Posted on Tue, 16 Aug, 2016
Posted by Peter


The Sopra range of loudspeakers is the latest from Focal. They gap between the affordable Electra range and the top of the line Utopia range of loudspeakers. The Sopra range is built on the same manufacturing process as the Utopia range, ensuring that quality and attention to detail are of the upmost priority. The Sopra line is also the first in Focals history to be voice and designed using Naim’s excellent NAP amplifiers.

New Technologies

Sopra features 3 new technologies that Focal have produced just for this line. These technologies were produced because the main point of the Sopra line was to create a new performance criteria which is; compact, modern and a pure design character which means that unlike the Utopia line, Focal had to find new ways to improve the sound of the loudspeaker while attempting to keep the speaker as compact as possible.

The first of these technologies is the new magnet system that Focal has developed, its called the Neutral Inductance Circuit or NIC for short, it allows Focal to increase the dynamics and contrast of the mid-range driver while reducing distortion (Compared to the Electra 1038Be mid-range driver). It has taken Focal 3 years of development to create a stable magnetic circuit for the Sopra line.

focalsopradriver2

Next is the Tuned Mass Dampener (TMD) Surround which is featured on all of the Sopra ranges mid range drive units, this new surround design allows for the already brilliant 3rd generation “W” Sandwich cone to be further dampened and allows for the surround of the loudspeaker to resonate in the opposite direction to further control the way the cone moves. This coupled with the NIC magnet system makes the Sopra’s mid-range driver units the best Focal have ever made.

focalsopradriver

 

Finally, we are left with the new Infinite Horn Loading (IHL) system, since the design requirements were to be compact the Focal engineers had to find a new way to correctly load their Beryllium tweeter while giving the most amount of space possible to the bass cabinet. The IHL allows the rear of the tweeter to be loaded by a tapered horn, this of which is filled with dampening material so that the sound waves created from the back of the tweeter are delicately and gradually absorbed.

Sopra Stereo Loudspeaker Range

The Sopra range has 3 main loudspeakers with each available in Black Lacquer, Carrara White, Imperial Red, Electric Orange and Walnut Veineer. All of the main speakers in the Sopra range all feature Focal’s famous 27mm inverted dome beryllium tweeter with the new IHL loading system.

focalsopra1

 

The smallest to begin with is the Sopra No.1, which is a 2-way bookshelf speaker with a single 3rd generation “W” cone 6.5” driver and the beryllium tweeter. It incorporates all of the new technologies explained above into a compact yet powerful loudspeaker. Coupled with its high sensitivity of 89dB and excellent power handling it’s a great small speaker for the home.

focalsopra2

Next up we have the Sopra No.2, which will be the main focus of this review. It’s a 3-way floor standing speaker which features a 3rd generation “W” Cone 6.5” mid-range driver with the new TMD suspension along with the new NIC motor system, the beryllium tweeter along with two 3rd generation “W” cone 7” bass drivers with NIC motor system also. The Sopra No.2 is probably the best speaker around in terms of sound to the size of the speaker ratio. Its compactness allows the Sopra No.2 to be enjoyed in smaller rooms while still having enough power for larger rooms.

focalsopra3

Lastly we have the latest Focal loudspeaker, the Sopra No.3 it was just recently launched at High End Munich. It’s the largest speaker in the Sopra range and its again a 3-way floor standing loudspeaker. It features a 3rd generation “W” Cone 6.5” mid-range driver with the new TMD suspension along with the new NIC motor system, it also the Beryllium tweeter along with two 3rd generation “W” cone 8.25” bass drivers with NIC motor system also. Its also 60% larger than the Sopra No.2 meaning its bass control is much better, coupled with its larger 8.25” woofers & higher power handing than the No.2 meaning the No.3 is more at home in larger rooms.

How does Sopra 2 sound?

The Sopra No.2 is an outstanding speaker of all trades. It doesn’t really care what you put into it or what equipment you use it will always produce a great sound. From my year of experience of owning the Sopra No.2, putting anything from Youtube videos to DSD256 the No.2s always produce the sound the way the recording was done, they are a very truthful loudspeaker and are currently my reference sound – which that means a lot since I think the No.2s sound nicer than my Audeze LCD-3s.

Its their depth of sound that always gets me, you throw on some hard hitting bass tracks like Limit To Your Love by James Blake or Grammy’s by Drake and the Sopras just hit you with the bass hard and continuously with no letting go at all, they go truly to their 28Hz point all the time and they do it with ease and little power. Limit To Your Love is especially special on the No.2s those high bass crests really make things move in your room. Even at lower listening levels there is still a great bass presence along with amazing clarity and sparkling highs.

Moving on to subtler songs like Count Basie’s Bluesville you really hear everything from the recording, especially the layering from the orchestra and the trumpet in this track on that Beryllium tweeter is simply outstanding! Extremely crisp with no decay at all this song also shows off what Focal is famous for – dynamics, the crescendos in songs like this really show how the No.2s can do subtlety and then all of a sudden go loud effortlessly. Playing Dead Can Dance – The Carnival is Over in DSD128 you really hear the darkness and emotion in his voice along with the clarity that DSD brings. Michael Jacksons Thriller album in DSD is also quite special on the No.2s its very smooth with nothing but detail with the layering of each vocal sample or instrument. Jazz songs like Fredrika Stahl’s Try Again you really hear the reverb in the room she was recorded in along with the emotion in her voice.

Finks Perfect Darkness is especially nice on the No.2s the kick from the kick drum at the start of the track is very impactful and has huge depth showing that the No.2s really have excellent bass control and extension. The No.2s also show great clarity and separation on both the vocals and the guitar in this song.

In my hours of listening to music at high levels I get little to no fatigue even while listening to highly compressed music.

Conclusions

If you are a true music lover and are looking for a loudspeaker which is at home with producing just about any music genre effortlessly then the Sopra No.2 is for you! The bass drivers coupled with that brand new amazing mid-range driver make this loudspeaker have clarity, amazing dynamics and detail along with having huge impactful depth of bass. Focal really hit the nail on the head with the brief that they set with the No.2, Compact yet delivers the sound of the Utopia range and it shows! The No.2 has won many 5* awards from many reviewers and even won the EISA Award for Loudspeakers 2015-2016. Many other manufacturers have a lot of catching up to do with Focal since they’ve set a high benchmark with the No.2, let alone the No.3.

Equipment List

  • Arcam FMJ A39 & A49.
  • Chord 2Qute.
  • Chord Mojo.
  • PC (Windows 10) with JRiver Media Centre 22.
  • Mac (macOS Sierra) with JRiver Media Centre 21 & Audirvana Plus.
  • Ven Den Hul The Magnum Hybrid Speaker Cables.
  • Audioquest King Cobra RCA Interconnects.
  • Nordost Blue Heaven Power Cable.