Aria 900: 
Focal launches a new version of affordable luxury

Uncategorised By Sep 03, 2013

All new Flax loudspeakers, so named on account of their flax membranes, new TNF tweeters, minimalist style cabinets and perfectly optimised phase crossovers – all delivering the informed music lover with a cocktail of total sound pleasure. The new Focal Aria 900 range will replace the Chorus 800 V range from October 2013.

The Aria 900 paves the way for radical technology changes and brings a new design combining stylish classicism with modernity. This approach befits new consumer thinking, now turned towards refined, long-lasting products. It represents a significant design shift away from the Chorus 800 V’s very strong design identity towards a more timeless, sober statement combining the mineral and the organic. The Aria 900 range is similar in breadth to that of the Chorus 800 V for stereo and Home Cinema, with just one exception: the model 948 which marks a return to the original “generous” loudspeaker with two 21 cm bass speakers.

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The ‘F’ cone, a Focal patented innovation

Some 18 years after Focal introduced its high-end ‘W’ sandwich cones glass-glass sandwich) to massive critical acclaim, it is launching its ‘F’ (for Flax) sandwich cones, the result of more than five years’ work towards achieving more affordable sandwich structures.

‘W’ cones are still the optimum solution in the search for the ultimate drive unit. The ideal cone should meet several opposing criteria: it should be very low in mass and be very stiff; sound should be able to travel through it very quickly, with no resonance. No single- material solution provides the answer – sandwich construction is the right way to go. ‘W’ cones have just one disadvantage: they can only be made by hand and are, consequently, expensive. This precludes their use on all but the most expensive loudspeaker systems.

The use of an eco-textile like flax, together with composites technologies, brings an innovative solution to sandwich construction: a piece of very high quality flax is placed between two very thin glass fibre sheets. The manufacturing process can be mechanised and automated, in response to the requirement for more affordable loudspeakers.

Even more technology behind the Aria 900

Of course, a good cone is just one part of a good loudspeaker unit. That is why the Aria 900 range’s transducers incorporate a new injected Zamak basket providing maximum rear decompression and Klippel optimised motor systems providing them with ideal magnetic field distribution to ensure linearity, acceleration and control.

The new TNF tweeter has an aluminium/magnesium alloy inverted dome, for low mass, stiffness and ideal propagation speed. This gives it outstanding acceleration over a wide bandwidth with low colouration. The lightweight dome is supported on Poron suspension (for linearity) developed from the Utopia tweeter. The tweeter has a front plate waveguide to ensure ideal horizontal directivity with low diffraction.

Great drivers mounted in poorly designed enclosures will, sadly, sound like poor drivers. That is why Aria 900 series cabinets are constructed from a combination of 18 and 24 mm controlled density HDF (High Density Fibreboard) with non-parallel sides and bracing at strategic points. Floorstanding cabinets are complete with cast aluminium plinths both to improve their floor coupling and to optimise the air flow from the downward firing vent. The floorstanding speakers incorporate two vents, in fact, (horizontal and vertical) in PowerFlow configuration for a 50% air movement speed reduction in the vents, reducing turbulence and noise leading to no dynamic compression.

Finally, the midrange and treble sections have their own sealed enclosures with non-parallel walls to minimise internal standing waves.

Aria 900 cabinets are available in Walnut or Black High Gloss (small price supplement). Every speaker cabinet has a glass top and leather finished front highlighted with brushed gunmetal trim rings. They exude style and quality and will fit perfectly with both traditional and contemporary decors.

The search for excellence

Aria 900 crossovers are carefully designed using an expert combination of science and art. Given today’s measurement and design tools, it is easy to produce a good loudspeaker (if one has the capacity to design them and build them consistently, of course). So if one is content with the merely “good”, the job is done and small corrections can be left to the crossovers. But for Focal, only the best will do and for the best, problems have to be resolved at source with exceptional loudspeakers that limit the role of the crossover to that of a frequency signalman. Great loudspeakers take significantly longer to design and require marrying the art of listening with that of subtly modifying the crossover to give that extra something that makes a good loudspeaker great. These small somethings are what bring music to life, what make it so expressive.

Made in France

Focal designs and manufactures all its loudspeakers in France in its factory in Saint-Etienne. Having total control over design and manufacture brings huge advantages in terms of optimising designs: every loudspeaker in any particular range can have its own specific drive unit optimised for that specific enclosure. This also brings considerable advantages in the areas of innovation, quality and consistency of build.

And that is why, more than ten years ago, Focal relocated all its loudspeakers production to its manufacturing facility in Saint-Etienne. Making it unique in the industry.