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Focal Vestia No.3 Floor-Standing Speaker Review

by September 25, 2023
Focal Vestia No.3

Focal Vestia No.3

  • Product Name: Vestia No.3
  • Manufacturer: Focal
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Review Date: September 25, 2023 10:00
  • MSRP: $ 3,600/pair
  • Buy Now
  • 3-way design

ultra-precise 1" aluminum/magnesium M-shaped inverted dome TAM tweeter

natural-sounding 6-1/2" Slatefiber midrange driver

three 6-1/2" Slatefiber woofers for deep, powerful bass

  • frequency response: 42-30,000 Hz (±3dB)
  • recommended amplifier power: 40-300 watts
  • sensitivity: 91.5 dB
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms
  • Minimum Impedance: 2.9 ohms
  • Multi-port Powerflow System bass-reflex design with front-firing and rear-firing ports for deeper bass response with more impact and less distortion
  • aluminum base tilted for optimal time alignment (spikes included)
  • removable magnetic cloth grille
  • designed and built in France
  • 10-1/8"W x 44-3/8"H x 13-11/16"D
  • weight: 58.4 lbs.
  • warranty: 5 years

Pros

  • Good tonal balance
  • Wide soundstage yet precise imaging
  • Exceptional dynamic range
  • Stylish and tasteful design
  • Good performance without being huge or heavy

Cons

  • Low-frequency extension isn’t as deep as other similarly priced towers

 

Focal has been a reliably good loudspeaker manufacturer for years, and we have seen that many times in our reviews of their loudspeakers and headphones. They have something for audiophiles in nearly every price range (above $1k), and their new Vestia speaker series fills in the slot for those looking at loudspeakers from roughly the $3k to $4.4k range. Today, we will look at the middle child of the tower speakers from the Vestia line, the No.3. These retail for $3.6k/pair and have many of the hallmarks of Focal’s usual good design. With so many floor-standing loudspeakers available, it would be easy for Focal to phone in a design once in a while and put the emphasis on their higher-margin speakers, so one question we will ask is has Focal has done that here or have they kept their typically high standards? How do they fare amongst other loudspeakers in this segment? Do the No.3 loudspeakers deserve your attention, or are they something that should be glossed over in this very crowded class of speakers? Let’s dig in to find out…

Appearance

Vestia3 grilles2     Vestia3 pair8

Vestia3 finish close up2Industrial design has always been a strong point of Focal, and the Vestia No.3 does not depart from that tradition. The pair I received came in the ‘light wood’ finish which has a bleached white wood vinyl imitation on the side panels and rear panel, and a white leather-esque finish on the front and top panels. I have seen this leather-type finish before on a few speakers, and I like it. It is durable and does not show fingerprints easily, but it also gives the speaker a nice soft appearance with a sheen somewhere between matte and satin. The horizontal side edges have been rounded for a sleeker effect as well. The white sets off the black surrounds and blue fiber of the cones. The cones can be hidden by a white fabric grille for a more uniform appearance for those who want the speakers to stand out less in-room. The grille uses magnetic adhesion, so there are no grille guides, and this makes for a cleaner front baffle. The speakers are mounted on a white aluminum base which gives them a slight backward tilt for an added touch of style. The Vestia No.3s can also be had in gloss black and dark wood finishes, and while I am sure they look quite nice, this white would be my choice, especially in brightly colored rooms.

Design Analysis

Vestia3 mid tweeter

The base description of the Vestia No.3 is a three-way, ported tower speaker, but, of course, there is a lot of technical depth to them on top of that. Let’s start our design analysis at the top with the tweeter. As always Focal uses an inverted 1” dome tweeter, and they call this one the ‘TAM’ tweeter. It’s a mixture of aluminum and magnesium: aluminum for its stiffness and magnesium for its damping properties. The tweeter has an M-shaped profile and was originally developed for car audio but has been redesigned for hi-fi applications for the Vestia line. The M-shape profile helps to stave off high-frequency bending modes, and Focal specs the speaker to play up to 30kHz within a +/-3dB window. The TAM tweeter is mounted in a shallow urethane waveguide to induce a wider horizontal dispersion and narrower vertical dispersion.

