by Rafe Arnott
Focal and Naim often pair up together at audio shows and while RMAF in Denver this year was no different in that sense, it was wholly different in that Focal was impressing like crazy by showing off it’s brand new entry-level premium enclosure, three-way floor standing Kanta loudspeaker. The new multli-coloured marvel is an interior designer’s dream with its modern, pastel palette, and with a suggested $10,000 USD price point it screams “Mode de vie!” or “Lifestyle!” for those of us on this side of Atlantic.
According to Focal the design took three years to research and develop what eventually became the Kanta No.2, which is actually the first model in this range (I don’t understand the naming convention either).
The company is no stranger to Beryllium which they use extensively in drivers – tweeters in particular, here it’s the newest generation IAL3 (Infinite Acoustic Loading) – and their flagship over-ear headphones: The Utopia.
In the Kanta the midrange/bass drivers feature Flax which Focal claims adds precision, warmth, detail, and musicality.
The new chassis, and driver housing contains a high-density polymer acoustic baffling material that is 70 per cent more dense, 15 per cent stiffer, and provides 25 per cent more damping than traditional MDF. To handle bass compression in the cabinet Focal has incorporated their Power Flow technology with two vents front, and rear in the cabinet.
The driver compliment is two 6.5-inch Flax woofers, one 6.5-inch Flax midrange, and the IAL3 Beryllium inverted tweeter. Response is rated 35Hz-40kHz (+/-3dB), 40-300 watts power handling, an eight-ohm nominal impedance, and each weighs in at a healthy 77lbs.
Being driven by a Naim stack featuring a NAC N-272 digital streamer/preamp (Approx. $4,600 USD) being fed computer audio, a NAP 250 DR power amp (Approx. $4,500 USD) , and dedicated XS power supplies for both (Approx. $1,900 USD), the sound was fast, powerful, and immensely engaging – typical of Naim electronics in my experience.
Focal tend to be very transparent loudspeakers, and can produce a slightly analytical sound when paired with sources or amps that tend to the lean side. While I wouldn’t describe Naim as ‘tubey’ sounding, they are a bit ‘warm,’ and some have called them “pipe, and slipper” amps, so when paired up with the Kantas this was an extremely satisfying sound. Think speed, power, and accuracy with some classic British hi-fi warmth that still retains all the dynamics, and percussive force many have come to expect from Focal.
It was a great pairing.
I have to say that I’m looking forward to hearing these Kanta again – well done Focal.