High End 2013

Focal showed several new products in Munich, including an all-new 700 series of entry-level loudspeakers with drivers manufactured and speakers assembled entirely in France. Employing the familiar tapered cabinet construction seen in the 807W Prestige but in a slightly more conservative guise, the revised models all use an aluminum/magnesium alloy inverted-dome tweeter that benefits from a Poron surround, trickled down from the Utopia Be design. Prices start at 398 a pair.

But the most interesting iteration of the 700-series drivers occurs in the shape of the Easya. This is a three-part, just-add-source system based around two floorstanding powered loudspeakers and a central connection/communication hub. Each speaker contains a pair of polyglass bass drivers and the 700-series tweeter, driven by an 85-watt class-D amp with a heavily engineered power supply. The diminutive hub accepts digital inputs on USB, TosLink and RCA, analog via RCA and minijack, and it communicates with both speakers via the CLEAR 16-bit/44.1kHz digital protocol. The system is remote controlled and also contains a Bluetooth receiver for wireless input. That’s quite a package, especially when you factor in a price of 1890.

The other big loudspeaker news from Focal was the introduction of a V2 version of the popular Scala Utopia Be. Lessons learnt in the design and development of the Stella Utopia EM allowed the creation of a new 11” driver for the Scala, based around a revised surround and vented and reinforced coil former. The result is a significant reduction in distortion and a far smoother first-breakup mode, resulting in a significant improvement in midband focus and clarity, further enhanced by acoustical refinements in the midrange enclosure itself. Finally, strategically placed foam strips help reduce tweeter diffraction effects from the segmented cabinet construction. The overall impact on performance is claimed to be substantial, but the price remains the same at 21,000 a pair -- a figure that looks almost reasonable in this day and age.

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