Fresh From the Bench: Focal’s Spirit Professional

June 9 2015, 12:37
Focal is a well-known French speaker manufacturer of professional audio products as well as high-end speakers and car audio systems. In 2013, Focal released its first headphones. Among the models intended for the hi-fi and consumer markets, Focal also introduced the Focal Spirit Professional, a closed-back headphone design built for the professional musician or recording studio engineer. audioXpress tested the Focal Spirit Professional to discover what this model brings to an already crowded and very competitive headphone market.

Focal has been developing high-end hi-fi speakers and drivers for more than 30 years. It has established itself as one of the most prominent and valuable brands in that industry. For years, Focal also manufactured drivers and parts for other brands (e.g., KRK, L-Acoustics and Wilson Audio) in part because the company has manufacturing capabilities to build almost anything in its Saint-Étienne facilities.

Focal presents itself as a very engineer-driven company, with a focus on its R&D department. It has provided the industry with several inventions (e.g., the “inverted dome tweeter,” the “W” sandwich cone, and the beryllium tweeter). The beryllium tweeter used by Focal is manufactured by Materion Electrofusion using the Truextent diaphragms, as is the case with the majority of transducer manufacturers that utilize genuine beryllium in their designs. Beryllium is 10 times more expensive than gold and seven times more rigid than titanium or aluminum, without their weight. Because of its high rigidity and low mass, it is a perfect material for tweeters. However, Focal only uses it on its premium products because it is expensive to manufacture.

Initially known as JMLab, Focal also has several products in the car audio industry. When the company opened in the late 1980s, it developed and manufactured car audio speakers, amplifiers, and systems.
In 2003, Focal launched a range of professional monitors, increasing its brand strength among audio professionals. Now, it’s fairly common to see models such as the Focal Twin 6be and the Focal SM9 in studios all over the world. As part of its expansion effort, Focal released its first headphones, the Spirit line, in 2013. The circumaural headphone line includes the Spirit One, which was created as an audiophile headphone for mobile users; the Spirit Classic, a full-size high quality product for the hi-fi market; and the Spirit Professional headphones, the model we reviewed for this article.

Read the full audioXpress review here.
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