AF’s Weblog

December 13, 2010

Focal CMS 40 Review

Filed under: Monitors, Speakers — Tags: , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 1:07 pm

These monitor speakers ought to be of interest to mobile home studio owners or people who have a very small room to play or mix music. Following the Focal CMS 65 and CMS 50, the CMS 40 is even smaller but not less appealing…

We all know Focal for their top-range speakers with undeniable qualities but, unfortunately, not affordable to everyone. That’s why the manufacturer decided to launch a more affordable series a couple of years ago. It included two models, the CMS 65 and the CMS 50 equipped with 6.5″ and 5″ woofers respectively. A subwoofer is also available for brown noise fans. Both models received a warm response from users, so now Focal decided to launch an even smaller and less expensive speaker that benefits from all the qualities of its big brothers. Did they succeed?

Small but Powerful

Focal CMS 40

When we were unpacking the speakers, the first thing that surprised us was the very compact size of the CMS 40: 9.39″ x 6.14″ x 6.10″ and about 12 lb. In other words, these speakers are very small and can be easily transported — which is good news, particularly considering they provide the same high manufacturing quality as their big brothers. On the other hand, they are also quite heavy — the price to pay for good quality manufacturing, I guess… You get the same reinforced and damped aluminum housing, black powdered paint and protection grills for both drivers: a 4″ woofer made out of a polyglass membrane and an aluminum/magnesium reversed-dome tweeter. Once you comfortably set up the speakers, you can remove the protection grills and fix the tweeter phase plugs. According to the manufacturer, this improves their response. Since Focal is generous with accessories, you’ll also find a decoupling table stand and four rubber feet in the box, as well as two height-adjustable spikes to tilt the speakers forward or backward, or even to the sides! It’s important to mention that all CMS are magnetically shielded so you can easily place them next to a cathode screen monitor.

Regarding speaker position, Focal advises the user to keep at least 1.3 ft from the CMS 40. The rear-panel fixing points allow you to mount them on a wall or any other support. The rear vertical connections allow you to mount the speaker directly against the wall, which is acoustically possible since the bass reflex housing is front ported. A very good feature for home studio owners who work in a “closet.” You can use the CMS vertically, horizontally or upside down in order to keep the tweeters at the same height as your ears.

In short, the small CMS is adaptable to almost any environment — a great asset. The manufacturer states that this speaker is not very sensible to the critical acoustic environments of non-optimized rooms!

Settings and Features

Focal CMS 40

Let’s start with some good points: the power on/off switch and the volume control (-66 dB to 0 dB) are conveniently placed on the front panel, where you also have power and clip LEDs. On the rear panel you’ll find a balanced XLR input (10 kOhm), an unbalanced RCA input (47 kOhm) and the power socket. You can set the input level to +4dBu, -10dBV or 0dB.

Adjusting the speakers’ response is very simple with two filters: a low shelve (0 Hz – 450 Hz) with -/+2 dB amplification/attenuation and a high shelve (4.5 kHz -20 kHz). The frequency response stated by the manufacturer is 60 Hz to 28 kHz (-/+3 dB). Two integrated amps of 25 watts each (one per transducer) deliver 97 dB as maximum SPL level (@ 1 m).

Unlike the CMS 50 and CMS 65, the CMS 40 has no real low-cut filter so you’ll have to set the cutoff directly on the subwoofer (the CMS Sub for instance!) at approx. 60 Hz. However, we tested the monitors without a subwoofer since we had already tested it with the CMS 50 earlier this year.

Let’s listen to the sound…

Conclusion

Focal introduces a very surprising compact speaker to extend their CMS range, whose previous models were very appealing. The CMS 40 is no exception with its irreproachable manufacturing quality, plentiful accessories and remarkably well-balanced sound. Considering its 4″ woofer, the CMS 40 delivers a clear and dry low-end and very present and analytic mids. The high-frequency response is also good, just like the CMS 65 and CMS 50. We noticed that the sound is less hollow than with other speakers and that the CMS 40 sound more linear than the ADAM A3X, even if the frequency response of the ADAMs is wider in the low and high ends of the spectrum.

The CMS 40 do a very good job when mixing and they reveal details you could miss with other speakers. We had no surprises listening to our mixes through other speaker systems, which is a very good point. Moreover, the CMS 40 has a wide sweet spot and can be used in a room with poor acoustic properties. At $800/pair, this monitor speakers are highly recommended for mobile home studio owners or people working in a very small room who want to buy a well-built and faithful speaker pair.

Advantages:

  • Well balanced sound
  • Accurate mids
  • Limited but precise low frequency response
  • Sturdiness and manufacturing quality
  • Adjustable spikes, removable grills and decoupling table stand
  • Very compact size
  • Affordable price
  • On/off switch and volume control on the front panel

Drawbacks:

  • Quite heavy
  • No 1/4″ jack input

To read the full detailed article see:  Focal CMS 40 Review

 

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