The Focal Aria K2 936 Limited Edition loudspeakers are some of the very best home theater speakers I’ve ever heard.

Focal Aria K2 936 LE Loudspeakers Review

They are open, clear, and almost as detailed and fast as electrostatic models in their midrange and treble. Focal’s engineering of the cabinets, drivers, and crossovers provides stunning results as long as a muscular amplifier is driving them to at least moderate loudness levels. The cabinets use a three reflex port system and are finished in a glossy gray color that not only looks elegant but also allows them to blend in to just about any décor.

I am primarily a stereo listener who only occasionally flirts with home theater, but I recognize excellence when I hear it. These Focal Aria K2 936 Limited Edition tower speakers are some of the most detailed and spacious that I’ve heard. They are not inexpensive, but for use in a high-end home theater, I think that they’re probably unbeatable at any price. If you’re looking to bring your home theater experience up to the next level, you really should audition these speakers.

Focal Aria K2 936 LE Loudspeakers


Focal Aria K2 936 LE Loudspeakers

  • The Focal Aria K2 936 Limited Edition Loudspeakers are ideal for home theater
  • Subwoofer preferred for extended bass
  • Detailed and spacious as an electrostatic
  • 2.8 Ohm minimum impedance may rule out some AVRs
  • Handsome “Ash Gray” gloss finish with sandwich aramid drivers
  • Exceptional construction quality
  • Good dynamics above threshold volumes

The Focal Aria K2 936 Limited Edition loudspeaker is my first contact with a Focal product. Designed and manufactured in France, the Focal Aria K2 936 Limited Edition speaker is an upgrade from the popular Aria 936 model. This Limited Edition (LE) version features aramid and foam sandwich construction for the cone woofers and midrange, replacing the flax sandwich material in the standard 936 edition. The Focal trademark inverted aluminum and beryllium tweeter of the LE version also uses “Poron” foam for its surround. And finally, this Limited Edition version features an exclusive gloss gray finish with a leather-texture front, glass top, and a metal base with a downward-firing port (in addition to the two front-firing reflex ports).


3-way bass-reflex floor standing speaker


Three 6.5” (16.5cm) K2 model woofers
One 6.5” (16.5cm) K2 midrange cone
One 1” (25mm) Aluminum/Magnesium inverted dome tweeter

Frequency Response:

39Hz – 28kHz (no deviation specified)

-6dB LF point:



92dB (2.83V / 1m)

Nominal Impedance:

8 Ohms

Minimum Impedance:

2.8 Ohms (no frequency range specified)

Recommended Amplifier Power:

50-300 Watts

Crossover Frequencies:

260Hz / 3,100Hz


45.25 x 11 9/16 x 14 5/8 inches (1,150 x 294 x 371mm)


64lbs (29kg) each


$5,990 / pair


Company Site




Focal, Aria, K2 936, Limited Edition, Floorstanding Speakers, Dynamic Speakers, Tower Speakers, Home Theater, Loudspeaker Review 2022

In my room, the speakers seemed to image best with the fronts of the speakers approximately 42” from the wall behind them, with the centers of the speakers approximately eight feet apart, and with the centers of each speaker seven feet from each sidewall. Acoustic diffusers on the insides of the speakers against the wall behind them and absorbers on the outsides of the wall behind them assisted with room damping, as did absorbers on each side first reflection point. A rug between the speakers and listening position and a three-foot gap between the listening couch and the wall behind it completed room treatments.

Setup & Design

The Focal Aria K2 936 Limited Edition (LE) tower loudspeakers arrive palletized and well packed with boxes clearly marked as to where to open.

Inside each box is a Focal Aria K2 936 Limited Edition speaker, two Styrofoam end caps with a center cardboard spacer, a grill, a plastic dust bag, a hardware pack, an owner’s manual, a microfiber cloth, and a cast-aluminum base. Before use, the owner must attach each speaker to its cast base. This isn’t easy because if you don’t pay attention, you can attach the base to the speaker backward (which I did once in my excitement). You’re also trying to insert the attachment bolts through a cavity in the base, and you may get to drop the screws and pick them up a few times before you get them properly threaded, but you’ll eventually prevail.

The base IS mandatory because it spaces the bottom port of the speaker the proper distance from the floor. The aluminum base comes with some snazzy-looking threaded spikes intended to level the speaker once the spikes pierce your carpet.

