N°1 - N°2
SOPRA
N°1 - N°2 ...
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SOPRA
N°1 - N°2 ...
Sopra incorporates 20 years of
Utopia’s technological heritage
while satisfying the aesthetic
requirement for a compact design
Sopra
Innovation at Focal goes way beyond technology.
Our obsession is with the end result: the delight of
sound in all its harmonic richness; its purity and its
precision in relation to the musical work. Moreover,
we focus our efforts on our core skills - the speaker
drive unit - in order to perfect our expertise and to
accomplish our goals...
In 1995, the first Grande Utopia was conceived as
a concept product, as a demonstrator, to confirm
the contribution of new-technology speaker drivers
to sound quality. Twenty years later, Utopia has
become a major reference of world renown, praised
for its incredible musicality.
This has enabled us to learn and progress by
systematically associating each new technological
innovation with its contributions in terms of
audio quality. All these technological milestones,
whether the cones (the "W" sandwich cone, the
pure Beryllium dome) the magnetic circuits (the
multiferrite magnet, the EM woofers or the IAL2
tweeters), the crossover (the (OCP+ circuit) or even
"W" sandwich cone
Sopra n°2 "Dogato Walnut" finish
Pure Beryllium
the cabinet (the Gamma Structure) all are inherent
to our technological heritage. What’s more, when
advancements are feasible, we draw on our
expertise from our heritage and to focus on the new
performance we are able to provide.
The Sopra project is fully in line with this approach,
with the additional aesthetic requirement for a
compact design. Being extravagant by essence, this
is something Utopia was never going to have. As
you will see in this catalogue, Sopra benefits from
several major technological breakthroughs. It is
amazing to realise how it is possible to still make
progress in the field of speaker driver technology.
With the help of numerical analysis tools, to reveal
the speaker driver’s most intricate inner workings,
we can push back the limits of sound reproduction in
terms of purity, precision and harmonic richness...
“The Spirit of Sound”.
OCP Crossover
Gamma Structure
Focal has been recognised for its
unique expertise of the speaker
by being awarded the Living
Heritage Company label
The Heritage of Speaker
Made in France
The speaker is what’s at the core of Focal’s DNA,
it’s what the history of our business is built around:
technology, mechanics and sophisticated materials.
Focal’s history is written every day by men and
women whose unique expertise pushes back the
limits of sound reproduction. We are proud to have
succeeded in keeping our own manufacturing
facilities, which was the only feasible way for
us to continue innovating and developing our
expertise and know-how. This has given us unique
recognition, that of being awarded a Living Heritage
Company label (Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant).
All the optimisations we worked on for the
transducers used in Sopra, using new numerical
simulation software, in terms of magnetic circuits
and suspension, would not have been possible
without our own production facility. Indeed,
hundreds or prototypes had to be made to come up
with the right solutions.
New Sopra midrange drivers being assembled at our Ariane manufacturing facility. This facility based on lean manufacturing employs highly-qualified
workers who have complete control over every step of the process.
NIC Neutral Inductance Circuit
Stabilising the magnetic field
The precision and detail
of audio reproduction
depends on the stability
of the magnetic field
Since the beginning, we
have always had a great
interest in the magnetic
circuit, an essential aspect
of a speaker drive unit.
Over these last few years,
after having pushed back
the limits in electromagnetic technology with the
Grande Utopia EM and the Stella Utopia EM, we
recognised the fact that beyond the magnetic field
intensity and its homogeneity within the gap, there
was a dynamic aspect we had no control over. The
magnetic field varies regardless of its intensity.
Indeed, it is not stable because it is modulated by
three factors: the movement of the voice coil (Lenz's
law), the current passing through it (Foucault
current) and the frequency. Consequently, the voice
coil, the moving part, is in the magnetic field which
becomes too variable, and this leads to loss of
precision; like a picture taken with a camera whch
is shaking slightly. This is an obstacle to very high
definition.
Research we began three years ago led to the
development of simulation software which makes
it possible to visualise these complex interactions.
