Focal Sopra No2 – T.H.E. Show Newport 2015

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While the French-based Focal usually packs the biggest impression at audio shows with its Grand Utopia ($80k/pair) in a large room, this new smaller (but far from inexpensive) pair of orange cuties really caught my eye.

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The chest-high floor stander is called the Sopra No2 and retails for $13,995. Unveiled at Munich this year, the new Focal comes in a wide variety of finishes including the intriguing electric orange you see above. A smaller book shelf version of the speaker dubbed No1 is also available for a eye-opening $8,895. That’s quite a lot for the bookshelf market, but the lower price tag of the floor stander (compared to the company’s flagship) makes it a bit more palatable in audiophile terms. The product-specific marketing hype is focused around three innovations with 3 letter acronym names.

1.  NIC – Neutral Induction Circuit

From the website:

“The NIC technology lies in a Faraday ring whose dimensions, materials and positioning we were able to optimise to make the magnetic field be no longer affected by the position of the voice coil, by the amperage or the frequency of the current passing through it. This solution permits to control the magnetic field to decrease the effects of distortion and give the sound a very high-definition and an unprecedented dynamic.”

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2. TMD – Tuned Mass Damper

“Our Tuned Mass Damper consists in simply two tubular rings on the suspension to avoid deformation of the cone without afflicting the dynamics. It reduces drastically the distortion and increase the definition.”

3. IHL – Infinite Horn Loading

“The rear of the Beryllium tweeter is loaded via a small cavity which is connected to the exterior of the enclosure by a horn. whom inside is filled with a damping material. Sound waves from the rear of the tweeter are delicately and gradually absorbed. Its acoustic impedance approaches zero so that no resistance alters the movement of the dome. This reduces distortion by 30% and pushes definition to its maximum.”

I give the company full points for having all their copywriting ducks in a row, but the sound they had kicking out at T.H.E. Show Newport was actually pretty good. Dynamic and detailed, the relatedly small room felt satiated but not overpowered with that big sound you get when things fall together in harmony.

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Aside from the previously mentioned Beryllium tweeter the No. 2 features two 7″ woofers with Focal’s W composite sandwich cone on the lower side. The full effect felt very impressive if you have some money to burn on speakers, a well put together package all around.