While not everyone has the space or setup for a full theatre surround sound system, that doesn’t mean they should have to go without and that’s where soundbar systems come in. Our Focal Dimension review takes a look at a 5-channel soundbar system with optional sub to see how it compares to a full blown surround system.
The Focal Dimension “set” consists of three parts with the following specifications:
- Type: 5-channel soundbar
- Speaker drivers: 5 ultra-flat speaker-drivers made of paper cones – 3 15/16″ (10cm)
- Integrated amplification: 6-channel 450 Watts
- Frequency response (+/- 6 dB) Soundbar alone: 50 Hz – 25 kHz
- Inputs: 2 x HDMI™ (OUT/IN), Digital Optical Toslink, Analogue 3.5 mm Jack
- Subwoofer outputs: Dimension Sub Out: Powered output dedicated to Dimension Sub; Sub Line Out: Low-Level output compatible with all amplified subwoofers
- Modes: HDMI ARC™ (Audio Return Channel), HDMI CEC™ (Consumer Electronics Control), Auto Power on HDMI™ inputs, Adjustable bass, Adjustable Sound and Picture synchronisation, Night mode, Optimum acoustic integration through settings on the rear panel (Soundbar positioning, Room acoustics, Sweet spot)
- Soundbar on furniture (Width x Depth x Height): 45 1/4 x 4 1/2 x 4 1/2″ (115.5 x 11.5 x 11.5cm)
- Wall mounted Soundbar (Width x Depth x Height): 45 1/4 x 2 9/16 x 5 15/16″ (115.5 x 6.5 x 14.7cm)
- Weight: 12lbs (5.5kg)
Focal Dimension Sub:
- Type: Bass-reflex Subwoofer
- Speaker drivers: 2 elliptical woofers 8″ x 3″ (20cm x 8cm)
- Frequency response (+/-6 dB): 30Hz – 110Hz
- Mode: Zero Vibration design, Support for screen of 50″ and over
- Subwoofer (Width x Depth x Height): 45 1/4 x 12 13/16 x 4 1/2″ (115.5 x 32.5 x 11.5cm)
- Subwoofer + Soundbar (Width x Depth x Height): 451/4×161/8×41/2″ (115.5 x41x11.5cm)
- Weight: 31lbs (14kg)
Focal Universal Wireless Receiver:
- Range: 10m (line of sight)
- Codec: aptX
- Compression Ratio: 4:1
- Resolution and Sampling Rate: 16 bits – 44.1kHz
- Frequency response: 10Hz to 22kHz
- Algorithmic Delay: <1.89ms @ Fs 48KHz
- Radio transmission power: 2.5mW (4dBm)
- Radio transmission: Frequency Range 2.4GHz (Bands ISM)
- Dimensions: 60 x 56 x 14mm
- Weight: 0.044lb (22g)
What’s in the Box
- 1x Dimension Soundbar
- 1x Wall Mount
- 2x Stands
- 1x Remote Control
- 1x Power Unit
- 1x Power Cable
- 1x User Manual
Focal Dimension Sub:
- 1x Dimension Sub
- 1x Dedicated Audio Cable (for connecting to Dimension Soundbar)
- 1x User Manual
Focal Universal Wireless Receiver:
- 1x Universal Wireless Receiver
- 1x Universal Power Adapter
- 1x RCA Cable
- 1x RCA to 3.5mm Cable
NOTE: Due to the size of the Dimension Soundbar and Sub and my set up we had to go with stock photos for this review.
Focal Dimension Soundbar
The Focal Dimension Soundbar is a very nice and slick looking speaker, especially given the size. The top, back, and bottom are constructed of a black brushed aluminum, and the entire soundbar leans back away from you. The front of the soundbar has a small glossy black panel on the left and right sides. On the left panel, the Focal logo sits in the middle, while the right panel is where the proximity sensing tactile touch user interface resides. The rest of the front of the soundbar is covered in a black fabric, and you can see the circular indentations for the five 26mm ultra-flat speakers — two towards each end, and one in the middle. Each end of the soundbar contain bass-reflex ports and angle outward slightly, adding to the sleek and slim look.
The back of the Dimension Soundbar houses the ports, and on either side of the ports are slots for attaching the included stands (if used in freestanding mode) or hanging it from the wall mount. This soundbar has an HDMI in, HDMI TV (out), sub line out, optical/digital port, AUX/analog port, service port, Dimension Sub out, power/DC in, and four settings selectors. The four settings selectors allow you to adjust the sound of the speaker based on distance, position, room type, and attached subwoofer.
The included remote control is pretty simple and has Standby/On, Input Selector, volume up, down, mute, Audio-Video Synchronisation, Bass Level, Night Mode, and Light (for turning on display light) buttons.
The Dimension Soundbar isn’t small by any means, being 45″ wide by 4 1/2″ deep and tall you’ll need to make sure you have the space for it. Even with the larger size however, it is by far the best looking component of the set, and will certainly not detract from most living room décor types.
