Floor Loudspeaker Reviews

Sort By: Post DateTitle Publish Date
Michael Fremer  |  Oct 22, 2021  |  25 comments
You've got your 2001: A Space Odyssey speaker, which of course is a tall, black, featureless monolith. Then there's your wooden "Who's buried inside?" speaker, your "R-I-C-O-L-A" speaker, your enema bag or double-inverted enema bag speaker, your menacing hooded-Klansman speaker, your "looks like a robot, praying mantis, or Transformer" speaker (mine), and your "Does it leave a slime trail?" speaker (looks like a snail). You've got your "Is that a room divider?" speaker, your "looks like you stepped on a duck's head" speaker, and your "whipped cream dollop suspended in time" speaker.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 15, 2021  |  5 comments
When Stereophile publishes a followup review in the print magazine, we add it as a "child page" to the website reprint of the original coverage. We have recently done so with three significant products: the Magico M2 loudspeaker, the Linear Tube Audio Z10e tubed headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, and the Okto Research dac8 PRO multichannel D/A processor.
Russ Novak  |  Apr 27, 2010  |  First Published: Dec 27, 1994  |  0 comments
Balanced performance isn't the be-all and end-all of product design. A person can listen to a product which balances the highs with the lows, detail with forgiveness, delicacy with dynamics, and still feel unmoved. Such a product might sound "proper," but it won't produce the illusion of a live performance. It takes a special window or two on reality to convince you you're listening to live music. Such a loudspeaker may have other deficiencies which keep it from being a universally appealing product, but it keeps reminding you of the live experience. It may appeal only to a small number of audiophiles, but their experience may well be more intense.
Robert Deutsch  |  Nov 07, 2014  |  8 comments
Founded in 1979 by Jacques Mahul, Focal—formerly known as JMlab and as Focal-JMlab—is one of audio's success stories. Beginning with a single speaker model produced in a small workshop in Saint Etienne, France, the company is still headquartered there, but has expanded to employ over 250 workers, making products exported to over 160 countries. All Focal products are engineered in France; only a few lower-priced multimedia models and headphones are assembled in the Far East.
Robert Schryer  |  May 14, 2021  |  15 comments
The first image that pops into my mind when I think of Focal is of the iconic Grande Utopias and how at one Montreal audio show I couldn't believe that the gentlest, sweetest music I'd heard all day was coming out of those massive speakers. I saw it as a paradox of sorts.

Founded in the City of Lights, Focal has been around since 1979, the year Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now received the Palme d'Or at Cannes and when the average annual income in America was $17,500. Focal started as a twinkle in the eye of engineer and technology journalist Jacques Mahul, who believed he'd built a speaker that would appeal to hi-fi enthusiasts: the DB13. Fast-forward half a century, and Focal, designated "entreprise du patrimoine vivant" (living heritage company) by the French government, employs some 230 people at its large, stylish, multilevel digs.

Robert Deutsch  |  Nov 15, 2010  |  0 comments

Does spending more money on audio equipment get you better sound? Some audiophiles assume that anything that costs more must be better—and that if it's relatively inexpensive, then it can't be any good. Others hold the opposite view: expensive components can't possibly be worth their prices, and those who manufacture them—and audio journalists who report on them—must be charlatans.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 15, 2007  |  1 comments
With the introduction of the 1000 Be series in 2005, Focal slipped its exclusive, high-performance beryllium tweeter out of the stuffy-looking Utopia series and into a sleeker, more stylish, more modern form.
Robert Deutsch  |  Oct 25, 2018  |  5 comments
"Any color, so long as it's black." That was the choice famously offered by Henry Ford to buyers of his Model T. Some makers of loudspeakers, notably GoldenEar Technology, follow the same dictum.

Not Focal. The Kanta No.2 ($9999/pair) is available with a cabinet finished in High Black Lacquer or Walnut veneer, with baffles finished in a variety of colors, including High Glass Carrara White and Gauloise Blue. The review samples had black cabinets and white baffles, which made me think of the two-tone cars that were the rage in the 1950s and '60s—and which may be coming back.

