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Focal CMS 65 Reviews

5.0 stars based on 25 customer reviews

Sweetwater Advice

  • Josh Estock

    What is the best pair of monitors you get can get for under $2,000? The Focal CMS 65s. Period! They're built like a tank, have a small footprint, and are extremely accurate.

  • Carson McClain

    The Focal CMS 65 is one of the most ear-pleasing monitors I've heard. When I put these up, I knew I would not go back to my old monitors again. They're worth every penny and will absolutely improve your mixing capabilities.

  • Joseph Secu

    Wow! What an amazing little speaker! It images with an amazing amount of detail and depth. It is very clean, powerful, and punchy without harshness in the high end or the fake boominess in the low end. This is a very affordable speaker made with only the best components.

  • from Portland, Oregon September 12, 2013Music Background:
    Player, club manager

    Focal, the gold standard

    These provide the stunning sound I am accustomed to expect from Focal. They are the perfect compliment to my Nord Stage 2.

  • from USA July 12, 2013Music Background:
    Engineer, Producer, Musician

    Really great monitors

    Very honest monitors. Great imaging. I was a little concerned about the low end not being all there, but after the burn in of about 30 hours they opened up beautifully! If you are looking for monitors in the $1500-$2k range, do yourself a favor and give these guys a chance. I have no regrets about my purchase and I am not left wondering "what if" about other monitors.

  • from United States March 25, 2013Music Background:
    Guitarist, mixing and recording hobbyist

    Upgrade isn't the word.

    I've been using the original KRK Krok monitors for over 12 years and decided it was time for a massive change. Scott Augustyniak referred the Focals to me and that was all I needed to make the switch. I used to spend literally WEEKS mixing material and have turned it into a couple days, all in the first two weeks of owning these. That to me alone was worth the change, and price. Looking for a new pair of monitors? Just get these already! Why are you still reading this!?

  • from Chicago, IL February 26, 2013Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Musician

    Unreal

    I have used many different monitors in many different rooms over the years, but for the price I am blown away by how these sound. The detail and dimension and range is really solid, especially for a 6.5" set. They respond fast to transients, place any subtle distortion up front (can't miss it), and are able to deliver decent lows. That's a lot to ask for at the same time, especially for such a small monitor. My biggest surprise was their ability to give a good overall picture of the low end, I would say better than most 8" sets. There is definitely enough for most work without using a sub. And they sound GREAT in smaller rooms. Well done, Focal!

  • from Dayton, OH February 24, 2013Music Background:
    Drummer, guy who likes music.

    Focal CMS 65

    I was considering a couple different speakers in this price range (Dynaudios & Mackie HR mkII series). After I saw the price drop (to $750/each) I decided to pull the trigger on them. I've let them break in for about 20 hours of play time and I can't say I'm disappointed at all. These are my first set of monitors. I've been listening to a lot of material that I've heard a lot throughout my lifetime and a lot of various stereo systems and I'm very impressed with the quality of playback. I have no buyer's remorse. My room needs treatment but the imaging is still great and I think these speakers will last me many years to come.

  • from South Bend, IN February 15, 2013Music Background:
    Project Studio Owner, Musician for over 30 years

    I Can't Believe What I've Been Missing!!

    I've used Tannoy Reveals (the red ones) for the last 12 years and have known that I needed to upgrade for a long time. Well, a couple days ago that time came. I planned on buying a pair of VXT8's, as $1200 was about my limit. My Sales Engineer (Nate Edwards) talked me into the CMS65's. Way to go Nate! I hooked these up yesterday and I was in a state of disbelief! I was listening to a song, and the vocals appeared to be coming straight out of my computer monitor, and it sounded like the singer was in my studio. Not only that, but I could tell that the snare drum was physically behind the singer! I was seriously freaked out. Left and right imaging is one thing, but these monitors suck you into the song and you become a part of its 3 dimensional world! I have never experienced anything like this! And of course, the sound quality is just astonishing. They tell the complete truth about what's going on in your mix. Every flaw is brought to your attention. I will have to remix everything, but I know it will be so much better thanks to these. Do yourself a and your mixes a favor and get these monitors!

  • from Canada/United States January 11, 2013Music Background:
    Record Producer, Recording Artist

    Wow!