Focal Dimension Sub
While the Dimension Soundbar is constructed of brushed aluminum, the materials used on the Dimension Sub are quite different. The front, back, and bottom are constructed of a matte black wood surface, while the top is a glossy black glass finish with the Focal logo near the front middle of the sub. Each side is covered in the same black material that covers the front of the Dimension Soundbar. The bottom of the sub has six rubber anti-slip feet (which are non-adjustable), and two inputs for the included audio cable for connecting to the soundbar.
The Dimension Sub also doubles as a TV stand for TVs weighing less than 55kg. The sub features a “Zero Vibration” design with the two elliptical subwoofers in a push-push configuration so your TV doesn’t vibrate when placed on top of it. When you do have a TV placed on top of the sub, you don’t notice the gloss surface as much as in the case of my TV it matched the glossy finish of the TV stand. While the glass surface was nice, I think I would have preferred to have it matching the brushed metal finish of the Dimension Soundbar. When you are using both together, the soundbar sits pretty tight against the front of the sub, and it would look better if the top surface matched.
Like the Dimension Soundbar, the Dimension Sub is also just over 45″ wide, 4 1/2″ tall and just under 13″ deep.
Focal Universal Wireless Receiver
The Universal Wireless Receiver (UWR) is a small black plastic box with a built in left and right auxiliary input on one edge, and a small 5V/500mAh port for the power adapter. On one side of the UWR is the Focal logo, on the other side is the relevant regulatory information. In the case of the Dimension soundbar, the UWR will need to be plugged into the included RCA to 3.5mm cable and then plugged into the AUX port on the Dimension soundbar.
The universal power adapter consists of a receptacle plate in which you can slide in one of three plug plates depending on your locale. While it’s not the prettiest solution, it’s definitely an economical one on Focal’s part.
Ease of Use
Aside from being large, heavy, and a bit unwieldy — while you can set up the soundbar and sub solo, you’ll probably want a second set of hands — the Dimension system is real easy to set up. Our tests used the freestanding mode, so the first step was to slide the included stands onto the back of the Dimension Soundbar. Next, I connected my PVR into the HDMI In port, and connected the HDMI TV to my television. Next I adjusted the settings selectors for my environment. The settings include:
- Distance: close (<2m/6.5′), medium (2 – 4m/6.5 – 13′), or far (>4m/13′)
- Soundbar Position: table (not on very edge), on wall, or freestanding (set on edge of table/shelf)
- Room Acoustics: mat (for rooms with low reflecting acoustic properties i.e. fabric, curtains, carpets), medium (walls made out of plaster or hollow bricks), or clear (walls with large glass surfaces, tiled floors, etc)
- Subwoofer: no sub, Dimension Sub out, or sub line out
Next, I connected the Dimension Sub using the included audio wires, plugged in the Universal Wireless Receiver using the AUX port on the Dimension Soundbar, and then plugged both the Dimension Soundbar and UWR into the wall. The last step had me placing my 47″ TV on top of the Dimension Sub and I was ready to go.
One thing to note, it would be nice if the Dimension Soundbar had more than one HDMI In port. While you can get sound from your other devices connected to your TV while selecting the soundbars TV input, this feature only works if your TV has an Audio Return Channel function. If your TV doesn’t, then a simple HDMI hub will rectify that issue.
The UWR worked as expected, and it was easy to stream music from my Nexus 6P through the UWR and Dimension system. You can only have one device paired with the UWR, so if you want to pair a different device, you’ll first have to unpair it from the device it is already paired with.
There’s no doubt about it, the Dimension Soundbar is one fantastic sounding 5.1 surround system. The difference was obviously instantly noticeable over the built in TV speakers, and the 5.1 surround sound effect was impressive for a single soundbar. The range of tones when watching TV shows or movies is great, all the while keeping dialogue clear at all volume levels — something that can be an issue with some TVs or systems, especially when listening at lower volumes. When listening on lower volumes, you don’t have to strain to hear the different effects, and when listening on higher volumes, everything is still clear without a hint of distortion. Even without the Dimension Sub, the Dimension Soundbar pushes out decent enough bass. However, adding that Dimension Sub sure brings the bass to a new level and if you like a lot of extra bass in your movies or music, you’ll definitely want to pick up the sub add on as well.
As far as streaming music through the UWR went, the various genres I tested sounded crisp and clear, and again there was no hint of distortion even with bass heavy EDM cranked up.
With an MSRP of $1,399USD (for the Dimension Soundbar) and $1,599 (Dimension with Dimension Sub), the Dimension system is a bit on the pricier side. However, if you search around you can find great deals on Amazon that include both the soundbar and sub — and some with the aptX UWR — for around $1400. While there are cheaper soundbars out there, given the sound quality, design, and the fact that the sub can sit right under your TV, the Dimension Soundbar and Sub deliver a premium product at a fairly decent price.
If you’re looking for a home theatre solution without having to purchase a receiver and a bunch of speakers, the Focal Dimension Soundbar and Dimension Sub are a definite contender, especially if you don’t have a lot of space.