The History of Focal
The History of Focal
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The History of Focal

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THE FULL HISTORY OF FOCAL

 

1979


 

the year everything began for the SME from Saint-Étienne… France Filières, a precision mechanics company, established the first workshop for manufacturing speaker drivers. The company went on to influence the global acoustics market for the next four decades.

 

1982/1985


Focal’s DB 13 revolutionised the world of bookshelf loudspeakers. They proved to be a remarkable innovation, particularly among the Polyglass and Polykevlar® speaker driver cones. Focal’s loudspeakers moved significantly towards the high-end market.

 

1990


First steps abroad. Having become a leader in the French acoustics market, the company began to focus on the international market. Over the years, numerous awards maintained this reputation; sadly, they were often a first for French products.

 

1995


The Grande Utopia was praised by the international press. Technologically challenging and with extravagantly aesthetics, they asserted the brand’s leadership in the eyes of audiophiles worldwide.

 

2001


Focal won the world final of the Car Audio IASCA competition in the Expert category in the USA. After ten years of manufacturing car audio, Focal finally earned its stripes in the Car Audio sector.

 

 

2002


The ‘Focal Professional’ department was born, launching its first studio monitors. Innovation and the conquest for new fields in acoustics are the company’s watchwords.

 

2016


Focal’s Utopia headphones were launched. Thus was the world’s smallest speaker driver introduced with Utopia open-backed headphones ‘Made in France’, and were praised by the international press.

 

 

FOUR DECADES OF PASSION

A FRENCH STORY

 It all started in 1979 in Saint-Étienne, when Focal’s talent took root in the workshop of a family-run SME specialising in precision mechanics. Back then, just two men worked on the manufacture of speaker drivers, one of whom was founder Jacques Mahul. The creations of this hi-fi enthusiast and Pink Floyd fan would soon go on to seduce music lovers and audiophiles worldwide.

The Focal brand commercialised speaker drivers for loudspeaker manufacturers. A second brand, JM‑lab, specialised in high-fidelity loudspeakers. The flagship of this first range of loudspeakers was the DB 13. Equipped with a double voice coil speaker driver, it revolutionised the world of small bookshelf loudspeakers, by producing volumes comparable to those of much larger models of loudspeakers.

The company was soon very successful, and started developing its activities in the fields of classic loudspeakers and high-end kits.

bandeau hauts parleurs historique

DIVERSIFICATION

 A classic car enthusiast, Jacques Mahul wanted to make his childhood dream come true: to drive for hours on end while listening to music. This is how the first car audio kits for speaker drivers and amplifiers were born. The Car Audio department was created in 1989, and it too went on to become a reference in its sector.

The 90s were also marked by the arrival of Gérard Chrétien and by Focal’s first steps abroad. The company was firmly committed to positioning itself in the high-end market. The goal was to focus on research and technology, the company’s core values, using select materials and registering numerous patents over the years. It didn’t take long for Focal to be recognised internationally, receiving awards for its loudspeakers in several countries.

A WORLD-RENOWNED REFERENCE

 1995 marked a turning point in the company’s history with the exceptional luxury loudspeaker, Utopia. The ambition with this loudspeaker was to push the limits of acoustics and to serve as a reference for future generations of loudspeakers. What was only intended to be a technological challenge turned out to become a commercial product praised by the international press. From that moment on, Grande Utopia became a global reference in the world of acoustics. This feat was repeated in 2002, with Utopia Be and yet again 6 years later, with Utopia III.

 Focal’s characteristic style of sound and its sound signature echoed around the world through the products commercialised by both brands, Focal and JM-lab.

