Focal Kanta N°2 Floor Standing Speaker

A good loudspeaker can make or break an audio system, either two-channel or home theater. The quality of source components such as streamers, turntable/cartridge combination, and disc player matters a lot! So does the quality of your electronics - receiver, amp, preamp, etc. Any home theater or two-channel room will only sound as good as the weakest link allows. Yet nothing influences what you hear quite like speakers

Recently we reviewed an awesome speaker product - Focal’s Kanta N°2. This speaker took three years to design, develop, engineer, and build before Focal gave it the thumbs up to release to the public. The reward for their patience? It won the coveted Absolute Sound 2022 Editor’s Choice award. Kanta N°2 looks great, sounds great, and is a strong addition to our loudspeaker mix.  

If you know loudspeakers, you probably know this brand name, but if you are not an avid audio fan, you may be wondering… who is Focal? An audio manufacturer since 1979, with over 40 years of speaker research and development, and hundreds of employees, Focal designs and develops all their products in France, and manufactures most of them in-house as well. Tweeters, drivers, crossovers, and cabinets are all Focal. Their quality control is excellent. 

In particular, Focal believes that the fit and finish of their product is key. If it doesn’t look good to you, it may never make it into your home. So Focal strives to both design the aesthetics nicely and then build the speaker product so that the design comes to life in the finished speaker.  

That concern for aesthetics truly comes alive in this speaker. The beautiful curves of the cabinet, as well as the front baffle, minimize diffraction effects that can mess with your sound. There are no sharp edges whatsoever on this product. Same with the softly recessed tweeter cavity and the gently beveled port curves. You can get them in eight different cabinet finish combinations so that they fit your home decor.  

So - what does it sound like? Really good! Focal Kanta N°2 strikes a great balance between detailed and revealing, yet warm and musical, at the same time. Every type of music we have thrown at them makes you want to listen further. How do they do it? Here are a few keys to Focal’s sophisticated build quality.  

The front baffle is curved, time-aligning the drivers and tweeter, so that the music arrives at your ears at the same time, as a well-integrated whole. The baffle is a one-piece molded High Density Polymer, much more dense and stiff than MDF, so the baffle stays stable when you’re hammering bass, and the notes stay clear. Plus it looks great. 

Besides the inert front baffle, the cabinet is made of 1 piece of integrally molded wood, with no parallel sides. Looking from the top down, you’ll see that the back is slightly narrower than the front. Twin ports, one on the front of the cabinet, and one on the back, eliminate any tendency toward chuffing noises which can result when you have a lot of bass energy coming from a single port. A cabinet that doesn’t suffer from excess resonance issues is key when the speaker can generate a lot of bass, and this one qualifies.

The pure beryllium dome tweeter is key as well. When you get used to the sound of a truly high-end tweeter, like what Focal calls the IAL-3 tweeter, you don’t want to go back. Treble notes have an open, smooth sound. Why beryllium? It’s incredibly thin and light, yet stronger than either aluminum or titanium. Focal has been perfecting inverted domes for over 20 years. A concave tweeter technology ensures stable frequency response, plus or minus 1/2 dB. This results in a wide sweet spot, where multiple listeners can enjoy a musical image, instead of a narrow sweet spot in which one listener benefits. 

The midrange and woofers are flax woven sandwich cones, proprietary to Focal and built in-house in France.  The cones are light yet rigid, giving you tight, deep bass that isn’t fat, but fast. Low mass and high rigidity drivers make Kanta No.2 easy to drive, like a paper cone, but the flax weave cone is far stronger. They don’t break up when you crank them - so drums and other percussive instruments in particular stay clear and realistic.

Because these speakers have a more sophisticated tweeter, drivers, and cabinet design when compared to a lower-priced speaker, what you hear with Kanta N°2 is a dynamic speaker with lots of punch in the bass and clarity on the upper end, well integrated. In John Klemmer’s song “Touch”, we heard shimmering high notes from his saxophone, perfectly blended with a strong bass line.

Kanta N°2 doesn’t require a huge amplifier. They are 92 dB efficient @ 1w /1m, meaning they can get loud with a 40-watt tube amp, as we have on display in our Timonium location. You can allocate relatively more budget to your speakers, and less to the amp. Sure, they will sound great with $20,000 worth of electronics, but they don’t require it. They sound really good with our $3,000 demo integrated amp. The bass drums on the cut Jazz Variants from the O-Zone Percussion group just hammer - yet it doesn’t sound artificial or boomy. 

Set-up is easy, but as with all speakers, please take the time to experiment with set-up in your room. The high end of these speakers sounds really clear, but if you toe them in toward the listener too much, they may sound bright. At least in our demo room, just a touch of toe-in produces a great result. Experimenting is key! 

As part of the set-up process, Focal’s decoupling spikes offer a lot of flexibility to adjust the speakers evenly. Focal also includes spike pads for wood floors. You can tilt the speakers back a bit, which can be helpful, depending on how far you sit from the speakers in your room.  

Focal’s Kanta N°2 retails for $10,998 per pair, which is not inexpensive. Yet we’ve heard speakers at twice the price that don’t sound nearly as good as this one. If you want audiophile performance without spending six figures, put Focal’s Kanta N°2 on your shortlist. If you can, bring your favorite music to Gramophone for a listen. We’d love to play them for you!