This paved the way for the development of an
incredibly stable magnetic circuit. The solution
lies in the Faraday ring a well-known technology
which can be further developed thanks to modern
simulation tools whose dimensions, materials and
positioning we were able to optimise. This was
inconceivable three years ago. The magnetic field is
no longer affected by the position of the voice coil,
by the amperage or the frequency of the current
passing through it. This is a sign of very high definition.
1,0
0,9
0,8
0,7
Visual analogy of magnetic disturbance
0,6
0,5
0,4
0,3
0,2
0,1
0,0
In red, the Faraday ring on a Sopra n°2 woofer. Its material,
dimensions and positioning have all been optimised thanks to our
new simulation software. The result is a spectacular combination
of efficiency and bass control, regardless of the position of the
voice coil in the gap.
-4
-2
0
2
4
Effective measurement using the Klippel analyser for a 6” midrange speaker driver: the blue curve represents the new NIC
(red ring in the cross section view), the red curve represents a conventional 6" midrange speaker driver with ferrite magnet.
Above: the variation of inductance according to the current passing through the voice coil which varies according to the
musical image. Complete stability of the NIC.
Below: the variation of inductance according to the position of the voice coil in the gap. The result is spectacular.
Without a Faraday ring
The variations related to the position of
the voice coil and to the current passing
through it in a conventional circuit results
in blurring.
With a conventional Faraday ring
The Faraday ring is a well known
technology which improves definition.
However, this results in a loss in
dynamics/contrast.
With Focal’s Faraday ring
Our new simulation software enables us
to combine the best of both worlds:
very high definition and dynamics/contrast.
TMD Tuned Mass Damper
The obsession with
the midrange
Our Tuned Mass Damper (TMD) consists of two tubular rings moulded onto the
surround. This simple solution, perfected thanks to our new software, stabilises
the dynamic behaviour of the surround according to resonance, thus avoiding
deformation of the cone without afflicting the dynamics.
The midrange register is no doubt the most
complicated to control in a sound system. On the
one hand, there must be a smooth transition with
the bass. On the other hand, it must be tuned to
the tweeter in terms of dispersion and acceleration.
This determines the homogeneity of the timbre and
spatialisation. Using a 6" (15 cm) woofer meets
the first requirement, but meeting the second is
where things get difficult, its
coherence with the tweeter in
terms of directivity. For the past
20 years, we have been working
on mastering the "break up"
(the frequency at which the cone
becomes deformed, leading to
distortion) of our 3rd generation
"W" cones and on drastically
reducing the resonance of the
tweeter with the IAL 2.
Sopra’s midrange
provides incredible
realism thanks
to its new magnetic
circuit and TMD
suspension
The graph on the left demonstrates the principle of the tuned mass damper. In red, an m1/k1 system with very pronounced resonance. By adding a mass/spring system m2/k2 (upper
section of the diagram), there will be two resonance peaks, as represented by the blue curve. The drop or anti-resonance being previously based on the resonance of the main system,
we get the green curve. Finally, by judiciously adding a damper, we obtain the purple curve. The resonance has almost disappeared!
Today, we can go even further
thanks to the power of finite
element analysis. Our teams have developed
simulation software to visualise the dynamic
behaviour of the suspension which connects the
cone to the basket, thus revealing the performance
issues requiring attention. All that was left to do
was to conceive the equipment to solve those
issues. The solutions already known for increasing
the damping properties of the suspension all result
in an increase of the mass which consequently
alters definition.
The answer came from a technology
used in earthquake-resistant
skyscrapers and which is also
used for the suspension on racing
cars. This technology is called a
"Tuned Mass Damper": an 40
applied to the speaker driver, the
solution consists in simply two
tubular rings on the suspension
whose dimensions and position
have been judiciously determined.
This innovation is patented.
Having eliminated the source of the distortion
problems, we opted for exponentially shaped
cones in order to increase frequency response, and
consequently impulse response. Another reason for
increasing definition.
IHL Infinite Horn Loading
Getting the most out of the Beryllium tweeter
Our Beryllium tweeter features an incredibly light
and extremely rigid dome. Its main limitation
comes from the compression of air in the cavity
behind it. To overcome this, the ideal would be to
have a nearly infinite volume. The requirement for
Sopra to be compact meant that as much of the
cabinet as possible had to be used for the bass.