Utopia Range

THE CHOICE OF DESIGN

 In the early 2000s, the brand didn’t hesitate to add another element to its creative approach. The aesthetics of industrial design would complement the technological density without compromising the sound quality. The brand continues to work with Simon Matthews, Director of Design at Focal, and also with Parisian design agency Pineau & Le Porcher, who work on numerous products.

histoire design

CAR AUDIO OFF TO A GREAT START

 Around the same time, the Car Audio department got off to a great start and was honoured with an Ultimate Award. In 2001, a vehicle fully equipped with a Focal speaker driver kit won the world final of the USA’s Car Audio IASCA competition in the Expert category. Year after year, Focal’s car audio equipment has been honoured with the industry’s most prestigious awards.

vignettes car

vignettes car

vignettes car

MADE IN FRANCE

This was also a decade for relocation: Focal chose not to go along with the general industrial trend in Europe, deciding to retain complete control of its processes and expertise by regrouping its activities in Saint-Étienne. ‘Made in France’ is Focal’s ideology, and was the perfect solution for regrouping the conception, development and manufacture of its high-end products at one unique site.

BRAND EVOLUTION

In 2002 Focal sound entered another world of music: monitoring. The Focal Professional department was created, offering a range of monitoring loudspeakers for recording studios. It wasn’t long before these too were praised by professionals and sound engineers.

2002 marked the end for the JM-lab brand. From then on, every product would bear the name Focal. The brand embodies the prestige and workmanship of speaker drivers and loudspeakers Made in France.

vignettes pro

vignettes pro

vignettes pro

A NEW GROUP IS BORN

 Focal’s meeting with Naim Audio, the leader of high-end electronics in the U.K., led to the merging of the two companies in 2011. Three years later, in 2014, Vervent Audio Group was created: the ‘Focal&Naim’ group was acquired by its managers and a private equity firm. As for Jacques Mahul, he relinquished his shares and became Vice-President of the board of directors. He left the group for good at the end of the same year. Vervent Audio Group is a European leader in high-end audio, and had a turnover of 82 million euros in 2015.

2014 was also the year when Focal was recognised by the French state for its unique expertise in speaker drivers by being awarded the ‘Living Heritage Company Label’ (Label Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant), a label to distinguish French companies which have expertise in craftsmanship and use technically advanced techniques.

THE FIRST HEADPHONES

After home audio, car audio and monitoring, Focal continued to innovate and take on new fields. Besides multimedia loudspeakers, and in-line with the new trends of listening to music, the company added yet another feather to its cap. Focal Sound became portable with the launch of Focal’s first high-fidelity headphones in 2012, Spirit One. After 4 years of presence within this sector, in 2016, the company launched Utopia hi-fi headphones, the latest addition to this exceptional range.

bandeau casque nomade

THE FIRST HI-FI CAR AUDIO OPTION

 After 25 years of hard work in the Car Audio universe, 2016 marked the beginning of another new era: Focal launched its first OEM system for the French car manufacturer Peugeot. The new Peugeot 3008 featuring an optional hi-fi system designed by Focal was presented in May 2016.

vignette car

vignette car

vignette car

vignette car

A FRENCH STORY

Focal’s history is still being written with its continuous research into speaker driver acoustics - the company’s core activity, and through its remarkable products. Many more lines are still to come, inspired by today’s modern lifestyles, by the desires to listen to music and most of all, by the passion we share with all music lovers...

 

 

 

ABOUT FOCAL-JMLAB

Focal has been creating benchmark acoustic equipment since 1979 for various high fidelity markets such as home audio loudspeakers, headphones, car speaker drivers and monitoring loudspeakers.

 

Core businesses: speaker drivers and high-fidelity loudspeakers. Our historic core values are based on the union of technology, mechanics, noble materials and design. We are constantly pushing the limits of sound to offer you a truly unique listening experience.

Exceptional Music

EXCEPTIONAL MUSIC

Focal’s ambition is to make every occasion you listen to music a moment of privilege, where music is respected and emotions are roused. For us, innovation and tradition come together to enhance the performance of hi-fi sound and the beauty of music. Our desire is to open a gateway to new sensations and emotions, giving you the chance to experience pleasure in its purest form.

Focal products are also lifestyle objects, objects of everyday life. That’s why every tiny detail has been researched, designed and tweaked. This makes them exceptional products capable of flawless performance with a distinguished style.

RESEARCH

Focal is one of the only companies in the world to constantly invest in acoustic research. Our goal is to reproduce the artist’s original work as faithfully as possible thanks to the talent of our team of acoustic experts. Year after year, we increase our expertise in speaker driver technology and sound reproduction thanks to our investments in research & development. Each new generation of products integrates our previous enhancements and innovations, enabling us to constantly enrich our Collections with new products.

