Published On: March 18, 2024

The History Of Focal Speakers: Pioneering Audio Excellence Since 1979

Published On: March 18, 2024
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The History Of Focal Speakers: Pioneering Audio Excellence Since 1979

Explore the rich history of Focal Speakers and their journey toward audio excellence since 1979. Discover the legacy behind this pioneering brand.

The History Of Focal Speakers: Pioneering Audio Excellence Since 1979

By Author: Vuk Martinovic

Vuk combines five years of content management and almost a decade of writing with a deep passion for home theater, especially in gaming and emerging technologies. As a manager at HomeTheaterReview, he leverages this expertise to curate and deliver cutting-edge content that engages and informs the AV enthusiast community.

Knowing all too well how subpar audio can completely dampen the vibe, I decided to take a deep dive into the legacy of Focal Speakers.

Born in 1979 thanks to the vision of Jacques Mahul in Saint-Étienne, France, this brand has been on a mission to deliver nothing short of audio perfection. Join me as we explore their journey towards achieving sonic excellence - trust me, it's quite the enlightening trip!

Key Takeaways

  • Jacques Mahul started Focal Speakers in 1979 in Saint - Étienne, France, aiming to create speakers with unmatched sound quality. His vision led to innovations that changed how we listen to music.
  • Throughout the years, Focal introduced groundbreaking speaker technologies like the DB 13 bookshelf loudspeakers in the early '80s and later innovations such as Polyglass and Polykevlar® cones, Beryllium tweeters, and M-profile cones. These advancements made their speakers highly sought after globally.
  • By teaming up with luxury brands like Tournaire and leading companies such as Ubisoft, Focal expanded its influence beyond just audio equipment. They ventured into car audio systems through partnerships with major automotive manufacturers, showcasing their commitment to delivering exceptional sound in all settings.
  • In 2016, Focal launched Utopia headphones that featured the world's smallest speaker drivers at that time. This innovation along with creating products like Grande Utopia speakers highlights Focal’s dedication to pushing boundaries in both home and personal audio experiences.
  • Recognized for their continuous contribution to high - fidelity audio technology and craftsmanship, Focal earned "The Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant" label from the French state. As a beacon of excellence since its inception by founders Gérard Chrétien and Pineau & Le Porcher,

Focal remains committed not only to achieving sonic perfection but also honors traditional practices made in France.

The Birth of Focal Speakers

Moving from the introduction, let's shift focus to a pivotal moment in audio history—the birth of Focal Speakers. Founded in 1979 in Saint-Étienne, France by a precision mechanics company named Filières, this marked the beginning of a journey that would redefine high-fidelity sound.

Various Focal speakers in an old-fashioned room

This venture wasn’t just another startup. It was an audacious leap into uncharted territories of audio excellence.

Right out of the gate, Focal distinguished itself with groundbreaking innovations. By 1982/1985, the game changed with the introduction of Focal’s DB 13—ushering in an era where Polyglass and Polykevlar® speaker driver cones set new standards for bookshelf loudspeakers.

These early strides weren’t mere steps but giant leaps toward establishing Focal as a leader not only within French acoustics markets but also on an international stage—a reputation fortified by numerous awards throughout the years.


Journey through the Decades: Focal's Evolving Audio Excellence

Focal's journey through the decades showcases a relentless pursuit of audio excellence, constantly pushing boundaries and setting new benchmarks. From their humble beginnings in 1979 to becoming a global leader in high-fidelity speakers, Focal has never stopped innovating and surprising audiophiles around the world.

Focal: a tale of two factories

1980s: The Inception of Pioneering Audio Technologies

I took the audio world by storm in the 1980s with the launch of DB 13 bookshelf loudspeakers. The introduction of innovative Polyglass and Polykevlar speaker driver cones marked a significant leap forward.

These materials were revolutionary, offering unparalleled sound quality that captivated audiophiles. My focus on high-fidelity audio was unwavering, setting new benchmarks for acoustic performance.

My commitment didn't stop there. I pushed boundaries further by refining our technologies to ensure every music enthusiast experienced crystal-clear sounds. This era wasn't just about creating speakers; it was about igniting passions for pure, immersive listening experiences.

Through rigorous research and development, I pioneered audio solutions that have stood the test of time, deeply embedding myself as a leading figure in high fidelity and industrial design within the audioscape.

