What HFL Thinks
Focal Sopra N°1 - We are really pleased to now offer Focal to our customers, for one they really do make a stunning looking speaker but more importantly they present the music in a very honest and balanced way but always with the main focus on presenting the emotion of the music, now that both Focal and Naim are owned by the same company both are now working very closely together so that there is a great synergy between both brands, please feel free to pop into HFL to experience this for yourself.
Stands Extra £750 Each.
PUSH BACK THE LIMITS OF PRECISION
Innovation at Focal goes way beyond technology. Our obsession is with the end result: the delight of sound in all its harmonic richness; its purity and its precision in relation to the musical work. Moreover, we focus our efforts on the speaker driver, the core of Focal’s DNA, what the history of our business is built around: technology, mechanics and sophisticated materials.
In twenty years, Utopia has become a major reference of world renown, praised for its incredible musicality and its technological innovation: "W" composite sandwich cones, pure Beryllium tweeter, multiferrite magnets, EM woofers, IAL2 tweeters, OCP+ circuit crossover or even the Gamma Structure cabinet. Sopra project drew on this technological heritage to develop new innovations.
New numerical analysis tools revealed the speaker driver’s most intricate inner workings. So our engineers worked on optimisations for magnetic circuits and suspension of our transducers, to push back the limits of sound reproduction in terms of purity, precision and harmonic richness... Sopra’s midrange provides incredible realism thanks to its new magnetic circuit and TMD suspension.
INNOVATIVE AND SOPHISTICATED DESIGN
Following on from Utopia and keeping in line with all Focal loudspeakers, the design of Sopra is the result of a very close collaboration between designers and engineers, a passionate quest aiming to conciliate complex constraints, experience, as well as sophisticated and innovative solutions, and all of this would have to be almost invisible, leading to something obvious, immediate simplicity for the pleasure and the purity of an unforgettable listening experience.
The Sopra line is destined for sound enthusiasts. When expectations are so high, the design must provide solutions which go far beyond aesthetics and shape. This represents a great deal of work in terms of industrial design, which must serve acoustic experts and favour performance, whilst bringing together the qualities expected of an object which will be integrated into very elegant interiors and décors.
Sopra’s structure is articulated around the intermediate section, which, besides giving a very strong identity to the line, is a structural element which contributes to several technical solutions. This injected polyurethane component allows for the upper and lower cabinets to be inclined for the "Focus Time" (where the audio sources are all at the same distance from the listener for an acoustic convergence of the channels).
The compactness and the harmony of the proportions of this line are the result of very advanced research.
Substantial efforts were made to give the front a tidy appearance, particularly around the speaker drivers, to ironing out any aspects which could afflict the acoustics or the appearance. The flush cloth frames and the lacquered finishes allow for all sides of the loudspeaker to be the same. This was a real manufacturing challenge for our cabinet-making facility in Bourbon-Lancy (Burgundy, France).
The main theme of Sopra is deliberately uncluttered, though it still offers connoisseurs the opportunity to enjoy all the small details. The grille with an incremental meshing motif protects the Beryllium tweeter and gives it a strong identity. This motif is repeated for sealing the curved back panel of the middle section. The terminal board, the thumb nuts and the adjustable spikes have all been specially designed for Sopra, as have the few visible screws, all of which were manufactured by watchmaking experts.
MASTERING THE CABINET AND CHOICE OF MATERIALS
Made in France Sopra’s cabinet was designed in our cabinet-making facility in Bourbon-Lancy (Burgundy, France) using the same manufacturing process as for Utopia
The 69mm sandwich-machined front panel uses the same principle as ‘Gamma Structure’ to provide inertia and damping. Its density gives it the inertia necessary to provide a stable mechanical reference for optimal definition.
The inside of the cabinet has no parallel side panels, and small Helmholtz resonators have been added to the lower section to prevent vertical standing waves.
We chose glass as the material for the base of the loudspeaker to provide floor coupling, using spikes, which enabled the fastest propagation time possible, thus eliminating all halo effects in the bass.
