Thoughts on Focal Speakers Demo Event - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 7 Old 11-06-2019, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Thoughts on Focal Speakers Demo Event

Wanted to share some thoughts on a Focal speakers event I attended in North Scottsdale a couple weeks ago. A local high-end audio store was having a grand opening for their new Focal/Naim showroom. I've had my Ascend Sierra system (towers + Horizon center all with RAAL tweeter; Emotiva 3 channel amp) for around 6 years now and was starting to get curious about potential upgrades. Coincidentally, Focal was one of the companies I was looking at.

At the showroom they had a range of Focal speakers and headphones (all running from their Arche amps). I did try the Focal Utopia headphones, but the combination of open back and being too near some of the speaker set-ups made for a tough listening environment.

They had a dedicated listening room for some of their in-wall speakers, but I spent most of my time in the dedicated (quite large) listening room for the Grand Utopia EM Evo speakers. These were running off the Naim Statement amplifier, so all told around $500k in equipment! They were running through a variety of audio tracks and the speakers were (as you'd expect) amazing. Each tower has a 16" woofer so the bass packs a lot of impact. Overall imaging and resolution/detail also stand out. These towers are massive - around 6' tall and something like 600lbs each; finish is gorgeous as well. The listening room was large, but this setup was able to fill it with sound with ease.

Probably unwise to have spent most of my time listening to a set-up I would not be able to afford, but it was a rare opportunity to spend some time with such and ultra-high end setup. If/when upgrading my Ascends I'd be considering the Sopra No2 system.

When I went home I decided to replay some of the tracks they were playing at the event on my Sierras. I have the Eagles Hell Freezes Over so I revisited Hotel California. I started in the "pure direct" mode, so just the towers, no subwoofer. I rarely listen to my Sierra's this way, but the absence of bass was very obvious. I think it's well known that the Ascends need to be paired with a subwoofer and I agree. Not at all surprising as each Focal has the 16" woofer, but each Sierra has 2x 6" woofers (4x less area for the Sierras). For reference I have a PSA 3601 (dual 18" woofers), but my living room is very large as it is open to the kitchen/dining rooms as well as an upstairs loft.

Then I adjusted the reciever to "stereo" mode so the towers with the subwoofer. Here, the sound came alive with the sub able to fill in the low end for the Sierras. Now the impactful bass from the Focals was being more closely captured with my system.

My conclusion was that with the subwoofer, the experience of the Ascends was excellent. I would love to experience my gear in a dedicated (smaller) listening room. Interesting to compare them against a setup that costs more than 100x. If anything it showed me that while I may be itching for an upgrade, my current system is probably more than enough for my current needs.
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post #2 of 7 Old 11-06-2019, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by mpo1977 View Post

My conclusion was that with the subwoofer, the experience of the Ascends was excellent. I would love to experience my gear in a dedicated (smaller) listening room. Interesting to compare them against a setup that costs more than 100x. If anything it showed me that while I may be itching for an upgrade, my current system is probably more than enough for my current needs.
Sounds like you had a good time and got a good lesson in the value of modern subwoofers when paired with high quality "affordable" mains.

I spent $750k on three rental homes.

They are now worth $1.5 million.

Can Focal do that?
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post #3 of 7 Old 11-09-2019, 01:41 AM
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Originally Posted by gajCA View Post
Sounds like you had a good time and got a good lesson in the value of modern subwoofers when paired with high quality "affordable" mains.

I spent $750k on three rental homes.

They are now worth $1.5 million.

Can Focal do that?
Well, for sure there's no way I would spend hundreds of thousands on a stereo. I am looking at used speakers, but good quality speakers like the Focal Utopia ( not the top ones, but at least Utopias).

There is time for investment, but there is time to enjoy. You use your investment to get money so you can buy nice hifi( hell , not what OP was talking about, just nice ones......used!!!). I think $10K will get you a very nice pair of used speakers.


Watch out, real estate is crashing and it's going to be quite ugly, not to the point of 2009 to 2012, but it's going to drop big. From what I see, it already dropped 10%, I think there's another 25% to 30% to go.

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post #4 of 7 Old 11-09-2019, 09:09 AM
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Watch out, real estate is crashing and it's going to be quite ugly, not to the point of 2009 to 2012, but it's going to drop big. From what I see, it already dropped 10%, I think there's another 25% to 30% to go.
No worries, I didn't buy to sell.

The "paper profit" is a bit ridiculous to be honest.

We bought for the passive income and one of them my daughter lives in.

Heck, she'll own all of them one day just like she owns my old Revox turntable, Velodyne 1200r sub and B&W CM1 Concept 90s.

She managed to blow up the Denon I gave her, (she didn't like the NAD as it had no remote), but she did buy another more powerful Denon.

But now she listens to a freaking Bluetooth speaker most of the time!

Kids.

Geoff A. J., California
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post #5 of 7 Old 11-09-2019, 10:43 AM
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Watch out, real estate is crashing and it's going to be quite ugly, not to the point of 2009 to 2012, but it's going to drop big. From what I see, it already dropped 10%, I think there's another 25% to 30% to go.
The value of my home keeps getting jacked up by our county assessor.

Ideally I'd be ready to upgrade to another house during the next recession, as the value of the upgrade will fall by more than the value of mine...but I doubt I would be ready so soon. We'll see.

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post #6 of 7 Old 11-09-2019, 12:57 PM
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The value of my home keeps getting jacked up by our county assessor.

Ideally I'd be ready to upgrade to another house during the next recession, as the value of the upgrade will fall by more than the value of mine...but I doubt I would be ready so soon. We'll see.
I suggested to my big boss over a year ago to sell our house and rent or move into one of our rental to stay until the price bottom out in 3 to 4 years before buying another one, she had none of it. We definite can take a big step up like this.

Own designed power amp, own designed preamp, JM LAB Spectral 913.1 speakers, Rythmik F12SE sub.
Not hooked up: Nakamichi Stasis PA-7 power amp, Velodyne VA1210 sub, Kef Reference Series center, Kef Bookshelf speaker, Monitor Audio bookshelf speaker, Infinity rear speakers. Acurus 3X200W amp.
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post #7 of 7 Old 11-09-2019, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by gajCA View Post
No worries, I didn't buy to sell.

The "paper profit" is a bit ridiculous to be honest.

We bought for the passive income and one of them my daughter lives in.

Heck, she'll own all of them one day just like she owns my old Revox turntable, Velodyne 1200r sub and B&W CM1 Concept 90s.

She managed to blow up the Denon I gave her, (she didn't like the NAD as it had no remote), but she did buy another more powerful Denon.

But now she listens to a freaking Bluetooth speaker most of the time!

Kids.
You are lucky she still listen to music, most just stuck on the smart phone chasing pokeymon. There are very few people that are into hifi here. In Hong Kong, people are so into hifi.

Own designed power amp, own designed preamp, JM LAB Spectral 913.1 speakers, Rythmik F12SE sub.
Not hooked up: Nakamichi Stasis PA-7 power amp, Velodyne VA1210 sub, Kef Reference Series center, Kef Bookshelf speaker, Monitor Audio bookshelf speaker, Infinity rear speakers. Acurus 3X200W amp.
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