Vestia3 mid woofer


Beneath the tweeter, we have a 6.5” midrange woofer made out of Slatefiber. Focal uses Slatefiber in a number of other products including their professional studio monitors. The Slatefiber cone is made from non-woven carbon fibers that have been spun so that all the fibers are oriented in the same direction. Focal has found that woven carbon fiber doesn’t damp the cones as much but that aligning the fiber pattern offers better stiffness than cones without a direction orientation. The fibers are impregnated with a thermoplastic polymer for added stiffness and damping.

Vestia3 bass woofer


Beneath the midrange woofer, we have three 6.5” Slatefiber bass drivers. Three 6.5” woofers have about the same surface area as an 11” woofer, so they should be able to move a lot of air, and I expect this speaker to be potent in bass frequencies. One benefit to having three bass drivers is that it can help mitigate ‘ground bounce’ interference. Ground bounce is when an acoustic reflection off the floor interferes with the direct sound from the speaker and causes cancellation nulls and constructive peaks in the frequency response at the listening position. It mostly affects mid-bass frequency ranges, but by having three bass drivers, the wide spread of low-frequency emission should help to diminish the interference by adding more reflection distance points, thereby randomizing out specific nulls and peaks.

The tweeter/midrange crossover frequency is 3.1kHz, and that is fairly high for a 6.5” woofer. A 6.5” cone is large for a midrange, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a narrowing of directivity before we hit the tweeter’s bandwidth. Hopefully, Focal has taken measures to ensure it is not severe. The advantage of such a large midrange is that it can have a lot of dynamic range in its bandwidth, much more than the tweeter in the lower treble range, so the tweeter should be kept well away from any distortion. The midrange crosses over into the bass drivers at 280Hz, and that is a pretty sensible frequency. Such a large midrange should have enough displacement to handle that low frequency, and allocating such a wide frequency band to the midrange keeps potential phase anomalies at the edges of the most important frequency range.

Vestia3 rear2


One unusual design feature of the Vestia No.3 is that it has ports on both the front and back of the speaker. The ports have the same 2.75” diameter, but they have different lengths with the front port being 4.75” long and the rear port being 6.25” long. The different lengths will give them different tuning frequencies, so the port output of this speaker will have a wider band than typical ported loudspeakers. Focal smartly placed the shallower port on the front since it will be less prone to turbulence effects, i.e., ‘port chuffing.’ The rear port will play deeper bass frequencies, and mounting it in the rear can help it load any rear surface boundaries to boost deeper bass. Also, chuffing noises are much more difficult to hear when the port is not facing the listener directly, so rear mounting the deeper port will better hide chuffing.

The enclosure is made from MDF, and a knock test indicates a thicker front baffle than side panels. The front panel feels solid, but the side panels do resonate a bit more if tapped in the right area. The grille uses acoustically transparent fabric draped over a plastic frame, and it attaches to the front baffle by way of magnetic adhesion. The grille frame isn’t tremendously thick, but it will still be a source of edge diffraction, so for the highest performance, leave the grille off, although the audible difference might only be tiny. There is only one set of 5-way binding posts, so the Vestia No.3s can not be bi-amped or bi-wired, and I regard this as a good thing. The ability to bi-amp or bi-wire is often a source of confusion and mistakes that negates any benefits it can bring. I am glad that Focal is not kowtowing toward needless audiophile feature checklists on this count.

Vestia spike feet     Vestia plastic feet2
 

Unfortunately, one audiophile checklist feature that Focal does include is spiked feet. These are fairly pointy spikes that are good for planting the speakers in carpeted flooring, but god have mercy on anyone who accidentally sets the spiked feet speaker on their foot. The audible benefits of spiked feet are very questionable, and it has never been proven that they affect the sound. Focal also supplies some round plastic feet as an alternate, but it’s hard plastic and not really suitable for hardwood flooring, although it wouldn’t damage concrete or rock flooring. I would like to have seen some soft rubber feet that can be placed on hardwood flooring without worry.

The speaker rests on a pretty solid aluminum base that gives it a slight backward lean. Focal claims that the tilt is for ‘time alignment,’ since the acoustic centers of the woofers will be further back than the tweeter, but the audible consequence of this effect is likely nil. Rather, I think this is done for aesthetics, and I would say it is worth it because it does look cooler with a backward lean.

