Focal Custom Integration Speakers – FNA 2015 Event
Focal North America showed off its newest lines of custom integration speakers at its 2015 event in Phoenix, Arizona. Focal has a lot of residential solutions today (like the Electra 1000 Be 2, Chorus 700V, and Custom 100 lines), but they’re now moving even further into the market with some brand new Focal custom integration speakers. We started with a discussion on Focal speaker cone technology and design. Focal’s speaker cones balance a delicate and critical mixture of rigidity, dampness, and lightweight properties. This is the equation they repeatedly deal with across all product lines (and this is not exclusive to Focal but any driver manufacturer). The reason driver cone materials are typically more complex (often resulting in “sandwiched” or layered technologies) is because no single material meets the three criteria adequately. Focal typically uses fiberglass layers with a Rohacell material in between. They use different thicknesses of Rohacell depending upon the speaker, driver size, or application. This process allows Focal to make drivers from 3″ to 16″ in diameter.
Focal Electra 1000 Be 2 Speakers
We can’t talk about the Electra 1000 line of Focal custom integration speakers for long before we tackle the question of “Why Beryllium?” We spent some time examining beryllium as a metal, even passing around a set of tuning forks made out of aluminum, titanium, and beryllium. Beryllium is incredibly stiff, very lightweight (it weighs considerably less than even aluminum), and it doesn’t ring out or resonate like other metals (it’s very damp). For Focal’s highest quality speakers, pure beryllium (which is incredibly more expensive than gold) seems to be the tweeter solution of choice.
Focal Chorus 700V Speakers
The Focal Chorus 700V speakers use polyglass for the driver cone material, basically cellulose plus fiberglass. This beats aluminum and Kevlar because it’s less expensive, and it presents a stiffer solution. An Al/Mg tweeter uses a poron suspension material which is like memory foam…but in a metallic form. It’s perfect for a sensitive tweeter that needs to return to its starting point perfectly—for a long long time. We were allowed to check out some tweeters from the Utopia line and could see all of the detailed components and the design of the tweeter, the poron suspension, and the coil.
There are four speakers in the Chorus 700V line, including the IC706V ($499), IC706V ST ($599), IW706V ($549), and the outdoor-rated OD706V ($429).
NEW Focal 300 Series Speakers
While we can’t yet show you the Focal 300 Series speakers, we did get to see and hear the new speakers in action (we listened to a pair used as Atmos speakers when we reviewed the Focal Dome Flax speakers). They’ll debut around CEDIA and there will be a lot more to show and talk about then. The new Focal 300 series speakers, including the ICW8, are going to work for both in-wall and in-ceiling applications, and they include universal square and circular grilles.
Focal wanted to take a new approach to both design and installation ease of use. They opted to use their Flax fiber material in the new Focal 300 CI speakers which is sourced right in France. Since the final material is 80% cellulose, it has the added bonus—in addition to being stiff when combined with fiberglass resin—of being a very dampened material. Focal also uses different material thicknesses and compositions depending upon whether it’s being used in a 6-inch midrange, for example, or a larger woofer.
Installing the new Focal 300 Series speakers can’t be simpler. After cutting the hole (they haven’t simplified that yet!), you insert the mounting bracket, push down the clamps (which support double-thickness walls and ceilings), and release. Then you just line up the speaker with the indicator arrows, push the speaker into place, and rotate it to lock it in. Do everything in reverse to remove it. The system is really easy to use. Speaker wire connections are vi convenient gold-plated push-spring connectors.
There are three new Focal 300 Series models in the line, including the ICW4 2-way ($599), ICW6 2-way ($699), and ICW8 2-way coaxial ($799) models. Each uses an aluminum magnesium tweeter and the mounting kits can be purchased as an option. This is really the CI speaker platform on which future Focal custom integration speakers will be built. We can see why.