Focal Powered by Naim in Cannes

I was in Cannes, southern France for the summer holiday and managed to make a visit to the official Focal Powered by Naim salon. I had seen it on Naim’s official Instagram many times and was very much interested to see it in person.

I was greeted by a very welcoming Mr. Leo who was in charge of the showroom. I told him that I am a Naim owner and fan and wanted to see and listen to more gear to broaden my horizon and he took me on a tour. The tour took almost 45 minutes and he was very passionate and engaged in his explanation although he knew I was not there as a buying customer. Merci Monsieur Leo.

From the get-go he insisted that this was not a dealership or a retailer but that this showroom is actually owned and run by Naim/Focal which I found quite interesting. He explained to me about the partnership between the two brands and how the first couple of years the speakers and the electronics were not matched ideally but how some redesign was done to make them sing very well.

He put on an Afro/Latin ambience test track for me through ND555/552/500 feeding a pair of Utopia Maestro speakers. The scale and weight of the sound was gorgeous and the soundstage was very wide. The bass was exceptionally tight and fast. I then put on Dire Straight’s Sultans of Swing and enjoyed the sound. It was obviously a system well ahead of my humble setup at home. I will reflect on the sound of this system towards the end of this write up.


We then went to another room, no not a room but rather a cubicle as most of the showroom is open space that is partitioned to simulate different rooms. In that “room” I listened to the NDX2/282/250 driving Sopra-1 standmounts. The sound was obviously lighter but we were not comparing or listening carefully at this point.

We carried on into the home theater where a proper home theater was designed with in wall speakers and a projector screen. The amplification here was through a Focal integrated AV receiver. I would have loved to see the setup use Naim power amps on all channels.

Lastly I was taken upstairs into the “Yacht” section. The whole upper floor was modeled to resemble a luxury yacht to showcase Focal’s marine line and what can be done on such yachts. There was an “open” aft deck with marine grade speakers and then an “Indoors” living space with a Uniti Nova and a pair of Kanta 2 speakers. There were many Naim Uniti and Muso devices scattered around the showroom all playing in sync simulating a multiroom setup.



So what are my thoughts? From a marketing perspective this is a very very unique and smart take on a hifi showroom and obviously targeted to appeal to ladies and gents with way more money in their bank accounts than me. The setup of the speakers and electronics was more geared towards a “Lifestyle” product or setup rather than being focused on ultimate musical performance. All the gear was inside home cabinets and not on Fraim shelving. Speakers were close to back walls for ultimate aesthetics. The walls and rooms were not acoustically treated, allowed to resemble a typical home decor.

As for the Focal speakers being driven by Naim I can say that they play well together. Reflecting on the Maestro Utoipias driven by the 555 system they sounded good. Very good actually. The midrange was slightly blurred and the vocals were not centrally focused but I do believe that this is because the speakers were so close to the back wall. With proper set up I am sure this would be improved.

The only sonic character that I would criticize is the trebble. Although very detailed and extended it sounded a bit brashy or splashy to my ears. With a couple of tracks it wasn’t offensive but if I was in the market for Focal speakers I would insist on a longer listening session to rule out fatigue.

Lastly I want to comment on the aesthetics of the speakers. They are drop dead gorgeous and this is coming from a Sonus Faber owner! The lacquer finish on the woods and the grain of the woods are sooooo beautiful. Being a bit more into modern avantgarde designs I can say that the Focals are among the prettiest speakers out there.


I hope you enjoyed my account of the visit and would love to hear impressions of people who listened to Naim and Focal together.

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Interesting because all the information so far was that the shops are just special extensions by existing dealers

Thanks for sharing, well done! Strange but I dig that cabinet holding all the Naim gear. Great looking speakers as well.

The Be tweeters can take a while to break-in IME and, as others have reported on the Forum, they can sound a tad bright, perhaps due to the environment/set-up(?).

Above said, in the right conditions, a Be tweeter is the best I’ve ever heard. Amazing detail and transparency.

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I’ll ask my dealer for the Yacht room next time. Wish me luck :smile:

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Have to agree while I’ve not listened much to any Focal speaker I’m always impressed by their looks, beautifully finished.