The sum of all this design looks to be a good-looking and competently designed loudspeaker which is par for the course for Focal. Let’s now see how it all adds up in some real-world listening…

Listening Sessions

In my 24’ by 13’ (approximately) listening room, I set up the speakers with a few feet of stand-off distances between the back wall and sidewall and equal distance between the speakers and the listening position. I angled the speakers with a mild toe-in toward the listening position. The listening distance from the speakers was about 9 feet. No room correction equalization was used. Processing was done by a Marantz 7705 and the amplification was done by a Monoprice Monolith 5x200 amplifier. Subwoofage was provided by the RSL Speedwoofer 12S. A special thanks goes out to Monoprice for swiftly providing this high-performance amplifier after my amp kicked the bucket.

Music Listening

the Focal Vestia No.3s rendered this frenzied explosion of vocal diversity with a clean articulation.

For something to hear what the speakers could do for a full orchestra, I selected a release of composer Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No.7 and Symphony No.9. Vaughan Williams’ sweeping music and signature ‘sound’ has always reminded me of Jerry Goldsmith’s film scores, and I have to think that Goldsmith took some influence from Williams. Because of this, Williams’ music has always left me with a cinematic impression. This becomes actualized in Symphony No.7, ‘Sinfonia Antartica,’ which was originally conceived as a score for a 1948 movie about the doomed Scott expedition to the South Pole, one of the very few movies that Williams wrote music for. This 2022 release from the Halle Concert Society is a fabulous recording of a terrific performance, and I streamed it in high-definition from Qobuz.

The sound of this recording is pretty typical of classical music, and through the Vestia No.3s, I could hear that it was done with overhead mics in a concert hall. The orchestra was spread over a wide area, and it sounded like I was seated in the middle of the stalls. The Vestia No.3 speakers imaged the positioning of instrumental sections with some precision where the instrumental section didn’t occupy a broad area. The oboe and harp duet at the beginning of track 4, “Intermezzo,” had sharp near-center positioning, and when the strings joined them, the orchestral sound expanded past the width of the speakers. This recording didn’t contain a lot of concert hall reverb, but there was some there, so it wasn’t exceptionally dry, and this level of detail was easy to hear on the Vestia No.3s. When the performance became exuberant, the Vestia No.3s proved to be a good match for higher energy passages when the kettle drums were thundering and the brass section was bellowing. Everything sounded tonally balanced, and I didn’t detect any abnormal emphasis or de-emphasis at any point for any instrument. These speakers kept an even sound for all sections of this full orchestra. I quite enjoyed this album, and Symphony No.7 in particular, and I am happy to have experienced it with such capable speakers.

Vaugham Williams     Rough Magic
The Focal Vestia No.3 were able to give an exquisitely detailed account of the vocals.

For something with an emphasis on human vocals, I selected “Rough Magic” by Roomful of Teeth. This is a wild recording of choral music and is fairly experimental neoclassical music. Roomful of Teeth burst out in the music world with their self-titled debut release in 2012 which subsequently earned a Grammy. “Rough Magic” is a brand-new release that I found on Qobuz. This is a studio recording that hasn’t added a lot of reverb, so we get closer to the raw sound of human voices than most choral music provides. The vocals and singing styles shift turbulently within the same composition, so each track serves as a close examination of the many dimensions of human singing. If you are looking for a single album that truly shows the range of a human voice as a musical instrument, this is a pretty good choice.

This album starts off with a bang, and the performers immediately demonstrate their range with a manically shifting piece in terms of notation and singing style. It isn’t like any other music on Earth, and the Vestia No.3s rendered this frenzied explosion of vocal diversity with a clean articulation. Subsequent tracks back off on the throttle just a bit, but the wild playfulness never leaves. Track 4, “None More Than You,” had some very hard emphasis on the S sound in a bizarre and guttural singing style that would have been excruciating on a particularly sibilant speaker, and I am glad to report this isn’t the case with the Vestia No.3s. The speakers were able to give an exquisitely detailed account of these voices without resorting to boosted treble or elevated upper mids. The soundstage in tracks 5 through 9 was a blast of lively stereo imaging. It is difficult to imagine a more vivid demonstration of the power of stereo imaging, and the Vesia No.3s were able to reproduce it all meticulously. Tracks 5 through 9 were a suite called “This Isle” by Caroline Shaw, and I found it to be a high achievement in both performance artistry and production expertise. It sounded stunning on the Vestia No.3s. Overall, “Rough Magic” is the kind of recording that high-fidelity sound systems were made for. The way this performance was animated before me was something to behold, and it takes a high level of craftsmanship from the sound engineering side as well as the sound reproduction side to make it happen. The Vestia No.3s were up to the task. This type of choral music isn’t for everyone, but for those with an open mind, I highly encourage giving it a try, especially if you have a high-performing sound system.