We had to explore
other options for
loading the tweeter,
which led us to
come up with the
IHL system (Infinite
Horn Loading). This
system is patented.
The requirement for
Sopra to be compact
meant we had
to change the
tweeter loading
approaches zero so that no resistance alters the
movement of the dome. This pushes definition to
its maximum.
The advantage of this set-up is that this only slightly
affects the cabinet’s internal volume. Thus, we can
get the most out of the woofers to enhance bass
performance while having an ideally-positioned
tweeter, and all this in a reasonably-sized cabinet.
Moreover, it was our duty to isolate the tweeter
from any interference from vibrations. The injected
polyurethane mono-bloc tweeter frame provides
the optimal mass and damping in a reduced space.
The rear of the
Beryllium tweeter is
loaded via a small cavity which is connected to the
exterior of the enclosure by a horn. The inside of the
horn is filled with a damping material. Thus, sound
waves from the rear of the tweeter are delicately
and gradually absorbed. Its acoustic impedance
The rear waves from the Beryllium tweeter are gradually absorbed by the first chamber.
This is connected to a horn with internal damping which opens onto the rear of the
loudspeaker. There is no interference with the incredible definition of the Beryllium tweeter.
Design
The primary goal in terms of design was to focus
on the proportions which would enable us to satisfy
the requirement for a compact design and reduced
volumes while delivering very high performance
bass. For obvious acoustic reasons, the height
of the tweeter had to be at ear-level of a seated
listener, the maximum being 1 metre, this means
being beneath the midrange. This required ‘Focus
Time’ alignment (where the audio sources are all
at the same distance from the listener). This is
particularly important for the biggest model of
floorstanding loudspeaker which is equipped with
two 8" (20 cm) woofers.
However, for this model, the size of lower section
which would have been required wouldn’t have
made it compact enough. So we had to reach all
the way up into the upper section for more volume,
the midrange could do without the entire volume
at the rear of the loudspeaker. We had to "cross"
the tweeter section. The “IHL” system described
previously was the solution, with two large openings
where a maximum amount of volume could be used
from the rear of the midrange.
The high-damping injected-polyurethane tweeter
section isolates the tweeter from the vibrations
coming from the bass and also protects the
midrange. This section improves the overall rigidity
of the enclosure in order to prevent any loss of
precision. Finally, it is also what gives Sopra its
unique design.
"The Sopra line is destined for the most passionate audiophiles. When expectations are so high, the
design must provide solutions which go far beyond
aesthetics and shape.
This represents a great deal of work in terms of
industrial design, which must serve acoustic experts
and favour performance, whilst bringing together
the qualities expected of an object which will be
integrated into very elegant interiors and décors.
Right from the drawing board, we wanted to emphasise the formal identity of Focal loudspeakers.
A trapezoid section, a tweeter section with a strong
identity, and cabinets placed at an angle which
would ensure acoustic convergence (Focus Time).
All these strengths which are inherent to the brand
had to be emphasised by updating and even daring
to reinvent new conventions, whilst keeping in line
with the logic of the R&D departments technological
advances.
In this sense, Sopra reveals an exemplary 3-year
collaboration between Focal’s engineers and designers
... Sopra’s very structure is articulated around the intermediate
section, which, besides giving a very strong identity to the line, is a
structural element which contributes to several technical solutions.
This injected polyurethane component allows for the upper and lower
cabinets to be inclined for the "Focus Time" (acoustic convergence
of the channels).
It also provides the freedom necessary for the acoustic experts to
achieve the desired enhancements for the treble (decompression,
isolation of the tweeter section...). Finally, it optimises the use of
space for the midrange whilst maintaining a compact design, and
contributes to the very high rigidity of the structure as a whole.
Thus, the compactness and the harmony of the proportions of
this line are the result of very advanced research. How was it possible
to satisfy the requirements in terms of volumes necessary according
to acoustics research, while keeping dimensions suitable for
modern interiors?
Beyond 3D modelling, the many full-scale models and prototypes
made it possible to refine the large volumes we were looking for, but
keeping them balanced and easy to integrate.