For hard floors, however, Focal includes some plastic caps intended to fit over the spikes. Those plastic caps, however, are bafflingly open in their centers, so if the caps slide up the spikes due to the weight of the speakers (seems likely to me, at least eventually), your floors will be scratched by the spikes. This is not a good design. I eventually installed the spikes upside down and attached an adhesive rubber pad to the bottom of each spike’s adjusting knob. Focal could do better for those of us with hard floors.

The speakers are finished in a gloss ash gray with glass on top and a leather texture on the baffle board. You may love the gloss ash gray (or not), but it is neutral enough to blend into the room even if you don’t. I didn’t particularly care for the gloss finish for the same reason I don’t like gloss black piano finish speakers – they show dust and fingerprints far too easily. Focal, of course, did anticipate this and included a microfiber polishing cloth with each speaker.

Focal Aria K2 936 LE Loudspeakers Back

Focal provides a single set of five-way binding terminals for the Aria K2 936 LE – not the bi-wire, bi-amp double terminals that are in vogue these days. I salute Focal for their practicality and willingness to buck the trend. In most cases, double terminals add nothing to a speaker’s sound. This isn’t just my opinion. One of the world’s great speaker designers, the late Jim Thiel, offered only single terminal pairs on his products (even the flagship ones). So, you need not buy bi-wire speaker cables for your Focal Aria K2 936 LE speakers; they will sound just fine with single speaker wire pairs, thank you very much.

For reasons of liability concerning international electrical issues, the Arias come with the centers of their speaker connectors plugged with hard plastic caps. If you want to use banana plugs (and I did) then you’ll need to literally battle with these caps to remove them. They are in tightly and the hard plugs strongly resist being disturbed. I needed a knife, a pair of pliers, and a tool with a metal hook on the end, and about 20 minutes to dislodge the four caps. The owners’ manual recommends leaving the caps in place and just hooking up bare wire to the terminals. If I didn’t already have some expensive speaker wires (of the right length) that were already terminated with locking banana plugs, I’d have followed the instructions. Your mileage may vary…

Focal Aria K2 936 LE Loudspeakers Front

The design of the Aria K2 936 LE drivers is slightly different from Focal’s lesser offerings. The woofer and midrange cones of non-Limited-Edition speakers in the Aria line use a sandwich construction of glass fiber on the front and back of the cone drivers with a flax center layer. These K2 Limited Edition drivers replace the flax with a lighter and stiffer foam core jacketed by aramid and glass fibers. Intended to both reduce moving mass and to improve detail, I think this design definitely works.

Focal’s trademark inverted tweeters on this K2 speaker model are made of an aluminum/beryllium alloy (with, as I understand it, a memory foam surround!). This tweeter rivals ribbon and electrostatic tweeters in its extension and detail. Focal has a definite winner here.

The cabinet design is distinguished from the crowd by having two woofer ports on the front of the speaker in addition to a bottom reflex port. The intent is to minimize airflow through the individual ports and eliminate chuffing at higher volumes. Pretty is as pretty does – the bass of the 936 speakers is tight, clean, and detailed.

But in the bass, I encounter the first of my objections to the design of the Focal Aria K2 936 K2 Limited Edition speaker. This objection is not unique to Focal and is not an issue with the speaker’s performance within its operating envelope but rather an issue of the design choices made by Focal. I think that it’s fair to say that Focal obviously intended this speaker to be used with a subwoofer, and probably in a home theater system. That’s perfectly acceptable, but nowhere in the advertising or the owners’ manual is the fact discussed.

This six-thousand-dollar-per-pair large tower speaker is already rolling off at 39Hz per Focal’s specifications. There are $100/pair bookshelf speakers that do as well. The prospective purchaser may not be satisfied with the bass of this speaker unless a subwoofer is also used. So, these $6,000 Focal speakers are really $7,000 to $8,500 per pair once a subwoofer is included. Keep this in mind when considering them.

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To try and improve bass response, I experimented with moving the speakers closer to the wall behind them. Although this strategy did result in slightly more robust bass through the midbass range, it did not appreciably change the deep bass extension. Further, as the speakers were moved ever closer to the wall behind them, their detail and imaging suffered in direct proportion to the small bass reinforcements achieved. I ultimately opted to position the speakers for optimum imaging.