One album that I listened to with the Vestia No.3s was “Maybe We’re Not So Different” by w u s o 命. This music comes from the genre of dreampunk, a style that lies somewhere between vaporwave and the score for Blade Runner. It has the inventiveness and playfulness of vaporwave but with less irony and cleaner production. This album comes from the Pure Life record label which is at the forefront of this genre. “Maybe We’re Not So Different” is almost entirely electronic excepting a few spoken samples and sounds like it could be the soundtrack for the long-awaited adaptation of William Gibson’s ‘Neuromancer.’

The first track starts with some atmospherics and brings in a deep bass drone and overlays it with a shifting buzzing sound; the Vestia No.3s gave the bass a tactile dimension that had a subwoofer-like authority. The pounding drums of track 4 roared on the Vestias, and I could feel them resonate on my footrest. Many of these tracks have a big, panoramic sound, and the speakers projected the width of the soundstage in front of me like an Imax screen. Doubtlessly, the artist was striving for a cinematic quality that the Vestia No.3s were able to impart. Through the Vestias, the many layers of sounds in this album were distinguishable and did not mush together indecipherably, yet the layers did coalesce into a single performance and did not sound disparate. The sound produced by w u s o 命 suggests a shape of the future but with instruments and composition alone and does not rely on effects samples of anything specific or literal. Through its expansive yet precise soundstage as well as its neutral expression, the Vestia No.3s realized the scope and nature of the intended soundscape by the artist. I would imagine that many listeners of this music will do so on headphones, but in doing so, they would be missing out on the tactile realism as well as the depth that loudspeakers can offer, especially loudspeakers as capable as the Vestias. I enjoyed “Maybe We’re Not So Different,” and anyone looking for a musical portrait of the future ought to give it a try with a high-quality sound system much like Focal has provided here.

Wuso     Six Rhythms
the Vestia No.3s gave the bass a tactile dimension that had a subwoofer-like authority.

I wanted to see what the Vestia No.3 speakers would do when stressed, and toward that end, I fired up the EP “Six Rhythms” by Two Fingers. Two Fingers is the alter ego that famed electronic music artist Amon Tobin uses when he feels like producing more heavy-duty tunes. This EP fires up all frequency ranges to maximum and does not go easy on bass. As with other Two Fingers releases, it has a massive sound, and proper reproduction will require a very capable sound system at louder levels. I cranked the levels to see what the No.3s could do…

Once the beats hit on the drop in the first track, the Vestia No.3s didn’t leave any doubt as to their ability to hit hard. Even though I had the system cranked to what I thought was a loud level, the woofers were still not visibly moving, meaning they were coasting comfortably with loud electronic bass music. I do think that their port tuning frequency had something to do with that. The Vestias could absolutely pound, but I don’t think they were quite catching the fullness of the deepest notes in some of these tracks. My guess is that the tuning frequency isn’t terribly low on these speakers (which we will get a close look at in the measurements section of this review), and that means that Focal has traded low-frequency extension for dynamic range with the Vestia No.3s. That is a sensible decision since good subwoofers can easily be added to supplement deep bass. And even without subs, the Vestia No.3s sounded pretty killer with this album.

Later, when I was using a sine wave generator to get a sense of their extension, I saw that while the Vestia No.3s were hitting 50Hz hard, by 40Hz their output had greatly diminished. That is enough extension to cover the vast majority of acoustic recordings and even a lot of electronic bass music, but it will run out of steam below a certain point. They do have enough dynamic range that they can be crossed over to a sub at a low frequency without incurring distortion, and I would recommend trying 60Hz or 50Hz to start with. A lot of loudspeakers do not have anything like the mid-bass dynamic range of a serious subwoofer, but the Vestia No.3s are another story. “Six Rhythms” was a lot of fun to hear on the Vestia No.3s and can easily be enjoyed on them without a subwoofer, and I think that most people will be very happy with the bass that they do provide. However, they do shortchange the lowest octave, so for the fullest “Six Rhythms” experience, I would bring a good subwoofer into the proceedings. I want to emphasize the ‘good’ part of a good subwoofer, because it will take a very competent sub to keep up with these speakers if you intend to run the system loud.