John Atkinson  |  Jul 19, 2010  |  0 comments
Considering that the crates they're shipped in are each as large as a Manhattan studio apartment, once they'd been set up in my listening room, Focal's Maestro Utopia III speakers weren't as visually overpowering as I'd anticipated. The elegant dark-gloss front baffles, the gloss-gray side panels, and the fact that the speaker's three subenclosures are vertically arrayed so that the top, midrange section is angled down, significantly reduced their apparent size.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Mar 24, 2017  |  12 comments
When it comes to Focal loudspeakers, I've been a lurker. For decades now, their demonstrations at audio shows have been memorable—a highlight was when, several years ago, I got Focal to play a powerful percussion track through a pair of their Grande Utopias at very high volume on a show's last day. Just to hear and feel how this mammoth system could deliver clarity and impact was awe-inspiring, and it was underscored by seeing folks from all the neighboring rooms quickly entering to enjoy it with me. It has also been a continuing pleasure to relax and listen to music with Stereophile's former Senior Editor, Jonathan Scull through his Focal Utopias, which he purchased in 1998. Alas, the years have turned, speakers have come and gone, and I had not yet had any Focal speakers in my own system. (Bob Deutsch seemed always to get the jump on me!)
Jack English  |  Mar 29, 2012  |  First Published: May 01, 1996  |  0 comments
When you wish upon a star,
Makes no difference who you are;
Anything your heart desires,
Will come to you
.—Jiminy Cricket

12-21-92-17-52-46. Big deal, another $100,000 lottery winner. Where's Jean-Phillipe? Probably off getting us something to drink. Who can blame him? I can't believe people sit around dreaming and waiting to hear all these winning numbers. J-P, you out there?

Young, good-looking, bright—J-P had a lot going for him. He certainly didn't need to sit here listening to winning lottery numbers. Ah, there you are. What are you mumbling about?

"12-21-92-17-52-46. I've won! I've won! I've won!" He shouted over and over, almost crushing me in a bear hug.

My oh my, J-P had really won a big one. And what was it he'd been dreaming about while buying all those tickets every payday for the last three years? Speakers! He'd wanted to own the best loudspeakers in the world, and now he could.

Paul Messenger  |  Sep 14, 2003  |  0 comments
I reviewed JMlab's Mezzo Utopia loudspeaker in the July 1999 Stereophile (Vol.22 No.7). By chance, the Mezzos had followed a pair of B&W Nautilus 801s into my listening room, and the substitution had proved rather interesting. For all their many fine qualities, the 801, with its 15" bass driver, was distinctly bass-heavy in my room, whereas the 11" drivers of the Mezzos seemed just right in this regard.
Paul Bolin  |  Jun 13, 2004  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2004  |  0 comments
Symphony orchestras once had definable national characters. When high-end audio came along, those characters became the national sounds of the gear. While most audio manufacturers, like most symphony orchestras, have tended in recent decades to homogenize into an "international" sound, most French audio gear has remained distinct.
John Atkinson, Wes Phillips  |  Jun 03, 1997  |  0 comments
A science-fiction parable I read too many years ago to remember who wrote it used the image of a glass jar stuffed with colored plastic spheres. The story's protagonist was asked whether the glass was full. "Of course," was his reply, whereupon a hidden faucet was turned, the jar filled up with water, and fish swam in the spaces between the balls.
Dick Olsher  |  Dec 22, 2009  |  First Published: Nov 22, 1986  |  0 comments
Irving M. "Bud" Fried, an early contributor to Stereophile, hails from the city of brotherly love, and I must confess to finding it difficult avoiding a few brotherly jabs at Mr. Fried's name: something like "this Bud's for you" would surely not escape deletion by our conscientious Editor. And what if I should happen to complain of a dried-up or "Fried" quality in the upper mids—JA is bound to object to this breach of good taste. Well, having gotten that off my chest, you'd be interested to know that I consider it quite appropriate that someone from Phil-a-del-phia should be in love with transmission-line enclosures; the name is almost as convoluted as a trip down a folded line.

Pages

X