The owners’ manual also recommends running the speakers for 20 continuous hours for break-in purposes, and then to expect slight additional improvements over the next few weeks. I followed the manual’s instructions but still heard no significant improvements. In fact, right out of the box, my Focal Aria K2 936 Limited Edition tower speakers sounded great. Maybe Focal did the break-in for me at the factory?

Regarding bass, I must admit that my listening room is a tough drive for speakers, particularly in the low frequencies. All four of my listening room corners are vented through doorways, foyers, and stairways to other areas. If your room is more bass-friendly than mine (and it almost certainly is) then the bass extension of the Focal Aria K2 936 LE speakers may very well measure and sound far better in your room than they did in mine due to room reinforcements that my room lacks. But you should certainly audition the speakers carefully before buying them for stand-alone use.

Focal Aria K2 936 LE Loudspeakers Grill

Of course, if you’re using a subwoofer anyway, then ignore all my low bass reservations. None of them apply to you.

I’d also mention that the grills supplied with the Aria 936 K2 speakers make the speakers look far more elegant looking by hiding the yellow driver cones (that probably won’t match any surrounding décor). But if you use the grills, the speaker’s sound is (to me) audibly muffled. Having spent the money needed to purchase these fine speakers, I wouldn’t anticipate anyone wanting to reduce their performance by leaving the grills on. So, consider the way the yellow and black speaker cones will look in your room if the looks are important to you (or your significant other).

In Use

Let’s give the 936 speakers their due right off the bat: once in their performance zone, they are amazing. They are not too particular about placement or toe-in. In my room, they threw a deep and wide sound stage – in fact, one of the best I’ve heard.

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But even more impressive than their imaging is the fact that the Focal Aria K2 936 Limited Editions are some of the most articulate and detailed speakers I’ve heard. They rival the articulation of Klipsch horn-loaded speakers, for example, but without the forwardness or horn colorations. Whatever Focal did to fine-tune these drivers and cabinet – it worked. At their best, the Aria K2 936 LEs rival, and in some areas exceed most other speakers that I’ve heard.


Roon Core running on a Mac mini with outboard music library USB HDD
Emotiva Big Ego+ DAC
Emotiva PT1 preamplifier / passive Alps volume pot / internal digital volume of the DAC
Four power amplifiers, listed below
IXOS interconnects
Straight Wire speaker cables
Klipsch R12-SW subwoofer (used only occasionally & only from 40Hz down)

To ensure that I was hearing the best that the Focal Aria K2 936 Limited Edition speakers had to offer, I auditioned them with four different power amplifiers:

The Starke Sound A2.640 stereo “super-amp” – The combination of this monster 640-watt per channel stereo amplifier and the Focal speakers was a match made in Heaven! Though my listening demands never exceeded 10 watts (most of the time at less than one watt), the control, spatiality, and detail of the Starke amplifier showcased the very best aspects of the Aria K2 936 LE speakers’ performance.

The Crown PSA-2 stereo amplifier – This amp driving the 936 speakers profoundly surprised me. With every other speaker I’ve heard with this amplifier, the Crown provided world-class performance. But the Focal Aria K2 936 LE speakers just didn’t perform that well with it. The sound wasn’t as spacious as with the Starke amp (no surprise there, the Starke is maybe a world champion at dimensionality), but the dynamics also sounded somewhat muted.

The Black Ice F22 vacuum tube integrated amplifier – This EL34 tube amp in combination with the Focal Aria K2 936 LE speakers also surprised me. I’m used to the Black Ice amplifier sweeping speakers off their feet, so to speak, and bringing tears to my eyes with the imaging and midrange. But not in combination with the Focals. Why? I don’t know. This pair just didn’t tango together.

The Emotiva PA-1 Class-D mono blocks – Most speakers really like the PA-1 amplifiers, and the Focals were no exception. In fact, I’d say that this combination provided 90% of the performance of the (significantly more expensive) Starke Sound amplifier. I haven’t heard these amplifiers sound quite this good with other speakers, but they definitely had synergy with the Focals. These Emotiva amplifiers are constructed around B&O Ice-Modules and are pretty muscular in terms of wattage. The Emotiva amps are very clean and articulate and brought out those aspects of the Focal speakers’ performance.

