One year after the launch of Shape 40, 50 and 65 monitors, Focal is expanding its monitoring range with the line’s new benchmark product: Shape Twin.
Focal has expanded its Shape professional powered monitor series with the introduction of the “Shape Twin.” This new standard bearer of the Focal Shape series features two passive radiators, woofers equipped with a new Flax cone, and the latest ‘M’-shaped Aluminum/Magnesium inverted dome tweeter. Shape Twin is made in France, just like Shape 40, 50 and 65. Designed to meet the needs of near-field monitoring, these monitors combine an ingenuous design and numerous settings optimized for the acoustics of small listening rooms. Shape Twin stands out through its excellent rendering over the whole audio spectrum, its broad frequency response in the low end, and its high SPL considering its size. The compact design makes it easy to integrate even into the most cramped of rooms. Finally, its 2.5-way design gives it a decisive advantage when it comes to controlling the bass and lower mid-range registers, which are the hardest to control in small rooms.
Like its predecessors, Shape Twin sets itself apart at first glance through its unique design. The front and top of the MDF cabinets are finished with an authentic, natural stained, walnut veneer. The curved shape of the top of each loudspeaker was calculated specifically for each monitor in order to ensure a linear frequency response in the high end. The natural wood finish recalls the finishes of Focal Twin6 Be studio monitors, and perfectly complements the new flax cones.
Developing speaker driver cone technologies is part of Focal’s core expertise. The Flax sandwich cones used for the woofers are composed of two materials: glass fibers and flax fibers. A layer of flax fibers is sandwiched between two layers of glass fibers. Glass fiber cones were also used on the “W” composite sandwich cone of the SM6 and SM9 series, and are revered for their high rigidity considering their light-weight. The sandwich cone needs to provide good damping while being as light as possible. Flax fibers are twice as light as glass fibers as they’re hollow. What’s more, they also have very low elasticity. This increases the speaker driver’s Young’s modulus when in excursion, an essential property to ensure a piston-like action even in the very low end. Finally, it is composed of 80% cellulose which gives it excellent damping properties. So, it was only natural for us to choose this material. This new technology has proven to be a considerable improvement over the Polyglass cone in terms of weight, rigidity and damping.
TMD Suspension: New finite element method simulation tools have enabled us to identify an essential component, which could be improved: the suspension. The solution actually came from the world of civil engineering and famous skyscrapers, such as Taipei 101. It consists of a 660-tonne steel sphere suspended to a pendulum at the top of the building. It acts as a harmonic absorber to ensure the stability of the building in strong winds. TMD suspension is based on the same principle: to optimize harmonic absorption to ensure a piston-like action for the whole audio spectrum reproduced. Thus, two rings have been integrated into the suspension. The diameter and location of these rings are determined according to the flexibility of the suspension, its elongation, its resonance frequency and the targeted frequency response curve of the speaker driver in excursion. This technology provides a linear frequency response curve between 1 and 2kHz, while significantly reducing distortion in the same range. With this the mid-range register benefits from remarkable neutrality. It also contributes to the excellent precision of the overall stereo image.
Neutral Inductance Circuit: The magnetic field is very difficult to control because it’s modulated by three factors: the movement of the voice coil, the current passing through it and the frequency. Consequently, the voice coil and the moving part take support on the magnetic field which becomes too “flexible”, and this eventually leads to a loss of precision. This is where the recourse to finite element method simulation tools pays off. It made it possible to visualize these complex interactions, and enabled us to come up with an extremely stable magnetic circuit: N.I.C. techno- logy (Neutral Inductance Circuit). This solution consists in a Faraday ring whose dimensions, materials, and positioning have been optimized so that the magnetic field is no longer affected by the position of the voice coil, by the amperage or by the frequency of the current passing through it. This also increases frequency response in the high end of the spectrum, thus optimizing the crossover with the tweeter while reducing harmonic distortion and inter-modulation.
New Tweeter: Focal has further improved its famous Aluminum/ Magnesium inverted dome tweeter by coming up with two significant mechanical innovations: the new ‘M’- shaped dome and the new suspension, like that used on the tweeters of the SM6 and SM9 lines. The inverted ‘M’-shaped dome offers two major advantages. Its directivity is even less that of the inverted dome tweeter, allowing for more flexibility in terms of listening position. Mechanically speaking, the ‘M’ shape gives the dome much more rigidity while reducing distortion even more. In addition to this, the Poron(r) suspension provides a more linear frequency response curve below 6kHz, improving crossover with the woofer. The magnetic component has also been optimized thanks to a voice coil with a Kapton(r) frame which significantly reduces the Foucault current, and consequently, distortion. The horn housing the tweeter has been designed to provide equal horizontal and vertical directivity.