1990s: The Era of "W" Sandwich Cone and Polyglass Cone

The 1990s heralded a groundbreaking shift in speaker design for Focal, with the launch of the "W" Sandwich Cone and Polyglass Cone technologies. These innovations marked a significant step forward, enhancing sound reproduction and setting new standards in acoustic performance.

A music studio with Focal speakers, a mixer and various other music production tools

Focal's commitment to audio excellence was evident as these advancements allowed for clearer, more precise sound delivery, drawing listeners closer to the purity of live music.

Focusing on refining the listener's experience, we engineered the "W" Sandwich Cone using unique materials that created an unparalleled blend of lightness, rigidity, and damping properties.

This ensured minimal distortion and a cleaner sound output. Similarly, our introduction of the Polyglass Cone technology leveraged microballs of glass within a layered cone material to combine stiffness with superb damping characteristics.

Together, these developments embodied our pursuit to push boundaries and continuously innovate within the high-fidelity loudspeaker sector during this transformative decade.

2000s: The Arrival of Beryllium Tweeter and Tweeter Al-Mg

Moving past the innovative '90s where Focal burst onto the scene with the "W" Sandwich Cone and Polyglass Cone, the 2000s marked another leap in sound technology. I got to witness the introduction of Beryllium Tweeter and Tweeter Al-Mg.

These advancements were game-changers, offering superior sound quality that pushed audio excellence even further. It was a clear statement from Focal about their relentless pursuit of improving high-fidelity loudspeakers.

Focal speakers, a turntable in front of a bookshelf

I saw firsthand how these new tweeters transformed listening experiences. The Beryllium Tweeter, known for its incredible clarity and precision, offered an unparalleled listening experience that was crisp and detailed.

Meanwhile, the Tweeter Al-Mg blended aluminum's lightness with magnesium's damping properties to produce sounds that were not only smooth but also incredibly dynamic. This era showcased Focal's dedication to innovation by enhancing every aspect of sound performance through these cutting-edge technologies.

2010s: The Introduction of Slatefiber Cone and M-Profile Cone

Building on the advances of the 2000s, Focal took another leap forward in the 2010s with the introduction of Slatefiber Cone and M-Profile Cone technologies. These innovations showcased our unwavering commitment to pushing boundaries in audio excellence.

The Slatefiber cone, a marvel composed of non-woven carbon fibers interlaced with thermoplastic polymer, marked a significant advancement in speaker driver materials. This groundbreaking composition not only enhanced sound quality but also set new standards for durability and performance.

Equally impressive was our development of the M-Profile cone. Crafted to minimize distortion and prevent cone breakups, this design represented a major step toward achieving flawless sound reproduction.

Together, these technological advancements solidified Focal's leadership in the high-fidelity audio industry. Our dedication to optimizing every aspect of speaker design ensures that listeners experience nothing short of extraordinary audio fidelity.

Focal's Unique Technological Innovations

Focal consistently crafts cutting-edge audio technology, setting the bar for sound excellence. Each innovation marks a leap forward in delivering unmatched listening experiences.

See how Focal's insane $230k speakers are made during our factory tour

Inverted Dome Tweeter

I've always been fascinated by how tiny tweaks in speaker design can result in massive leaps in sound quality. Take the Inverted Dome Tweeter, for example. This innovation boosts the dispersion and integration of high frequencies, making the sound reproduction more natural.

Two Focal speakers in a well-lit room

Imagine listening to music and feeling like the band is performing live right in your living room. That's the kind of immersive experience this technology delivers.

Integrating it into a wide range of our speakers signals our dedication to pushing audio boundaries. The wider soundstage and better imaging mean listeners get enveloped in sound from every direction, not just where the speaker faces.

It’s all about creating that perfect auditory scene where every note feels tangible and every beat resonates deeply - an absolute delicacy for audiophiles seeking superior sound quality from their setups.

K2 Cone

The K2 Cone stands out as a cornerstone of innovation in Focal's speaker technology, setting new benchmarks for sound quality. It embodies the commitment to excellence that has defined the brand since its inception.

Crafted with precision, this unique component enhances audio delivery by combining materials that ensure clarity and richness of sound. This innovation not only secures Focal’s place at the forefront of audio engineering but also reinforces its dedication to providing listeners with an unparalleled acoustic experience.

