The Focal Theva No.1 Bookshelf Speaker Review: Exceptional Audio Performance in a Small Package

Published On: March 4, 2024
Last Updated on: March 27, 2024
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The Focal Theva No.1 Bookshelf Speaker Review: Exceptional Audio Performance in a Small Package

Does size matter? According to Focal's new Theva No.1 Bookshelf Speakers the answer is no. These speakers pack quite an impressive punch for their size.

The Focal Theva No.1 Bookshelf Speaker Review: Exceptional Audio Performance in a Small Package

By Author: Justin Breckenridge
I am a lifelong Florida resident with a huge passion for tech and sound. My love for music initially drove me to vinyl, which introduced me to the world of speakers and other audio equipment. It is important to me that an audio product not only produces excellent sound quality but also is worth the price.

Focal’s new Theva No.1 bookshelf speakers prove that big things come in small packages. These speakers feature a solid, lightweight, and compact design with audio performance that is exceptionally strong for speakers of this size, especially considering their price.

These speakers are incredibly designed with a sleek aesthetic and dynamic scintillating sound. The, aptly named, Theva No.1s deliver a stunning soundstage at a great value and distinguish themselves by bringing a HiFi vibe to affordable bookshelf speakers.

Does size matter? According to Focal's new Theva No.1 Bookshelf Speakers the answer is no. These speakers pack quite an impressive punch for their size. 291c002d theva n1 dw 34 face

High Points

  • Exceptional audio with tight bass thanks to its impressive low-frequency cutoff.
  • The 58-HZ-28kHz bandwidth is impressive for bookshelf speakers and provides great detail.
  • A HiFi experience at a low price point.

Low Points

  • Requires a good subwoofer to get the most out of it.

Audio Performance

The Theva No.1s showcase a sound signature that is cool, detail-oriented, and precise. Their ability to handle lower and midrange frequencies with finesse is a testament to the integrated woofer by utilizing Slatefiber cone technology. 

One of the most notable strengths of the Thevas’ sound is the bass it can output. While it shines when paired with a decent subwoofer, the Thevas capture a surprising depth to its bass and midrange, all on their own. If you want to hear the low end, without feeling it rumble through your home, the Thevas have you covered.

Certain tracks like Future’s I Serve the Bass or Denzel Curry’s Sumo won’t feel right without a sub, but considering the size of the Thevas, they still sound surprisingly heavy while avoiding becoming distorted or muddy—thanks to the impressive driver array.

DENZEL CURRY - SUMO

The Thevas maintain their precise low-end with a surprising flatness that doesn’t impede on the higher frequencies or compromise the overall balance. These incredible bookshelf sentinels provide an energetic and detailed listening experience fit for HiFi connoisseurs at a mid-range price.

The treble response on the Theva No.1 is particularly excellent. High-frequency singing sounds bright and full, while the timbre is like eating a Michelin meal—each flavour enjoyed separately but combined so expertly. Vocals from artists like Fiona Apple and Fleet Foxes sound commanding, while artists like Ichiko Aoba and Grouper are handled with the delicacy they deserve. 

Mid-highs sound wonderful and crystal clear on the Thevas. Even while blasting at high volumes, the speakers never lose composure and maintain a dynamic and nuanced signature that sounds very natural. 

Music with more subtle movement, such as Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel are brought to life by these speakers. Every shift in the sound is pronounced, with no detail being lost in translation. It is remarkably close to the original recording. 

The clearness of the sound is awe-inspiring. In my testing, I never had any issues with interference or noise pollution on these speakers. There is rich clarity to the sound that clearly indicates a focus on detail and precise audio.

If you prefer a warmer sound, then the Theva No.1 may disappoint. The speakers run on the cooler side of things, never becoming too indulgent in any aspect and instead providing a sound that is accurate and slightly pulled back, but never muted or lifeless.

The sound staging on the Theva No.1 is expertly crafted to provide a visceral sense of space. I felt immersed in the detail of the sound being output. Overall, these speakers can do a lot with the sound for such a compact design.

It's also worth mentioning the impressive volume these speakers can deliver. They are able to fill a room very easily, and it doesn’t take much to get to that point either, which is essential for a product that is likely going to be installed in wide, open spaces, such as living rooms.

Internal Specs

One of the strongest aspects of the Thevas is their advanced driver array. The array is designed to minimize distortion and maximize the emphasis on the bass response. The reduction in distortion ensures accurate sound quality and eliminates any nasty interference.

This works in conjunction with the aforementioned Focal patented Slatefiber woofer. The woofer uses non-woven carbon fibers and thermoplastic polymer to help with rigidity, damping, and lightness.

The tweeter utilizes an inverted dome made from aluminum and magnesium to further increase rigidity, and help reduce distortion, which from my testing, it does well.

Compact and Elegant Design

Focal Theva No.1 Bookshelf Speaker Front

The No.1s boast an elegant, minimalist design that seamlessly integrates into any audio setup, regardless of space. They look good in almost any setup. Their small footprint is likely the speaker’s strongest asset, as it makes them versatile and unobtrusive.

The speakers' compact design doesn't end at their size, they are also lightweight. The No.1s also rock a well-tested, sleek aesthetic with multiple colours that make it easy to either blend or hide.

It is encased in a black, textured material with a nice tactility. The materials feel quality and sturdy, and don’t look cheap either.

The magnetic cloth grille continues this trend, integrating with the design of the speaker in a slick, understated way.  It’s clear to me that these speakers were designed to be unobtrusive and subtle, with the Focal logo at the bottom of the front panel being its only real distinguishing feature.

Focal Theva No.1 Bookshelf Speaker Rear

Overall, the Theva No.1s are designed to be durable and an aesthetic asset to any setup. It is certainly more oriented toward those who want a more subtle setup and the execution of the design is appealing. Focal has combined the charm of bookshelf speakers with a really stellar sound.

Integration and Who Should Buy 

Their performance is wildly impressive for the price. They offer a nuanced and versatile sound and a powerful volume output that can easily fill a room. On that note, I think the people who benefit from this the most, are those limited on space. If you have a massive space and a higher budget, these speakers likely won’t cut it on their own. That said, I could see the Theva No.1s being used as side or rear speakers in a larger surround system. It’s worth reiterating that even though these speakers are limited by their size, they still have a strong output—impressive enough to be worth integrating into some larger setups.

Compared to other bookshelf speakers, they seem expensive, and the $998 price tag may be off-putting. Edifier, for example, offers a wide variety of bookshelf speaker options for a significantly reduced cost, such as the R1280DB or S1000MKII. But while they occupy the same audio category, they are in different leagues sonically. The Thevas extra cost goes a long long way towards providing you with a tailored audiophile experience.

Conclusion

The Focal Theva No.1 Bookshelf Speakers combine precise sound reproduction, nuanced bass, and an elegant design that complements any audio setup. These speakers squeeze strong performance from their compact and lightweight design, able to do some pretty impressive things considering their small footprint.

Overall, the Theva No.1 is a strong option for anyone and easily wins our Highly Recommended award, due to its easy integration and outstanding performance.

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