Focal And Naim Make A Splash In Florida – FLAX 2023
Focal speakers and Naim amplification made quite the splash at this year’s Florida Audio Expo, with new products and a ton of active systems to listen to.
If full transparency, I did have a little heads up when it came to Focal’s massive haul of gear brought to the the Florida Audio Expo this year. Landing down securely in Tampa, the French based company (which also flys the banner with Naim) had not one, not two, but 5 different setups on display throughout the audiophile event that took place February 17-19 at the Embassy Suites Westshore.
The first setup entailed the Focal Maestro Utopia EVO Speakers ($76k/pair), which isn’t the big flagship size that we usually are graced with in a big room. But were, in fact, just big enough for the medium-sized cleared-out room in the main tower. Connected to the Utopias was Naim Statement pre and monos, which I can’t recall ever seeing before, but was heartily impressed with not only their sonics, but fantastic industrial design (if you have the space to spare). My den listening space doesn’t quality have the real estate, but is nicely complemented by the Naim Uniti Star all-in-one the British brand offers. That unit has really raised the bar in terms of quality per square foot, so I was very happy to see that my high expectations were met with the same sense of texture+control I am used to, but on the next level of products. There is a consistency to the things I find most appealing about Naim (with Focal in this case) that translate from model to model, which I think is one of the best complements an audiophile brand with a reputation as long as Naim can really get.
Right around the corner in another room was perhaps one if the biggest surprises to me at the show. These OD Stone 8 two-way outdoor speaker ($799) offer a unique way of bringing some sound quality outside by the pool. Aside from occasional planter speaker, there are not really may options for audiophiles when it comes to landscape-friendly appearances. Also featured in the photo above is the more mountable OD Sat 5 ($679).
Directly across from the OD Stones were the shiny new thing debuting at FLAX 2023. Paired with the Focal Speakers Sopra No. 3, the new Classic 200 series line pumped out some righteous tunes on par with the flashy orange paint job. I always like to see some variety in the looks of any display pieces, mostly because my collection is filled with exclusively piano black and walnut these days, but the listening room facilities here at Audio-Head can only hold so many pairs of floorstanders at once. The sight at the show was a welcome one, as was the dynamic and resolving control the system exhibiting courtesy of the new NSC 222 ($8,999), NAP 250 ($8,999), and NPX 300 ($8,999).
Lastly, the personal audio sector has been throughly explored by both brands as well. On display at the show was the new flagship piece Utopia headphone (updated in 2022, $5k), Clear Mg ($1.5k) open back, Stellia ($3k) and Celeste ($1k). The active display did an excellent job of showcasing not only the wide berth of options for every price point the Focal offers, but also what is possible in this compact space with the all-in-one personal audio amplifier Uniti Atom Headphone edition ($3.8k).