The Focal Sopra nº2 – AXPONA 2016

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The Focal Sopra No.2 made an appearance in multiple rooms at AXPONA this year. The first of which was in one of the most consistent dealer rooms year after year. Quintessence Audio may be hard to spell, but their presence at Chicago’s biggest audio show is not one that any attendee should miss.

For the past few years, the Morton Grove retailer has occupied the top floor of the Westin in Rosemont with a presence that few can ignore. Historically some of the best sounds in the entire show, the traditional Focal flagship usually makes an appearance for the company, but recent years the space has given way to the first “budget” entry from the high end manufacturer.

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Costing a more HiFi entry-level cost of $14k/pair, the Sopra No.2 has been drumming up some solid interest among traditionalists and first-timers alike. Quintessence had an unassuming pair in corner of their one of their three rooms on the 12th floor. The Sopra 2s featured here were finished with a more black and wood aesthetic.

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Pushing the pair was a collection of Pass Labs Xs 150 Monoblocks ($65k/pair), XP-30 pre ($16.5k), XP-25 Phono ($10.6k) and Berkeley Audio Designs Reference Series Alpha DAC ($16k), making the Sopras nearly the cheapest part of the illustrious chain of events. The sound was tight and light with dynamic music in the large room. Plenty of space and focus could be found in and around the music from the pricy-yet-not system.

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The second place you could hear the Sopra No.2 was an extremely well lit Audio Plus Service’s room on the third floor. Now in electric orange, the simplified setup featured only the Micromega M1 100 DAC/Amp. The full-service station spouts 100w per channel from a class A/B amplifier combined with streaming and digital conversion capabilities for $4k. A 150 version is coming in time for Munich that will offer 150 watts of juice to let loose. The catchy matchy-match exterior of the Micromega will run you another $1k for any color of your choosing. Between the vibrant color scheme and the simplistic approach to music, the futuristic/modern look of the room was a breath of fresh air from the sometimes overly consistent choices of traditional HiFi… its also worth mentioning that the electric orange is really growing on me. Both the Focal Sopra line and the Micromega M1 100 are available for purchase now.