Focal Aria 948

Currently I have a pair I am trying to see if I like before purchasing.  Not sure if all the all the great bass that people talk about is there. Plenty of midrange. Just not in love with them.  Anybody have any suggestions in this price range?  was considering a pair of Klipsch Forte, Salk Song3 beats and Philharmonic BMR Towers.


What amplifier do you have?  I have not heard the Aria speakers, but love my Chorus 836v speakers.  My local store sells Focal almost exclusively and they have always sounded the best to me connected to Krell.  I have a Pathos Classic One Mkiii.

I think that Focal speakers can be polarizing in that people tend to love or hate them.

Your take is right on the focal… no bass. If you don’t like it move along. even the Sopra lacks bass regardless of what the internet says…A lot of people on here listen to soft music. I need bass slam. 

Anyway the only speaker I can speak to on your list is the forte. I thought the bass was weak on those too, There but quiet. Then a long time later I say Erin’s audio corner (link below) measured them and they indeed have a base shelve (down). They will need room gain, placed near a wall to have bass.

Current amp is an Antique Sound Lab Hurricane Dt Monoblocks paired with a Conrad Johnson PV2.  

I prefer a little bass slam also.  Still like my old Cerwin Vega D3 for that. Was looking for some upgrade. D3 lack a little midrange.

Did you spend a lot of time positioning them? Performance is very highly dependent on positioning. Typically I start with the official recommendation and work from there. Distance from back and sidewalls, and triangle size are important.


Also, are they broken in. It is best to get a hundred hours on them.


Your electronics are oriented towards musical, natural, and mid range bloom. That is the strength of them. Tube stuff will have detailed nuanced bass that is very natural. Slam is something you get primarily from solid state equipment with a lot of power.



I second the positioning. I'm willing to bet they aren't far enough into the room or too close to the wall for the seating position. It took a lot of trial and error for me positioning my speakers to get even bass response in the room.

I had them hooked to a Pioneer SX 1250.  Still lacked bass.

I will give the proper position thing a little tweaking tonight.

The dealer ran them for about 200 hours before he loaned them to me.

Make sure you don’t toe them in very much. Focals like to be pointed at 90 degrees to the rear wall, or with minimal toe-in.

The imaging will improve and hopefully you will hear them as less bright and more bass. However, Focals do tend to soak up current in the bass and are not very tolerant of lesser amps. This is not, IMHO a good thing, just experience.

A non-destructive experiment you might also try is to plug the ports and back them up to the wall as much as you can.  Make sure to only use clean socks, as dirt and body oils can affect the port refraction.  <j/k>  but I do actually suggest trying it.

Josef Anton Hoffman, the 'H' in KLH was an audio engineer with a storied career that included working on the Manhattan Project in WWII, after which he returned to school at Harvard where he earned his PhD. In his career, he worked at KLH, AR, and Advent.

Hofmann's Iron Law
"There are three parameters that cannot all be had at the same time. They are low-bass reproduction, small (enclosure) size, and high (output) sensitivity." Hofmann stated that designers could pick two of these three parameters, but in doing so, it would compromise the third parameter.

The Focal Aria 948, with 92.5 dB sensitivity, gives up almost an octave of bass potential for that sensitivity. if were re-engineered to give up 3dB of sensitivity it could probably reclaim bass down to near 40 Hz. The best you can do is locate it closer to your rear walls to increase the acoustic loading. but that may have other tradeoffs you don't care for regarding soundstage and imaging. 

Amps like the Pioneer SX 1250, while measuring at 160 wpc had very low current… the real thing that supplies impact. High current designs did not start becoming common until the 1980’s and then only I expensive amp only components.

I’ve never heard the complaint the 948 had not sufficient bass extension but the opposite it was bass heavy. I had 906 for a while and they had excellent bass extension for the size, very room filling kind of bass. It was a little on the slow side but nice sounding speaker none the less just not very punchy. 

i have Aria 936 powered by Parasound A21+. I think you'll like JBL HDI-3800. I have gotten 3800s a few months ago (March 2023) and like them more than 936s. Specifically bass.

The Parasound A21+ is a hugely (!) more powerful amp than the Pioneer 1250. 

I have 936’s (6” woofers vs 8” in your 948’s) and the bass is outstanding. Please note that the impedance curve drops below 3 ohms in the mid bass region. With a PrimaLuna integrated and a Mac MA352, I’ve enjoyed those speakers immensely. I even drove them with a vintage Sansui AU717 with excellent bass. An alternative might be Revel f208’s…similar price point.