Movie Watching

the Vestia No.3s delineated the sound of the instruments with a fine touch.

One movie I had been eager to see was the 2022 dark comedy “The Menu.” The premise is simple: a group of high-society elites gathers on a remote private island of a renowned and reclusive chef for a gastronomic vacation. The companion of one of these culinary connoisseurs who does not quite share her boyfriend’s fine tastes begins to suspect that something dreadful may be awaiting them by the end of their stay. The big-budget movie features a great cast and an irresistible premise, and I thought it would be a great chance for the Vestia No.3s to show what they can do for a down-to-Earth soundmix that isn’t wrought with explosions and fantastical scenarios. 

Instead of car crashes and gunfire, the effects noises of “The Menu” largely consist of food preparation sounds: the sizzle of seared meat and vegetables, seasoning through various shakers, and chopping and dicing. The Vestia No.3 delivered all of these sounds with painstaking detail. The movie is largely dialogue-driven, and speech intelligibility was never a problem. Some of the exotic food names and preparation techniques aren’t terms I am familiar with, but the spoken words were crystal clear. The element of the sound mix that stood out the most was the music by Colin Stetson who was also responsible for the fabulous scores for “Hereditary” and “The Colour From Out of Space.” The score was playful yet ominous and tense - a perfect thematic match for the movie. It uses a small orchestra along with ethereal moments of choir and develops along with each course of the film’s central meal. It has an almost sparse chamber-music sound at times, and the Vestia No.3s delineated the sound of the instruments with a fine touch. “The Menu” was a delight, and the Vestia speakers helped to make it a feast for the ears. I can highly recommend it to anyone who likes comedies served with a side of horror.

The Menu     Ant Man


Another movie I hadn’t yet seen but was interested in watching was 2013’s odd superhero feature “Ant-Man.” I haven’t made a point of keeping up with the Marvel movie franchise and have only seen a handful of their movies, but “Ant-Man” looked strange enough to break the formula that these movies tend to stick with. One draw of this movie was that the story was by Edgar Wright who is one of the most talented filmmakers in Hollywood and has been on a hot streak since “Sean of the Dead.” “Ant-Man” is about a hero who can shrink to microscopic proportions, and it promised a wild sound mix that was sure to show off the Vestia No.3’s ability to reproduce an effects-driven film.

After watching the movie, I was a bit disappointed by how closely it stuck to the Marvel blueprint, but the sound mix as reproduced by the Vestias was not disappointing. The Ant-man character’s adventures in the microscopic realm made everyday household objects sound thunderous. One memorable moment was our hero’s first encounter with the shrinking suit’s abilities where he ended up falling through the vents and plumbing in his apartment building. Another spectacular moment was when he infiltrates a secret lab and must dodge bullets that land like artillery shells on account of his tiny size. There is also his wild descent through the dreaded quantum realm that provided a dazzling display. The dizzying sound mix for these scenes was all enthusiastically expressed by the Vestia No.3s. Christophe Beck’s vibrant orchestral music score was also given verve by the speakers. Throughout all of the action, dialogue remained clear and comprehensible, even the obligatory quips that are de rigueur for Marvel movies. “Ant-Man” delivered on its promises of inventive action scenes, but it didn’t depart very far on any other count for the standard Marvel story recipe. It was a passable way to spend a couple of hours, and the Vestia speakers helped to make it that much more enjoyable, but I do think there was a big missed opportunity for more original stories and characters here.

Focal Vestia No.3 Floor-Standing Speaker Measurements & Conclusion

 

Vestia outdoor testing

The Focal Vestia No.3 speakers were measured in free-air at a height of 4 feet at a 2-meter distance from the microphone, with the microphone raised to an 8’ elevation that was level with and aimed at the tweeter center. The measurements were gated at 8 milliseconds. In this time window, some resolution is lost below 400 Hz and accuracy is completely lost below 200 Hz. Measurements have been smoothed at a 1/24 octave resolution.

Vestia 3D waterfall response

Vestia 2D waterfall response

mild toe-in should yield the most tonally balanced sound.

