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|SPEAKERS AND SUBS
When you’re looking to upgrade your factory sound, the best place to start is with the speakers. Unfortunately, one of the challenges is that better sounding speakers are typically less efficient. Fortunately, Focal has a solution. The Focal 165 A1 is one of the Access series of products that comprise Focal’s entry level into car audio. Unlike other company’s entry-level products, the Focal 165 A1 does offer high quality performance and high efficiency. Let’s see how it stacks up.
The Focal 165 A1 is a two-way component speaker system. The midrange 6.5-inch speaker uses a special braided woven glass ﬁber cone. Instead of a dust cap, the midrange relies on a specially profiled phase plug for optimal off-axis midrange response. A Butyl surround connects the cone to the basket. The tweeter uses a one-inch dome made from aluminum.
Dividing the signal between the tweeter and midrange is a 12 dB-per-octave crossover set at 4.8 kHz. Included is a three-position tweeter level control to match the output level of the tweeter to the midrange in different installation situations.
Both the tweeter and the woofer boast a high-grade black finish. The passive crossover has a clear plastic cover to showcase its internals.
The Focal 165 A1 is designed to reproduce frequencies from 60 Hz to 20 kHz with RMS and Max power handling at 60 watts and 120 watts, respectively.
Entry level doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to skimp on features. The Focal 165 A1 woofer uses a 25 mm, two-layer copper voice coil on a Kapton former. Power is supplied by a 85mm magnetic motor. To maximize thermal power handling, Ferrofluid is added in the tweeter’s magnetic gap to help wick heat away from the voice coil.
The tweeter uses a unique inverted aluminum dome design with a centered tweeter phase plug designed to smooth the frequency response of the tweeter. Cloth is used to connect the tweeter diaphragm to the housing. According to Focal, the inverted dome is designed to provide better mechanical coupling between the dome and voice coil which results in finer resolution of details and increased dynamics.
One of the advantages of making your own basket is that you can design special features. The woofer uses a expensive looking patented DIN chassis made with 20 percent glass fiber-filled ABS material. The result is a non-resonant, non-magnetic chassis with mounting holes designed to accommodate a variety of factory vehicle mounting situations. In addition, the 165 A1 woofer incorporates vertical vents under the spider suspension. Using the pistonic movement of the cone itself, the Focal 165 A1 pumps air past the one-inch voice coil keeping it cool. This maximizes the thermal stability of the speaker. And, of course, tooling a basket also allows for little details like placing your logo on the basket arms. Nice touch.
The installation of the Focal 165 A1 is very straightforward. The basket design of the midrange makes it possible to fit in many different factory installations. The passive crossover is standard size and mounts conventionally. Termination connections are made via silver screw terminals. The tweeter is supplied with surface-, angle-, and flush-mount installation accessories.
The manual for the Focal 165 A1 is easy to understand and well written. All of the necessary information needed to perform the installation is included. I especially liked the section about where to install the speaker for optimal sound quality.
I found two Web sites, www.focal-america.com and www.focal-fr.com. At both sites I was able to quickly navigate to the Access line of speakers, and both sites have a wealth of information about the speakers. While both sites have the specs for the individual component speakers, only the main site has the downloadable installation manual and full component spec page. (As with any good quality speaker, proper installation will ensure the best results. To achieve to results, it is recommend that an authorized Focal dealer perform the installation.)
Sound Q & Performance
The first thing that struck me about the Focal 165 A1 was its efficiency. Using the same power, the 165 A1 played noticeably louder than my reference speakers. The sound quality is extremely good. From 50 Hz, the Focal 165 A1 almost fits with a plus or minus 5 dB window. Quite good. From 250 Hz to 12 kHz, the window tightens to plus or minus 3 dB. Midbass performance is outstanding, and the lower bass extension was good. Vocals sounded very good, although a bit forward and at times slightly edgy. The performance was very impressive given the price point.
The performance of the Focal 165 A1 is excellent. With the ability to fit into a wide array of factory locations and the high efficiency of the speakers, the Focal 165 A1 is a perfect choice for high-end sound into a factory system of a decent powered aftermarket radio. Either way, you will be treated to great sound. <<
The Focal Access 165 On the Sonoda Scale
Strengths: Great sensitivity/efficiency, very good sound, quality fit and finish
Weaknesses: Slightly edgy vocals
Best Use: Great for use in mid to high-end stereo systems.
Performance Value (Out of 5): * * *
Performance vs. Weight (Out of 5): * * * * *
Power vs. efficiency (Out of 5): * * * *
Manuals, Online Support (Out of 5): * * * *
Focal Access 165 Specs
Power Handling (Nominal/Max): 60 watts/120 watts
Sensitivity (2.8V/1m): 92 dB
Frequency response: 60 Hz - 20 kHz
165 mm (6.5-inch) woofer
Nom. Impedance: 4 ohms
DC resistance: 3.45 ohms
VC diameter: 25 mm 1 in
Magnet weight: 0.35 kg 0.66 lb
Fs: 77.95 Hz
Cutout diameter: 141 mm
Mounting depth: 72 mm
1-inch Aluminum inverted dome tweeter
Nominal power: 15 watts
Maximum power: 100 watts
Sensitivity: 94 dB
Nom. Impedance: 4 ohms
DC resistance: 3.7 ohms
Fs: 3066 Hz
Mounting hole: 45 mm
Mounting depth: 18.2 mm
12/12 dB/octave (4.8 kHz)
Adjustable tweeter level
(3 level settings)