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Focal’s Aria Evo X Loudspeakers: Overview & First Listen

Focal Aria Evo X

Focal Aria Evo X


  • Product Name: Aria Evo X N°1, N°2, N°3, N°4, Center
  • Manufacturer: Focal
  • Review Date: March 01, 2024 00:00
  • MSRP: $2,398/pair - Aria Evo X N°1, $4,798/pair - N°2, $5,198/pair - N°3, $5,998/pair - N°4, $998/each - Center
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!

At CES 2024, Focal introduced the all-new Aria Evo X loudspeakers, which represent an evolution of the brand’s Aria 900 range. The Aria 900 line has remained a popular choice for Focal’s value-oriented customers since the launch of the range in 2013. The Aria’s decade of success also included the introduction of the excellent, limited-edition Aria K2 936 floorstander in 2020, and the Aria K2 906 bookshelf speaker, along with the matching center-channel speaker, in 2021. While the Aria K2 models were a fair bit more expensive than their Aria 900 counterparts, the new Aria Evo X speakers keep prices within striking distance of the originals while adding significant technological enhancements and new styling options.

Aria Evo X home theater

Suited for both two-channel listening and home theater, the Aria Evo X line includes five models. Focal calls the Aria Evo X N°1 ($2,398/pair) a “compact bookshelf” speaker, but at over 15 inches tall, I’d call it a stand-mount of respectable size. There are three floorstanding speakers: the N°2 ($4,798/pair), N°3 ($5,198/pair), and N°4 ($5,998/pair). Finally, the Aria Evo X Center ($999 each) rounds out the offering. The names of these models more closely follow the naming convention established by other current Focal speaker lines (such as Sopra), ensuring consistency across the various ranges, and making it easier for customers to compare them. The Aria Evo X line is all about providing high-fidelity audio while keeping prices as accessible as possible to a wider audience of music-lovers. The line therefore promises high value in relation to the performance it delivers, while offering “sensational listening pleasure with the brand’s signature immersive experience,” according to Focal.

Focal Aria Evo X Technology

Focal is known for developing its drivers and their foundational technologies in-house, so it should be no surprise that the Aria Evo X boasts a number of technological innovations that are exclusive to the brand. All speakers in the lineup use the latest generation of Focal’s aluminum/magnesium M-shaped inverted dome tweeter, which the company calls the TAM tweeter. The M-shaped dome is a Focal innovation, which we’ve also seen put to work in the company’s superb headphones, including the Utopia, Stellia, and Clear Mg. The M-shaped tweeter in the Aria Evo X speakers “reproduces the treble more faithfully by going further into the high and low ends of the spectrum,” according to Focal. Indeed, the tweeter reportedly plays up to 30kHz. The tweeter also features a rear sound chamber that limits interference caused by back waves, further increasing its precision. Focal says that the TAM tweeter “offers a wide diffusion angle and greater definition of sound, without directionality, (delivering) flawless harmonic balance and detailed treble of impressive finesse and clarity.”

Focal Midrange TMD Tuned Mass Damper

The tweeter isn’t the only driver in the Aria Evo X series to feature Focal’s sonic secret sauce. The midrange drivers on the floorstanders all feature surrounds equipped with TMD (Tuned Mass Damper). This patented technology relies on circular “beads” that are molded into the mass of the surround. These beads are “judiciously sized and positioned” to stabilize how the surround behaves, helping to avoid deformation of the cone and any negative impact on dynamics, according to Focal. The aim is to reduce distortion and deliver perfectly balanced dynamics. The TMD surround with harmonic damper achieves this by eliminating unwanted vibrations, thus enhancing the quality of the midrange, according to the company. Meanwhile, the woofers in the Aria Evo X feature revamped magnets designed to deliver more impact in the bass. The crossovers have also been reworked with better components to improve loudspeaker balance, according to Focal.

Mastering the midrange is dependent on the surround that lies between the solid frame of the speaker driver and the mobile cone. Thanks to the expertise of our acoustical engineers, we have found the answer in TMD (Tuned Mass Damper) technology.

— Focal

Focal Aria Evo X: The Flax Cone

Aria Evo bookshelf speakerFirst unveiled with the Aria 900 line in 2013, Focal’s unique Flax cones are made from French flax fiber and used across the new line’s woofers and midrange drivers. Undeniably cool-looking, and unlike any driver you’ll find on any other loudspeaker brand, the Flax cones “produce a very natural sound, free of coloration, while boasting rich midrange reproduction and clear bass strokes… offer(ing) an immersive and dynamic listening experience, reproducing vocals with exquisite clarity and definition,” according to Focal. These patented drivers are manufactured in-house, at Focal’s production site in Saint-Étienne, located in France’s Auvergne region — one of the premier research areas in the country. (Focal tells us that France is also Europe’s main cultivator of fiber flax, principally in Flanders, Picardy, Normandy, and the Pas-de-Calais region.) The Flax cone is a multilayer design, in which flax fibers are sandwiched between two sheets of glass fiber. The result is reportedly lightweight for good dynamics, and rigid to support strong, clean bass. It’s also self-dampening, to deliver a “neutral and natural sound, without coloration,” according to Focal.