The above graphs depict Vestia No.3’s direct-axis and horizontal dispersion out to a 90-degree angle in five-degree increments. Information on how to interpret these graphs can be read in our article: Understanding Loudspeaker Measurements Part II. The measured response is generally good, but there are some peculiarities, although nothing seriously wrong. On-axis, we have a nicely flat response out to 5kHz, but then we run into a slight dip from that point up to 10kHz. That should make this speaker a bit soft on sibilants or any word that has a hissing sound such as common pronunciations of ‘s,’ ‘t,’ ‘ch,’ and ‘sh.’ I don’t mind that this range is a tad recessed personally, and it is much better to be soft here than elevated where the speaker over-emphasizes sibilants. The off-axis responses do not exhibit this recession, so if you want more enunciation in that range, just use a mild toe-in or no toe-in when angling the speaker. The most neutral response occurs at around 10 to 15 degrees, so a mild toe-in should yield the most tonally balanced sound. Another detail to note is that the response above 15kHz plunges, especially at off-axis angles. Those who want very high treble will want to be listening dead on-axis with the Vestia No.3s. I don’t regard lessened treble in this region as a big deal, since many listeners have very insensitive hearing in this range, and not much content has any significant energy in this range anyway.   

Vestia Polar Map 

The Focal Vestia No.3 are designed to sound good in any normal room.

The above polar map shows the same information in the preceding graphs but depicts it in a way that can offer new insight regarding these speakers’ behavior. Instead of using individual raised lines to illustrate amplitude, polar maps use color to portray amplitude, and this allows the use of a purely angle/frequency axis perspective. The advantage of these graphs is they can let us see broader trends of the speaker’s dispersion behavior more easily. More information about interpreting this graph can be read in our article: Understanding Loudspeaker Measurements Part II.

While the Vestia No.3’s dispersion pattern is not perfect, it is generally quite good. There is some slight waist-banding at around 1.5kHz and 4kHz, but not enough to make any audible difference for anyone listening at any reasonable angle. Any listeners with a 50-degree angle of the on-axis response will be met with a reasonably full sound.  The directivity matching between the mid-woofer and tweeter is not perfectly seamless but it is very good. We can see the tweeter start to beam above 10kHz, and, as we saw in the above graphs, its dispersion collapses above 15kHz. The Vestia No.3 has a fairly broad and even dispersion overall, so it won’t need any special acoustic circumstances to sound good. They are designed to sound good in any normal room.

Vestia vertical responses 

The above graph is a sampling of some of the vertical angle responses at and around the on-axis angle. Negative degrees indicate angles below the tweeter, positive angles indicate angles above the tweeter, and zero degrees is level with the tweeter. The Vestia No.3 loses linearity at angles above the tweeter height, but few people will be listening above the tweeter which sits at a 42” height. The -5 degree angle looks to have the most overall linear response, and that is for the best since that is the height that most users are likely to have their ears at. That will be about the height of the midwoofer or just below it for many listening distances. While the vertical off-axis angles get into some rocky responses, it stays well-controlled where it matters the most.

Vestia low frequency response2 

The above graph shows the Vestia No.3’s low-frequency response captured using groundplane measurements (where the speaker and microphone are on the ground at a 2-meter distance in a wide-open area). I decided to include two curves on this graph because a single measurement from the front of the speaker can not fully capture the low-frequency output of the response. The purple curve in the above graph shows the response of the Vestia when measured from the front, but that isn’t exhibiting what the rear port is doing. The green curve is output as measured from the rear of the speaker, and it is mostly acoustic energy coming from the rear port. The response as measured from the front is nicely flat down to 70Hz, and it does decline a bit to 50Hz where it takes the customary 24dB/octave slide downward. However, that wouldn’t account for the rear output which rolls off at a more gradual slope. The Vestia No.3 doesn’t have a lot of deep bass output but it does have some, enough to cover the spectrum of most acoustic music, especially if room gain becomes a significant factor. While they can deliver a pretty full sound, home theater enthusiasts and connoisseurs of electronic bass music will want to add subwoofers. 

Vestia impedance 

The above graph shows the electrical behavior of the Vestia No.3. Focal specifies it to be nominal 8 ohms, and that would seem to be a stretch. There is a 3-ohm minima at around 100Hz, and all of the mid-bass band hangs under 5 ohms. However, this isn’t an extraordinarily tough load as far as floor-standing speakers go, and most receivers will be able to drive them without problems. We can tell from the dip in the low-frequency saddle that port tuning is about 40Hz, and we can also see from the taller height of the left saddle peak that the resonant frequency of the drivers is much lower than that of the enclosure. There is not much else to note here, and the bottom line is that these speakers will be OK with all but the cheapest amps, not that anyone who can afford these speakers will drive them with really cheap amps.

