Product review: Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2 Atmos speaker package

French hi-fi legends Focal deliver a sleek and stylish Atmos speaker package with the Sib Evo 5.1.2.

For better or for worse there’s nearly always an element of aesthetics to consider when purchasing speakers. Amplifiers and the like can be hidden (or at least kept somewhere discreet), but speakers have to be out in the open so looks inevitably play a role in what you choose to put in your living room. It’s not just the design though, size often plays a role too and the balance between sound quality and looks is a fine line. Thankfully, there are options out there that tread that line like a well-trained tight-rope walker who’s feeling particularly confident in his trade.

One such option is the Sib Evo 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos speaker package by French manufacturer Focal. An evolution of its previous Sib range, the Atmos package is a sleek, gloss-finished alternative to having ceiling speakers or separate Atmos-enabled speakers that don’t match your existing package.

The larger, front two speakers feature a 2cm soft dome tweeter, 13cm Polyflex driver, with an upward-firing 10cm driver built into the top to handle Atmos effects. Three smaller speakers make up the two rears and a centre, the latter being the same size as the side, just simply laid out horizontally. Completing the setup is the 200-watt Cub Evo Subwoofer with an 8-inch, downward-firing driver and matte black grain finish. Rubber desktop stands are supplied to each speaker and two wall mounts are also included.

Straight out of the box the curved design is quite striking and the rubber foot that each speaker sits on is ergonomically attached, allowing for some tilt of the speaker. The speaker used as the centre will sit on the foot horizontally and you can rotate the Focal logo to be the right way up which is a nice touch. Connecting up the speakers to our Yamaha RXA1070 was easy. One point to note about the design is that it uses spring clip fastening (the toggle for which is built into and follows the curvature of the cabinet) and will only accept thin cables. Initially, we thought they were for banana plugs but alas it seems not. That aside, once the cables are in you can see the visual benefit of such as system as it’s nice and discreet.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol.2 is our Dolby Atmos test disc of choice and there are no shortage of action sequences to choose from to test out those upwards-firing drivers. As with any Atmos speakers placed into the front speakers, you’ll get more of the effect if you’re closer to the speakers than if you’re sat far away. Our Demo Room is 4 metres long and the Atmos channels needed to be boosted quite high on the RXA1070 for us to get the full effect when we were sat at the far wall. Thankfully, you can purchase an additional pair of the Atmos speakers if you wish to go for a 5.1.4 configuration and really get the benefit of that up-firing technology.

The general tonal character of the satellites is slightly brighter than we were expecting considering the size of the main drivers but thankfully the accompanying subwoofer knits in very well and provides plenty of bottom end warmth. As we watch a salvo of drone spaceships chasing the Guardians through an asteroid field, the Focals certainly show the zip and attack we thought they might be capable of. Bass is nicely dealt with too as explosions are hearty and powerful without becoming flabby and indistinct, something that is amply demonstrated with the musical examples on our Dolby Atmos demonstration disc. There’s more than enough dynamics and sense of scale to get our blood pumping but push it too much and there’s a slight brittleness that you won’t get when spending similar money on a package made up of hi-fi speakers. As a lifestyle package though they certainly tick a lot of the boxes to please most cinema enthusiasts.

So, aside from a few niggles with the cable connections on the satellite along with the natural subjectivity of the design of the speakers, there’s a lot to recommend about Focal’s Sib Evo 5.1.2 Atmos package. If you’ve a large room to place them in then you might be better looking into a custom set up where the Atmos speakers can be placed to better suit the room but on the whole this package opens up the height of your soundstage well without needing to install ceiling speakers. If you’re looking for a package that’s a cut above the average then they’re definitely worth checking out at your local Richer Sounds store. Call up to arrange a demo to try them for yourself.

Click to find out more about the Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2.

Author: Steve, Bristol store