 No way that Pioneer  amp is doing them justice. Maybe consider a better amp before you ditch the speakers. That being said, this past spring I purchased a pair of Salk Song Towers for a second system. I hooked them up to my main system just to try them out. To say I was quite impressed would be an understatement. Very musical speaker that just made music. Left them in for 2 weeks till wifey said 2 pairs of speakers in LR was too much. Great speaker IMO, but Im not sure your amp would do them justice either. Good luck in your quest.

Honestly in this price range/speaker size you really need subs. An active crossover that allows for a highpass is really the key to good bass with domestic size/cost speakers. 

I have owned some of the products recommend in this thread and they all lack bass slam and extention. While Focal and Harman make great speakers they both roll the deep bass off for efficiency, or to keep the box small. Harman specifically seems to do this with both Revel and JBL these days. I own/have owned Revel,JBL,Focal and Klispch so speak from direct experience. 

Once you have a true full range system there is no going back. 

I currently have them running on my Antique Sound Lab Monoblocks Better than the SX 1250.  But still not the bass I would like.

Selecting an amp for those speakers if a deeper and tighter low end is what you seek is like chasing your tail. I had the Sopra II for a short while and paired them with Mac, Pass, and Coda and could not wring decent bass out of them despite a lot of positioning. At close to that price point, might I suggest the Dynaudio Contour 60...great mids and far deeper bass.

I use the Aria 948s with a Pass Labs Int 250 and Enleum 23R.  Plenty of bass. Speaker set up is key.  My room is 13’ wide x17’ deep and the speakers are 3’ off the front wall and 2.5’ off the side walls.  Play with toe in as others have said. 

Moved them around a little tonight.  1' from back wall, 30 inches from sidewall. Toe in slightly.  Sitting 12' back in a 12' by 18' room.  Better with this.  More tweaking maybe?

My Aria 948s have 7’ between them with a listening position 9’-10’ away depending on reclining. Play with the distance from the back wall as well.  When I moved the speakers further from the front wall it helped a great deal.  Don’t forget room treatment if not already done.  

I have pair of Aria 926 and pair of Klipsch Forte IIIs in the same system. Proper positioning in room relative to sitting area is critical, both width and distance from wall as well as toe in for both.  The Aria’s are way more finicky with position vs Forte’s.  Once you find the sweet spot the Aria’s are excellent. Notwithstanding 91dB, they do require more amp punch than the Forte’s.  I’m not familiar with your amp, mine is 23 wpc 300b driving 845 output SET, plenty of power.  Volume pot no more than 9 o’clock with the Forte’s and same sound level is 10 o’clock with the Aria, plenty of headroom for dynamic transients.  

Consider marrying with a good sub, REL or in my system a 300w 12 inch Klipsch reference.  Also takes a little position tuning and gain/crossover experimentation to get just right, but once you do…WOW! Bass comes not from sub, but sounds completely integrated with the speakers.  Gain for the Aria isn’t even first notch on the dial, with the Forte’s just past first notch and the sub disappears into the speakers.

Finally I’d call the Aria sound detailed, with warm, tight bass, excellent vocal midrange and sparkling highs.  Good soundstage, excellent instrument separation.  I call it an “audiophile” sound.  The Forte’s? Well, much wider, taller soundstage, rich bass, not boomy with penetrating midrane and clear, clean treble.  Superior dynamic transients, awesome instrument separation, superior vocal presentation, yes kinda like being there live! They are my “reference” speakers to judge all others (I have other Klipsch, Focals, and Vienna Acoustics in other systems).  I listen to country, rock and upbeat pop with the Aria’s, jazz, opera, acoustic folk, blues and low level late night anything on the Forte’s. 

lf I could only have one pair, I’d pick the Klipsch Forte over the Aria, but what fun would that be?? Just because you have a pair of dream speakers, doesn’t mean you don’t have a dream speaker! Klipsch Jubilee.

Best of luck! 



I'm a Focal owner, Sopra no2, her is my quick take on the Focals.

They like being powered with an amp that has a high damping factor

They are very sensitive to room placement

They are front ported so they can be placed closer to the front wall then many other speakers witch will boost room gain for the lower frequencies.

The Focal Aria 948, with 92.5 dB sensitivity, gives up almost an octave of bass potential for that sensitivity. if were re-engineered to give up 3dB of sensitivity it could probably reclaim bass down to near 40 Hz.

The statement is inacurate.  Aria 848 was already rated 37hz -3dB and 31hz -6dBat the claimed sensitivity, unless you are asking for 1dB tolerance which is rarely industrial standard.  Usually, the tower speakers with port or other low frequency enhancements are immune from the Iron law.