In the last ten years French company Focal has progressed from making specialists drivers for other companies to designing and manufacturing its own line-up of speakers. These range from the Dome sub/sat system to the flagship Grand Utopia EM. These weigh 260 kilos each, stand two metres tall, cost $269,000 and are packed with the latest advances in driver design.

Focal Grand Utopia EMAdjustable Focus Time, for instance, allows you to tilt the section of the cabinet holding the top speakers towards the listener via a small crank, depending on your listening position. More innovative, however, is the replacement of the conventional magnet on the 15 inch bass driver with an electro-magnetic (EM) motor. This allows the magnet force to become endless – or flexible – according to the importer, Len Wallis Audio. The electro-magnet power supply is external of the speaker cabinet, and can be adjusted, allowing you to tailor the bass according to room conditions, and to listening preferences.

“There is no disputing that this is an expensive loudspeaker,” says Len Wallis, of Len Wallis Audio, “but this is not about the money. This is a statement of what is achievable given the appropriate budget. For many, listening to this speaker is a revelation and an education. And, as with previous flagship models from Focal, the technology utilised quickly seeps down into less expensive offerings.”

The budget offering in the Utopia range is the Diablo bookshelf, costing $17,000 a pair.