Focal Cobalt 810 Floorstanding Speakers

4.5/5 (16 Reviews) MSRP : $1350.00


Product Description

2-way Bass Reflex Column


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Reviews 1 - 5 (16 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

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

Date Reviewed: August 7, 2001

Bottom Line:   
Fantastic speaker here. I've been living with these speakers for the last 3 weeks, and I've never enjoyed music so much. It was a tough choice between the Cobalt 810 and the 820 - both were available as floor models at a substantial discount, and I auditioned both thoroughly. The sonic differences were not as great at the price difference would suggest (retail for the 820's is somewhere around $2500, while the 810's are closer to around $1350). The law of dimishing returns certainly applies here!

With the 820's, I could detect slightly more transparency and air around the instruments. Other than that, difference were minimal, and in some of the test tracks I used, I actually preferred the sound of the 810 - it struck me as a little fuller, sweeter, more solid, more "there" (both speakers were run side-by-side using the same source components.) In the end, I couldn't justify buying the 820's, when the 810's sounded so good. With the 810's I got 95% of the speaker that the 820's are for about half the price.

These speakers sound very sweet and very smooth. Perhaps a little on the bright side, and a touch more forward than average, but that is the way I like it. They are detailed but not edgy - the sound manages to be clear and forward, yet also relaxed. Both the 810's and the 820's were imaging and soundstage champs - first class in every respect. The sense of spacing and imaging I now get is truly phenominal - not only side to side, but front to back. On some recordings, such as Gergiev's recording of "The Nutcracker" on Philips, the pinpoint imagining is so realistic that I get goosebumps.

As far as the other models I seriously tested, the Vandersteens 2CE's were nice, but nothing about them gripped me. Everything sounded all well and good, but I was not drawn into the music. Plus they are large and cumbersome, and quite ugly to boot. Not for me.

The B&W Nautilus 805's were great speakers. Their sonic character was similar to the JM Labs, but perhaps a touch more agressive. They were also very attractive. But I preferred the more relaxed sound of the JM Labs, and at $2000 for the B&W's, the JM Labs at $950 were truly a steal.

By the way, JM Lab has recently come out with a new line of Cobalts. The 810 has been replaced by the 816, which retails for somewhere around $1650. I saw one of the new models last weekend, and the line has undergone a major cosmetics change. The beautiful wood cabinets of the 810's have been replaced by vinyl in the 816's, and the grills are made of an ugly gray metal, and are not detachable. I have to say, the new line looks considerably cheaper and tackier than the old line, which was very attractive. I have not yet heard the new Cobalts, but plan to soon. My understanding is that the sonic changes are not significant, but I will have to see for myself. But in terms of appearance, the new Cobalts get a C-.

My advice is this: If you see any dealers trying to get rid of their old line of Cobalts, snatch a pair of 810's as fast as you can. You might be able to get a discount like I did. The 810's are a beautiful speaker and truly a great deal, especially considering that the price of the new entry level Cobalts has been jacked up by several hundered dollars, while becoming considerably uglier to boot!

My other equipment:

Arcam Alpha 7se CD Player
Arcam Alpha 9 integrated amp
Synergistic Research Alpha Interconnects
Synergy 4 speaker cable (bi-wired)

I plan on biamping soon...I hope this will make the 810's sound even better!

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $950.00



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

Date Reviewed: February 26, 2001

Bottom Line:   
I got these speakers almost 1/2 year ago. I did not post before since I wanted to get familiar with the setup and make sure that I have used the system long enough.

Quickly, these things can't be beat for the money and likely even if you spend double the amount I doubt you'll get better speaker.

Initially I was thinking that these ones are too expensive. How good can they be? In 10 seconds after hooking them up I realized how inexpensive they are.

My setup:
Cobalt 810 x4
Cobalt CC20 x1
Marantz SR7000 AV/REC
Bryston B60 INT amp
Technics A10 DVD Audio
Transparent Music Link interconnects
Audioquest spkr cable (bi-wired)

That is right, I ended up buying 2 pairs, and I never looked back.

I don't think that there is any point in me trying to describe how they sound, there is so many variables that it is mute point for the most part.


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Used product for:   3 months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Mack McCullough a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: December 15, 2000

Bottom Line:   
Current System: JM Lab Cobalt 810's
Audio Refinement Complete Amp
Rega Planet CD Player
Chang Lightspeed Line Conditioner
Straight Wire Cresendo Interconnect
Straight Wire Octave II Speaker Cable

I have owned the 810's for about a month. They are hands down the best speakers I have owned. They sounded a little muddy in the bass for about the first week. That subsided now there is excellent bass definition. Drum symbols were not that present at first. The 810's are still opening up with excellent detail begining to emerge by the second week. Now into week five and the 810's are really singing. Exellent top to bottom coherence. They flat out reproduce music in a very engaging manner. The music sounds live and performers come to life. Sink into the chair and hang on for a great listening session.

If you like any kind of music these are the speakers. Jazz, rock, R&B, vocals are all handled without a hitch. Horns, guitar, piano, strings are all fleshed out with no compression or stridency. The midrange is where the 810's really live. You will be drawn into the score and play song after song.

Compared to the Paradigm Reference 20 and 60's the 810's blow them away. The theil 1.5's are too weak. You get a flat response and a flat sound very detailed but uninvolving. The theil's are not very dynamic and soft to loud passages don't sound much different.

The Cobalt 810's are very system dependent. Use good electronics and you will get good sound. Use excellent electronics and accessories and you will be rewarded with musical bliss.

I traded in my Bryston B60 and Krell 300i for the Audio Refinement Complete. This made the 810's really sing.

If you do purchase the 810's make sure you get the optional stands and use good speaker cable. If you don't they won't perform up to their potential.

For those lucky individuals who already own JM Lab Speakers;
Happy Listening!

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $1350.00

Purchased At:   Audio Center Inc.



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

Date Reviewed: November 1, 2000

Bottom Line:   
I purchased the 810's after auditioning a pretty vast array of very different speakers, including B&W's and Alon's. While each has a particular quality that grabs you, the 810's were so natural and balanced that they were hands down the winners -- particularly for home theater, where the brightness of the Alon's would have been deadly. The somewhat light bass is easily compensated for by my REL sub, and in any event is plenty for most types of listening, and probably truer than the overdone bass of many speakers. The things even match my furniture!

Highly recommend -- especially for versatility between home theater and music.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $1100.00



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Nexus6 a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: November 27, 1999

Bottom Line:   
JMLab speakers are, essentially, an acquired taste. Unlike so many so-called "high end" speakers that have one or two really catchy attributes, these do not. When listening, nothing leaps out and grabs you - no overdone bass, forward midrange, nor over emphasized treble; all things that can serve to sell a speaker following a five minute audition. Instead, the JMlab line, and this speaker in particular, give a very neutral presentation, one that grows on me as being *right* & real.

Tonal balance is accurate, imaging precise to nearly the level of planar or electrostatic speakers, and detail enough to convey the true musical experience.

The only real drawback to this speaker is the lack of real low frequency extension, but given the driver and box parameters it acquits itself well in this department. Recommended for use with both tubes and solid state, providing they are electronics of reasonable quality. I have heard this speaker with YBA, Audio Refinement, NAD, Audio Research, Threshold, Rotel, & Amber gear, and the better the associated equipment, the better the 810 gets.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1999




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