My conclusion with all this amplifier experimentation is that the Focal Aria K2 936 LE speakers will perform their best with higher-wattage, solid-state power amplifiers of low-impedance capacity that can bring out the detail and imaging that these speakers are capable of.

I’d guess that some of the better AVRs would be able to drive these nominally 8-ohm speakers without damaging themselves, but the 2.8 Ohm minimum impedance is a definite caution, especially if you play music and movies loudly. Note that the two amplifiers that I thought sounded best with these speakers (the Starke Sound A2.640 and the Emotiva PA-1 mono blocks) are both rated to drive 2-ohm loads. No AVR is. My recommendation, then, would be that to get the sound that these Focal speakers are truly capable of, don’t try to cheap out and drive them with an AV receiver’s power amp section. Instead, feed the speakers from a power amplifier worthy of the speakers and you’ll hear the justifications for the speakers’ price.

In addition to the Focal Aria K2 936 LE speakers’ issue with deep bass extension (conspicuous mostly in its absence in my room), one other aspect of their performance repeatedly troubled me. By personal preference, most of my listening is done at what most would consider low volume.

For this reason, I’ve quickly sold every pair of Magnepan speakers I’ve ever owned. The Maggies are great speakers, but at low volumes, their dynamics are profoundly flat. There is a “loudness threshold” that they must exceed before they come alive dynamically.

The Focal Aria K2 936 LE speakers are similarly dynamically flat at low volumes. Like the Maggies, there is a volume threshold that must be overcome before the speakers come on song.

Focal Aria K2 936 LE Loudspeakers Center Channel

For movie use, this isn’t an issue. Dialog is normally handled by a center channel speaker, and the front right and left speakers are essentially just effects speakers. The bass is picked up by a subwoofer or two.

But for stereo-only listening, and even if used with a subwoofer, the lack of lower volume dynamics is audible. One must play the Focal K2 936 LE speakers loudly enough for them to start sounding dynamic. Is it credible that the low-level dynamics will improve over time with break-in? It is certainly possible, but during my review time of several weeks, I noticed no particular changes.

Let me also very clearly state that the dynamic flatness I heard at low volumes is NOT the fault of any other system component. I just finished an amplifier review where I compared multiple speakers, and before that review, I spent significant time listening to many other speakers with all the associated components listed for this review. At no time did I notice any poor low-volume dynamics. The Focal Aria K2 936 LE speakers are themselves, the sole cause of this issue.

The low-level dynamics issue is not unique to the Focal speakers, though. Many other speakers (I’ve specifically mentioned the Magnepan products) also need some extra volume to wake up. The actual sound pressure level where the Focal Aria K2 936 LE speakers will begin singing in your room will depend on many factors including the size of your room, the liveliness of your room, and the listening volume that you prefer. Some speakers I’ve heard that I thought were highly dynamic at low volumes were the Klipsch La Scala and Klipschorn models, both of which are completely horn-loaded.

Listening Examples

Focal Aria K2 936 LE Loudspeakers Beethoven

Every Christmas, I treat myself to the full Symphony Number 9 by Ludwig van Beethoven. This year’s version was the 1972 recording of Sir Georg Solti with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. This CD is on the Decca label. It’s good for loudspeaker evaluation because it has tremendous dynamic range, vocal soloists, a large chorus, and (with almost every recording I’ve heard) a very spacious soundstage offering both width and depth.

The Focal Aria 936 K2 Limited Edition speakers did a great job of showcasing this CD’s virtues. The dynamic range was tremendous; the soloists sounded natural; the chorus sounded detailed, present, and exciting; the width and depth of the image were as good as I’ve heard in my room. Of course, the tympani were missing in action, but with a subwoofer, even that shortcoming would be cured. In short, the Focals gave one of the most dynamic and thrilling reproductions of this symphony that I’ve ever heard in my room.

Focal Aria K2 936 LE Loudspeakers Prokofiev

In fact, I enjoyed the Beethoven symphony so much that I promptly followed up with James Levine and the Chicago Symphony playing Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1 “Classical” on the Deutsche Grammophon label.

Once again, the Focals thrilled with their detail, imaging, and naturalness. Despite listening critically, I could find no flaw with the reproduction of the performance. I did find it very hard to listen critically, however, because the naturalness of the recording kept immersing me in the music.

