Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2 AV Review

Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2 AV Review


This is my look at the Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2 AV speaker system, featuring Dolby Atmos (under licence). I’m not really into the whole AV thing if I’m honest so I may stand to be corrected in certain parts.  So, the 5 is the speakers (two Sib Evo with upward firing Dolby Atmos® technology and three Sib Evo centre and rear speakers), the 1 is one subwoofer and the 2 is two upward firing speakers for Dolby Atmos® technology, created to envelop the sound around you. I’ve got that right I’m sure so we will press on.

Out of the Box

Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2In the Box is everything you need, it is well packed, goodness knows how I’ll get it back in the box, it will be like packing one of those Japanese wooden 3D puzzles.

Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2In the box are the five speakers, the sub woofer and a bag of bits for screwing the rear speakers to the wall (I guess?), though I have no fittings.

I have been given a reel of Atlas Equator Cable, this is the only extra you need to think about (apart from the simple matter of a 4K TV and a Dolby Atmos® capable AV receiver, and a sofa!).

Setting Up

Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2This is the bit I cannot be doing with. I do understand once it is set-up we’re all good but really there are wires everywhere. It all needs stripping getting the right phase and it is just a painful process. The back of the Pioneer SC-LX59 AV Receiver I am using for this review is a very compact place and the speaker terminals are not the easiest to manage, bare wired as I am.

Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2The back of the Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2 system uses bare wires as well, there is a button to press to open up the terminals and when you release the buttons, they nip the bare wires tightly, a neat system, fiddly but neat. The sub woofer is connected with an RCA connecter from the back of the Pioneer. It needs a separate power supply.

I have the sub set with the crossover at around 60 Hz, the lo frequency response of the speakers with the volume set near half so I think that means I’ve got it covered.

Pioneer for Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2Finally, with set-up, the centre speaker is put on its side by unscrewing the already fitted rubber stand from one of the ordinary Sib Evo speakers. The Focal Logo turns 90 degrees to show the logo correctly, love it. There is a rubber sticky thing to keep the speaker in place, if wanted.

Quality

It’s Focal, so the finish is lovely, the Sib Evo speakers and the Dolby Atmos® ones are similarly shiny, polished and very nice. All five of the Evo speakers come on their own rubber bases creating a very effective bond with a table top or other surface. The sub is made of MDF but has big solid rubber feet.

Specification

From the Focal Site

the Evo speaker spec is very similar to the ordinary speaker spec

Speakers 5″ (13cm) Polyflex woofer 3/4″ (19mm) soft dome tweeter

Frequency response (+/-3dB) 70Hz to 25kHz

Low frequency point (-6dB) 66Hz

Sensibility (2.83V/1m) 90dB

Nominal Impedance 6 Ohms Crossover Frequency 3.5kHz

Recommended Amplifier Power 25 – 200W

Dimensions (HxWxD) 915/16″x63/8″x63/8″ (252x162x162mm)

Weight (unit) 4lbs (1.8kg)

Sub Woofer

Speaker 8 1/4inch (21cm) Polyflex woofer

Frequency response (+/-3dB) 35Hz – 150Hz

Cutoff frequency (-6dB) 30Hz

RCA input Right, left LFE

Cut-off frequency 3.5kHz

Phase adjustment Phase inverter 0° / 180°

Amplifier power 200W Class-D amplifier

Power mode On / Autopower (0.5W)

Dimensions (H x W x D) 2″ x 111/8″ x 113/4″ (305x282x299mm)

Weight (per unit) 17.5lbs (8kg)

Pioneer SC-LX59 AV Receiver

Pioneer with Dolby Atmos for Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2I’m using this rather excellent Pioneer SC-LX59 AV Receiver, it is very capable with Dolby Atmos® featured, 9.2.2 optionality and all sorts of fabulous features I have no clue about. The key is I have a high volume HDMI cable from my Sky box and an Oppo BDP-205 which is 4K and Dolby Atmos® ready (although I found this). I am at least capable of wiring it up and running the audio set-up routine that uses a supplied microphone to optimise the chosen set-up, in my case 5.1.2. Running the test I had only one channel with the wrong phase, not bad!  The Pioneer runs a series of tests and pulses for the room and optimises the sound for the room.

