Focal, Naim & the Focal Stone8 Outdoor Speaker

Poor Tom Graham. At the Florida Audio Expo, the amiable Naim product specialist found himself hamstrung by the two rooms at his disposal: one a small boîte with an orange pair of Focal Sopra 3 speakers ($26,000) powered by Naim electronics, and an only slightly larger adjoining space where 300,000 dollars' worth of Naim Statement gear did its best to make Focal's rather beefy Maestro Utopia EVOs sing.

I auditioned the $76,000/pair Maestro at two audio shows in 2022. In Chicago, they occupied a ballroom-type hall; in Seattle, a few months later, they stood in a low-ceilinged but pretty large business suite. How did they sound? Exquisitely marvelous! But in Tampa, they clearly needed extra cubic feet to reach their potential.

I'd sauntered over to the Naim/Focal room mostly to check out the French brand's new Vestia speakers (successors to the now-discontinued Chora line), but the Vestias were "on a slow boat from Europe," Graham quipped. That's all right: I'll go catch 'em at AXPONA in a couple of months.

One new Focal product was indeed present at the Florida show, sitting on the floor in a corner: the Littora 200 OD Stone 8 outdoor loudspeaker ($799 each), shaped like a roughly 17" pebble. Littoras are "designed for listening in marine, coastal and wet settings," says Focal. Oddly, an indented band of indeterminate function runs around the back of the speaker's faux-stone enclosure, doing nothing to make the model 8 seem like a naturally-occurring object. Humph.

I confess that I quietly scoffed at the product; then Graham played some music through it. OK, it wasn't a revelation, and die-hard audiophiles probably won't be bowled over, but the sound from the OD Stone 8 was full, rich, and loud. I got excellent intelligibility of voices, and a much-better-than-expected reproduction of various instruments' timbres.

You may think I'm all wet, but if I had a pool or patio, I could actually see myself buying a couple of these splash-proof and rain-repelling novelties.