Double Passive Radiator: The 8″ (21 cm) double passive radiator on Shape Twin monitors is an ingenuous solution to a common issue encountered with near-field monitors: to combine a com- pact design, extended frequency response in the low end and comfortable positioning. Indeed, when ported systems meet their limits in terms of integration (a long-enough port to match its surface is required), the passive radiator is the ideal solution. However, rocking modes can often occur depending on the frequency and the volume. In order to compensate for this phenomenon, two U-shaped suspensions positioned opposite each other join the passive disk to the basket, ensuring perfect symmetry during excursion and incursion. Finally, the very low tuning frequency allows Shape Twin to be placed very close to a wall.
Electronics & Settings: Class AB amplification was the obvious choice for these monitors in order to provide optimal control over the audio signal’s dynamic range. Both 5″ (13cm) woofers are powered by a dedicated 80W amplifier channel, which ensures tonal balance however high the volume. As for the settings, particular attention has been paid to integration, regardless of the room’s acoustics. Shape Twin features a comb filter for high and low frequencies (HF: +/- 3dB from 4.5kHz; LF +/- 6dB above 250Hz).
Accessories & Installation: Shape Twin comes with 4 adjustable decoupling spikes. The height of the front and rear spikes can be adjusted to solve any problems which are sometimes encountered due to the monitors not being at the same height as the listener. The angle changes the height of the soundstage to best suit the height of the sound engineer. A clever finishing touch to the spikes is their rubber coating. This improves isolation of the loud- speakers in relation to their support. Each monitor is supplied with three specific protective grilles for the two woofers and the tweeter. Particular attention has been paid to efficiency, with a design, which enables the grilles to be removed or assembled without tools. We haven’t forgotten the diversity of listening environments and set-ups, so. Shape Twin is equipped with fastening mechanisms on the back and underneath so that they can be mounted to the wall or ceiling.
Shape Twin’s five innovations are the source of the great acoustic performance of this professional work tool. The 2.5-way design brings out the best of two 5″ speaker drivers. The woofer in the lower section of the cabinet is used for the 40-180Hz range, whereas the second transducer is dedicated to frequencies between 40Hz and 2.5kHz. Thus, the emissive surface dedicated to the bass frequencies is equivalent to that of an 8″ subwoofer, with the extra advantage of being compact. The aptitude to work on the mid-range and upper mid-range is considerably increased with a 5″ speaker driver com- pared to larger transducers. This physical advantage is further enhanced thanks to Flax cone technology whose damping properties are unrivalled in this price range. Thus, the slightest lack or addition of information in this register is immediately emphasized, allowing engineers to achieve remarkably precise mixing and equalisation. The sound of these new work tools distinguishes it- self through the wide and extremely precise stereo image, facilitating the task of arranging the different tracks. What’s more the bass register is articulated and controlled. Shape Twin’s 2.5-way “d’Appolito” configuration ensures extremely precise control of the bass and lower mid-range while making it easy to integrate into all interiors thanks to its low footprint. Finally, the new tweeter is what’s at the source of the very high definition. It efficiently reveals any hissing, and it’s also very precise in the very high end. This is why Shape Twin has become the standard-bearer and absolute reference of the Shape line.
For more information on Focal Professional monitors, please visit: www.focal.com/en/pro-audio
For more than 35 years, Focal has been recognized as a leader on the global stage for its high fidelity products. This French company based in Saint-E?tienne (Loire department) manufactures speaker drivers, home audio and multimedia loudspeakers, car audio systems, monitoring loudspeakers and audiophile headphones. Some of the company’s loudspeakers and technologies have become world-renowned references in the Hi-Fi industry. All Focal products are designed and developed in France: they benefit from 35 years of innovation in exclusive and patented acoustic technologies. The Company has chosen to continue manufacturing products ‘Made in France’, where the quality and high standards of French workmanship place the brand above its competitors. A market leader in France, Focal exports more than 80% of its production, mainly to Europe, North America and Southeast Asia. In 2011, Focal merged with Naim Audio Limited, the leader of high-end electronics in the U.K. Vervent Audio Group, the resulting holding company, has a turnover of over €85 million.
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