Substantial efforts were made to give the front a tidy appearance,
particularly around the speaker drivers, following on from the work
on the Aria range.We wanted to celebrate and emphasise the core of
Focal’s expertise, in addition to ironing out any aspects which could
afflict the acoustics or the appearance.
The flush cloth frames and the lacquered finishes allow for all sides
of the loudspeaker to be the same, and right from the start of the
project, we designed this line to allow for various combinations of
colours and materials.
This was a real manufacturing challenge for our cabinet-making
facility in Bourbon Lancy.
The mineral black, the brushed steel and the textured dark grey tones
perfectly compliment the lacquered or bloodwood finishes.
The main theme of Sopra is deliberately uncluttered, though it still
offers connoisseurs the opportunity to enjoy all the small details.
The grille with an incremental meshing motif protects the Beryllium
tweeter and gives it a strong identity. This motif is repeated for sealing
the curved back panel of the middle section.
The terminal board, the thumb nuts and the adjustable spikes have
all been specially designed for Sopra, as have the few visible screws,
all of which were manufactured by watchmaking experts.
Following on from Utopia and keeping in line with all Focal loudspeakers, the design of Sopra is the result of a very close collaboration
between designers and engineers,a passionate quest aiming to conciliate complex constraints, experience, as well as sophisticated and
innovative solutions, and all of this would have to be almost invisible,
leading to something obvious, immediate simplicity for the pleasure
and the purity of an unforgettable listening experience."
Sopra n°2 "Carrara White" finish
With Alain Pineau,
in charge of Sopra
design: it soon
became obvious, a
powerful, compact
and modern design.
Mastering the cabinet
The 69mm sandwich-machined front
panel uses the same principle as
‘Gamma Structure’ to provide inertia
and damping. Its density gives it the
inertia necessary to provide a stable
mechanical reference for optimal
definition.
The inside of the cabinet has no
parallel side panels, and small
Helmholtz resonators have been
added to the lower section to prevent
vertical standing waves. Sopra’s
cabinet was designed in our cabinetmaking facility in Bourbon-Lancy
using the same manufacturing
process as for Utopia.
We chose glass as the material for the
base of the loudspeaker to provide
floor coupling, using spikes, which
enabled the fastest propagation time
possible, thus eliminating all halo
effects in the bass.
Sopra n°1
Compact and powerful, Sopra n°1 is a concentration
of technological innovation. It features Neutral
Inductance Circuits (NIC), Tuned Mass Damping
surrounds (TMD) for the midrange woofer, and
Infinite Horn Loading (IHL) of the tweeter. It is a true
“demonstrator”, corroborating the contribution of
the new technologies implemented on Sopra.
First, the very low distortion gives it incredible
clarity and very high definition combined with the
spectacular spatialisation typical of bookshelf
loudspeakers...
Its special stand has been designed to expel
interfering vibrations from the enclosure towards
the floor to avoid any colouration. The steel frame
inside the floorstander, coupled with the 03⁄4" (19mm)
thick glass base using four adjustable stainless
steel spikes, provides very high transmission
speeds. This is what guarantees an extremely sharp
reproduction.
Beyond this attractive first impression, what’s
astonishing is the texture and smoothness of its
sound. It provides a solid, “fleshy” sound with full
and articulated bass. Precision is by no means
artificial, nor is it limited to the treble. The overall
coherence and harmonic richness gives the listener
a surprising understanding of the music.
Ideal for small rooms up to 270ft2 (25m2), Sopra n°1
is also ideal for spaces up to 550ft2 (50m2). Providing
high sensitivity and excellent power handling, Sopra
n°1 is a true little monitor for the home.
Sopra n°1 & Sopra n°2 "Carrara White" finish
Sopra n°1 "Carrara White" finish
Sopra n°2
Sopra n°2 clearly inaugurates a new era for the
“Premium High End” by taking into account new
performance criteria. Compact, modern, a pure
design, character... all these are essential factors to
ensure perfect integration into your interior. Quite
naturally, this orientation led to new requirements
in terms of transducers due to the major innovations
described in the previous pages.
Equipped with best midrange drivers ever developed
by Focal, with the NIC and TMD technologies, Sopra
n°2 pushes back the limits of sound reproduction in
terms of transparency in a very compact enclosure.