Focal Aria K2 936 LE Loudspeakers Schubert

To keep from being swept away by the music, I chose to play a piece that I’m less fond of – Schubert’s Symphony No. 4 “Tragic”. It is a great symphony, but one that I seldom play because of its somber tones. This particular performance is on the EMI Classics label and is conducted by Roger Norrington leading the London Classical Players.

The Focal Aria 936 K2 Limited Edition speakers captured the essence of the instruments in such a way that my notes comment again and again on the clarity and texture of the ensemble. The imaging on this particular CD struck me again and again as being exceptional.

Focal Aria K2 936 LE Loudspeakers Horowitz

To test the tone of the Focal speakers, I chose the Sony box set of Vladimir Horowitz Masterworks. The piano should appear to be clean and in the room with the listener with no change of volume as notes ascend and descend the keyboard.

My three favorite test tracks from this set include three sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti, Keyboard Sonata in E, K531; Keyboard Sonata in A, K322; and Keyboard Sonata in G, K455. I’m HIGHLY familiar with these three works and have listened to them on everything from Klipsch La Scalas to KEF LS50s. The Focal Aria 936 K2 Limited Edition speakers did the best job I’ve ever heard of making these keyboard pieces dynamic, clear, and present. The Focal drivers exhibit no ringing, blur, or breakup despite the percussive nature of Mr. Horowitz’s playing, and I did increase the volume on these tracks to provide an equivalent level to what an actual piano playing in my listening room would produce. I’m impressed!

On The Bench

I did measure the Focal Aria 936 K2 Limited Edition speakers in my room with a calibrated UMIK-1 microphone and REW software. The results are shown below:

Frequency Response:

Focal Aria K2 936 LE Loudspeakers Frequency Response

The response is smooth above the bass range and the bass is slightly better than the specifications. I suspect that the bump at 35Hz is a room artifact, rather than the actual speaker response, though.

Bass Response:

Focal Aria K2 936 LE Loudspeakers Bass Response

The bass response alone gives a slightly better picture of how the Focals behaved in the room where they were tested


Focal Aria K2 936 LE Loudspeakers Distortion

This looks far better than other speakers that I’ve measured previously in this room and is (to me) an indication of much better than average engineering.

Waterfall response:

Focal Aria K2 936 LE Loudspeakers Waterfall

This is an exceptionally smooth waterfall response with the exception of the port activity. Note that this Focal speaker has two front ports AND a bottom port, and these affected the waterfall response in that frequency range. But once above the port resonances, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a smooth waterfall plot!


Focal Aria K2 936 LE Loudspeakers

If you are seeking luxury home theater speakers with incredible detail and imaging, these FOCAL ARIA K2 936 LIMITED EDITION SPEAKERS are made for you!

  • Above the low bass range, the Focal Aria K2 936 Limited Edition speakers are some of the most detailed and articulate that I’ve ever heard
  • These speakers also image as well as any I’ve heard.
  • Got a great power amplifier? These speakers will showcase it!
  • Beautiful construction & great driver technology!
Would Like To See
  • Deeper bass extension.
  • Better dynamics at low volumes.
  • More detail in Focal’s literature regarding the use of subwoofers with crossover frequency recommendations.
  • Better hard-floor feet.
  • A more acoustically transparent grill.

As a luxury home-theater speaker, the Focal K2 936 Limited Edition speakers are by far and away the best I’ve heard. In home-theater use, these speakers should be paired with a subwoofer, removing their low bass extension shortcomings, and they should also be paired with a center channel speaker with matching voicing that would compensate for their lack of dynamics at low volumes. Ideal!

And let me state again, emphatically, how open, detailed, and spacious these Focal Aria K2 936 LE speakers are with a good amplifier and above some minimum volume threshold. They aren’t merely good – they’re great! From the mid-bass on up, things just sound clean, clear, and absolutely real.

Now as great as these speakers are for home theater, would I spend the asking price on these speakers as stand-alone stereo music speakers? I probably would not. The speakers don’t seem to be designed with this use as their primary goal, so don’t judge them for something they weren’t intended to be. And despite their lack of deep bass and slight dynamic flatness at low volumes, pair them with a subwoofer and crank them up just the least little bit and WOW do they sound good!