AXPONA 2023 hosts the launch of the new Focal Theva line of speakers.
The Focal/Naim room at AXPONA has really become quite a show in its own right the past few years. It sort of feels like a full fledged, immersive experience – like one you might find at a big CES or other trade event. Sitting on the far right of the convention hall side of things at the Chicago-based hifi show, the team from the France/Britain/US had really put together a wide variety of listening options. They even went so far as to provide an organized rotation of playback by station, so everyone gets an opportunity to hear each setup without being drowned out by competing systems.
Sitting front and center as you walked in was of course a pair of Focal Maestro Utopia Evo powered by Naim’s new Classic 200 series. Always a show stopper for the collection of brands, this setup is the one you might typically see at a high end show like AXPONA.
Sitting on the left on static display was a new grand colorway for the Kanta No. 2, this time offering a selection of matte finishes over the more classic high gloss look for the front baffle texture. I always appreciate this speaker as one of the heavy lifters of the brand. It has more of the modern industrial design sensibilities of the mainstream injected into the look, but still keeps things real with low end control and high profile resolution capabilities. You can see our review of the bookshelf version of this speaker Focal Kanta No. 1 here.
One of my favorite offerings from the company as of late is this sneak attack of awesomeness in the form of a high performance outdoor speaker called the OD Stone 8. I was really impressed with the sound (for any speaker, not just an unexpected outdoor transducer) and the slightly modern aesthetics of this passive, stealth loudspeaker. The display was laid back, and being powered by the all-in-one Uniti Atom steamer and amplifier. There was a good cohesion to the sound, even in the big room filled with people, with oodles of detail and proper bass representation to boot.
The big news for the show, however, was the release of a totally new loudspeaker lineup called Theva. The more entry-level line of speakers features enough variations to sustain a full 7.2.4 surround system, which Focal had on display with flying colors in its own room in the back. I got a full demonstration of this rig and the results were much more than I hoped for. Typically when manufacturers put together a demonstration for two channel music in a surround sound system the effect tends to fall pretty flat in my opinion. Listening to both a surround sound version of Elton John’s Tiny Dancer and even some Ariana Grande later on, it was clear that Focal has been able to make some serious strides with the category. I still prefer 2 speakers for critical listening, but for those who like to combine their listening space with their home theater, this kind of thing might just be the ticket for you. The vocals were surround-dy but not smeared. The sound enveloped you, but didn’t feel like it was coming from everywhere all at once – there was more focus and intent to the placements. Well done.
Full pricing for the system:
Here is a quick video from PartTimeAudiophile from the event showing all the rooms that were available to demo.