This week we’re reviewing the Focal Kanta n°2 speaker, the floorstanding model from Focal’s Kanta series. Introduced last year, this range boasts compelling specifications, especially thanks to the technologies it inherits from the Focal Aria and Focal Utopia ranges. For the first time, Focal has combined its Flax cones with its acclaimed Beryllium inverted dome tweeter. What does this meeting between an eco-friendly fiber and a precious metal have to offer?
Focal Kanta n°2: remarkable design
The Focal Kanta n°2 is, above all, a visually sensational speaker. The brand has published some impeccable photos, yet none truly capture the full visual impact of the speaker’s curved design. Although the French manufacturer’s choice of colors may initially raise some eyebrows, notably with the blue/walnut and sun yellow/piano black models, any doubt is quickly put to rest. The sun yellow/piano black model which Focal lent us for this test is a marvel to behold.
The Kanta boasts a magnificent, intriguing and flawless design. From the speaker’s elegant form and inclination toward the listener, to its prominent front panel with rounded edges, not to mention its wide front-firing reflex port and the aluminum grill protecting its tweeter, there’s plenty to love. The Focal Kanta n°2 speaker benefits from a perfectly coherent presentation and impressive finish from top to bottom. Even the speaker’s large screw terminals add a touch of distinction. In short, the sun yellow Kanta n°2 shines from every angle.
Focal Kanta n°2: drivers made in France
What can we expect from the Focal Kanta n°2? A wide soundstage and a neutral and precise restitution, judging by the technologies implemented. The Flax cones inherited from the brand’s Aria speakers offer an impressive damping capacity, and they are equally as efficient in the lows as in the mids for an unequivocally natural restitution of midbass range. This is the speaker’s key asset, and we think it’s a real advancement over “W” composite sandwich cones. For the Focal Kanta n°2 speaker, the brand’s Flax cone is used for the two bass drivers at the bottom of the speaker, as well as for the midrange driver placed toward the top. These 6.5” drivers are not exactly identical to those which equip the speaker’s Aria range. The surround and dust cap have been revamped, and a more powerful magnet is used.
The midrange driver is also new, and although its Tuned Mass Damper (TMD) surround resembles a half-roll surround, it actually consists of two tubular rings encircling a small dust cap. The Focal Kanta’s midrange driver benefits from a larger emissive surface than that of the Focal Aria, and this seems to be thanks to this new surround. As such, it flirts with the upper bass register while ensuring an ultra-rigorous exploration of the highest mids.
Focal has chosen to equip the Kanta n°2 with a large bass reflex port. This allows the speaker to restitute frequencies between 35 Hz to 40 kHz, +/-3 dB. This wide frequency range guarantees deep lows without any need for a subwoofer.
The Kanta n°2 speaker’s tweeter is an IAL3 model featuring a 1” inverted Beryllium dome. Lighter than an aluminum dome and six times more resistant, it restitutes very high frequencies, including harmonics. Thanks to its light weight, its transient response is excellent. In the Focal Kanta n°2 speaker’s case, the tweeter covers a frequency range of 2.7 kHz to 40 kHz.
Focal Kanta n°2: test conditions
We paired the Focal Kanta n°2 speakers with a Hegel H190 amplifier, which delivers up to 2 x 250 W into 4 Ohms. The amplifier’s high power rating let us explore the Kanta n°2 without taking any risks, and it had no trouble handling low impedances. Not surprisingly, the Focal floorstanding speaker’s impedance drops in the upper bass register to approximately 3 Ohms, at which point it demands a lot of power from the amplifier at high volumes. In light of the Focal Kanta n°2’s status as a high-end model, a powerful amplifier is a better choice than a smaller integrated amplifier. The cables we used for our test were the Viard Audio Silver HD20, and the FLAC files we streamed via a DLNA server were directly converted by the Hegel amplifier’s DAC.
The Focal Kanta n°2 speaker needs room for its soundstage to fully unfold, and the listener should be positioned at a distance of at least 13 to 16 ft in order to fully appreciate its spectacular width and height. The speaker offers a restitution which is balanced from lows to highs, with a particularly analytical exploration of mids. A generous sense of breadth is combined with a remarkable dynamic range at low and high volume levels. Its total absence of dynamic compression is the Focal Kanta n°2’s most defining characteristic.
Lows: Power and depth are combined with the energy that Focal’s high-end speakers are known for. Depending on where the speaker is placed in the room, the restitution can even be described as opulent, and the timing is always excellent (no trailing). No hint of shyness in the lows, which were well articulated and appropriately textured, adding a sense of breadth to the restitution with their exemplary accuracy.
Mids: Ths is the speaker’s strong suit, showcased by both the Flax driver and the tweeter. The driver’s sense of scale is immediately perceptible, and it offers dynamics that entry-level or midrange models can’t match.
Highs: Surprisingly discreet. The tweeter never went beyond what was necessary for a highly expressive restitution with accurate timbres. The remarkable neutrality of the Hegel H190 amplifier reinforces these characteristics, and no trace of coloration can be heard. Another result of the accurate restitution: the dimensions of the soundstage extend well beyond what is offered by other speakers, such as the Focal Aria.
Soundstage: the restitution is enveloping, and listening to a philharmonic orchestra reveals the speaker’s ability to soar to extraordinary heights. Each detail is clearly distinguishable from the next. However, a slight phase rotation seemed to prevent the speaker from being able to place vocals precisely in the center of the soundstage.
Focal Aria 926: The Kanta n°2 builds upon the Aria’s best qualities, with irreproachable neutrality, more spacious mids, and more powerful lows. The Kanta is more relaxed, and this benefits the music.
Klipsch Forte III: the Kanta n°2 offers a more austere and neutral listening experience, whereas the Klipsch excels for its deeper exploration of lows, which adds a truly enjoyable dimension to the listening experience. Despite the Forte’s imposing stature, it can be a good fit for small rooms and modest amplifiers, thanks to its high sensitivity.
Jean-Marie Reynaud Cantabile Jubilé: the restitution offered by the JMR floorstander is exquisitely refined, despite its smaller drivers and a soft dome tweeter which doesn’t reach frequencies as high as those attained by the Focal Kanta n°2. The acoustic phase control of the JMR Cantabile Jubilé is flawless. On the other hand, the Focal Kanta n°2 offers an even wider soundstage and, thanks to its greater dynamic capacity, can effortlessly fill a listening room up to 260ft² with rich sound.
The Focal Kanta n°2 is a superb speaker which is a true pleasure for the eyes and ears. This is important, as it adds to the warmth of the speaker’s presentation. Its outstanding restitution quality is enhanced by a gratifying sense of neutrality with a wide dynamic range.
What we liked:
- The sumptuous design
- The sense of scale (minimal dynamic compression)
- The tonal balance
- The accuracy of the timbres
What we would have liked:
- A more centered restitution of vocals