Focal and Naim on the Edge | AXPONA 2023


One of my now-vague, still-formative experiences in the way-back archives was a Grande Utopia system from Focal. I remember the speakers were just massive — as was the sound. And I remember that correlation — big speakers = big sound, and in a way that is just impossible for more modest speakers to fake. That’s what I remember.

Words and Photos by Scot Hull

I think a lot of us have beliefs like this. And like many beliefs of this sort, it’s one worth busting.

focal and naim

grande utopia

One of my favorite demos at AXPONA was here, but not from the big Maestro Utopia loudspeakers ($75,998 pair) that we saw in Florida — but that was fun. No, instead, I’m talking about the 7.2.4 channel system featuring the new Theva line, here set up with Atmos options. There were two Theva N°3 ($2398 pair), four Theva N°3-D ($2998 pair), one Theva Center ($649 each) and two Focal Sub 600P ($1,399 each). A new-to-me sixteen channel Focal Astral 16 ($19,999) handled all the signaling.

This is, in many ways, entirely unfair. A multi-track system, well-recorded, can be designed to impress — and boy-howdy, did it. No two-channel system could possibly come close to the dynamics, the ping-ponging sound-field, and the sheer immersiveness of what I got to dig into. High hilarity, pack it up, I’ll take the whole thing, thank-you-very-much.

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Another highly entertaining, and not-quite-new-to-me (as I first saw it in Florida), were the speakers from the new Littora line. Love that idea — littoral, that boundary area between comfort and complexity, between inside and out.

Personally, I don’t actually own a yacht (where some of this new line is designed to go), but I do have a patio. So, the new Focal OD Stone 8 ($799 each), a 2-way “outdoor” speaker, looks really interesting. Three colors (Basalt, Sand, Limestone), and they’re said to “withstand adverse weather and extreme climates”. I’m pretty sure Chicago winters would qualify. There are some other options, too, including the OD Sat 5 ($679 each), another 2-way “weather resistant” outdoor speaker that can be mounted to a wall or anchored in the ground. A matching Focal OD Sub 12 ($1999) can round it out. The only real weakness to this line, as far as I can tell, is the lack of a weatherized/resistant head-unit. For now, Focal is recommending we carry out something like a Naim Uniti Atom ($3,799) for max plug-in-and-then-play capacities.

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If you would like to hear even more coverage from AXPONA 2023, check out our recap report and highlights from our audiophile-oriented show The Occasional Podcast. You can stream the episode direct from the embed below, or from your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, Android, Google, Deezer, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more.

Also don’t forget to check out our collaboration to commemorate the event with our solid bronze record weight available only for a limited run. This 800 grams of solid bronze features the PTA roundel on the top with also acts as a 45 adapter. You can purchase direct from the PTA Approved Store here on the site.

About Scot Hull 1057 Articles
Scot started all this back in 2009. He is currently the Publisher here at PTA, the Publisher at The Occasional Magazine, and the Executive Producer at The Occasional Podcast. There are way too many words about him over on the Contributors page.

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