Video: Introduction to Focal car audio
Innovative car audio gear for those who demand the best
Ken Nail has written about car audio for Crutchfield since 2003, after four years as Crutchfield Sales Advisor, and 10 years as a music teacher. He's an avid music listener, whose favorites are classical and film music. When not chained to a desk, Ken spends most of his time training for triathlons and marathons, and likes getting outside for backpacking, downhill skiing, and bicycle touring. He attended West Virginia University, where he received a Master's Degree in Music Performance and a Bachelor's Degree in History.
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Zak Billmeier grew up in southern Vermont and coastal Maine. After graduating from Mary Washington College with a Geography degree he still isn't sure quite what to do with, he eventually settled in the mountains of Central Virginia. He spends his free time chasing his daughter around, taking pictures, gardening and cooking. He joined Crutchfield's car A/V writing team in 2007 and is now a lead producer on our video team.
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Crutchfield's car audio experts, Ken and Zak, present an overview of Focal car audio products. Focal is a leading name in high-quality sound reproduction, and Crutchfield is proud to have them in our lineup. This video gives you an overview of why they stand out in the audio-gear crowd.
Zak: Hi. Greetings from the Crutchfield video studios. I'm Zak.
Ken: And I'm Ken. We're here today to tell you about Focal car audio products.
Zak: Now, Focal is a European manufacturer of some of the best car audio speakers in existence. In fact, you really can't buy better speakers than these.
Ken: Now that might sound like hype, but it's true. Their mission is to create the most lifelike reproduction of sound possible.
Zak: And to achieve that, nearly all of their speaker manufacturing is still done by hand, in-house at their headquarters in France.
Ken: And Focal's also committed to research and development and very innovative designs — really pushing back the limits of technology.
Zak: Oh yeah. For example while researching Focal, I read that they'll try one hundred different glues until they find the one that does what they need without creating any distortion in the sound.
Ken: There's an analogy between a car company like Ferrari and Focal. Ferrari will build Formula One cars, no holds barred, then they take that technology and they put it in the road cars they sell.
Zak: So let's take a look at the Ferrari of Focal's line, the Utopia Beryllium series. Now, Ken I gotta admit I have never seen speakers packaged this way. Have you?
Ken: Nothing like it. This is incredibly cool. Let's take a look.
Zak: Let's do it.
Zak: Ready. Now obviously Focal really is serious about protecting these speakers during shipping. So now we've got them all out of their case.
Ken: And a very cool case it was too.
Zak: Yes it was.
Ken: These speakers surpass that. Let's start with the tweeter. This tweeter is an absolute jewel. It's built into this cast-metal basket. It's got machined aluminum around it supporting the tweeter. The tweeter is an inverted dome design. Focal builds it that way so they get even better dispersion of the highs. And the tweeter itself is made out of Beryllium. Now that's a rare metal — can be about a hundred times more expensive than gold.
Zak: And using materials like that lets Focal achieve a wider frequency range. For instance, this tweeter goes all the way down to 1000 Hz. Now that's going to let it blend so much better with the mids and the woofers.
Ken: Now the mids and the woofers share a lot of design characteristics. The basket's made out of a heavy cast material so it doesn't resonate. The cone itself is layers of glass fiber and foam. It's very rigid, but quite light too. And all the way around it, we've got venting, so the voice coil will stay cool even when you're really cranking up the power.
Zak: Now Focal calls this the Crossblock. What it is is an external crossover system built into a machined aluminum case. It's capable of over four thousand possible settings. That means that no matter what vehicle you have, you'll be able to tune it just perfectly. And in typical Focal fashion, they spared no expense. They use the highest-quality components inside designed specifically for this series. Now where the Utopia series represents Focal's ultimate speaker design, the K2 Power series brings a lot of that innovation into a line of really high-performance speakers.
Ken: Yeah. These are the products that Focal's reputation is really built on. It focuses on high power handling and incredibly detailed sound.
Zak: Yeah. Take a look at this tweeter. It's made out of Aramid fiber. It uses Utopia's inverted dome design for optimized imaging in a real nice, realistic sound stage.
Ken: This woofer is built around a heavy duty cast metal base, and with a really strong magnet structure also derived from the Utopia series for strong impact and accurate sound.
Zak: Now, all the K2s have high-performance external crossovers included, even the coaxial speakers. And these crossovers have a built-in tweeter level control which gives you really balanced highs.
Ken: Interesting note about these crossovers is that all the internal components are designed by Focal specifically for the crossover. There's no off-the-shelf resistors, no off-the-shelf capacitors. It's all purpose-built to make the speakers sound their very best.
Zak: Now of course they also have a couple of other speaker lines — Polyglass and Access.
Ken: Yeah, the Polyglass line has over twenty years of continuous development behind it. It's really at the core of their lineup.
Zak: Now, it comes in at Focal's low end, but the Access line offers unmatched sound quality for its price. In fact, its quality tends to be on par with other manufacturers high-end speakers.
Ken: Exactly. And both the Polyglass and the Access line feature coaxial and component designs and come in a variety of sizes, so you're probably going to find one that will fit your vehicle. The same philosophy that drives their speakers goes into Focal's subwoofers and amplifiers.
Zak: Yeah, let's have a look here at the 13" K2 power sub. Now, while it's beautiful to look at, it's really designed first and foremost for adding great sounding lows to your listening experience.
Ken: Yeah, it's a real beast.
Zak: Yeah it is. It is.
Ken: It's got a 4-layer voice coil in there, composite sandwich cone, and a very cool multiferrite magnet design.
Zak: I like that.
Ken: All these magnets are stacked up, and that leaves room for air to get in and keep it cool when you're driving it hard.
Zak: Yeah, it'll be much more efficient, and all these things add up to just outstanding sound reproduction.
Ken: Right here we have the Solid line of amplifiers. This one is the Solid 4. It's a 4-channel, 80-watt x 4 amp.
Zak: Yeah, and we've got the powder-coated red model here, but it also comes in black if you'd prefer that.
Ken: What I like about it is how you can take this front panel off and get right to all your inputs and outputs. It also has high-level inputs with signal sensing. If you hook it up to a factory radio it'll turn on automatically when that radio is turned on. This is a great amp to hook up to a factory system or an aftermarket system.
Zak: Yeah, I mean if you want quality power to go with your Focal speakers, this is your amplifier.
Ken: Now, by now it's clear that Focal puts a ton of engineering and style into their products in order to create exactly the sound they're looking for.
Zak: Yeah, it seems to me that at the end of the day, it's all about the music for them. You know they just care about how great the music sounds and all these speakers, amplifiers, subs are just a means to that end.
Ken: If you want to learn more about Focal go to crutchfield.com/focal.
Zak: Or call one of our Advisors at 1-800-555-9408.