Focal Electra 905 Floorstanding Speakers

Electra 905

2 Way ported MTM, 2- 5"woof and 1 Inverted dome Tioxid tweet

User Reviews (17)

Showing 1-10 of 17  
Frank   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 31, 2002]
Strength:

Accuracy, soundstage, good bass for a bookshelf

Weakness:

The only thing I've found so far is they are big heavy bookshelves. Will need a high quality stand.

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.

Similar Products Used: B&W N804, 804, 802, CDM 1SE, Thiel Cs1.6, Dynaudio 1.3mk2, 1.8mk2, Hales Signature 2.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Art   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 16, 2000]
Strength:

Good bass,soundstage,clear

Weakness:

The grills are hard to take off

I have a pair of Totem tabu's for about 4 months.I tried the JMLab 905 and they went terrific with my Copland Integrated,The 905's are much more efficient than the Totems and at 65 watts per channel the Copland was really working to keep up with the power hungry Totems. The Totem's are great speakers but the JMLab 905's sounded MUCH better on my system. I give these speakers a 5 star.

Similar Products Used: Totem Tabu's,Mission 754&753's,Celestion A2,Jamo Concert 8
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
b happy   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 15, 2000]
Strength:

Detail. Soundstage. Articulation

Weakness:

low bass

I finally made the move to migrate my audio system to a decent quality Home Theater rig. First to go was my old Magnaplaner MGIICs. I have always loved the big soundstage of these 6' tall Electromagnet instruments. My buddy owns a HI End Shop and has been counciling me...he told me "you've got to come here these 905's coupled with a Velodyne HGS sub. You will be blow away" Well, I auditioned them at the store and was very impressed..the room I was in had them coupled with a Nakamichi AV-10 Home Theater receiver...I am a little bit snobbish as I have always had separate components..my system currently consists of Adcom 555 Series GFA,GFT,GFP. NAD Reference CD Player coupled with a Audio Alchemy DDE and my trusted Maggies..Wiring is Audioquest Crystal Hyperlitz(speakers) and MIT something or other interconnects.

To make a long story short, I bought the JM LAB 905's, the Velodyne HGS-12 sub (what a sub !!) Atlantis Reference stands.....and the Darn NAK AV-10 too !

I got the 905's home, hooked them up to my existing system (without the sub) and was put on a Windam Hill CD (sounds of wood and steel) all accoustic guitar work...and was absolutely blown away...these things sound so Articulate and the soundstage is there!!! Well, figuring this is only guitar music, let's see what it can do with some good old ELO and the old Eagles album Hotel California...wouldn't you know it these old albums sounded outstanding too... Ok, how about some of the 'audiophile stuff' Jennifer Warrens famous blue raincoat, Rob Wasserman - Trios (gold cd of course) each disc I played sounded better than the last...and I haven't even broken them in yet.

Ok, now the real test...let's fill out the low end by hooking up the Velodyne HGS-12......all of that fantastic sound coming out of the 905's was now built on a rock solid articulate - fast bass foundation...it just keeps getting better and better.

Now, let's pull out the separates and insert the Nak-AV10.
Well, I gotta be honest here.....the Nak is an outstanding receiver, and it holds it's own..but loses the battle in soundstage to the Adcom stuff (I was expecting this)

Bottom Line: The JM Lab Electra 905 is a very very impressive speaker...if you are looking to spend around 2 grand on a speaker, these are a MUST audition...and like all great speakers, the better your front end is, the better these will sound, but even with a receiver these are very very impressive...throw in a great sub like the velodyne and you are set !!!

Similar Products Used: Magneplaner, PSB
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
grewper   Audio Enthusiast [May 20, 2000]
Strength:

detail, vocal reproduction, imaging, musical accuracy, midrange clarity

Weakness:

bass extension... albeit a monitor

Very nice speakers! If you favor a 2-way design with much punch and accuracy, it does not get much better. Tight bass response, beautiful mids and highs, solid construction, top to bottom coherency that rivals the best in the business. A bit shy on bass extension, but REL will cure that for you HT fans.

