Back in April, Daniel Jacques of Audio Plus, Focal's North American distributor, invited me to visit Focal's factory in St. Etienne. Since I'd never reviewed any Focal loudspeakers, I didn't know a lot about the company, but I have spent many happy hours in Jonathan Scull's ribbon chair, listening to his Grand Utopias, so I was eager to go—and to learn more.
Another hand process is stretching and fitting various layers of adhesive-impregnated glass-fiber material to the front and back of the foam center. Again, depending on the driver's purpose, different amounts of glass fiber layers are employed. Since Focal controls the flare, drive system, and crossover, the company has massive amounts of control over elements like mass and Q.
Of Focal's 200 employees, only 15 are "allowed" to build the Utopia line of loudspeakers. "Utopia, to Jacques Mahul's way of thinking, represents the finest expression of Focal—so only the most experienced employees can build Utopia products. They are also the most critical employees and we do not push them to produce mass numbers—we push them to produce perfect products," said Gérard Chrétien, Focal's managing director (and former editor of L'Audiophile>.
Guy.HF is located in Bourbon-Lancy, about two hours north of Focal's St. Etienne factory. The facility has produced Focal's cabinets since Jacques Mahul founded JMLab in 1980. The front of the cabinet-making facility is the original woodworking shop Guy's father Emile founded in 1945—the back end of the factory is newly built and state-of-the-art. Focal and Guy.HF were so intertwined that Focal bought a 49% interest in Guy.HF and the cabinet maker's entire output is now 100% Focal.
As a sometime wood-butcher myself, I assumed that the multifaceted Focal cabinets would require some pretty fancy clamps. Not so, Jean-Paul Guy explained. Modern materials technology has given us a stretchy, incredibly strong, adhesive film that's quick to apply, infinitely versatile, and also cheap.
You know how life is: It's just one damn thing after another. I spent some time attempting to re-imagine this blog and I dealt with a health issue. clickfor sound effect Well, I'm better now and I have some fun things (I think) in store.
Matthew Guerrieri (aka Soho the Dog) has a new installation of his ongoing series Strauss and Mahler Re-Enact Your Favorite Movie Moments. Today's episode is The Ten Commandments. Read 'em all—they're hilarious.
Visitors to the 2008 International Auto Show, currently taking place at NYC's Jacob Javits Convention Center, might discover something different at the Bentley display: a high-end audio listening room. Bentley Motors and Naim have teamed up for the "Naim For Bentley" program, which will be offered as a sound package upgrade for all Bentley models by year's end.
Blender has just posted its nominations for greatest record industry screw-ups. I have a few quibbles, but as a whole, Blender tells a tale of monumental stupidity,from Decca passing on the Beatles because Dick Rowe was irritated that too many frantic teens were attempting to get into the Cavern Club to shutting down Napster without having a legitimate channel to replace it.