The Grande utopia (130000 euros the pair) is one of the most elaborate and best sound sound emitters of all time. And one of the most flexible on top of that.
- Speaker focal Grande utopia EM
- stereoplay interview with Dominic Baker
- stereoplay – technology in detail: flexibility is trumps at the Grande utopia EM
- Data sheet
An encounter with Focals new flagship Grande utopia EM is a truly formative experience. Sound anyway (of which more later), but also haptically and visually. Over a ton quarter of-heavy and 2-metre millionaire dream of wood, piano lacquer and uncompromising technology should satisfy even savvy value fanatics.
What is the French manufacturer of tangible and visible perfection on the bottom plate with heavy duty casters, borders on magic. Alone of the building and the new adaptations of space (see post “stereoplay – technology in detail: flexibility is trumps”) are for lovers a special treat, the reluctant left to strangers.
But not only the processing is more perfect than ever, technically acoustically focal has come up with for the third generation a lot. The predecessor of the years were 1995 and 2003 relatively plug-boxes, where sonically to adjust anything there except for bi-wiring and bi-Amping, so the new Grande is reflected simple EM almost profligate flexibility.
Even the curvature of the front of the boxes is now adjustable. The upper parts of the housing can be exact degree tilt using a crank and a mechanical counter. Above ear level, and due to their design (two symmetrically arranged midrange) pronounced bundling in the vertical this is evident in a transducer with an acoustic Centre an absolutely useful facility. So, the dispersion can be adapted different listening distances between a box of this caliber depending on the room size and ceiling height between at least three and maximum of ten meters.
Behind one is a small treasure trove steamed opening flap at the back is in comfortable height hidden, which should enable every savvy sound boffins bright enthusiasm. Five jumpers with three positions that allow diverse interventions in the tonal balance and the Grande so give an ability to adapt, as they succeed only sophisticated active speakers can be found in it.
The new woofers are equipped with an insanely strong electromagnet, which double the air gap with nearly saturated magnetic field strength its conventionally powered predecessor brought to ways. The enormous forces and a mechanics tuned empower the Grande EM to dreamlike figures.
The Laboratory determined a cutoff frequency of 14 (!) Hertz at a sensitivity near 90 decibels at 2 volts, in the combination of absolute record values. Despite their immense bandwidth Grande is unusually Watt frugal and suitable in principle for tube amplifiers of the 30-watt League.
The magnetic field is the bass range in volume relative to the rest in six steps adjustable, variable. Along with the jumper combination possibilities arithmetically fabulous 1458. There’s another saying passive boxes would be inflexible. The new Grande is the exact opposite.
The three-part crossover is equipped with fine components, all drivers as had “Made in France”. The acknowledged world-class sandwich diaphragms of the cone driver with curing glass beads and absorbing foam shares are now laser cut and thus tolerance poorer, the case thanks to sophisticated simulations with an external specialist again stiffer and neutral sound.
The developer could wrest more subtleties to the legendary, acclaimed for its outstanding sound definition beryllium tweeter. So the natural resonance to less than half, in the sense of an once more consistent connection to the two paralleled midrange sank.
The bar was extremely high when the test pattern in the Newsroom, also because it is those copies, which are being positioned towards the high end shortly after the release of the book to Munich, to meet this year’s demonstration of the editors with life there. The tension gave way but after a short time, as it quickly became clear that the big focal would accomplish this task with links, so to speak.
The initial factory-fresh cars were allowed to play a few days and nights and were better from hour to hour. The unique bass driver created the basis for a firework of utmost passion. So the big focal, succeeded to provide sound images of all kinds with the inimitable authority which manages only chains with subwoofers from the reference class.
This almost unearthly sovereignty had a very special appeal, as Visual moderation bred simpleton boxes probably never can do it.
While bass and keynote at the not adjustable predecessor Grande came at times almost been too dominant, the new shone despite their again larger bandwidth with a homogeneity held boxes of this caliber to date not for possible.
So there was no trace of accentuate limping behind, no bearded for young tenors and no violas to double basses on dense at the new Grande, just because four path boxes impulse behavior is traditionally very difficult to dominate.
In the acoustically favourable listening room of the tester were the linear settings that resulted in the most and roundest impression as often. However, it was fascinating to hear how the sound structure changed, if the tester on the supply of the bass unit shot or for one of the jumpers tried to lift one or two additional sound detail.
The spatial representation was considerably less exuberant as when cars of this calibre to fear, if not quite as vivid and millimeter as with advanced point spotlights. At sufficiently large Hörentferung (4 meters should provide Grande owner as a minimum) the figure was in any way diffuse or even overly large.
Due to lack of comparable priced sparring partner in the passive boxes bearing Grande had to compete the President reference against which, the V 3 by Magico (stereoplay 6/2008), for comparatively Bargaining 28_900 euro.
The much smaller Magico liked tones more natural and more accurate room at moderate levels, but ultimately had the epochal sonority and fiery sovereignty of the Grande little opposed to set. Two things will remain for the history books: the Grande utopia EM is probably as and most flexible boxing elephant of all time. And stereoplay has a new passive reference. Grand(e)IOS!
stereoplay: Mr Baker, brings advantages the use of an electromagnet?
Dominic Baker: Maximum precision and depth smallest Watt demand, which would traditionally not representable. Also an audiophile solution for adjustable bass. Without DSPs and often unwanted active technology.
stereoplay: Grande computationally 1458 allows sound settings. Overwhelm you so not their customers?
Dominic Baker: (laughs) No, I hope not. Most come out with two or three adjustments. Through the network, our exceptionally flexible is Grande.
stereoplay: Will there be even, Centre and subwoofer in the new utopia series?
Dominic Baker: Center and woofer are underway, but until 2010 before two more utopia models appear, one similar to the Grande with an electromagnet.
stereoplay: what amplifier do you recommend for the Grande?
Dominic Baker: As a manufacturer, we are reluctant with recommendations. The questions of taste is dealer thing. Many customers take advantage of Accuphase, Krell or McIntosh and are very happy.
While passive boxes offer mostly no or few setting options, the Grande shines EM with an enormous variety of tools. In addition to the mechanical adjustment of the upper units with hand crank has an arsenal of switches and jumpers, whose effects are presented in detail in the manual (freely available under our site).
The rotary switch in the spatially separate control unit of the electromagnet has six positions, which change the level of the large woofer. In addition, the Grande come five three-stage jumpers on the back. Two filter control parts of the bass branches, a third the midrange speaker at the upper end of its range. Number four and five are responsible for the area of brilliance.
Focal Grande utopia EM
Technical data and test results
|Installation tip:||free-standing, distance from 3 m, differently-damped rooms from 40 m²|
|Operating voltage for 90 dB SPL||2.5 V|
|Impedance minimum stp||2.4 ohm|
|Maximum volume upper value||112 dB|
|Maximum volume lower value (> 45 Hz)||112 dB|
|Lower cut-off frequency (-3dB)||14 Hz|
|Lower cut-off frequency (-6 dB)||12 Hz|
|Short conclusion||The Grande EM has other dreams. It is perfectly crafted, adaptable like no other, and delivers the best bass of ever. The sound? Great!|
|Sound||Absolute top class|
|Sound points (70 points)||69|
|Overall rating (max. 120 points)||well over 95|
|Price / performance|
|tested in output||6 / 09|