Focal Expands Studio Monitor Range with Shape Twin

February 13 2018, 03:10
One year after the launch of Shape 40, 50 and 65 monitors, Focal is expanding its Shape professional powered monitor series with the line's new benchmark product: Shape Twin. This new standard bearer of the Focal Shape series features two passive radiators, woofers equipped with a new Flax cone, and the latest 'M'-shaped Aluminum/Magnesium inverted dome tweeter. Shape Twin is made in France, just like Shape 40, 50 and 65. 

Designed to meet the needs of near-field monitoring, these monitors combine an ingenuous design and numerous settings optimized for the acoustics of small listening rooms. According to Focal, the Shape Twins stand out through its excellent rendering over the whole audio spectrum, its broad frequency response in the low end, and its high SPL considering its size. The compact design makes it easy to integrate even into the most cramped of rooms. Its 2.5-way design gives it a decisive advantage when it comes to controlling the bass and lower mid-range registers, which are the hardest to control in small rooms.

Like its predecessors, Shape Twin monitors feature MDF cabinets, with a front and top finished in authentic, natural stained, walnut veneer. The curved shape of the top of each loudspeaker was calculated specifically for each monitor in order to ensure a linear frequency response in the high end. The natural wood finish recalls the finishes of Focal Twin6 Be studio monitors, and perfectly complements the new flax cones.

Developing speaker driver cone technologies is part of Focal's core expertise. The Flax sandwich cones used for the woofers are composed of two materials: glass fibers and flax fibers. A layer of flax fibers is sandwiched between two layers of glass fibers. Glass fiber cones were also used on the "W" composite sandwich cone of the SM6 and SM9 series, and are revered for their high rigidity considering their light-weight. The sandwich cone needs to provide good damping while being as light as possible. Flax fibers are twice as light as glass fibers as they're hollow. What's more, they also have very low elasticity. This increases the speaker driver's Young's modulus when in excursion, an essential property to ensure a piston-like action even in the very low end. The cone is composed of 80% cellulose which gives it excellent damping properties, and has proven to be a considerable improvement over the Polyglass cone in terms of weight, rigidity and damping.

New finite element method simulation tools also have enabled Focal to identify an essential component, which could be improved: the suspension. To optimize harmonic absorption to ensure a piston-like action for the whole audio spectrum reproduced, two rings have been integrated into the TMD Suspension. The diameter and location of these rings are determined according to the flexibility of the suspension, its elongation, its resonance frequency and the targeted frequency response curve of the speaker driver in excursion. This technology provides a linear frequency response curve between 1 and 2kHz, while significantly reducing distortion in the same range. With this the mid-range register benefits from remarkable neutrality. It also contributes to the excellent precision of the overall stereo image.

Focal also highlights the Neutral Inductance Circuit, which consists in a Faraday ring whose dimensions, materials, and positioning have been optimized so that the magnetic field is no longer affected by the position of the voice coil, by the amperage or by the frequency of the current passing through it. This also increases frequency response in the high end of the spectrum, thus optimizing the crossover with the tweeter while reducing harmonic distortion and inter-modulation.

Focal has further improved its famous Aluminum/ Magnesium inverted dome tweeter by coming up with two significant mechanical innovations: the new 'M'- shaped dome and the new suspension, like that used on the tweeters of the SM6 and SM9 lines. The inverted 'M'-shaped dome offers two major advantages. Its directivity is even less that of the inverted dome tweeter, allowing for more flexibility in terms of listening position. Mechanically speaking, the 'M' shape gives the dome much more rigidity while reducing distortion even more. In addition to this, the Poron suspension provides a more linear frequency response curve below 6kHz, improving crossover with the woofer. The magnetic component has also been optimized thanks to a voice coil with a Kapton frame which significantly reduces the Foucault current, and consequently, distortion. The horn housing the tweeter has been designed to provide equal horizontal and vertical directivity.

The 8" (21 cm) double passive radiator on the Shape Twin monitors is an ingenuous solution to a common issue encountered with near-field monitors: to combine a compact design, extended frequency response in the low end and comfortable positioning. Indeed, when ported systems meet their limits in terms of integration (a long-enough port to match its surface is required), the passive radiator is the ideal solution. However, rocking modes can often occur depending on the frequency and the volume. In order to compensate for this phenomenon, two U-shaped suspensions positioned opposite each other join the passive disk to the basket, ensuring perfect symmetry during excursion and incursion. Finally, the very low tuning frequency allows the Shape Twins to be placed very close to a wall.

The new monitors also feature Class AB amplification. Both 5" (13cm) woofers are powered by a dedicated 80W amplifier channel, which ensures tonal balance however high the volume, while a comb filter for high and low frequencies (HF: +/- 3dB from 4.5kHz; LF +/- 6dB above 250Hz) ensures adequate integration, regardless of the room's acoustics. The Shape Twins also come with 4 adjustable decoupling spikes with rubber coating to improve isolation. Each monitor is supplied with three specific protective grilles for the two woofers and the tweeter, which can be removed or assembled without tools. The monitors are also equipped with fastening mechanisms on the back and underneath so that they can be mounted to the wall or ceiling.

The 2.5-way design brings out the best of two 5" speaker drivers. The woofer in the lower section of the cabinet is used for the 40-180Hz range, whereas the second transducer is dedicated to frequencies between 40Hz and 2.5kHz. Thus, the emissive surface dedicated to the bass frequencies is equivalent to that of an 8" subwoofer, with the extra advantage of being compact. The aptitude to work on the mid-range and upper mid-range is considerably increased with a 5" speaker driver com- pared to larger transducers. Shape Twin's 2.5-way "d'Appolito" configuration ensures extremely precise control of the bass and lower mid-range while making it easy to integrate into all interiors thanks to its low footprint. Finally, the new tweeter is what's at the source of the very high definition, efficiently revealing any hissing, and precise in the very high end.

The new Shape Twin monitors are expected to be available in April, 2018. US street price is $1099, each. Audio Plus Services is the North American importer and distributor for Focal Professional.
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