    In the price range, I would never use any other near-field monitor's other than my Focal CMS-65's. The tonal reproduction and clarity is dead on accurate and they are so easy to listen to! Their really isn't any learning curve to these as well. Some of my best mixes have been finished with these beautiful boxes! Don't cheap out and buy the KRK's, you need the CMS-65's in your studio!

  • from NYC October 7, 2012Music Background:
    Musician/Songwriter

    What Could be Better

    I imagine there are better monitors out there but I suspect that they are made by Focal.
    I replaced my Event 20/20's with these because I'm mixing in a small room and I needed a speaker to listen to at low levels in close proximity.
    My Sweetwater rep suggested the Focal line so I picked these up. I couldn't be happier. I quickly noticed a small bump at about 110-115Hz in a bass line that I couldn't find with my previous monitors. Once I puled it down 3 db It fit great and I verified on my phones that I nailed it.

    Even better is the stereo imaging. It's amazing how good these are. I can sum it up with this- after a few hours I took a break to watch some football and came back to a mix. I listened and felt like the main guitar part was panned just a bit right. I thought in my mind that it was not possible because I wouldn't have left it that way. I looked at my PT mixer and it turns out my part was panned 4 degrees to the right. 4!! out of 100!! - that I heard instantly. No way could I hear that on my previous system.
    Good stuff. I'm sure it is not hard to beat what I was mixing on but I'm really happy with these.

  • from Denver, CO USA September 13, 2012Music Background:
    Live Sound Engineer, Professional Musician, Professional DJ (Not with the Sync Button!)

    AWESOME!!!!!!!!

    I have only had these for a month, but let me tell you that these speakers are amazing! The sound stage is huge. I have never experienced music with different levels of height. Its almost as if you can see the sounds and where they are placed in the mix. I upgraded from the KRK Rockit 8's. Mixes that sounded half way decent on the KRK's sound like dog s@#t on these monitors. I cant say enough good about these. Strong frequency response all the way down to 28hz WITHOUT A SUB!!!! I have fallen in love with music all over again because of these beauties

  • from St. Augustine, FL September 11, 2012Music Background:
    Pro musician. Recording hobbyist

    Save Up

    One of my old Event monitors went south on me at the absolute worst time so I called Sweetwater to discuss replacements. We discussed a few options but as the conversation progressed it was becoming pretty clear that it was time to purchase a "back end" that was worthy of my "front end." Still, I had to take a deep breath before ordering the Focals. A bit of an investment but I am extremely happy that I turned the key.

    These monitors are astounding, plain and simple. Worth every penny and more. I had no idea what I was missing but I definitely know now. If you're looking for a new set of monitors and you can find a way to save up and purchase these, then I say go for it. Even my wife loves them. Bonus!!

    By the way, my sales engineer assured me that I'd never need anything else if I went down this path. Pretty sure he got that right!

  • from NY, USA July 23, 2012Music Background:
    producer, performer, DJ

    superb

    clarity and reliability. finally.

  • from State College, PA July 12, 2012Music Background:
    Pro Musician (GIT)

    Orgasmic experience!

    I can't even put into words the experience of hearing music through these monitors for the first time. Be ready to hear stuff you didn't even know was present in mixes, especially when listening to commercial stuff. Man, for the first time ever, I could hear stuff I didn't even know was there !! It was like getting a brand new pair of ears! I could follow each instrument with such high precision/definition. It feels like you are right in the middle of the action. Certainly like a 3D experience! The stereo imaging in these monitors is something out of this world. Best money spent ever! I upgraded from a pair of KRK's Rokit 8. After listening through these speakers, I can only say , save up the cash and buy yourself one of these pairs. The compromise of buying anything less is just not worth it. The bass response is also unreal on these. I don't need a sub! I was unfortunate to receive one of the monitors defective but I am sure Sweetwater will take care of the issue tomorrow. It so happens that one of the drivers seems to have been damaged during shipping. Stuff like this happens all the time so I am not going to lower the score due to this misfortune. Save up and treat yourself to the sound of heaven! No regrets here!

  • from Brooklyn, NY May 1, 2012Music Background:
    Conductor, arranger, composer, pianist

    Pure Heaven!!!