Concentration of technological innovation for an incredible clarity:
Compact and powerful, Sopra N°1 is a concentration of technological innovation. It features "NIC" magnetic circuit, "TMD" surrounds for the midrange woofer and Infinite Horn Loading (IHL) of the tweeter. It is a true "demonstrator", corroborating the contribution of the new technologies implemented on Sopra.
First, the very low distortion gives it incredible clarity and very high definition combined with the spectacular spatialisation typical of bookshelf loudspeakers...
Beyond this attractive first impression, what's astonishing is the texture and smoothness of its sound. It provides a solid, "fleshy" sound with full and articulated bass. Precious is by no means artificial, nor is the limited to the treble. The overall coherence and harmonic richness gives the listener a surprising understanding of the music.
NIC - Neutral Inductance Circuit:
Stabilising the magnetic field
Since the beginning, we have always had a great interest in the magnetic circuit, an essential aspect of a speaker drive unit. The precision and detail of audio reproduction depends on the stability of the magnetic field.
After having pushed back the limits in electromagnetic technology with the Grande Utopia EM and the Stella Utopia EM, our engineer discovered that the magnetic field varies regardless of its intensity. Indeed, it is not stable because it is modulated by three factors: the movement of the voice coil (Lenz's law), the current passing through it (Foucault current) and the frequency. Consequently, the voice coil, the moving part, is in the magnetic field which becomes too variable, and this leads to loss of precision.
The NIC technology lies in a Faraday ring whose dimensions, materials and positioning we were able to optimise to make the magnetic field be no longer affected by the position of the voice coil, by the amperage or the frequency of the current passing through it. This solution permits to control the magnetic field to decrease the effects of distortion and give the sound a very high-definition and an unprecedented dynamic.
TMD - Tuned Mass Damper:
The obsession with the midrange
The midrange register is no doubt the most complicated to control in a sound system.
Thanks to the power of finite element analysis, our teams have revealed resonances which alter definition in the suspension which connects the cone to the basket
The solutions already known for increasing the damping properties of the suspension all result in an increase of the mass which consequently alters definition. The answer came from a technology used in earthquake-resistant skyscrapers and which is also used for the suspension on racing cars. This technology is called a "Tuned Mass Damper": an additional mass oscillates in opposition to the resonance frequency to control it.
Our Tuned Mass Damper consists in simply two tubular rings on the suspension to avoid deformation of the cone without afflicting the dynamics. It reduces drastically the distortion and increase the definition.
IHL- Infinite Horn Loading:
Getting the most out of the Beryllium tweeter
Our Beryllium tweeter features an incredibly light and extremely rigid dome, that deliver a transparent and dynamic sound. Its main limitation comes from the compression of air in the cavity behind it, that create interference with the incredible definition. To overcome this, the ideal would be to have a nearly infinite volume. But the requirement for Sopra to be compact meant that as much of the cabinet as possible had to be used for the bass. We had to explore other options for loading the tweeter, which led us to come up with the IHL system.
The rear of the Beryllium tweeter is loaded via a small cavity which is connected to the exterior of the enclosure by a horn. whom inside is filled with a damping material. 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. This reduces distortion by 30% and pushes definition to its maximum.
Beyond aesthetics and shape
The Sopra line is destined for the most passionate sound enthusiasts. Its design favours performance, whilst bringing together the qualities expected of an object which will be integrated into very elegant interiors and décors. Lacquered or bloodwood finishes are associated to noble materials to create an elegant line. Substantial efforts were made to give the front a tidy appearance, particularly around the speaker drivers, to iron out any aspects which could afflict the acoustics or the appearance.
Ideal for small rooms up to 270ft2 (25m2), Sopra n°1 is also ideal for spaces up to 550ft2 (50m2). Providing high sensitivity and excellent power handling, Sopra N°1 is a true little monitor for the home.
Sopra N°1 is supplied with a special stand which has been designed to expel interfering vibrations from the enclosure towards the floor to avoid any colouration. The steel frame inside the floorstander, coupled with the 03⁄4" (19mm) thick glass base using four adjustable stainless steel spikes, provides very high transmission speeds. This is what guarantees an extremely sharp reproduction.
- Black Lacquer
- Carrara White
- Imperial Red
- Electric Orange
- Walnut Veneer