Focal 300IWLCR6 in-wall loudspeaker review

I was extremely impressed with Focal's 300 Series ICW 8 in-ceiling speakers back in HCC #286. They were an obvious audition for Atmos and DTS:X overhead duties, so what could Focal offer if you wanted the same performance and seamless installation all round the room? Enter the 300IWLCR6 full-range in-wall speaker.

Designed primarily for front-left, -right and centre channel duties, the 300IWLCR6 feature Focal's flax cone drivers, a rotating high-frequency/mid-range pod for horizontal or vertical installation, and the brand's EQI (Easy Quick Install) fitting system. The speaker is a true three-way design using a pair of 6.5in bass drivers, a 4in midrange driver and a 1in aluminium/magnesium alloy inverted dome tweeter.

Focal has been sporting flax drivers across several of its premium loudspeaker ranges for a while. The material has a number of high-tech advantages for speaker cone design, despite being old enough to feature in Shakespeare's plays. Focal uses flax fibres sandwiched between extremely thin layers of glass-fibre resin. The result is said to be a light, stiff cone with excellent natural damping properties up there with more exotic (read: more expensive) materials such as Kevlar.

The 300IWLCR6's open-back design means you can see and feel the cones, and they are indeed light and stiff. They are thin enough to see some light through them, too, which had me thinking about installing LED backlighting for a silly moment. Each of the three flax cones is centred with a traditional paper-pulp dome phase plug and soft rubber roll surround. Excursion of the LF drivers is fairly long, suggesting these puppies are going to go loud.

The tweeter is a direct port from Focal's Aria 900 series of cabinet loudspeakers. It uses a back-to-front aluminium/magnesium alloy dome for wide dispersion and Focal's bespoke Poron suspension. This material has an amount of what Focal refers to as 'shape memory,' and the company claims it reduces distortion through the human ear's most sensitive range of 2kHz-3kHz.

A circular pod secured by four Allen bolts houses the MF driver and tweeter. Undo the bolts and you can turn this through 90 degrees for when you want to fit the speaker as a centre channel.

On the front of the baffle are two switches to trim high- and mid-level frequencies. The three positions equate to +3dB, -3dB or flat, although no reference is made to the actual frequencies boosted or attenuated. Around the back you will find a pair of nickel-plated spring terminals for single-wire speaker cable.

Installation is very slick. In the box is an obvious cardboard cut-out template measuring 190mm x 570mm; you have 10mm extra room on those measurements before the whole speaker will sail clean through the hole. Depth-wise, you'll need a minimum of 95mm between the wall surface and rear of the cavity.

Pull out the six spring-loaded clamps and simply push the speaker into the cut-out, accompanied by half a dozen 'clack' noises as the clamps spring into place. It's that simple – and easy to remove too if you have to.


The package is supplied with a clear plastic paint shield, so you won't get magnolia all over your flax drivers and a near flush-fitting magnetic grille in paintable white finish. At £800 apiece, a front end of 300IWLCR6s is not a cheap option and four more for surround duties is looking painful. In which case, Focal offers the smaller 300IW6 at a less eye-watering £500 each.

Backs Against The Wall
The open-backed nature of the 300IWLCR6 means the speaker's ultimate balance is somewhat at the behest of the installation. A solid MDF mounting surface, small well-damped cavity and brick back wall will create a markedly different sound to installing this speaker in a plaster-board false wall in front of a spacious void. The MF/HF trims will help counter some anomalies and your AVR's EQ should keep things further in check, but I can't help thinking sealed cabinet in-walls make more sense.

Fitted as a stereo pair into an MDF baffle over an undamped void in a timber building, the 300IWLCR6 mostly runs rough-shod over that theory. With LF boosted in dynamics and depth by the timber structure and good-volume rear cavity, the speakers punched out music with impressive dynamics and a clean, neutral balance. Vocals are projected out into the room and the tweeter remains sweet even when I began experimenting with ASBO-level SPLs. The claimed 92dB sensitivity may be a bit ambitious, but this in-wall is certainly not power-hungry.

Measured performance is very good with a relatively even frequency response, albeit boosted in the upper bass by my installation's natural resonances. The +3dB HF and MF settings proved just a little too fierce to balance that additional bass without proper EQ, but my AVR's Audyssey's MultEQ XT system smoothed things out a treat. Of note, the dispersion pattern is wider than it is tall when installed vertically. So it is essential to spin that tweeter pod around if fitted horizontally to ensure the widest soundstage. LF dipped down to around 50Hz (-6dB) in my installation, which is good news for your subwoofer.

A session with action classics, with the front soundstage downmixed to stereo and a REL HT/1205 attached, saw the Focals deliver a real wow-factor performance. The slow-mo rolling car-crash through the opening of Deadpool is a mash-up of effects, dialogue and LFE, and the 300IWLCR6s left no piece of shrapnel unaccounted for. Their pace is frenetic and bass tight, while Deadpool's to-camera monologue is sonorous and intelligible – and dialogue delivery would be even further improved in a true LCR setup, as this premium in-wall speaker is outstanding at conveying the tonal characteristics of voices.

Calling on the speaker's subtler side with Paddington (Blu-ray) didn't disappoint. The creature's capers and the charismatic dialogue of the cast shone through the soundstage. From the ambience of the jungles of Peru to the bustling London streets, the 300IWLCR6s created an enviably believable atmosphere, even in stereo.

I can't fault the 300IWLCR6's ease of installation and its performance is top-notch. The open-backed design may mean some fine-tuning of EQ to get a reasonably flat response depending on your walls, but the underlying engineering, engaging sound and articulate dialogue handling make them a standout design in a crowded market.

HCC Verdict

Focal 300IWLCR6

Price: £800 (each)

We say: A dynamic, articulate and easy-to-drive in-wall loudspeaker with simplistic installation. Open-backed rather than sealed design.

Performance: 4.5/5
Features: 4.5/5
Design: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5


Drive units: 2 x 6.5in flax bass drivers; 1 x 4in flax midrange driver; 1 x 1in inverted dome tweeter
Enclosure: Open-backed in-wall
Frequency response (CLAIMED): 40Hz-28kHz
Sensitivity (CLAIMED): 92dB
Power handling (CLAIMED): 150W
Dimensions: 600(h) x 220(w) x 98(d)mm; (cut out dimensions: 570(h) x 190(w)mm)
Weight: 7.9kg
Features: Tool-free installation clamps; +/-3dB HF & MF trim switches; supplied with template, paint shield and rectangular white paintable grilles