifitz on Beethoveen's Violin concerto, Dave Brubeck Take 5, and Buddy Guy Slipping In. I mainly listen to blues, jazz and classical music. My movie preference is action/adventure.

The Revel Performa M20 seemed to be the most accurate of the speakers I evaluated. The 905's were more forward and I prefered that sound in my system. The dynamics of the M20s were not quite as good as the 905's.

The Monitor Audio Gold 10s had the tonal qualities of the 905's but lacked the treble extension and dynamics of the 905's. The twin woofer configuration of the 905's seem to give them an edge in dynamics.

The tweeter on the 905 works for me. I am giving up a pair of well loved Apogee Slant 8's with 42" ribbon mid/tweeters. Only the 905's could compare with the ribbon tweeter. I had listened to Genesis 700's at a dealer and might have bought the 750's instead of the 905's if there was better local support for the speaker line. I recommend the Genesis 750's if you have a local dealer and like ribbon tweeters.

The Energy V2.2 blew away the other speakers with dynamics. Eveywhere else the V2.2 finished last. The V2.2 treble was too bright. If you have some wonderful SE tube amp that rolls off the high end you might like these speakers. The imaging of the speakers was inadequate in my system.

The Vandersteen 2ci's are a great value and outstanding speaker. For my room they had too much bass, I didn't bring them home to audition. I have 8 speakers in my system, 4 Electra 905's, 2 Electra surrounds, an Electra Center, and Revel sub. If I had a much larger room I would have gone with 8 2ci's and no subwoofer. But in my room controlling the bass is an issue. The Revel Performa B15 has a great set of controls for crossover and room correction.

I have purchased and sold more hifi gear than I can remember. The JM Labs Electra 905's were only purchased after doing enough research to know they were the best speakers for me in my system in my price range. I have lived with these speakers for 4 months and couldn't be happier with the purchase. I plan to keep the speakers at least 10 years.

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Used product for:   3 months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $1850.00

Purchased At:   Premier Audio & Home Theater

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Erik Haans a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: August 3, 2001

Bottom Line:   
I have been using these beauties now for one and a half year and am still impressed.
They are hooked up to a audio innovations alto amplifier and cd player. The amp is 2x30watts, so sensitivity is welcome. (most floorstand speakers were running out of control on the bass). Now the amplifier is in total control of the speaker.

The system performs exceptional in acoustic and voices. Some voices really give the shivers. Try Sam Brown with stop or Tori Amos album little eartquakes with piano and voice, Sheryl Crows Tuesday nights music club, Paul Simon rythem of the saints, The glory of Gershwin, Soundtrack stealing beauty or get in a trance with Portis head Music.
The sound stage starts on the speaker baseline and positioning is excellent.

I also have the TV sound (from the hifi video recorder) always on the speakers, never want a dolby surround. The voices already come from the center and the effects and background music is perfect in balance, also you can hear so many details, somtimes I think the weather is changing outside, but it is just a tv serie background. But also the voices of the news and talkshows, people are in the room.

What is also very nice: the tonal balance between loud and soft playing. You don't seem to miss out on things when played at a lower volume, all the detail are still there.
(Just missing some bass pressure)
I get very tired of a lot of audio systems, to much effort to translate 'music' , not with these.

Overall, excellent speakers for my 30watts and 34m2 room

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $1250.00

Purchased At:   RAF hifi

Reviews 1 - 5 (17 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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