Focal Kanta N°3 Review
The Focal Kanta N°3 is strikingly out of the ordinary. It piques the listener’s attention, electrifies him – what’s in here? The curved front properly aligns the individual speaker drivers to the listener’s ears. As a result, nearly a point source of sound is produced at the listening location. Actually, the notion is reasonable, but you must first come up with it. Then muster the guts to recognize this and swim against the flood. Furthermore, the Kanta series demonstrates how attractive the concept is.
- High-End Focal with reasonable price
- Design escapes hi-fi stereotypes
- Nice, smooth midrange
- Beautiful speakers for vocals
- Price is still expensive
- Correct amp match is important
Just as the color selection can partly be described as very daring. On the other hand, the colorful variety allows the Kanta to be embedded in many – even modern – environments. The speakers are available in high-gloss black with white, blue, yellow or black fronts. Or alternatively, as with our test speaker, with the body in a noble walnut veneer as well as a baffle in matte ivory, alternatively there is blue, taupe (brown-gray) or dark gray.
The Focal Kanta N°3’s distinctive front, which gives the speaker its interesting look, is made of a high-density polymer “HDP” (High Density Polymer) with a respectable 55 mm thickness. According to Focal, this HDP offers a 70 percent higher density than the most commonly used MDF. In addition, it is 15 percent stronger and has a higher damping against natural resonances. The vibrations of the loudspeaker chassis should hardly have a chance to affect your living space.
The curved cabinet itself is made of multi-glued laminated wood. In the interaction of the irregular body and the likewise bent sound front, standing waves have as good as no chance. Another well thought-out design is the speaker base, which elegantly decouples the cabinet from the floor. Integrated with massive threaded screws, which the Focal Kanta N°3 can be stabilized in no time and aligned horizontally to the listening position. As a top finish, a glass plate with the logo of the French manufacturer is applied.
A trademark of Focal speakers are the membranes made of a mixture of flax and glass fibers for the woofers and midrange drivers. With the intersecting structure of the fibers, it looks really fancy. More important, however, is the stiffness of this lightweight material developed and as well as manufactured by Focal itself. The two woofers, each measuring 21 cm in diameter, as well as the 16.5 cm midrange driver have a drive with Faraday ring, which is supposed to provide a stable magnetic field. In the bass range, Focal treats the Focal Kanta N°3 equal to 2 reflex ports, one on the front and one on the back of the floorstanding speaker. They couple to the same resonance chamber, but are tuned to 2 different frequencies and should thus provide a wider bandwidth connection of the low tones to the room.
The beryllium tweeter is also a Focal product, here in the Focal Kanta N°3 it measures 27 mm. Spatially separated, it finds shelter in a separate small chamber, so that the mid and low frequencies can’t get in its way. Inside, this small enclosure is also damped with foam to prevent reflections.
From the very first notes of Radiohead’s “No Surprises,” it is noticeable that the Focal Kanta N°3 presents Thom Yorke’s voice almost as richly as the Sopras. The depth needed to bring his voice this way is there. On some speakers, Yorke sounds a bit nasal and sawing (it can’t be denied: he’s a whiner sometimes), but not here. Typically Focal puts the vocals very centrally, something also noticeable on Elvis Costello’s ‘North’ and the tracks ‘Your Freedom’ and ‘Gold Junkies’ from Melanie De Biasio’s ‘Lilies’.
We have been using the latter album often in sound tests lately, because it was recorded very well and is also simply rock solid. During these songs that float between jazz and trip-hop, there is very fine spatial detail, which on good speakers really gives you the feeling of listening to a live registration in a theater. Interpreting that atmosphere is something the Kantas do very well here.
That’s all further confirmed when we switch to the Latin American-tinged soundtrack of “Frida,” led by Elliot Goldenthal. It skims from intense songs driven by the beautiful voice of Lila Downs (great in Mexico, virtually unknown to us) to fast-paced tracks where every South American instrument is pulled out of the closet. Fun to listen to – but in this case we also use 192 kbps MP3s. Because of the many instruments in these tracks, the shortcomings of the files usually stand out quickly. Listening to them on the Kanta’s we feel that they sound less sharp and artificial, indicating that – how much they are bursting with detail – Focal has tuned a bit softer here than with the Sopra. The interesting thing is that you feel like the Kanta N°3 gives you a lot of insight, while being a bit more universal. You can apparently throw some lesser source material at it as well. (At the same time, a role may also be played here by the Naim amplification, which also bets on musicality rather than precision).
If we conclude with a solid piece of electronics – sorry, iEar’-customers! – the speed of the Kanta’s also stands out. On Moderat’s ‘Running’ and DJ Shadows’ ‘The Mountain will Fall’, the beats and all the energy in the low end are not very dominant, but come across as very tight. It could certainly be more impactful, but often that ends up contaminating the lower middle. The Kanta’s, however, remain controlled and tight. The end result, though, is that you’ll want to turn music like this up all too loud. Neighbors, be warned.
The floorstanding speakers Focal Kanta N°3 for inspire with great sound. They play fast and powerful with a slight upper bass and carry the listener away. The excellent spatial imaging is joined by picturesque, indulgent timbres that take me on a long journey into the music. Fine detail is brilliant without ever annoying the listener. Voices and instruments shine with a naturally silky sheen. In symbiosis with its elegant high-quality garb, the Kanta N°3 is a speaker to be happy with!
Focal Kanta N°3 Review