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Focal Kanta Series Speakers Seduce with Sonics and Style

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Focal Kanta Series Loudspeakers

Focal Kanta Series Loudspeakers

Summary

  • Product Name: Kanta
  • Manufacturer: Focal
  • Review Date: October 18, 2018 13:00
  • MSRP: $8,000/pair N1; $10,000/pair N2; $12,000/pr N3; $6,000/ea Center
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Buy Now

 

Kanta N°1: two-way stand-mounted speaker

  • MSRP: $8,000/pair
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 88dB
  • Frequency Response (+/-3dB): 46Hz - 40kHz
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 16.6 x 9.2 x 15.4 inches
  • Weight: 28.1 lbs

Kanta N°2: three-way floor-standing speaker

  • MSRP: $10,000/pair
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 91dB
  • Frequency Response (+/-3dB): 35Hz - 40kHz
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 44 x 12.6 x 18.8 inches
  • Weight: 88.2 lbs

Kanta N°3: three-way floor-standing speaker

  • MSRP: $12,000/pair
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 91dB
  • Frequency Response (+/-3dB): 33Hz - 40kHz
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 50.4 x 15.2 x 20.5 inches
  • Weight: 116.1 lbs

Kanta Center: two-way center-channel speaker

  • MSRP: $6,000 each
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 91dB
  • Frequency Response (+/-3dB): 55Hz - 40kHz
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 9.7 x 22.1 x 15.5 inches
  • Weight: 46.4 lbs

In October of 2017, Focal arrived at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver with an entirely new loudspeaker, the Kanta N°2. This relatively compact floor-stander (44 inches tall, 12 inches wide) was the first to combine Focal’s renowned beryllium tweeter with the company’s proprietary flax cone midrange and bass drivers. The three-way design employs a 6.5-inch midrange driver and two 6.5-inch bass drivers in each 88-pound cabinet. Selling for $10,000 per pair, the Kanta N°2 is positioned above Focal’s more affordable Aria series (which were the first to use the flax cone drivers) but below the much larger and more expensive Sopra series. For nearly a year, the Kanta N°2 has stood alone as the only speaker in the Kanta series, which is expected to replace the aging Electra range in Focal’s lineup. But at the recent CEDIA Expo in San Diego, Focal unveiled three new Kanta speakers to fill out the range: the two-way stand-mounted Kanta N°1 ($8,000/pair), the larger Kanta N°3 floor-stander ($12,000/pair), and the Kanta Center ($6,000 each).

Focal Kanta YellowAll of the Kanta speakers use Focal’s flax cone driver system (which sandwiches a flax fiber cone between two layers of fiberglass) and the latest generation of the company’s IAL inverted-dome beryllium tweeter. This new tweeter, which Focal calls the IAL3, was designed specifically for the Kanta range. It draws on the Infinite Acoustic Loading (IAL) and Infinite Horn Loading (IHL) principals that the company developed for its flagship Utopia speakers’ tweeters, to help with the absorption of back-waves. The IAL3 tweeter uses a beryllium dome diaphragm that is only 25 microns thick, allowing it to resolve even more fine detail than Focal’s previous designs. The new tweeter is reportedly slightly warmer-sounding than the tweeter in Focal’s costlier Sopra speakers, despite the extra detail it offers. The Kanta range also features a newly-designed cabinet made from a single piece of integrally molded multi-ply wood, with no parallel walls. The front baffle is made from a high-density polymer, which provides more density and superior rigidity than the more common MDF (medium density fiberboard). In fact, Focal says that the Kanta series cabinets are just as rigid as the Sopra’s, despite being thinner by 35%. The floor-standing Kanta N°2 and N°3 feature massive bases made from a zinc aluminum alloy, while the Kanta N°1 and Kanta Center can be mounted on customized Kanta stands.  

Since its release last year, the Kanta N°2 has received praise both for its sonic performance and for its stylish appearance. The Kanta series owes some of that unique aesthetic to practical acoustical concerns; the sloped front baffles allow Focal to employ its signature “Focus Time” driver alignment, which ensures that all of the sound from the various drivers reaches your ears at precisely the same time. The baffles are available in four high-gloss colors — Carrara White, Gauloise Blue, Black Lacquer, and Solar Yellow — if you choose the high-gloss black option for the main cabinet. If you prefer a Walnut wood finish for the cabinet, you can choose from four matte colors for the baffle: Ivory, Warm Taupe, Gauloise Blue, and Dark Grey. The colors choice is entirely up to you, but Focal does offer some advice when it comes to choosing which Kanta speaker will sound best in your room. For smaller rooms of 270 square feet or less, the company recommends the Kanta N°1, which uses a single 6.5-inch mid-woofer to reach down to 42 Hz (–6 dB). The 16.5-inch-tall enclosure includes a rear-facing port, which helps the speaker achieve a moderate sensitivity rating of 88 dB. If you have a medium-sized room, the Kanta N°2 might be ideal. The flagship Kanta N°3 will perform best in large rooms of up to 860 square feet. Like the N°2, the Kanta N°3 features twin ports — one facing the front, and one facing the back — and a fairly high sensitivity of 91 dB. But the larger Kanta N°3 stands over 50 inches tall, a full 6 inches higher than its sibling. Its IAL3 tweeter and 6.5-inch mid-bass driver are supplemented by a pair of 8-inch woofers. Combined with a larger cabinet volume, the N°3’s larger woofers allow it to dig slightly deeper in the bass, reaching down to 26 Hz (-6 dB) versus the N°2’s lower limit of 29 Hz. The Kanta Center’s 22-inch-wide cabinet contains two 6.5-inch mid-bass drivers, one on either side of its IAL3 tweeter. It has a single rear-facing port, and a sensitivity rating of 91 dB. The Kanta Center can only play down to about 50 Hz (–6 dB), but most home theater users will be supplementing the low end with a subwoofer or two if they're serious about bass.

The Kanta range doesn’t include its own subwoofer, but Focal recommends the use of its Sub 1000 F, which is a sealed design with a 12-inch flax cone driver. If you want to build a Dolby Atmos or DTS:X home theater based around Kanta speakers, Focal suggests the use of its 300ICW4 in-ceiling speakers, which also use flax cones, for the height channels. Somewhat surprisingly, the Kanta series lacks a dedicated surround speaker for a home theater’s rear channels, but you could probably get away with using the ones from Focal’s less expensive Aria range if you prefer using wall-mounted surround speakers over traditional stand-mounters.

All things told, the Kanta series looks like another impressive offering from Focal. But will these stylish speakers perform well enough to justify their relatively high price tags? Share your thoughts in the related forum thread below. 

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Jacob is a music-lover and audiophile who enjoys convincing his friends to buy audio gear that they can't afford. He's also a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles.

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