Focal ST6 Solo6: What is it?
Focal has wooed us into re-evaluating the term ‘value’ with its Solo6, the latest version of its highest-tier two-way monitor. When you can easily spend £35,000 on an unremarkable SUV, £1,700 on mid-range bike gears (not the whole bike) and £180 on high-street jeans, is £2,298 too much to ask for a pair of pro-level monitors?
Just like its predecessor, the Solo6 Be, it’s handmade in France by a workforce intent on stuffing as much quality and tech into its 22mm thick cabinet as they can muster.
First, the cab’s aesthetic has been overhauled to look much sharper. The inverted dome Beryllium tweeter remains but its grille and baffle have been completely re-designed.
The grille now follows the contours of the tweeter more closely to lessen its influence on the sound, which results in greater dispersion and a wider sweet spot.
The use of Beryllium is striking in itself, not least as it comes with a safety warning. This rare, strong, brittle metal is incredibly light yet rigid, which lets it propagate sound waves three times faster than titanium and 2.5 times faster than aluminium for impressive impulse response speed.
Its frequency response extends way up to 40kHz with no distortion, which means it’s possible to listen to mixes with extreme precision while suffering little fatigue. Less endearing is its toxicity, but provided you don’t buff it with an industrial sander, you’ll be OK.
The 6.5” woofer has also been revamped. It still uses Focal’s outstanding W composite cone, a sandwich of woven glass tissue with a foam core, but it’s now deeper and even more rigid.
Focal reckons its characteristic lightness and rigidity make the W cone less prone to colouration, distortion and phase issues than comparable cones made from Kevlar or Aramid. It also uses Focal’s patented tuned mass damper technology – the tubular damping ring visible around the outer edge – to resist deformation and distortion.
Around the back of the Solo6 and you’ll find extensive EQ controls that, in short, enable it to sound at its best whatever the room. These include a Low Mid Frequency EQ, Low-Frequency Shelving and High-Frequency Shelving.
There’s also Focal’s Focus feature that turns off the tweeter and reduces the frequency response of the woofer to emulate cheap, boxy speakers to judge your mixes on.
Focal ST6 Solo6: Performance and verdict
That’s a lot of tech but does it result in a better listening experience? We believe it does. Compared with the kinds of mass-market monitors that most of us will be familiar with, the Solo6 excels in three areas. It’s incredibly honest, producing an unadulterated output that you can trust.
That sound is also highly detailed, thanks mostly to the incredibly responsive, precise tweeter. Finally, there’s negligible distortion, which means we still felt fresh as a daisy even after working with them for hours. A pair provides fatigue-free listening at its best.
We all fall into the familiar trap of justifying any expense if we’re gassing badly enough for a product, but in Solo6’s case, the pricing is right. For the fortunate few, its super-expensive siblings, the Trio11 Be and Twin6 are undoubtedly a better choice.
For the rest of us, the Solo6 offers a pro-level solution for the price of a powerful laptop. A pair isn’t cheap, but they do offer the optimum balance between price and performance. So, yes, they’re great value (if you can afford them).
MusicRadar verdict: These are sublime, top-drawer monitors that will be an asset to a small studio (or as satellite monitors in more ambitious installs).
- Our pick of the best small studio monitors
Focal ST6 Solo6: The web says
"It is near impossible to fault the Solo6 (maybe a stepped input trim?) from the sound to the rear panel functions."
Focal ST6 Solo6: Hands-on demos
Focal ST6 Solo6: Specifications
- Frequency response (@ -3dB) full-range mode: 40Hz - 40kHz.
- Frequency response focus mode: 110Hz - 10kHz; Maximum SPL: 110dB; Input: Balanced XLR 10 kΩ; Bass amp stage: 80W RMS.
- Treble amp stage: 50W RMS.
- User controls: Sensitivity, stand-by, HPF, LF Shelv, LMF EQ, HF Shelv.
- Dimensions 295 x 246 x 334mm.
- Weight: 13kg.
- CONTACT: Focal