Focal Kanta No.2 – Review

Focal Kanta No.2 – Review


absolutely beautiful; fast, precise, crisp with a controlled bass

This is my review of the Focal Kanta speakers. Straight out, they are absolutely beautiful; fast, precise, crisp with a controlled bass and I’ve made enquiries about buying a pair! I think that counts as a buy recommendation?

What is with the No.2? Well Focal usually go with a No.1 bookshelf and a No. 3 blockbuster floor stander but this all the Kantas we have at the moment. I went to the UK launch of the Kanta last Autumn and there seemed to indications of a full range roll out, though best not quote me on that.

Design

The Kanta is an all new speaker design from Focal comprising the very latest technology available.   Indeed the array of technology is quite revealing, indicating that Focal are not resting on their considerable laurels.  With TMD, IAL, IHL, NIC and Power Flow technologies to mention a few, not to forget materials such as beryllium, flax, HDP and more, Focal is pressing forward and investing full tilt in their core strengths.

Focal Kanta

Flax and beryllium

The flax cones are new, they have low mass, are very rigid and they have high damping characteristics.  The flax cones and drivers are delivered utilising Focal’s Tuned Mass Damping (TMD) suspension technology and Neutral Induction Circuit (NIC) technology that stabilises the magnetic field in the drivers, dramatically reducing distortion.  The flax cones combine in the mid range and bass ranges to deliver a warm natural sound that is a delight to hear.

The low and mid range drivers are paired with an evolved beryllium tweeter from the high end Sopra and Utopia range that feature a massive frequency range, well above those the ear can hear but adding to the essence of the music with transient perfection.  The beryllium tweeter is characterised by its fast response, three times greater than titanium, enabling it to deliver the signal and return to its position ready for the next signal with minimum distortion.   The tweeters themselves use Focal’s evolving Infinite Horn and Infinite Acoustic Loading (IHL, IAL)  technology  in a new technology called IAL generation 3, that reduces undue tweeter resonance and absorbs unwanted sound waves.  The driver cabinet is ported with large front (for impact) and rear facing (for depth) vents in the lower portion of the cabinet that are softly sculpted incorporating Power Flow technology, these vents limit bass compression.

The overall cabinet is designed and made to create acoustic softness and warmth (it says here): the density and stiffness of the baffle (the front of the cabinet) and shell materials has softened angles.  The front facing baffle is made of a new material to suit the acoustic parameters required. It is moulded in one piece from high density polymer (HDP). This material has excellent performance: it is 70% denser than MDF, 15% stiffer and provides 25% more damping. The one-piece front facing baffle eliminates any sound diffraction.  The cabinet box itself is fashioned from a multi-ply wood designed to reduce resonance, this technology is similarly high end to generate neutrality in performance.  I would add, aesthetically, that there are no sharp corners, anywhere, unlike my own Kef R series speakers.

My personal favourite design feature are the screw down spikes that are a feature of the Sopra No.2s.  The retractable spikes enable you to move the speakers around to an optimal position, at which point you can screw the spike down without you wife knowing he mess you’re making to the wooden floor below.  I’ve ended up screwing down the spikes eight turns at the front and three at the back to lift the soundstage to an optimal position.

Finally, design wise Focal say that these loudspeakers are perfect for rooms measuring up to 320ft2 (30m2) and they’re also ideal for larger rooms of up to 750ft2 (60m2).  My room is in the middle of this range, for reference.

Quality

Focal Kanta

Flat Glass Top

It is Focal, so it going to be of the highest standard.  The top of the speaker has a flat piece of glass top on it, much to my disappointment.   The flat top design means “things” can be put on them, like candles and flowers.  This is a “no no” for me in speaker design, however if that is the only down side, then so be it.

Specification

(from the Focal Kanta site)

Type – Three-way Bass-reflex floor standing speaker

Drivers

Two 61/2″ (16,5cm) Flax woofer with NIC motor. 61/2″ (16,5cm)

Flax midrange with TMD suspension and NIC motor. 11/16″ (27mm)

Focal Kanta

Beryllium tweeter

‘IAL3’ pure Beryllium inverted dome tweeter

Sensitivity (2,83V/1m) 91dB

Frequency response (±3 dB) 35Hz – 40kHz

Low frequency point (-6 dB) 29Hz

Nominal impedance 8 Ohms

Minimum impedance 3.1 Ohms

Recommended amplifier power 40 – 300W

Crossover frequency 260Hz / 2,700Hz

Focal Kanta

Not bi-wired, no problem

Dimensions (HxWxD) 441/64 x 1241/64 x 1825/32″ (1118 x 321 x 477 mm)

Net Weight (each) 77.2lbs – (35kg)

Performance

Set Up

I am listening to the Kantas with a Naim NAP250, a Naim NAC-N 272 pre amplifier.  As a source, I’ve been using the Rega Planar 6, for a very detailed presentation, Tidal and a Naim UnitiServe, digitally connected.  I have an Atlas Eos Mains Conditioner in use and I’m using Atlas Mavros speaker cable with the speakers now 3 meters apart and me sat the same-away, like an equilateral triangle (yep, used a tape measure!).