    For years I was content with a pair of pretty good computer speakers, with a subwoofer, and being a professional musician, rather than a sound engineer, never trusted myself with mixing, always having to rely on expensive professional studios for that purpose.
    Now, having bought a pair of Focal CMS 65 a couple of weeks ago, I wish I could have made this investment a few years earlier: it's an eye(ear) - opener, I discover a completely different sound world, wholly new depth, crystal clarity, calmness, warmth, balance - just wonderful!
    Now I feel I can enter the new territory of mixing, already got myself a couple of books on that topic, and started experimenting. Making minor changes in the mix, like levels, EQ's, panning, plugins, I can hear the difference right away! Certainly, a game-changer for mixing myself!
    But even without that, just to listen to music, these speakers are a pure heaven!!!
    Thank you, Focal, and thank you, Sweetwater!

  • from Seattle WA USA April 1, 2012Music Background:
    Professional Pianist

    Clean, flat sound

    These sound really great! I upgraded from a Blue Sky Prodesk 2.1 (which, incidentally, is actually more expensive than a pair of these, and has a sub) and I prefer these. After breaking them in for 5 hours, they seem to have a flatter response (less harsh highs, and better representation in the mid and lower midrange) than my Blue Skys, which sounded too "hi-fi" with less mids and more highs and bass. The Focals aren't my favorite for simply listening to music (the Blue Skys and other brands like Genelec probably are a little more fun to listen to as far as having a hi-fi style of sound), but I think they are more accurate, which is what I want. These will show you exactly what the mix is doing... you can hear noise, harmonic distortion, and other flaws in your mixes that wouldn't be picked up by other monitors. The way I know these are great is that my amateur mixes sound BAD compared to professional mixes, while on other speakers my mixes sounded okay compared to professional mixes. All of the flaws come out! If you want an accurate sound, get these. If you want it to sound more entertaining and don't care if you're hearing the actual mix, go with another brand like Genelec.

  • from Richmond, VA USA March 24, 2012Music Background:
    Producer

    Really?!

    Seriously blown away - things sound absolutely ridiculous. I was unable to hear these before I bought them because you generally have to order them. So I bought these strictly on the reviews and forums I had read from. For producing electronica these things are insane. I don't know about other music. I'm only about 2 hours in to breaking them in and they already sound absolutely amazing. Feel like I'm hearing this stuff for the first time.

  • from Chicago, IL December 21, 2011Music Background:
    Musician, Recording & Mixing Engineer

    Excellent Monitors

    Believe what you read about these. They are remarkably clean & clear studio monitors. I've had them for about a month, and they're now a permanent part of my recording & mixing setup. They sound pretty good right out of the box, but after a run-in period of about 20-25 hours, they are glorious. I'm amazed by these guys every time I hear them. Highly recommended.

  • from Chicagoland USA May 22, 2011Music Background:
    Audiophile, retired musician

    A powerhouse in a small package

    Focal has an excellent reputation in traditional home audio. I figured their monitors would be equally good. Yes! Extremely pleased. Very smooth and dynamic, even at low volumes. Kick them up a notch and they really sing. Extremely well made. These should last me for many years.

  • from San Diego, Ca February 1, 2011Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Pro Musician

    Best Asset in your studio, no question!

    I have $27K of studio equipment. Of everything I own, these monitors have been the biggest investment/game changer. The stereo field is mind blowing! You feel as if you are in the very room/space the song was recorded. In addition, Ive heard sounds in songs Ive never heard before. I swear some of my favorite artists have suttle sounds you would not hear without these monitors. Its like hearing the songs again for the first time all over again. Dont sell yourself short, put the money in your monitors! These blow away my $5K car stereo. Im thinking about putting 4 of them in the living room for movies.

  • from Philly January 26, 2011

    Amazing

    First of all I want to clear up this question. Will you need a sub with these? NO. I went from a system with a sub and these are just fine. They go deeeep! After a few hours of break-in they started going lower and lower with much better bass response. I;m at day 2 right now after about 12 hours and they are simply amazing.

    Besides bass, everything else rocks as well. Super clear, nice punchy mids, smooth highs. These will show faults in MANY so-called professional recordings. Also, seems like their learning curve is low which means fast and excellent translation immediately.

    I listened to the ADAMs and these blow them out of the water.

  • from March 8, 2010Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    Great monitors enough said...

    Simply put - amazing monitors. A must if you are going to be making serious mixes.

  • from NYC, NY January 6, 2010Music Background:
    Professional Musician, Recording Engineer, Record Producer

    The Best Pair of Studio Monitors under $2000.

