Hardware & Tech Reviews - - by Niall De'Ath

REVIEW: Focal Dimension

REVIEW: Focal Dimension Image: Focal

Everyone wants that home cinema experience to get the best possible immersion when watching old reruns of Dad’s Army, but the clutter and hassle of installing multiple speakers tends to turn many off to the idea. That is how the undersung soundbar came into existence, aiming to provide a simplified version of the best audio equipment on the market. The results? Close, but not close enough.

The Dimension is the supposed solution to this problem, bringing true 5.1 audio into your home, but this isn’t something you might pick up on a whim. With a overall cost of around £800, the target audience for the Dimension is a limited one, particularly looking for the sound quality enthusiasts out there. But could it be worth the alarming cost?

The soundbar is very attractive and is especially eye catching when placed alongside a mounted television set, due to a minimalist layout. The LED touch panels light up when in use, and allow you to easily change settings on the device with very little in the way of hassle. It looks classy, clean and, rightly, expensive. But with the reductionist visual styling comes the first problem, the input panel. Placed awkwardly behind the bar, it can be a chore to change device setup, especially when the Dimension is mounted on a wall, further reducing the ease of access. It is also here you discover only a single HDMI input, with separate sockets for ARC/CEC, optical digital and 3.5mm minijack inputs.

A further issue is the fact that Bluetooth isn’t included out of the gate, leaving you to drop another hefty sum of cash on a separate receiver. For what you are putting down in the first place, this seems like a fairly nasty omission.

However, once you’ve got past these aforementioned shocks, things start to become much, much sweeter. Setup is easy enough, with a basic calibration that allows you to define your distance from the speaker and information about the type of area the speaker is within. It adjusts accordingly, maximising the output as much as it possibly can, even altering performance based on the acoustics of the room.

Once everything is ready, the fun begins. The sound is phenomenal. Thumping bass, rich and detailed playback and audio that truly does feel like it encompasses the entire room. This is where your money went, and it is glorious. It might miss out on the locational bonuses of a multiple speaker home cinema setup, but it does offer unmatched quality for a soundbar.

The Focal Dimension is one of the best soundbars we’ve come across, but this praise stops at the sound quality and looks alone. With a design that suffers from a number of oversights and a shockingly high asking price that still leaves basic features out of the picture, there is a large amount to overlook before you fall in love here. If you have money to burn and don’t consider an awful input panel a problem, this is the soundbar for you. For everyone else, wait for a drastic price drop first.

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