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Focal Sib Evo Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 review: Atmos surround set is high in style

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The Good The Focal Sib Evo Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 offers stylish looks and a relatively good price for a lifestyle speaker package. Surround-sound integration is seamless between all of the satellites. Vocal clarity is very good given the speakers' smallish size.

The Bad The speaker connectors at the back are very fiddly. A set of larger speakers from competitors such as Pioneer or Elac would sound much better for a similar price.

The Bottom Line The Focal Sib Evo Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 surround kit looks great with its curvy satellites and offers decent performance, but it's a little quirky to set up.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 9
  • Sound 7
  • Value 8

Dolby Atmos has been with us for several years now, but apart from an initial rush of speakers from the likes of Onkyo and Klipsch, things have been a little quiet on the Atmos speaker front, so to speak. Sure, there's a dribble of dedicated height speakers you can add to existing non-Atmos speakers, but you can count on one hand the number of speakers with integrated Atmos modules.

Enter Focal's Sib Evo Dolby Atmos 5.1.2. The French company's atmospheric speaker kit boasts front speakers with top-firing Atmos drivers built-in, and it sits toward the more affordable end of the market at $1,299, £1,099 or AU$1,500.

The sub and surrounds were solid enough, but the star of the package is definitely those Evo Atmos front speakers, which cost $600, £450 or AU$750 a pair by themselves. They integrate the height channel in a way that is unobtrusive and elegant, and would make a great addition to an existing Sib-based system. 

Compared to a 5.1 system like the $999 Klipsch Reference Theater Pack, the Focal offers a very lively performance, but some may prefer the no-nonsense attitude and performance of the American brand instead. Of course, as lifestyle systems they're sonically eclipsed by full-size systems such as the ELAC Debut Series 5.0 Home Theater Package, but that's always going to be the trade-off -- style versus sound quality. Given a choice between the Klipsch and Focal, though, the Focal has the slight edge due to its Atmos capabilities and larger sound.

Update, Jan. 24: We have retested the Focal system, with a replacement sub, against the similar Klipsch Reference Theater Pack. As a result, the Focal's score has changed from 7.1 to 7.7. Originally published Nov. 1, 2017.

If looks were everything...

Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2 Atmos speakers
Sarah Tew/CNET

As the name suggests, this is the Dolby Atmos-enabled version of the popular Focal Sib and Cub speakers, with five surrounds and one sub. The heights are integrated into the main Sib Evo Dolby Atmos speaker and are designed to fire onto your ceiling and back at you.

As surround speakers go this is a beautiful looking system. The new Evo satellites are finished in a gloss-black finish and the even though the main's cabinet is larger than the other satellites -- 12 inches tall versus 10 inches -- it is still very classy. All of the speakers, regardless of size, feature a 5-inch Polyflex driver and a 1-inch soft dome tweeter. The Atmos drivers, meanwhile, are 3 inches in diameter.

Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2 Atmos speakers
Sarah Tew/CNET

There's no separate center channel speaker in this system -- you simply place one of the satellites sideways on the supplied rubber mount. You then rotate the Focal logo and voila -- a center channel! The main advantage to this is better integration between the fronts and surrounds, as we soon found.

Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2 Atmos speakers
Sarah Tew/CNET

Lastly, we come to the Cub Evo. This subwoofer is a cubic foot in size with a different finish -- a brushed vinyl wrap. At the bottom resides an 8-inch woofer which feeds a large port at the front of the sub. At the rear of the unit are the controls including volume, crossover point and a phase switch. There's only line-level inputs and no speaker ins for this model. It's rated for 35Hz to 150Hz and features a 200-watt amplifier.

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