Indeed, unlike Utopia, which is extravagant by
essence and where size is by no means a constraint,
Sopra aims for maximal compactness to ensure
easy integration into reasonably sized rooms.
ideal for larger rooms measuring up to 750ft2
(70m2). The attention to amplifier quality and to the
precision of positioning are essential for taking full
advantage of Sopra n°2, the resolution being so
high that holographic spatialisation requires such
great care.
The purity of the timbre, the precision of the
soundstage and the harmonic richness are sure to
provide you with an intense emotional experience.
Combining a compact design, a resolutely modern
look and major innovations in terms of the
transducers, Sopra n°2 clearly defines the new
epitome of today’s Premium loudspeakers.
The two 7” (18cm) woofers for the bass register
equipped with natural inductance magnetic circuits
benefit from a substantial volume thanks to the
tweeter’s IHL, allowing us to take full advantage of
the cabinet’s capacity. What’s more, the cabinet’s
Gamma Structure with a 69mm front panel
provides remarkable inertia considering such a
size. Weighing 120 lbs (55kg), Sopra n°2 is by no
means envious of its larger competitors... Thus
weight and compactness are well balanced to
provide impressive density and articulation.
This remarkable control of the bass makes Sopra n°2
even easier to integrate. It is perfectly at ease in
rooms measuring up to 320ft2 (30m2), and is even
Sopra n°2 "Carrara White" finish
Sopra n°2 "Electric Orange" finish
Innovative features
1
6
New Structure
1
6
2
5
4
Innovative patented transducers
1
2
3
5
4
1
6
3
4
› 35 years of continuous innovation "Made in France":
W sandwich cones for the bass and midrange.
› Pure Beryllium for the treble
Integrating all of Focal’s most recent exclusive innovations NIC*" & "TMD"
The Codes of contemporary Premium quality
3
4
› "IHL*": a brand new tweeter configuration for an even more compact design
› "NIC*" & "TMD" refined midrange, part of the DNA of Focal’s sound
› "NIC*": Impressive sound density and bass control
Exceptional speaker drivers
4
5
2
› An original means of managing the space around the tweeter section to conciliate
high-quality bass with a compact design
1
In terms of the choice of materials and finishes:
› Matt black polyurethane mono bloc tweeter section
› Grilles with incremental meshing
› Glass surface and base
› Lacquered cabinets
A strong identity
›"Focus Time" built around the tweeter section,
with its rear "IHL", aligns the audio sources in direction of the listener.
*Patents Pending
A modern statuary object
Harmoniously integrated technology. Simplicity and compactness
have been combined for optimal integration into your interior.
6
6
Sopra n° 2
Sopra n° 1
Type
Three-way Bass-reflex
floor standing loudspeaker
Two-way Bass-reflex
bookshelf loudspeaker
Speakers
Two 7” (18cm) "W" woofer
61/2” (16.5cm) "W" midrange
with "TMD" suspension, "NIC" motor
1” (25mm) "IHL" Beryllium
inverted dome tweeter
61/2” (16.5cm) “W“ bass midrange with
"TMD" suspension, "NIC" motor
1” (25mm) "IHL"Beryllium
inverted dome tweeter
Frequency response
(±3dB)
34Hz - 40kHz
45Hz - 40kHz
Low frequency point -6dB
28Hz
41Hz
Sensibility (2.83V/1m)
91dB
89dB
Nominal impedance
8 Ohms
8 Ohms
Minimum impedance
3,1 Ohms
3.9 Ohms
Crossover frequency
250Hz / 2 200Hz
2 200 Hz
Recommanded
amplifier power
40 - 300W
25 - 150W
Dimensions (HxWxD)
4627⁄32x143⁄32x2117⁄64"
1647⁄64x1063⁄64x1519⁄32"
Net Weight (unit)
12.2lbs - (55kg)
41.89lbs - (19kg)
(stand: 40.78lb (18.5kg))
(1 190x358x540mm)
(425x279x396mm)
Lacquered standard finishes (face + side panels)
Carrara White
Black Lacquer
Imperial Red
Standard wood veneer finish
Electric Orange
Graphite Black (face)
Dogato Walnut
(side panels)
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