Focal Kanta No2 loudspeaker

hfncommended.pngA new range combines Focal’s traditional performance values with a more relaxed – and colourful – design

Based in Saint-Étienne, the company’s resolutely ‘made in France’ philosophy has led Focal to develop a number of its own acoustic technologies and designs, and even to use locally grown materials in the manufacture of its speakers. And now the company is continuing that no-compromise approach with its Kanta No2, the first in a new range of compact loudspeakers.

Priced at £6999 per pair, the Kanta No2 combines a number of Focal’s proprietary technologies in a new, more streamlined design that, perhaps, reflects a slight mellowing in the company’s approach. Having previously proclaimed that it would tolerate ‘no sacrifice of performance to aesthetics’, Focal now admits that its new Kanta speakers are intended to be a little easier on the eye, offering a softer design in which ‘performance meets style’.

118focal.bac.jpgIt’s certainly a contrast from the almost threatening stolidity of Focal’s flagship Utopia range. Yet the compact design of the Kanta No2 is eye-catching enough, with the cabinets at 1118x321x477mm (hwd), and with Focal’s designers having gone to town with a range of colours that would satisfy the most temperamental of interior designers [see Fashion Statement sidebar].

Of course, this is no volte-face and so Focal has diligently refined many of its existing components and technologies in order to avoid compromising performance with this smaller enclosure. Focal is also one of the few companies to work with beryllium (very light, very stiff but with the risk of toxicity during manufacture), having developed an inverted dome tweeter for the Utopia range, and it has updated that design for the 27mm IAL3 tweeter used in the Kanta No2. This employ’s Focal’s IAL (Infinite Acoustic Loading) and IHL (Infinite Horn Loading) techniques to absorb rear radiation from the tweeter, while also saving as much space as possible within the compact speaker cabinet.

Mounted at the top of the speaker, just above the tweeter, is a 165mm midrange driver, while two similar 165mm bass drivers occupy the bulk of the cabinet below. The mid and bass drivers all share Focal’s ‘F-cone’ design, which uses two layers of rigid glass fibre to enclose a thin layer of flax – grown locally in France, of course, and providing damping properties equivalent to synthetic materials such as Kevlar. The midrange driver also uses Focal’s TMD (Tuned Mass Damping) suspension system that we described in our review of the Sopra No2 floorstanders [HFN Sep ’15]. The EISA Award-winning Sopra speakers also introduced Focal’s NIC motors (Neutral Inductance Circuit), which are again used in the Kanta No2 to optimise the field within the magnet assemblies and enhance output from the bass drivers. Finally, the lower section of the cabinet also houses front and rear ports by way of tuning the bass response.

Baffle Innovations
Even the baffle design required an innovative approach, according to Focal. In order to reduce the volume of the bass cabinet without undermining performance, Focal’s engineers developed a new form of inert, high-density polymer (HDP), which it claims is 70% denser than conventional MDF, as well as providing 25% greater damping and increased rigidity (a mere 15%). The smooth edges of the baffle are designed to reduce diffraction, while the angled profile – inspired by the Utopia and Sopra ranges – is intended to time-align the driver outputs. That attention to detail continues right down to the removable magnetic grilles, and the smooth glass panel that sits atop the speaker cabinet.

A more practical finishing touch is the Zamac (metal alloy) stand, with its adjustable spiked legs that ensure stability on almost any surface. Nevertheless, even with their time-aligned baffles, these new Focals are still somewhat picky about positioning and you’ll need to dig out your slide-rule – or use the calculator app on your smartphone – to follow the mathematical equation provided for determining the optimal placement of your speakers!

sqnote.jpgBowie Insights
Thankfully your fine-tuning will be rewarded, as the Kanta No2 does a good job of combining its more compact design with an attractive sound quality – and offering tremendous insight into the likes of the deep, sad tones of David Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’ [Blackstar; ISO/Columbia 88875173871].

Supplied by: Focal-JMlab UK Ltd, Salisbury
0845 660 2680