In the world of high-end premium quality HiFi speakers, there are many reputable brands that will immediately cross your mind. When we talk about the ones in France, Focal will definitely be the first to come to mind. With over 40 years spent on designing top quality high fidelity speakers for your home and your automobile, constantly pushing the boundary of sound so to offer us an amazing listening experience.
A fun fact about Focal, they used to supply speaker drivers to other brands such as the renowned Wilson Audio then they decided to make their own speakers. This clearly shows that Focal has the capability of making exceptionally high-quality speakers themselves. Their years of dedication and innovation have created many award-winning HiFi products, and this proves my earlier point. Today we are going to review one of their products, it is a pair of floorstanding speakers named Focal Electra 1038 Be.
Focal Electra 1038 Be Loudspeakers – What You Should Know?
Focal Electra 1038 Be is a pair of high-end floorstanders that comes with a hefty price tag of about $10,000. Its pure Beryllium IAL 27mm inverted dome tweeter, is capable of a very wide response from 2 kHz – 40 kHz. The material Beryllium used to make this exceptional tweeter, is ultra-light and more rigid than titanium and aluminum at the same volume-mass. The IAL stands for Infinite Acoustic Loading is a technology they used to improve their tweeter even further.
It has a 6.5 inch (165mm) ‘W’ cone midrange, located at the top of the speaker (right above the tweeter), made of the patented composite sandwich giving you outstanding dynamics and lightness. Focal Electra 1038 Be has three 7inch (180mm) ‘W’ cone woofers, also made of the patented composite sandwich giving you outstanding stiffness and lightness. The three ‘W’ cone woofers are located right below the tweeter.
It uses a vented system that has a front laminar port, ensuring you no noise, no distortion, and no dynamic compression. The build quality of the Focal Electra 1038 Be is impressive as well, using their Advanced γ Structure, it has a thick MDF of up to 2″ (50mm), preventing diffraction effect and vibration. It uses Optimum Phase Crossover (OPC) for perfect staging and its binding posts offer high torque and excellent contact.
This 3-way vented floorstanding speaker has a frequency response of 33 Hz – 40 kHz (+/-3dB) and a low-frequency point of 26 Hz (-6dB), based on the frequency alone, it shows how powerful this pair of speakers can get. It is highly efficient at 93dB 2.83V/1meter/8Ω. They are truly big, their dimensions (HxWxD) are 1,250mm x 303mm x 400mm and not to mention heavy too, 112.2lbs (51kg).
Focal Electra 1038 Be Review – UPDATED 2021
The first impression I got from this pair of floorstanders is that it looks absolutely gorgeous, it emits elegance and class, immediately you will know they are ‘high-end’. The amount of authority is incredible, the three 7inch ‘W’ cone woofers really pump up the bass and the sound immediately fills the room. It goes deep into the low-frequency region as well, we played a few movie soundtracks along with other bass-intensive tracks that include the epic music genre. Oh, total goosebumps, I was thinking there’s no need for a subwoofer, and then I came out with an idea of playing a few action movie scenes which I immediately got a stare from my friend. After much persuasion, we set the Blu-ray player up and connect it to his integrated amplifier using the XLR balanced connection. I have never imagined using a 2.0 stereo setup to watch a movie can be such an exhilarating experience, Focal Electra 1038 Be are truly powerful, the tight body-pounding bass and the subterranean bass rumble.
Anyway, we moved back to listening to our favorite music/songs, I love how sweet-sounding the speakers are and that airiness is alluring, probably because it could reach up to 40 kHz. The sound is natural and Focal 1038 easily reveals all the intricate musical details, without being too intrusive like a studio monitor. The soundstage is big and cohesive, the stereo imaging is superb and gives you the realism that the singer/band is with you in the same room. After the listening session, I realize that I would not be able to afford them since a pair of Focal Electra 1038 Be speakers cost more than 10 grand, you will also need a powerful amplifier which will add to the cost. Furthermore, you will need a large room for them to breathe in order to hear their full potential, as they will overwhelm small rooms and the overall sound quality will drop drastically.
Focal 1028 Vs 1038 – How They Differ?
Focal Electra 1028 Be is like the little brother of Focal 1038, as it is slightly smaller and weighs lesser but don’t let that fool you as it could still hold its own. Focal 1028 spots the same pure Beryllium IAL 27mm inverted dome tweeter and 6.5″ (165mm) ‘W’ cone midrange but for the woofers, it has only two of them and they are smaller as well, 6.5″ (165mm) to be exact. A very small difference in the frequency response range, specifically in the lower frequency region. Not as efficient as its older brother, Focal 1028 has a sensitivity rating of 91.5dB 2.83V/1meter/8Ω. Both are 3 way vented floor standing speakers, but Focal Electra 1028 Be has an additional technology which is Powerflow back port that increases efficiency and bass impact. This could be due to the lack of a third woofer.
Focal Electra 1028 Be will be easier to tame when you compared them to the more powerful Focal 1038, which means it could fit into a medium-sized room and still able to unleash its full potential. Both sound qualities are almost on par, except that Focal Electra 1038 Be can generate more authoritative bass than Focal 1028. But don’t be mistaken, Focal 1028 is no slouch in the lower frequency region. At about half the price of Focal 1038 cost, I will find Focal 1028 more value for money, and it is easier for speaker placement/positioning. Thus I will choose Focal Electra 1028 Be as the winner, not by much. You will still need to pair them with a high-power amplifier like 200 watts with 2 channels driven. Unless you got a large room, then Focal Electra 1038 Be will be the better choice.
Focal 1038Be Vs Sopra N°2 – What’s the Difference?
The technology which Focal Sopra N°2 use is one league above Focal 1038Be, new 27mm IHL (Infinite Horn Loading) Beryllium tweeter with back wave absorption which produces very precise highs, new 6.5″ (165mm) ‘W’ cone midrange driver with TMD suspension and NIC magnetic circuit. Even though Sopra N°2 has one less 7″ woofer, it still generates impressive sound density and bass. Focal clearly designed and build Sopra N°2 with premium high-end audio quality in mind, just by looking at the speaker cabinet design, you will immediately know this is no ordinary HiFi speakers. The cabinet design uses the same principle as ‘Gamma Structure’, which is to provide inertia and damping, not to mention, Focal uses tempered glass for the base meant for floor coupling. As you can see the speaker structure is already a class of its own.
The visual appeal of Focal Sopra N°2 has already won half the battle, then how about the sound quality? It is truly breathtaking. The transparency and realism of the sound, the detail, and the clarity of the bass, this is beautiful sound. No wonder they have so many accolades. Focal Sopra N°2 simply outclass Focal Electra 1038 Be by a margin, including the price too (about $17,000). If money is not an issue, I will clearly go for Sopra N°2. Even if I have a large room, I will still go for Sopra N°2. If my pockets are deep, I will purchase the best HiFi separates I could get my hands on because Sopra N°2 truly deserves the best.
If Focal Spectra 1038 Be priced itself lower, then it would become more attractive. With the selling price that it is asking for, there are a lot more contenders Focal 1038 need to compete with. It also kind of pushing potential customers towards either Focal Sopra N°2 or Focal 1028, I guess maybe it is a type of business strategy.
If you are out in the market looking for high-end audio speakers, you should definitely give Focal 1038 Be an audition especially if you have a large listening room. If it fits your budget, you should also audition Focal Sopra N°2 right after hearing Focal 1038, you will most likely hear the difference in sound quality.