Thanks to the astronomical success of its UTOPIA series, Focal has been able to develop a new range of ultra high-end but affordable speakers.
The Focal SOPRA 3 speaker is the most top-end and comprehensive model to date. Aesthetically, it is very similar to the Utopia models, featuring the brand’s signature curved lines and beautiful finish, no matter the colour (available in white, red, black and orange, with a wood finish also on offer).
The top of the Focal SOPRA 3 speaker is made from a gorgeous plate of black glass. From the moment you set eyes on it, it’s plain to see that Focal has spared no expense. It really is an impressively large tower speaker.
Its imposing dimensions – each speaker is almost 1.30m high and weighs 70kg – give you a good idea of the care and effort that has gone into the production of the cabinet. The baffle alone (which houses the drivers) is 69mm thick! The whole speaker sits on a 19mm-thick glass base and four adjustable stainless steel spikes. It also comes as standard with stainless steel counter-spikes and damping pads. This rock solid base ensures perfect stability for the Focal SOPRA 3 speakers, and in doing so contributes to a precise and clean sound quality.
The Focal Sopra 3 boasts the brand’s instantly recognisable driver design, where the tweeter is positioned between the midrange above it and the two woofers below. It is a genuine 3-way speaker with 4 drivers. The bass register is taken care of by two excellent woofers with 21 cm ‘W’ membranes. They use a bass reflex system, with a front-firing laminar port located at the bottom of the speaker face. The motor uses NIC technology, whereby the dimensions, materials and positioning of a Faraday ring have been optimised to ensure that the magnetic field is not affected by the position of the coil, depending on the intensity and frequency of the current passing through it. This technology controls the magnetic field, reducing distortion and producing ultra high definition sound quality and a remarkable dynamic range.
Above the subwoofer you'll find the tweeter module, which is made from matte black polyurethane that is extremely hard and inert. This module houses the brand’s now famous 27mm pure beryllium tweeter with an inverted dome. This is special because it creates a kind of open baffle effect. To dampen sound waves from the back of the speaker it uses an IHL system, which opens out of the back through a superb stainless steel grill that varies in shape. This system is completely acoustically separate from the rest of the speaker. Above it you'll find the sealed chamber that houses the midrange driver. This driver has a 16.5cm ‘W’ membrane, with dedicated TMD suspension and an NIC motor. Focal Focal proudly claims that this the best driver it has ever created!
And the filtering system certaintly makes use of the best coils and capacitors on the market. The internal wiring is meticulously designed, using cables made by a respected European manufacturer that is renowned for its high-end creations. The terminal can only handle mono wiring, but this is often the most simple and effective option. Both its excellent production quality and oval shape ensure optimal contact with stripped cables and fork and banana plugs.
The Focal Sopra 3 speakers are relatively easy to set up and don't require any particular precautions to be taken. While these speakers have been designed for spaces over 35m², they can also work well in smaller rooms, provided they are used with the right high quality equipment that knows how to handle the drivers. And large rooms need not be daunting either, as they can deliver good performances in spaces over 80m²! Depending on the size of the room and the material of the wall behind them, we would recommend positioning the speakers a minimum of 60cm away from the wall.
The neutrality and output of these speakers make them highly versatile when it comes to amplification. Ideally, they need a good 45W tube amp or 100W transistor amp. We gave them a serious listen after a break-in period of 50 hours.
Just like the less high-end models in the Sopra range (Focal SOPRA 1 and Focal SOPRA 2 speakers), from the opening bars we were impressed by the openness of the sound stage and the placement of each instrument.
When positioned and powered correctly, the Focal Sopra 3 speakers are capable of delivering a remarkable holographic sound reproduction. The instruments pour out far beyond the peripheral limits of the speaker. The depth of the sound is also impressive, and the vocal placement is perfect. All of this serves as evidence of the high production quality and steadfast production processes behind the Focal SOPRA 3 speakers. The bass is even fuller than the Focal SOPRA 2 speakers, descending even lower but remaining remarkably tight and articulated throughout. Every hit of the bass drums resounds with such astounding realism that they could be coming from huge 38cm speakers. And the double bass is not distorted in the slightest. Every slap is quick, while letting the resonance of the instrument body speak clearly for itself.
The quality of the cabinet ensures that the low registers stay neutral and free from unwanted colouration. The quality of the filter is also worth a mention, as it's so precise it’s hard to tell if you’re listening to a 2 or 3-way speaker! It also offers remarkable coherence between registers.
Like the other models in the Sopra range, the midrange/treble is beautifully open, present and neutral. It is detailed, clear and highly precise without being harsh or aggressive. The Focal SOPRA 3 tower speakers also boast a level of timbre quality and harmonic richness which Focal rarely manages to achieve. They'll make you forget all about the technical elements and just lose yourself in the emotion of the music! Also worth a mention is the volume these speakers are able to reach without any hint of distortion – it’s extraordinary! They play orchestral music, blues, rock and even electronica with an astounding sense of realism.
The Focal SOPRA 3 tower speakers are an absolute triumph, both musically and aesthetically. They are part of the first range the French manufacturer has launched since its acquisition of British brand NAIM AUDIO. And we can confirm that this partnership of great minds has clearly been a fruitful one so far. Focal’s Sopra speakers are crème de la crème high-end speakers. They are, we suspect, the only ones on the market to have been produced entirely in France, and can definitely compete with the best overseas models.
They are benchmark products in their range that are doing France proud.
Type: 3-way tower speaker
Frequency response at -3 dB: 33hz – 40 KHz
Frequency response at -6 dB: 26hz – 40 KHz
Sensitivity: 91.5 dB
Nominal impedance: 8 ohms
Min. impedance: 3.1 ohms
Filtering frequency: 250/2 200 Hz
Woofer: 2 x 'W' 21 cm drivers with 'NIC' motor
Midrange: 1 x 'W' 16.5 cm driver with 'TMD' suspension,
Tweeter: 1 x pure beryllium inverted dome 27 mm
Recommended amp power: 40-400 W
Dimensions: 1 264 x 402 x 540 mm
Weight (each): 70 kg