Focal, founded by Mr. Jacques Mahul in 1979, has a history of 40 years and is the most representative high-end speaker brand in France. The latest advanced bookshelf speaker Focal Kanta N1 is the latest Focal outstanding work.
Over the years, Focal’s products have formed a unique appearance recognition with excellent design. Focal insists on independent research and development of speaker units, crossovers, and cabinets. The selection of superior materials and hand-made have created true artistry and excellent sound quality of Focal speakers. The flagship Utopia series of products are praised as perfect speaker systems by the industry.
The top sound quality of Utopia series products is due to the many advanced components and design concepts. That represents the most cutting-edge technical strength of Focal manufacturers, including elements such as the beryllium tweeter, sandwich cone, and curved cabinet design that Focal is proud of. But after all, the Utopia series are expensive, and even a lower grade Sopra is not acceptable to everyone.
Over the years, Focal’s 1000/900 series have outstanding performance-to-price ratios and are hot-selling models. With the renewal and iteration of the old series, Focal released its brand new Kanta series of premium speakers in 2017. Unlike other brands that the entire series are released at the same time, Focal first launched the Kanta series of intermediate model N2 floor speakers. Later in 2018, it has successfully launched the series of larger floor speakers N3 and bookshelf speaker Kanta N1.
Kanta series products are not only trendy and bold in color, but also very fashionable. At the same time, they apply many technologies and materials that are only available in the top Utopia series. Let’s take a look at the newly released advanced bookshelf speaker N1 of the Kanta series today.
High-Tech Driver Unit
For a long time, researchers in the field of loudspeakers have been striving to find the best diaphragm material. The ideal diaphragm material should have at least three elements.
- Lightweight: the lighter diaphragm guarantees high-speed response speed and better restoration of sound details
- High hardness: the vibration of the diaphragm surface is low, and the distortion is also lower
- High internal damping feature to ensure that the diaphragm will vibrate when it should vibrate and stop when it should stop.
After a large number of experiments, from composite paper diaphragm, silk diaphragm, titanium diaphragm, aluminum diaphragm to high-precision diamonds, and ceramics have been applied to the field of speaker diaphragms. Scientists strive to pursue a delicate balance between physical characteristics and cost. To use existing materials to achieve the most optimized effect at a reasonable price.
Focal’s most proud speaker technology is the beryllium diaphragm tweeter. As a rare metal, Beryllium has unique physical and chemical properties. As an additive, it can make traditional materials magically transform. With higher hardness and lighter weight than titanium, it can be called an ideal diaphragm material. However, because beryllium metal is scarce in stock, difficult to process, and highly toxic, the production cost is high.
At present, beryllium diaphragm speakers successfully developed on the market are rare. Focal’s first-generation beryllium diaphragm tweeter was first applied to the Utopia series of flagship products. It successfully conquered the market as soon as it appeared on the market and received rave reviews.
The beryllium diaphragm tweeter used on the Kanta series is currently the third generation product. According to the factory, there are the following essential improvements.
IAL and IHL Technology
Focal uses the third-generation IAL and IHL technology to minimize the impact of the sound from the back of the unit on the front sound waves.
IAL (Infinite Acoustic Loading) is a rear silencing technology for tweeters. It was first applied to Utopia series products, using foam filling and other measures to reduce the unit’s back sound as much as possible.
IHL (Infinite Horn Loading) is a cavity processing technology at the rear of the tweeter. The back of the Beryllium tweeter is loaded via a small cavity connected to the exterior of the enclosure by a horn. The inside of the horn is filled with a damping material. Thus, sound waves from the rear of the tweeter are delicately and gradually absorbed. Its acoustic impedance approaches zero so that no resistance alters the movement of the dome. That pushes the definition to its maximum.
With the blessing of IAL and IHL technology, the beryllium diaphragm tweeter with excellent indicators has been improved in terms of distortion. At the same time, the high-frequency restoration is more real, natural, clear, and smooth.
Sandwich Structure Flax Fiber Mid-bass Driver
Sandwich composite structure cone unit is also one of Focal’s housekeeping technology. It is applied in much-advanced product series, including the Utopia series. In the latest Kanta series, this technology is sublimated again, and the main points of improvement include the following.
Innovative Flax Fiber Diaphragm
The ultimate pursuit of the diaphragm is lightweight, high rigidity, and high resistance. Focal designs hollow flax fiber materials with an average diameter of 20 microns in a sandwich structure to form a high-quality diaphragm material that is light and has high rigidity and high resistance. Officials claim that the stiffness of this flax fiber diaphragm is comparable to the well-known Kevlar bulletproof fiber.
Tuned Mass Damper
A strengthening structure is set inside the folding ring of the mid-bass unit. The purpose is to avoid the distortion of the sound caused by the unit’s deformation during movement and to achieve a flatter mid-frequency restoration in the 1kHz~3kHz bandwidth.
NIC (Neutral Inductance Circuit) Neutral Inductance Circuit
In the unit structure, a concentric Faraday loop (short-circuit loop) is added to the bottom of the pole piece. The voice coil (inductance) is not affected by the magnetic field, and the mid-frequency restoration is more realistic.
The Focal Kanta series’ cabinets have the structural concept derived from the flagship Utopia and apply new materials, which are bolder and more fashionable in terms of appearance processing, providing users with more diversified and stylish options.