Research

TRUE SOUND, EVERYWHERE

Focal products offer unrivalled sound quality. We want every loudspeaker and every speaker driver to be the best in its category. Whichever product you choose, you can rest assured that you’ll be listening to the sound of the original work: the Focal Sound.

Focal products can be used in all kinds of environments, so wherever you go you can take music with you just how you like it. Experience Focal’s sound signature at home, with our loudspeakers, hi-fi headphones, sound bar, or with our built-in systems (living room, bedroom, kitchen...), outside (garden, terrace...) with our integrated audio solutions, while driving with our car audio kits, and even while you’re on the move, with our portable headphones. Rediscover your music everywhere! Focal’s Sound Signature is also intrinsic in our professional loudspeakers for recording studios.

Produits

Produits

Produits

Produits

ACOUSTICS MADE IN FRANCE FOR AN INTERNATIONAL MARKET

Based in Saint-Étienne, in the French Loire region, the quality of our products ‘Made in France’ is something Focal feels very strongly about. All of our ranges are conceived and developed on the same production site. A large majority of production is carried out in France.

The best of Focal’s acoustic technologies have won the hearts of audiophiles all over the world, with benchmark products that have left their mark on the world of high-fidelity. Some of these technologies include the Polyglass, Kevlar® or Flax cones, the Beryllium, and Aluminium/Magnesium tweeters, the Tuned Mass Damper and the Infinite Horn Loading systems...

You have high expectations in terms of music. Ours are just as high and we’re happy to share this passion with you. Be part of the Focal experience.

 

 

DESIGNED AND DEVELOPED IN FRANCE

 

All our products are the result of innovations and technologies exclusive to Focal which were developed by our engineers in France. This philosophy gives enduring value to Focal loudspeakers, because these technologies can’t be found anywhere else. To stay faithful to our tradition of high-performance, a 100% Focal design is paramount. We believe this is the best way to have complete control over the design and quality control processes in order to guarantee high-quality products.

 


RESEARCH

research

Focal is one of the only companies in the world to constantly invest in acoustic research. Our goal is to reproduce the artist’s original work as faithfully as possible thanks to the talent of our team of acoustic experts. Year after year, we increase our expertise in speaker driver technology and sound reproduction thanks to our investments in research & development. Each new generation of products integrates our previous enhancements and innovations, enabling us to constantly enrich our Collections with new products.

 


TITLE TRUE SOUND

Focal products offer unrivalled sound quality. We want every loudspeaker and every speaker driver to be the best in its category. Whichever product you choose, you can rest assured that you’ll be listening to the sound of the original work: the Focal Sound. 

Focal products can be used in all kinds of environments, so wherever you go you can take music with you just how you like it. Experience Focal’s sound signature at home, with our loudspeakers, hi-fi headphones, sound bar, or with our built-in systems (living room, bedroom, kitchen...), outside (garden, terrace...) with our integrated audio solutions, while driving with our car audio kits, and even while you’re on the move, with our portable headphones. Rediscover your music everywhere! Focal’s Sound Signature is also intrinsic in our professional loudspeakers for recording studios.

Title true sound

ACOUSTICS MADE IN FRANCE FOR AN INTERNATIONAL MARKET

ACOUSTICS MADE IN FRANCE FOR AN INTERNATIONAL MARKET

Based in Saint-Étienne, in the French Loire region, the quality of our products ‘Made in France’ is something Focal feels very strongly about. All of our ranges are conceived and developed on the same production site. A large majority of production is carried out in France.

The best of Focal’s acoustic technologies have won the hearts of audiophiles all over the world, with benchmark products that have left their mark on the world of high-fidelity. Some of these technologies include the Polyglass, Kevlar or Flax cones, the Beryllium, and Aluminium/Magnesium tweeters, the Tuned Mass Damper and the Infinite Horn Loading systems...

You have high expectations in terms of music. Ours are just as high and we’re happy to share this passion with you. Be part of the Focal experience.

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