Integrating the K2 Cone into their speakers allows Focal to create systems that deliver exceptional performance across various frequencies. The meticulous design process ensures that every note is rendered with utmost fidelity, enabling music enthusiasts to hear their favorite tracks as if they were experiencing them live for the first time.

Through this technological marvel, I bring you closer to the heart of music, inviting you to explore depths and heights in melodies previously unattainable in home audio systems.

Tuned Mass Damper

Focal introduced Tuned Mass Damper technology in 2015, and I must say, it's a game-changer for audio enthusiasts like me. This smart innovation cuts down on those pesky resonances that can muddle your music experience by reducing medium speaker driver distortions.

Explore the rich history of Focal Speakers and their journey toward audio excellence since 1979. Discover the legacy behind this pioneering brand. focal speakers c9db2dab image4

It’s like having a superpower for your speakers, ensuring they deliver the clearest sound possible.

This technology doesn't just stop at controlling unwanted vibrations; it optimizes sound performance across the board. By keeping vibrations in check inside the speaker cabinet, Tuned Mass Damper ensures that what you hear is nothing but pure, unadulterated audio bliss.

Whether I'm kicking back with some classical music or cranking up rock anthems, knowing my Focal speakers are equipped with this tech makes all the difference.

Infinite Horn Loading System

The Infinite Horn Loading System that Focal introduced back in 2015 really played a big part in reducing distortion. What this system does is quite smart; it gradually absorbs the rear wave of the tweeter.

This means all that unwanted noise you might get from other sound systems? It's significantly minimized here, leaving you with crystal-clear audio quality. Imagine listening to your favorite tracks and hearing them with a level of clarity that feels like the artist is performing right in your living room.

This innovation underscores Focal's dedication to pushing boundaries and improving listener experience. They didn't just stop at creating high-quality speakers; they tackled common issues head-on, ensuring every beat and note comes through unblemished by background noise or distortion.

With such a commitment to excellence, it's clear why they've maintained their prestige in the audio world for so long.

Let's move on now and take a closer look at some of Focal's signature products over the years.

Focal's Signature Products over the Years

Focal's journey through innovation shines brightly with the Grande Utopia speakers, introduced in 1995. These became an instant classic, pushing the boundaries of audio fidelity and design.

This FOCAL Booth is INSANE! A Close Look at the Utopia Speaker Line and The Naim Classic Series

Their remarkable performance set a new standard for what enthusiasts and professionals alike could expect from high-fidelity sound systems. It wasn't just about the sound; it was about creating a listening experience that transported you to another dimension.

4 Focal floorstanding speakers in the living room

The innovation train didn't stop there. In 2016, Focal launched Utopia headphones, marking a giant leap into personal audio experiences. These weren't your average headphones; they featured the world's smallest speaker drivers, delivering unmatched clarity and depth in sound.

Fast forward to 2018, "Utopia excellence" emerged and snagged the prestigious CES Innovation Award, proving yet again that Focal wasn't afraid to redefine excellence in audio technology. The Utopia line of products includes Maestro Utopia, Viva Utopia, Sub Utopia and many other beauties.

Let's move on now to explore some key collaborations that have helped shape Focal’s identity further.

Focal's Key Partnerships

Focal has teamed up with some big names in the industry to elevate their audio game. These collaborations have led to groundbreaking innovations and exclusive products that set new standards in sound quality.

Automotive Collaborations

Focal's teamed up with some big names in the automotive industry to take car audio systems to a whole new level. The passion for impeccable sound quality finds its way into vehicles, transforming every drive into an unparalleled listening experience.

Partnering with leading car manufacturers and tech companies allows integrating high-fidelity speakers and audio technology seamlessly into the design and functionality of cars.

These collaborations aim to elevate the audio experience for both drivers and passengers, ensuring each journey is accompanied by crystal-clear sound. Working closely with renowned brands like DS Automobiles has enabled them to create immersive sonic environments within their vehicles, setting new standards for in-car entertainment.

Through this synergy between automotive excellence and audio innovation, they're crafting memorable moments on the road powered by unrivaled sound quality.

Tournaire and Ubisoft Partnerships

Focal's collaboration with Tournaire, a luxury jewelry brand known for its exquisite creations, showcases a unique blend of high-quality audio and sophisticated design. This partnership led to the creation of high-fidelity headphones that not only deliver exceptional sound quality but also serve as a statement piece.