Atlas Cables

I’m using standard Atlas Element cable, very excellent for what it does at the price it does it.

4K Oppo BDP-205

Pioneer and Oppo BDP-205 with Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2I’m using an Oppo BDP-205 for the review. A beautiful piece of equipment and usually my Reference CD player. But not now. I have a 4K copy of Blade Runner 2049 and the new Star Wars film in 4K too so line them up.

Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2 Performance

Turning everything on, the lights dim due to the surge, kidding of course, and my LG TV tells me I have an HDR+ picture and Dolby Atmos® lights up the on the Pioneer display window to tell me I have set-up everything correctly.  The room we’re in is medium size so I think this package suits the room very well indeed.

Bose Jewel speaker

I have been running the Pioneer into a 5.1 set-up made of some Bose Jewel speakers and a very capable, though noisey Def Tech Sub Woofer as a replacement for the Acoustimass system and a Bose Lifestyle 25 cinema system. Frankly the Lifestyle system was poor as it was so old and Bose is like Apple.  If you want an upgrade everything has to go unless you pay double for half the quality so the Pioneer replacement was a really effective shout, if a little limited (The story is that I have the Bose Jewel speaker cables, etc buried in my walls so I was really struggling to upgrade the system and this did a pretty good job. I have had no bother with low frequency rumbles, etc and dialogue from Sky and Blu-Rays has been good, not great (but read on).

Blade Runner 2049 4K

There is no problem with dialogue, it is crystal clear, crisp from the defined centre speaker

I use the ‘2049’ track for listening to low end frequency response anyway (see my Moon v600i v2 review) but this was a whole new game. Blimey, what a sound. The Sib Evo with Dolby Atmos® really is a Blockbuster (pun intended). My room shakes as the atmospheric opening scene rumbles, without compromise, around me. This is ten times better than the Jewel speaker set-up. There is no problem with dialogue, it is crystal clear, crisp from the defined centre speaker, and the earlier scenes with rain make you look around you, and up. The best demonstration of the Dolby Atmos® technology is the scene in Blade Runner 2049 about an hour and 40 minutes in when KD 6-3.7 (Ryan Gosling’s character), looking for Deckard, comes across several hives of bees. They’re just buzzing around you everywhere, above, behind, amazing.

Other amazing scenes for the Dolby Atmos® come in the Wallace building, where the clear dialogue echoes around the room, on screen and all around you. Fabulous.

From purely a speaker point of view, I am finding the Focal Sib Evos to very tight and controlled, with mid ranges and vocals very satisfactory indeed. Streaming bit perfect networked music from my server the front stereo speakers are really responsive and the vocals are excellent. In fact I now have a perfectly excellent HiFi in the room with networked or Bluetooth music through the Pioneer being perfectly acceptable. Resolution is extremely good, with a 24 bit ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ source coming across very nicely indeed.

Star Wars Last Jedi 4K

this is a real cinema experience

We watched The Last Jedi together as a family, what a noise and presentation, this is a real cinema experience.

Sky HD TV

the Sib Evo Dolby Atmos® speakers throw front sound upwards anyway, enveloping the listener in the experience, the football is great

I have ordinary Sky HD TV (Dolby Atmos® is coming to Sky Q soon I gather) so there is no delivered Dolby Atmos® but the system reverts to Dolby Surround. This is fine, the Sib Evo Dolby Atmos® speakers throw front sound upwards anyway, enveloping the listener in the experience, the football is great.

Overall

If you’re doing home cinema, do it properly! This Focal Sib Evo package, near £1,100, is an outright un-compromised proper cinema experience

If we are being honest here and you don’t mind wires, you should really forget these sound bars, sound bases and other compromises. If you’re doing home cinema, do it properly!  This Focal Sib Evo package, near £1,100, is an outright un-compromised proper cinema experience. Buy some proper stands and good cable and join the home cinema revolution.

Love

Enveloping experience

Sub Woofer control

Outright cinema experience

The price, I’m making enquiries

Like

Whole package

Wish

I had a bigger TV

For more information from Focal, take a look here.

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