31 December 2010|
The Polyglass series of speakers has been arguably the most successful series in Focal’s product line, combining advanced technologies with careful manufacturing techniques and years of experience. The 165 V 30 system is sold as a 6.5-inch system, but is actually a 6.75-inch system that will fit in most applications. As you’d expect from a product with Focal’s reputation of quality and performance, the system isn’t cheap at $549.00 in the U.S., but when it comes to quality audio gear, you do get what you pay for. The Polyglass 165 V 30 component system is rated for 80 watts continuous power, with a 160 watt maximum power specification.
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FEATURES & CONSTRUCTION
Using a design and manufacturing process that has been continually updated and refined for three decades, the Polyglass 165 V 30 system has been designed and built for exceptional sound quality and reliability at a moderate price. Based on the famous Polyglass cone, which uses hollow silica glass micro-spheres deposited on a pulp-paper cone, the result is a very rigid and strong, yet lightweight material. The cone is held in place on the outer edges by a butyl rubber surround which in turn is fastened to a die-cast aluminum basket, for very low resonance and maximum strength and rigidity. The visible circumference of the basket features a diamond cut finish, and each basket is engraved with a serial number, guaranteeing authenticity. Driving the cone is a full 1” voice coil wound on a temperature resistant Kapton former. The motor assembly is vented, and an integrated voice coil cooling system improves heat dissipation for increased power handling and reliability. The front side of the Polyglass cone is finished with a semi-rigid dustcap to assist in the control of harmonics. Solidly mounted, male spade terminals are provided for connection to your amplifier.
The tweeter of the Polyglass 165 V 30 system is a Focal TNB inverted dome unit which is more efficient in the transformation of electrical to mechanical energy. A neodymium motor provides the magnetic field for a voice coil wound on an aluminum former. The result is a very linear tweeter, and very good heat dissipation characteristics. The inverted dome design results in a tweeter offering improved off-axis response, and more forgiving of location issues than conventional tweeters. As you’d expect, similar attention to detail has gone into the crossover networks. A simple yet elegant design, the crossovers use high quality components, such as low-resistance air core inductors and high-speed polypropylene capacitors. A switch is included to adjust the response of the system to suit your listening conditions, and it makes a significant difference. The connections are made via gold plates screw terminals, and a smoked cover trims out the cosmetics.
Because component systems like this are not intended to reproduce the lowest registers, I use a high pass crossover set at 80Hz to feed the system. This allows me to push the system to high power levels without fear of damage from over excursion. After getting the Polyglass 165 V 30 system installed in the baffles and connected to my reference system, I put the Focal system through a series of musical paces, changing genres and volume levels as I evaluated the systems sonics.
At this price level, I expected good sonic performance, and the Focal system didn’t disappoint. In fact, the longer I listened to the system, the more I appreciated how good it really is. For example, complex orchestral passages were reproduced with very good clarity and definition, and the system had no problem handling the drastic changes in dynamics available in a good classical recording. These are fairly transparent sounding speakers, that is to say they reproduce the music without adding any significant amount of coloration. With speakers like these, it becomes easier to identify the brand of piano or guitar being played, or to notice details and nuances in the music that’s lost with less capable loudspeakers. Multiple voices singing in harmony were easy to identify as individual singers, and in my listening room, the system presented a very believable soundstage. The Focal Polyglass 165 V 30 system sounded remarkably without coloration, and was excellent at reproducing the music accurately.
ON THE BENCH
Frequency response curves from the Polyglass 165 V 30 system were about as flat as any system I’ve measured in recent memory, and backed up the accuracy I’d noted during my listening session. Performing an impedance curve measurement of the system showed the midrange has a low Fs of only 62Hz, which is good for mid-bass performance, and allows you to set the amps high-pass filter a bit lower. Good mid-bass performance tends to help bring the sub bass forward in the car, and improves the general stereo imaging.
The Focal Polyglass 165 V 30 system is just the ticket for anyone who considers themselves a critical or skilled listener, or someone who simply enjoys listening to music as it was intended to sound. The system is priced in about the middle to upper middle of the market, and after evaluating it carefully, I understand why it’s so popular- it’s simply great value for the money. With performance this good, to make significant improvements to the sonic performance of a system is going to cost a whole lot more money. Which is precisely why Focal also builds the K2 Power and Utopia Be series. But even as good as those high end products are, it would be tough to beat the Polyglass series in the performance per dollar category.
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