Great write up thanks for sharing.

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Did you have a chance to listen to the headphones?

Thanks for your interesting report. I read it with an opinion piece in mind from yesterday’s newspaper, on brands and profits in today’s climate: “If the luxury shopper cuts back - say, buying one handbag a year instead of two - they will probably focus on the brands with the most cachet. They may even spend more on a single item.”

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Thanks for the write, very interesting. I follow the FPN Facebook page, and there are certainly quite a few nice new showrooms opening up around the place. It will be interesting to see how they take off and whether there will be. A change towards more lifestyle products from Naim.

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No I did not. Wish I did but was really into hearing the 552

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I’m amazed about how little interest there seems to be in this thread. It seems a big topic to me, arguably going some way to pointing to Naim’s future direction. Perhaps it was all covered when the Focal powered by Naim was first launched.

But it’s not really registering with Naim’s most uber-committed customers, the forum! Maybe everyone’s on holiday. Though perhaps not on the Côte d’Azur!

Anyway, the thread doesn’t change my enthusiasm for all things Naim :slight_smile:

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I’m interested i’m just not sure what to say than the pictures are great and thanks to op for them as its unlikely I will see one of these stores in person.

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I’m interested as well. My hope is all the “lifestyle” products helps fund the classic line to be refreshed.

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Naims future and their involvement with Focal unfortunately has been done to death on a few other threads. Guess people have given up, there’s no good getting upset by things you have no control over.

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At 70 years old and now retired my interest is reduced in where Focal leads Naim. Just hoping I live long enough that my gear has to be sent back to NAIM for recap/maintenance. …and of course hoping that they are still in business to maintain products.

No Naim Fraim in the pictures but did enjoy the cabinet on display.

One has to wonder if they are just trying to look good vs managing to display and demonstrate the equipment to get the best sound from the Naim system.

I’ll wait until they open up a store front in Seattle to view in person before I pass final judgement however. :wink:

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Thanks for the photos and write up.

It seems the days of burndy and hi-Line de-stressing may well be numbered.

.sjb

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Another shop that skipped dealer training at the Factory. Sigh.

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Interesting. Maybe this is the way to introduce the higher end Naim and Focal (500 series) to those who can afford it. Maybe sound quality alone won’t be enough initially in this world of iPhones Tidal and AirPods ?

But then there is a long manufacturing time for all naim equipment but to be fair that applies to cars also in 2022

There’s always more expensive hi fi but this seems unique

Bravo :clap:

I’ll keep things going by saying that my dealer in Winnipeg recently opened a Focal Powered by Naim store-within-a-store showroom. It is lovely and gives him an opportunity to showcase Naim gear in a dedicated room. He has a 282/250 DR powering Sopra 2s with a Solstice as a source. It sounds great and the room looks good. He also has an Atom HE with various Focal headphones, a Mu-so 2 and a QB 2 in the showroom.

He invested quite a bit in the room but Focal Naim America was very helpful with gear and setup of the Solstice. He has a good relationship with them and had a good, long-standing relationship with the former distributor Plurison.

He had a grand opening affair a couple of months ago - Focal Naim America sent 4 (!) representatives from Montreal for the event, which is an indication of their support. Lots of customers attended and apparently it went really well. Unfortunately I was out of town and couldn’t attend.

I believe from where he stands he is raising the profile of a brand he believes in and helping people connect with quality audio equipment in a more home-like atmosphere than the typical showroom. He has a passion for Naim equipment and, although he is a pretty realistic and down to earth person, really thinks this is a win-win. Time will tell.

For those of us in Winnipeg it is a great thing. And for those in Saskatoon, where there is a similar showroom, probably even better. So it’s not just places like Cannes that are benefiting from the new marketing strategy (although the one in Cannes is different of course - it is a stand alone store) but those of us in quite geographically isolated cities where support for a high-end audio hobby is not easy to come by.

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There was a lot of concern when the shops launched, indeed. One has to say that this one in Cannes is quite special, and Naim will probably not become a yacht supplier. I’ve visited the one in Berlin and it’s essentially an additional set of rooms by one of the established Naim dealers, adjacent to their regular shop, and as such not all that earth shattering.