Music Selection

I don’t normally harp on about the selection of music but I was having so much fun with these speakers (and the Planar 6), I thought I would go through my structured listening methodology for this particular review.  I think it is helpful to critically listen to the same tracks if possible and these are certainly a good place for me to start, particularly for bass and vocal performances.  Unfortunately, as on this occasion, I often end up going left field and wasting hours on end as when I decided that the Kantas would be the perfect speakers to listen to the intro to ‘Money for Nothing’ , four times in a row!  What a sound, crisp, clear and sparkling.

I have to say, from the get go these speakers have performed beautifully, they were well run in and after settling in for a few hours they have matured nicely in-situ.  The 250 is obviously (from my perspective) a very powerful and flexible performer and it certainly supports the Kantas very well.  The, by now, familiar bounce and rhythm of the Naim set-up delivers with every making this one of the longest reviews (in terms of time to deliver) I have done.

Focal Kanta

Front facing vent

I go to Coldplay’s ‘Everglow’ to see how it handles the heavy bass line in this slower, lamenting song.  The Kantas are working hard but in full control as the vocal eases through and it is as good as I’ve experienced, with clean Vinyl on the newer Planar 6 with the Ania moving coil cartridge.  Next I listen to ‘2049’ from the Blade Runner soundtrack, the sound is thunderous and rattles your rib cage, as demonstrated in the video above.  I’ve not seen cones working as hard as this and you can feel the energy coming from the vents, both front and back.   Next I listen to vocals in the mid range with both Seal and Tracey Chapman reminding you of the power of music, the presentation from the Kantas is sparkling, and so clean and defined.  There is nothing left behind.

For a great image I listen to Jack Garret’s ‘The Love You’re Given’ which always presents really nicely.  Leaning back I find the image and soundstage I’m listening for, it is beautiful.  Always in control and with many great things, effortless.  Finally the detail is spectacular and Ryan Adams’ ‘Sylvia Plath’ is perfect, I may just as well be in Carnegie Hall, in the front row, in the middle, a great vinyl recording with great detail, delivered perfectly.

What about a more complicated pieces?  I listen to Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto recorded by Ashkenazy followed, crazily, by Zomboy’s ‘Terror Squad’.  Everything I put on is epic, joyous and full of, just musical joy.

Listening For…

Controlled Bass

Mid range Male Vocal

Mid Range Female Vocal

Soundstage

Dynamics

Resolution

Piano

Cello

Artist

Coldplay/Hans Zimmer

Seal

Tracey Chapman

Jack Garret/Radiohead

Pink Floyd

Ryan Adams/Radiohead

Nils Frahm

Yo-Yo Ma

Track

Everglow/2049

Crazy (Acoustic)

Behind the Wall

Love You’re Given/Codex

Money

Sylvia Plath*/The Numbers

Ode

Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1

Source

Planar 6 Vinyl/Tidal

Tidal (Hi-Fi)

Tidal

Tidal/Tidal

Planar 6 Vinyl

Planar 6 Vinyl/Planar 6 Vinyl

24 Bit download on Server

Tidal

*Sylvia Plath from The Live at Carnegie Hall recordings

Overall

I insist you have a listen … and you may never listen to another pair of speakers again….

And so, after a good four weeks, my work is done, more enjoyable when you forget you’re sat in front of a 20 thousand pounds worth of equipment.  One might argue these are not exactly ‘lookers’, however, after a period of time I would beg to differ as the smooth corners fade into the background and music overwhelms you.  This is as natural a sound as I think you could wish for and with these clean cables and a really good turntable, I feel very privileged to be experiencing these speakers.

By a street, I would recommend these speakers without hesitation if you have the system to do them justice and a source to match.  I insist you have a listen, and then invest in some cables if needed, and you may never listen to another pair of speakers again….  Until the No. 3s come out?

Love

Gauloise Blue

Screw down spikes

The idea you may never listen to another pair of speakers again

Like

The smooth lines on the front

Front vent

Black, with black

Wish 

I had a pair

These Kantas are retailing near £7,000.  More detail here with Focal.

4 Comments

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    • 2
      Simon Wilce

      Hi there, just seen this, blimey what a question. If I could afford the Sopra 3s I would if I had the Naim Statement. The 2s were perfect for me (with the NAP 250) but wildly out of my price range, and big in my lounge. I would buy the Kantas tomorrow if I had the money, but I don’t! Thanks for the comment, just off to buy a lottery ticket for the Statement/Sopra 3 dream.

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