Tonight was a big night for Focal, Naim and LMC Home Entertainment of Scottsdale, AZ. It was the grand opening of the Focal Powered By Naim store. This isn't just a corner of a store dedicated to the brands or even a store within a store, it's a complete Focal and Naim experience. The store has its own entrance, separate from LMC's main store and was designed by the team at Focal Naim.
Tonight's event, from 5 to 10 PM, was packed with people, music, and video. I spent much of my time in the main two channel room that featured three different Focal Naim systems. The big system was playing the entire night. The Grande Utopia EM speakers with walnut finish were powered by the Naim Statement pre/amps and fed digital audio from the Naim ND 555, with 555 PS power supplies for each channel in true Naim fashion.
Most other Focal and Naim products were either on static display or in active systems throughout the store. I spent time listening to my favorite headphones, the Focal Utopia, even though the ambient noise in the store was at least 80 dB. I couldn't hear any details from the beryllium Utopia drivers, but it was still a blast to listen to these headphones, given that I don't have a pair at home. When I get the chance to listen, I take it.
The headphones were being driven by the Focal Arche headphone amp / DAC combo. The Arche was fed from an iPad mini streaming Tidal via the Tidal iOS app. The Arche is unique in that is features presets for the Utopia, Stellia, Clear, Elegia, and Clear headphones from Focal. I'd say it's an advantage that's not unfair but rather smart on Focal's part.
I unexpectedly spent a good amount of time in the Focal Naim home theater room. Using Focal in-wall speakers, and a pair of subwoofers, powered by Naim electronics and surprise, a Focal theater processor. The processor was impressive with its built-in full Dirac license and ATMOS capability. I watched a few clips of new movies (in 4K) and one of my favorites, North by Northwest in HD (not 4K).
The most captivating demonstration was when we watched the Roger Waters concert with Dolby ATMOS sound at 96 kHz. I'd never seen this concert or heard the audio from it, so I was truly surprised at how immersive the presentation was and how much I watched. I was scheming in my head about how to install a full theater in my house, so I could bring this level of enjoyment to my family. However, I think my enthusiasm for it is a little more than my wife's. If I had another room in my house I'd get a theater like the one that enthralled me at the Focal Powered By Naim store.
I'm happy I flew down from Minneapolis for this grand opening. I spent some time talking to the Focal team from France, to understand their thinking behind the store and to learn more about the company since its acquisition of Audio Plus Services, the former Focal and Naim distributor in the US. It's great to see true high end manufacturers opening brick and mortar stores like Bose and B&O have done for many years.
Good things are in store for Focal and Naim and the many fans of these brands around the world.
Here are some rough videos I shot tonight.