I measured the Vestia’s sensitivity to be 91.1dB for 2.83v at 1 meter, and that is close to Focal’s spec of 92dB. This is a bit higher than most tower speakers, so most amps will be able to drive them to very healthy loudness levels. They don’t need a monster amp to get loud, although, with a maximum recommended power handling of 300 watts, they can get very loud with a big amp if you happen to have one handy.

Conclusion

Vestia3 pair18Before bringing this review to a close, let’s briefly go over the strengths and weaknesses of the product under evaluation, and, as usual, let’s start with the weaknesses. The Vestia No.3s do not give me much to complain about. The only nit that I would pick is that the bass extension is not terribly low for a floor-standing speaker of its pricing. While there is some deep bass output, it isn’t doing a whole lot in the lowest octave, so it isn’t truly a full-range loudspeaker, although it would certainly get close enough for most buyers. Nonetheless, anyone who wants bass at and below 40Hz should add a subwoofer. As we said before, since good subs can be had without too much problem these days, this isn’t really a big hurdle.

Without anything else worth lodging a serious complaint about, let’s get on with the Vestia No.3’s strengths, the chief of which is its sound quality. It is a fairly neutral loudspeaker although not entirely so, and its departures from full neutrality are small ones. While the measurements show some small deviations from full neutrality, I didn’t hear them in my own listening, and everything sounded even and balanced. The on and off-axis responses, while not perfect, are still very good, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house for any reasonable listening position. One aspect I really appreciate about them is that the optimal listening height occurs at a level that most people would realistically be at, and that isn’t all the way up at the tweeter height.

Its imaging abilities are, like all the other Focal speakers I have heard, very good. They had no problems imaging sound sources anywhere around the width of their positioning. The dynamic range is very good, especially for loudspeakers of their size. They aren’t small speakers but are not large ones either, but they sure pack a punch. This was the trade-off made for the somewhat shallow bass extension, and I would say it is a worthwhile trade-off.

 Focal logo3

Outside of the sound quality, the appearance of the Vestia No.3 makes it one of the nicer-looking loudspeakers that can be had in its price range. I love the cream leather on the front baffle and top panel, and the faux white wood side panels look nice too. These speakers would complement nice interior decor, and the white wood finish that I received would go great with white-painted rooms. No one would object to the appearance of these except people who will not tolerate the presence of any loudspeakers at all. The build quality is good, and while they aren’t unusually heavy, they have enough stiffness to form an inert enclosure. As I mentioned before, I appreciated the lack of dual-binding posts; bi-amping and bi-wiring don’t usually do any good except under some very narrow circumstances.

Vestia outdoorsCompeting Speakers to the Focal Vestia No.3

When we look at competing speakers, some similarly priced towers that we have reviewed in this segment are the Philharmonic BMR Tower and the Arendal 1723 S Tower, both well-engineered loudspeakers. Here we can see the trade-off that each manufacturer decided on. The BMR Tower digs the deepest in bass and doesn’t need a subwoofer to catch those lowest notes, but it is a significantly larger speaker, and it is also substantially less efficient. The 1723 S Tower also sacrifices some efficiency versus the Vestia towers, but it does have a bit more low-frequency extension. We could expect to see similar trade-offs made by other competing manufacturers such as KEF with their R5 Meta, Bowers & Wilkins with their 704 S3, and Polk with their Legend L600. Potential buyers have to weigh what factors are most important to them.

The Focal Vestia No.3s are a solid set of floor-standing speakers for the price. They produce a level, pleasing sound and can do so at surprisingly high loudness levels. They look quite nice, they are not huge, and they are easy to handle. They are doing a lot right, and while they aren’t the cheapest speakers around, they are not over-priced at all, especially seeing as how they are manufactured in France rather than China. I could easily live with a pair, and I am sure they will make many buyers happy since everything sounds good with them. Focal just keeps on making good speakers, and the Vestias add to that list.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
AppearanceStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStar
ImagingStarStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStarhalf-star
ValueStarStarStarStarhalf-star
About the author:
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James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

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