The company culture at Focal isn’t just about engineering chops, however. The brand’s French style is just as important. That’s where the new Moss Green High Gloss finish comes in. Its deep shade of green and glossy varnish coating certainly look fresh to me, lending a “bright and modern appearance” to the speakers, as Focal would put it. Other finish options include Black High Gloss and Prime Walnut, all combined with leather-effect front panels.

Focal Aria Evo X: The Lineup

Aria Evo X N°1 ($2,398 pair)

Aria Evo X No 1

This 2-way bookshelf loudspeaker features a 6.5-inch mid-woofer along with the M-shaped inverted dome TAM tweeter. It has a frequency response (+/-3dB) of 55Hz – 30kHz, with usable bass down to 47Hz (-6dB). With a sensitivity of 89.5dB and a nominal impedance of 8Ω, the Aria Evo X N°1 shouldn’t be too taxing to drive, though its impedance does dip down to a minimum point of 4.6Ω.

Aria Evo X N°2 ($4,798 pair)

Aria Evo X No 2

This smallish 3-way floorstanding loudspeaker stands just under 41 inches tall, and uses two 6.5-inch woofers and one 6.5-inch midrange driver. Its frequency response (+/-3dB) is rated as 45Hz – 30kHz, with  a -6dB point at 37Hz. With a sensitivity rating of 91.5dB and a nominal impedance of 8Ω, this looks like a very easy load for an amp, until you notice its minimal impedance spec of 2.9Ω.

Aria Evo X N°3 ($5,198 pair)

Aria Evo X No 3

At just over 45 inches tall, this 3-way floorstanding loudspeaker has room on its taller front baffle for a trio of 6.5-inch woofers, plus one 6.5-inch midrange driver. It therefore digs a bit deeper, with a frequency response of 39Hz – 30kHz (+/-3dB). It’s down 6dB at 32Hz. Again, it boasts a usefully high sensitivity spec of 92dB, and a nominal impedance 8Ω, but its minimal impedance is just 2.8Ω.

Aria Evo X N°4 ($5,998 pair)

Aria Evo X No 4

The top dog of this series, the N°4 is the same height as the N°3, but it has a wider stance. More baffle width is needed to accommodate the pair of 8-inch woofers beneath the 6.5-inch midrange driver. It reaches just a hair lower in the bass than its slimmer sibling, with a frequency response of 37Hz – 30kHz (+/-3dB). It’s down 6dB at 31Hz. Sensitivity is rated at 92.5dB, and nominal impedance is once again listed at 8Ω, despite a minimal impedance of just 2.5Ω. For all of these tower models, I’d reach for a truly beefy amp, like the Parasound JC 5 or McIntosh MC462.

Aria Evo X Center ($999 each)

Aria Evo X Center

This center-channel speaker uses a 2-way nested MTM design. The closer horizontal arrangement of the drivers should help to minimize lobing errors and improve off-axis response, but still expect best sound within 20 degrees or so of the sweet spot. It uses two 6.5-inch mid-woofers, and has a frequency response (+/-3dB) of 57Hz – 30kHz. It’s down 6dB at 50Hz, but a good subwoofer or 2 (or 4) will almost certainly be present in a home theater environment where this speaker would be deployed. The center speaker has a sensitivity rating of 91dB, a nominal impedance of 8Ω, and a minimal impedance of a more reasonable 4.3Ω.

Listening Impressions of the Focal Evo X N°4

Focal Evo XWe had the chance to demo the new Focal Aria Evo X N°4 at the 2024 Florida Audio Expo show. Even before the music began, we couldn't help but admire the meticulously crafted cabinets in a stunning green finish. This set the stage for a captivating hi-fi listening experience. As we played the track "Tremors" by SOHN, the Focals delivered a formidable bass rumble that was both tight and clean, while the vocals remained articulate and focused. The holographic imaging produced by the Evo X speakers transcended the confines of the small demo room. It felt as though the walls had vanished, leaving us immersed in audio bliss.

While I sat and listened to the Aria Evo X N°4, I couldn't help but notice how closely in sound quality they come to the Kanta N°2 at just half the cost. We are eager to conduct a formal review of these speakers later this year, as we believe they, along with the new SVS Ultra Evolution towers, will set the benchmark in the $5k/pair price category.

All of the Focal Aria Evo X speakers should begin shipping in February 2024, from authorized Focal dealers like our friends at Dreamedia.

More information: Focal Aria Evo X

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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