The fusion between Focal's audio expertise and Tournaire's design prowess highlights our commitment to offering innovative products that appeal to both audiophiles and those who appreciate fine craftsmanship.

Partnering with Ubisoft, one of the leading video game companies, further demonstrates Focal's versatility in catering to diverse markets. This collaboration allows us to integrate our top-notch audio technology into gaming experiences, elevating gameplay with immersive soundscapes that bring virtual worlds to life.

These partnerships underscore our dedication to expanding our reach by connecting with customers across different interests – from luxury goods enthusiasts to avid gamers seeking the ultimate sound experience in their adventures.

Focal's Contribution to the International Market

Stepping onto the global stage, Focal has skillfully expanded its influence far beyond France's borders. With the introduction of ground-breaking technologies such as Beryllium tweeters and unique speaker drivers in Utopia headphones, they captured audiophiles' attention worldwide.

White Focal speakers on a boat

Their strategic alliance with Naim Audio and creation of the Vervent Audio Group marked a significant leap, positioning them as European leaders in high-fidelity solutions.

The brand's foray into niche markets like yachting with premium audio offerings not only diversified their portfolio but also showcased their ability to meet specialized demands. Each move bolstered Focal’s presence across continents, making them synonymous with unparalleled sound quality and innovation in countless homes and professional settings alike.

Now, let's explore how this legacy continues to shape the world of audio excellence.

The Legacy of Focal Speakers

Having explored Focal's extensive contributions to the international market, it's clear that their impact goes beyond just selling products. The legacy of Focal speakers weaves a rich tapestry of innovation, quality, and unparalleled audio experience that continues to set benchmarks in the high-fidelity audio world.

With patents for ten innovations like the inverted dome tweeter and beryllium tweeter among others, they've redefined what we expect from sound technology. Their Grande Utopia stands as a testament to this relentless pursuit of perfection, showcasing why these speakers are celebrated across the globe.

Focal's recognition with "The Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant" label by the French state underscores not just their contribution to audio technology but also their commitment to preserving exceptional craftsmanship.

This honor places them in an elite group recognized for outstanding industrial skills and traditional practices made in France. True to their founding ethos, every piece from Focal isn't just a product; it’s a piece of artistry embodying decades of research, innovation, and passion for delivering purest sound imaginable.

As I reflect on Focal’s journey from its inception in 1979 by Gérard Chrétien and Pineau & Le Porcher, I'm reminded that at the heart of every groundbreaking tweeter or speaker cone lies a dedication not only to excellence but also to pushing the boundaries of what is possible in sound reproduction.


From the humble beginnings in Saint-Étienne, France, Focal Speakers has grown to become a hallmark of audio excellence. Since 1979, their innovative journey has reshaped how we experience sound.

Across decades, Focal has introduced groundbreaking technologies that have set new standards in the audio industry. Their dedication to quality and craftsmanship shines through every speaker and headphone they produce.

Reflecting on this history, it's clear that Focal isn't just about sound; it's about pioneering an unparalleled listening experience for audiophiles around the globe.


1. What makes Focal speakers stand out in the audio industry?

Focal speakers are known for their high fidelity audio and highest resolution, using advanced technologies like liquid crystal on silicon and vacuum tubes to deliver unparalleled sound quality.

2. Can you use Focal speakers in a home theater setup?

Yes, Focal speakers, including their Utopia Be range and Dolby Atmos systems, enhance home theaters with immersive sound that brings movies and music to life with clarity and depth.

3. Have Focal speakers evolved since they started in 1979?

Since 1979, Focal has continuously innovated its products from midrange monitoring loudspeakers to wireless headphones, incorporating cutting-edge amplification techniques for better sound delivery.

4. Are there professional applications for Focal speakers?

Absolutely! Sound engineers in recording studios trust Focal Professional equipment like the Spirit One headphones for accurate sound monitoring due to their precise resonance frequency control.

5. How do Focal's innovations contribute to everyday devices?

Focal's advancements influence various electronics by improving LCD panels in TVs, enhancing digital music playback through superior loudspeaker cones, and ensuring uninterrupted power supplies (UPS) maintain highest fidelity during usage.

6. Do any cars feature technology from Focal-JMLab?

Indeed! The DS3 Crossback benefits from exclusive E-tense audio system enhancements developed by FOCAL-JMlab; it showcases how high-fidelity sound can be integrated into modern automotive experiences.

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