No doubt it has been a pretty quiet period for Focal, the respected French audio brand in recent times, however this is all about to change with some major releases in the Hi-Fi and integrated speaker worlds, this year and into next.
CE Pro Europe was one on the titles invited to an exclusive preview of the first in this refreshed line-up, the Kanta N°2.
The product will appeal to AV retailers and installers alike and of course those who do both, as it delivers a high-quality approach to sound, but also a generous helping of style for those who want their AV on show.
Part of Focal’s Classic Home Audio collection, the Kanta N°2 is a new design, combining many of the company’s proprietary acoustic innovations with newly-researched techniques. Kanta N°2 is a compact three-way floor-standing speaker that combines the performance the brand is known for, with a new industrial design created to blend with a range of interiors.
Looking very attractive in the flesh, but also delivering much of the ‘natural’ sounding feel of the speaker, Focal’s Flax sandwich cone speaker driver is combined with the brand’s Beryllium tweeter. Housed within a new cabinet that takes a softer approach than some of the others from the company, which make bolder statements, the speaker is attractive to look at, but also feels like it will blend in too when required.
The combination of beryllium and flax
Delving deeper into the speaker’s workings, high-frequencies are reproduced by a new pure Beryllium tweeter designed and developed especially for Kanta. The IAL 3 tweeter combines the principles of the IAL (Infinite Acoustic Loading) and the IHL (Infinite Horn Loading) tweeters developed for Focal’s flagship Utopia range. Designed to improve the absorption of sound waves and reduce the resonance frequency of the tweeter, Focal says the IAL 3 delivers an effortless performance, blending perfectly with the mid-range drivers making it acoustically invisible. Certainly in demo this statement feels justified, overall the speaker does present a very joined up feel with no aspect of the output over-powering the other.
Hand made in France and patented, Focal’s Flax cone has already proved its worth in several of the company’s designs. By sandwiching flax fibre between two thin layers of glass fibre, Flax driver cones can be made to deliver high internal damping, high velocity and high rigidity, but still deliver the flexibility needed.
The flax driver is definitely one of the best things about this speaker, as well as softening the look, pushing to look just a little bit more like a musical instrument as well as a speaker, the audio produced does deliver low coloration, richness of reproduction in the midrange register and tighter bass when used for low frequency duties, as billed by the maker.
The 1 x 6.5in (16.5cm) midrange driver is also equipped with a technology which has become a must for Focal: TMD suspension (Tuned Mass Damping). All Kanta’s speaker drivers are also equipped with NIC motors (Neutral Inductance Circuit), which stabilise the magnetic field to provide definition, whilst delivering better-controlled bass via the 2 x 6.5in (16.5cm) bass drivers.
Meeting the engineering challenge
To deliver on the size of enclosure that the company wanted to achieve, Focal’s engineers had to reduce the volume of the bass cabinet compared to previous designs, whilst retaining high-quality performance levels. This was partly achieved by using a new material for the baffle, which would retain the high-levels of rigidity required, yet remain favourable to the acoustic conditions. Focal engineers discovered and developed a mono-bloc high density polymer (HDP) which the maker says is capable of a higher performance compared to MDF, being 70% denser, 15% more rigid and able to deliver 25% increased damping. To avoid any diffraction of the sound, the mono- bloc baffle has been worked with the resultant shape offering only smooth edges, allowing the sound waves to flow across the surface. This has been attached to the rear housing of the cabinet, which is internally braced and constructed from moulded multi-ply wood to provide even greater rigidity.
As with with all of Focal’s high-end designs, Kanta employs the company’s ‘Focus Time’ driver alignment technology, which positions the drivers so that all soundwaves arrive at the listener’s ears at the same time. In addition, Focal’s ‘Power Port’ technology is used, with a port on the front and one on the rear of each speaker, extending bass response and limiting any dynamic compression of the bass signals.
To provide coupling to the floor, the Zamac base, which includes adjustable spikes, is designed to offer greater overall stability whilst still maintaining the slim cabinet profile.
The last finishing touches include a elegant glass plate on the top of the loudspeaker, and the magnetic, beret-type grilles. Once removed, they reveal the speaker drivers’ Flax cones.
Backing up the message of quality from the brand, the Flax cone sandwich, the speaker drivers and final hand-assembly are all hand-built at Focal’s
manufacturing plant in Saint-Etienne, along with all other Focal Home Audio products, including the Utopia, Sopra, Electra, Aria and Chorus lines.
Looking for sound
Focal has a long history of producing quality sounding speakers, but also has a rep in the style stakes to maintain too. It’s good to see the brand making the right effort here as the finishes for Kanta N°2 allow for numerous combinations of colours to make sure the supplier and end-user can work together to find something to fit each interior. The housing is available in a lacquered black high gloss finish or with a walnut veneer. The front panel is available in four different colours for each of the two finishes. With the black High Gloss housing, four high gloss finishes for the front panel: Carrara White, Gauloise Blue, Solar Yellow, Black Lacquer. With the wood veneer housing, four matt finishes for the front panel: Ivory, Warm Taupe, Gauloise Blue, Dark Grey.
Ce Pro has to say the Gauloise Blue are particularly pleasing in the flesh.
All the range are available to order now and come in at £6999 per pair end user price and at the price point offer a strong choice for AV fans with an eye for style too.