HASSLE-FREE HEIGHT-FI – Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2
The smart and effective way to get Dolby Atmos into your home
Dolby Atmos, the next-gen audio system, seems to be everywhere.
It’s fast becoming ubiquitous on Blu-ray, is gaining support from Netflix and even features on XBox One X games. However, if you want to hear it at home, you’ve been limited to expensive floorstanders and faced adding Dolby Enabled speakers to existing systems, or buying an Atmos soundbar.
This Focal system changes all that. A 5.1.2 system, the package comprises three basic Sib Evo satellites (two for rear deployment, one to sit horizontally as a center), two larger Sib Evo Dolby Atmos speakers for left/right, and the cute Cub Evo Subwoofer. Neatly, the Sib Evo Atmos speakers combine front-firing speaker drivers, with full-range up-firers for audio.
All satellites can be wall-mounted, parked on optional matching floor stands, or placed atop teetering towers of old T3s. Just add a Dolby Atmos AV receiver and you’re good to go.
The good news is that once installed, they sound convincingly cinematic. The cool thing about Dolby Atmos is that it has a remarkably effective upmix function for non-encoded content; so the full driver complement is always in use. Even with regular surround mixes, you get a sense of heightened immersion.
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The compact sub and satellites seamlessly integrate, and generate a huge soundstage. There’s a delicious sense of spatial movement, around and overhead. When the War Boys give chase to Max in Mad Max Fury Road, there’s a guttural roar from the pursuing V8s, directional steering around and overheard is superb.
The speakers also boast a nice mid-range which offers rounded, clear dialogue. The bass performance of the cute Cub sub is profound, too – that little box can sure slam.
The Sib Evo set isn’t just about movies. The system can hold a tune. Tight and melodious, there’s no obvious disconnect between the sub and satellites.
Overall, we rate Focal’s Sib Evo as a cracking solution to the conundrum of 3D audio. It leads in a class of one (for the time being), a real way to get proper height-fi into your living room.
Lifestyle friendly form factor; powerful subwoofer; upfiring drivers create a canopy of sound. WE’D IMPROVE Two additional Focal speakers for four-channel Atmos cost about $1,000; most effective in smaller living rooms.
THE LAST WORD
The Focal system is an elegant and capable Atmos solution for small spaces.