YBA 1 amp
YBA 3 preamp
YBA 3 cdp
nordost cables and connects
atlantis stands
roomsize 14" x 16"

Similar Products Used: psb, nht, paradigm, joseph, soliloquy, silverline, B&W, kef, etal
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Erik Haans   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 03, 2001]
Strength:

Detail, Voices, openness, soundstage, sensitivity

Weakness:

not yet found

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

Similar Products Used: Listened to a range of speakers some in the shop some at home. Including electrostats
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
ANTHONY DE LEO   Audiophile [May 13, 2001]
Strength:

Inner detail, very detailed, you hear everything in the recording,imaging, transparent, smooth and not tiring,build quality, openess, delicate midrange, and solid bass for a monitor. tweeter is very detailed and sweet when used with the right electronics and cable.

Weakness:

The only weakness I have is the front baffles where speakers are mounted and cut out is a little rough like over hang of paint. I found this unusual when the rest of the cabinet is so beautifully made. I spoke to the Australian distributor about this but apparently all other 905s are the same.

As i sell focal car speakers i had a love for there beautiful drivers but i was determined to listen to as many different speakers over approx 6 month period i decided on these beauties. The only other speaker that i enjoyed listening to was the nautilus 805.
One thing i have learnt is these speakers need a long run in period i have only had them 3 months and they are getting better and better, really smoothing out. If you are considering these speakers be aware that they will give you as good as what you put in if you have inferior electronics and cables they will sound bright and harsh. In the last three months i have tried many different cables and electronics and i am amazed on how different they sound with different combinations. Also these speakers will give you every detail in the music, microdynamics that you never new existed in songs, but these puppies will also reveal how good or poor a recording is as well. Pick the right equipment and the inner detail, and openess of midrange will leave you listening for hours on end.
These speakers require a long run in period to stop the sharpness of treble and midrange, and mine are getting better and better all the time.
Top quality electronics and cable are a must, something that i didnt really worry about untill i heard the difference in my own home. These speakers deserve hi end equipment to extract the inner beauty in which they possess.
I am now using an electrocompaniet eci2 amplifier which made an amazing difference to the sound absolutely stunning mids and highs now, so smooth yet detailed and dynamic with no sense of brightness. My cd is an Arcam Alpha 9 and cable which is one thing my hi fi store has been letting me try. The best combination i have found is transparent audio interconnects and kimbre kable speaker bi wire format.
A couple of other things which have also helped is cereamic cones for cd and amp definitely helped imaging and transparent power cables for filtering rf noise.

All in All a superb sounding monitor which would rival with the best in the business, i only wish i could afford a pair of mini utopias.

Similar Products Used: proac tablette, proacresponse 1sc, kef rdm2,snell k2.5, celestion,dynaudio, b&w cdm1nt and b&w nautilus 805
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Scott Churchill   Audiophile [Nov 03, 2001]
Strength:

Midrange detail, dynamics

Weakness:

lacks enough bass to be used without a subwoofer

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.

Similar Products Used: Monitor Audio Gold Reference 10, Revel Performa M20, Energy Veritas V2.2, Vandersteen 2ci signatures, Genesis
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Bob   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 17, 2001]
Strength:

Very fast, dynamic. detailed and open sounding with excellent imaging and soudstage.

Weakness:

Bass

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.

Similar Products Used: Revel M20, Proac, Dynaudio, B&W, Thiel, Paradigm, Quad, other JM Lab Electra's.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Shawn Chow   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 11, 2001]
Strength:

Good Mid / High range

Weakness:

Bass shy


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.





Similar Products Used: Dynaudio
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
ihor   an Audiophile [Nov 04, 1998]

WOW is right, this is an amazing product!!!
If you are in the market for a speaker in this price range this is an absolute must audition. Why?? Because it makes the Totem Model One Signature sound muddy!!!!!! Yes, it is that good. It has excellent transparency, resolution, soundstaging, depth, etc. It is very, very musical.

Any against, maybe a little too much bass bloom, but that might be the warmth of the newly revised YBA gear used.

associated equipment:
YBA 3 cd player, preamp, and power amp (all alpha , and the latest versions)
MIT cabling

5 stars for this price range!!!!!!!!!!! ($2000-3000)

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-10 of 17  

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