In theory, due to the time phase difference between multiple units of the cross-frequency loudspeaker when sounding, these phase differences will cause the hearing experience to deteriorate at a certain distance.
To correct the time phase difference between different units, Focal has adopted a curved cabinet design since its flagship Utopia. From the appearance point of view, the tweeter is inside the curved surface, while the midrange and bass are slightly forward, forming a certain angle. This design concept is applied to the extreme in the latest Utopia series. The mid, high and low-frequency units are independent of each other, and there is an adjustment device at the rear. Users can personalize the angle of the panel according to different environments and listening preferences.
Due to product positioning, the Kanta series can’t match this expensive cabinet adjustment device, but it continues the design idea of the curved panel. The tweeter and the midrange/bass unit maintain a certain angle to make the unit phase more consistent. Sound consistency is better.
The Utopia and Sopra series, which are located in the flagship and sub-flagship series, are made of MDF panels. For the Focal Kanta series, to achieve the same level of performance in a more compact size, the unit must gain more space.
Therefore, Focal used a high-density polymer box material for the front panel of the Kanta series. This material is 35% thinner than the MDF sheet used by Sopra but has the same hardness. Simultaneously, the damping coefficient has also increased by 25%, which means a purer sound performance. Besides, the smooth front panel is more conducive to sound diffusion and diffraction.
The rear cabinet of the Focal Kanta series is made of molded plywood, which can also ensure the cabinet’s rigidity and reduce self-vibration. Besides, the connection of the front and rear boxes and the installation of the inverting hole are seamlessly connected, which also minimizes air noise.
The color scheme of the Focal Kanta 1 is fashionable and bold, which is eye-catching in the Hi-End speaker market, which is dominated by black and wood colors.
Focal has prepared four bright front panels of white, blue, yellow, and black and four matte front panels of ivory white, warm brown, dark gray, and blue for the Kanta series. The rear cabinet is also available in black and walnut. Users can combine and match according to their personal preferences. There are many choices, and I believe it is more than enough to match various decoration styles.
Besides, the glass-like panel and magnetic surface net make this series of products look stylish and elegant.
Gorgeous and brilliant high frequencyMany audiophile’s impression of traditional “French sound” is that the gorgeous high frequencies are overwhelming, which applies to Focal as well.
Although the Focal Kanta N1 is only the smallest bookshelf speaker in the Kanta series, it is still warm, romantic, gorgeous, and smooth in terms of high-frequency reduction due to Focal’s most representative beryllium tweeter. Whether it is the magnificent wind or percussion of the orchestra, the extension of the high frequency is very calm and natural, and it will not be pierced or rough, which is very rare. Moreover, when the instruments are played in unison, the instruments’ separation is good, and there is still only the appeal of music without making people feel noisy and oppressive.
Brilliant and Powerful Low Frequency
Focal Kanta 1 with flax fiber composite diaphragm, although the mid-woofer is only a regular 6.5-inch, will never disappoint when it performs overbearing low frequencies.
Under the brutal low-frequency devastation of “Ondekoza”, many large systems will be unable to withstand it. But the performance of Focal Kanta 1 is still excellent. The separation between the bass drum and the snare drum is good. The low-frequency dive is calm and powerful, and the sense of speed is first-rate. The overall shape of the music is beyond the volume of the box. If you close your eyes, you will not believe that this is a bookshelf speaker.
A Reasonable Sense of Space
The sound field construction of Focal Kanta N1 is reasonable and regular. After simple positioning, you can get a relatively realistic three-dimensional sound field, with good depth and width. You can feel the difference in the front and rear positions of the human voice and the musical instruments, and the positional relationship between the different musical instruments of the big orchestra. That is very good.
Beryllium treble, sandwich linen fiber composite mid-bass, high-tech cabinet let us see Focal’s strong technical strength. The bold and fashionable color matching and diversified choice space let us see Focal’s determination to break through itself and the high-end aesthetic for the mass market. And when you have listened to Focal Kanta N1 bookshelf speaker, you will be impressed by its gorgeous, romantic and brilliant sound performance.
That is Focal’s latest powerful speaker, the Kanta series. It undoubtedly carries the high hopes of the manufacturer and will become the backbone of the product line. It allows us to see fashion and hear brilliance!
Focal Kanta N1 Specs
- Type: 2-way bass-reflex bookshelf speaker
- Drivers: 1 x 61/2″(16.5cm) Flax bass-midrange with TMD suspension and NIC motor 11/16″ (27mm) ‘IAL3’ pure Beryllium inverted dome tweeter
- Sensitivity: (2,83V/1m) 88dB
- Frequency Response: (+/-3dB) 46Hz – 40kHz
- Low Frequency Point: (- 6dB) 42Hz
- Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Minimum Impedance: 3.9 Ohms
- Recommended Amplifier Power: 25 – 150W
- Crossover Frequency: 2,400Hz
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 1639/64 x 97/32 x 1525/64″ (422 x 234 x 391mm)
- Net weight (with front grille): 28.1lbs (13kg)
- Packaging dimensions (HxWxD): 241/64 x 143/8 x 205/64″ (610 x 365 x 510mm)
- Total weight (including packaging): 33.1lbs (15kg)