At nearly 7 feet tall and 573 pounds apiece, Focal’s $180,000 Grande Utopia EM loudspeakers would be overbearing in most home environments. For listeners seeking comparable audio quality from a more manageable package, the French manufacturer’s relatively compact Focal Stella Utopia EM speakers (+33.0477.43.57.00, www.focal-fr.com) present a gratifying solution.
Even audiophiles would be hard-pressed to detect a difference in quality between the Grandes and the Stellas, the latter of which are a foot and a half shorter and more than 200 pounds lighter than their older siblings. Introduced early this year, the $90,000-per-pair Stellas require about a week to assemble at Focal’s factory outside Lyon, France, where craftsmen hand-build, measure, and test each speaker. The Stellas employ the same pure-beryllium inverted dome tweeter and powerful twin midrange drivers as the Grandes do, but with a new 13-inch woofer purpose-built for the smaller design.
Where conventional loudspeakers utilize fixed magnets to propel their driver cones, Focal’s EM speakers employ an electromagnet that is powered by the wall current. Though expensive to implement and requiring more power than a standard woofer, this system allows for fine-tuning of the bass response. Users can also adjust the Stellas’ midrange and high frequencies in 243 different combinations, ensuring that the speakers provide optimum performance in any environment.