    I spent several months researching studio monitors for my small, yet high-end home project studio in Brooklyn. After all the online reviews, visits to the stores and studios, and sifting through the "knowledge" on gearsluts.com, it came down to the Focals, the Dynaudios and the Adams. I chose these in the end because they are built to last and there's absolutely nothing to hide behind. Transparent and warm without the fatigue of Genelecs. The clarity really is unbelievable! Everyday I discover new things in records I've been listening to for years, even ones that I thought were perfect. And, since I live in NYC, I spend a lot of time listening to music on my ipod through top-notch in-ear monitors on the subway, so I know music intimately... If you want your mixes to sound consistent and superb anywhere you play them start with these in your studio. They'll make it really easy for the Mastering engineer, even if you have to master things yourself. I record and produce a variety of real music with real players in real environments and I love these speakers! If they let real instruments shine, they'll be even better for direct recording or beat makers. Thanks, Lip

  • from Chicago August 20, 2013Music Background:
    Engineer, DJ, professional

    Love em!

    I had the rokit 8's for a while but after doin a complete studio equipment upgrade I knew I had to move on up in the monitor area. Decided on getting the cms 65's after reading a lot of generally positive reviews.

    I ran the speakers for about 20hrs straight before using as they suggest. Once I fired up a session I was recently working on...my mind was blown away!!! I hated what I heard because everything sounded flat! Highs were gone, lows sounded weak and I thought I made a bad choice in getting the 65's. about 2 wks later after taking time to readjust my ears to them, I fell in love! That flat response truly helps you mix accurately and precisely. Another thing I noticed and LOVE is that after I'm done mixing a song on my 65's, when I take that song into my car, it translates so much better than songs I mixed on my rokit 8's. I mean by leaps and bounds!!! I may have to make 1 maybe 2 revisions on my 65's whereas on my rokit 8's there were times where I'd make 6-10 revisions.

    Simply put the flat response, the crystal clear sound, the freq range of this speaker is worth every dollar! If you get one just allow yourself time to adjust to its sound and you'll be glad you made the investment.

  • from Pittsburgh, PA April 15, 2012Music Background:
    musician, sound designer

    amazing

    I recently replaced my Tannoy Precision 8ds with the CMS 65s. I was concerned about going to a smaller speaker, even though my room is pretty small. I bought them sight unseen at the recommendation of my rep Richard Whittington. While I am still getting used to the monitors, everything I have read about these monitors is absolutely true. These speakers reveal everything. Mediocre mixes sound horrible and good mixes sound brilliant. The soundstage for these monitors is very open (way moreso than the Tannoys,) and there is a ton of information in the upper mids and higher frequencies. Going back and listening to CDs (and my own mixes) was an ear opening experience. They don't have quite the aggressive mids of the Tannoys or the Adam A7s, but that isn't a bad thing. That is what translates into less "ear fatigue" during long sessions and also it makes you work to get good slap and punch in the mids. I have mine attached to a 10" sub and I'm not missing any low end at all, though I suspect that if I was running them without they might be a little weak below 100hz.

    Bottom line, these are some of the best monitors that i've owned. They are NOT pretty speakers. They show off the flaws in your mix like a big pimple on your nose, but I have found even with the short amount of time with them my mixes are infinitely better and they get right much faster. And for those of you debating between these and the solo 6s, if you have a small room or bedroom studio these are MORE than adequate. I would say dropping the coin for the solo 6s is only necessary if your in a pro room of some size and professionally treated. For the rest of us, the CMSs are perfect.

  • from Northern Virginia February 16, 2012Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    Amazing speakers

    My speaker upgrade was long overdue, and after considering many different options I took the advice of one of my friends as well as Mike from Sweetwater - I haven't looked back since! These monitors are amazing, transitioning from my old pair to these was easy - they sound solid, easy on the ear, and powerful, even at low volume. Give them time to warm up, a few days of not working in the studio but just listening to music you know well will ease you into using them to their full potential. Have fun!

  • from United States March 1, 2013Music Background:
    recording engineer (weekend warrior)

    Impressive

    Have JbL 2338. The CMS65 i would classify as precision compared to the jbl's. Dont get me wrong the jbl's are good to listen to music through but for mixing the focal's are a big step up for me. I can only imagine what the higher end focals sound like but for the weekend warrior engineer these are great. I mix through these then reference them to my jbl's. The two are a good pair

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