Focal, Naim, Musical Fidelity

As is typical of their show setups, Focal Naim occupied a large, banquet-style room divvied up into different exhibits and active setups. How can you realistically gauge the sound of a demo while other demoes are playing in the background? The trick Focal Naim used, which worked like a charm, was to move our group among alternating demoes so that only one played at a time.

The first demo I heard was centered on the 100lb, dual-mono Musical Fidelity M8xi integrated amplifier with DAC ($9100). It was being fed Tidal FLAC streams from a Naim NDX 2 streamer-DAC ($11,440). At the end of the chain was a pair of Focal Kanta No.3 speakers ($19,500/pair), the top speaker in the Kanta series. To the right in my photo, you'll notice a turntable—it's new on this continent, from the British company Avid, whose turntables were recently picked up by Focal Naim for North American distribution. On static display when I was there was Avid's Ingenium turntable, arm, cartridge package ($3509). The system used Naim's own cables.

This system wasn't cheap—far from it—but on the three tracks I heard, the sound was better than it had any right to be compared with that of other systems at the show that sold for multiples of this system's price. The soundstage was huge and airy with excellent in-room extension. Dynamics were off the charts, as was transient speed. Sounds had touch and impact. There was a weighty consistency to the presentation—harmonic density—and clarity. This demo made it obvious why Focal and Naim connected; their products mesh well. Another thing made clear to me? The Musical Fidelity M8xi kicks butt.

All prices are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise indicated.