Focal Theva HiFi Loudspeaker Series Overview
Goodbye Chora, Hello Theva
The world leader in high-end home theater speakers is back to shake things up - the Focal Theva speakers have arrived to replace the immensely popular Focal Chora line.
At Audio Advice, we have been avid supporters of Focal's exceptional products since we introduced them into our stores a few years ago. With a commitment to designing everything in France and utilizing their own proprietary materials, Focal has pushed the limits of speaker engineering to create components that are as beautiful as they are functional.
Thanks to their expertly-matched drivers, the Chora models were widely appreciated for their ability to simplify the process of creating a home theater system. The Theva speakers take what Focal learned on making amazing entry-level speakers with Chora and eke out even more performance.
The Price of Perfection
If you do a quick Google search for the world’s most expensive speakers, you will likely come across the top-of-the-line Focal Grand Utopia EM Evo. These sell for almost $300,000 a pair and certainly represent one of the best speakers on the planet. Not many speaker companies create products this advanced or expensive, but when they do, they usually find a way to use some of the tech they invented for their best speakers in their more affordable models. Chora, and now Theva, both draw inspiration from what Focal learned from the Grand Utopia, incorporating aspects such as cabinet design, crossovers, and speaker drivers.
The sound Focal aims for in all of their speakers is very neutral, with great sound staging and dynamics. The fact you can get this level of sound and speaker technology in the new Theva models is very impressive!
With Theva there are two tower speakers, a bookshelf model, a center channel, a cool on-wall surround, and a version of the larger tower that has an upward-firing Atmos driver on top.
Crafted for Your Ears and Your Eyes
As you would expect from a French company that is into design, the Theva models have more choices than basic black on every speaker except for the surround models. You can choose from: gloss black with a matching gloss black front faceplate, a light wood finish with an ivory front faceplate, and a darker wood with a gray-colored front faceplate. Each speaker includes a magnetic grill that covers most of the front.
If you choose to go with the grills off to show off the really cool slate driver material, you’ll find the Focal logo screen printed around each driver ring to display your choice.
In a change from Chora, Focal moved the ports to the rear of the speakers. In our opinion, this created both a pro and a con.
Pro: It allowed them to change the cabinet design to make them skinnier, which could be a big plus in some rooms.
Con: With a rear port, you will need them further away from a wall, as they will interact negatively with being close to a rear wall or cabinet.
Innovation in Every Note
Innovation abounds in the new Theva models.
If budget and space were no object, an ideal home theater system would comprise identical full-range speakers throughout. This would ensure all the surround effects sound the same, providing an immersive movie-watching experience. However, in reality, this is not practical. The next best option is to use speakers with the same type of drivers, crossovers, and cabinet construction to ensure a consistent sound. The new Theva speakers have identical tweeters and varying sizes of Focal's cutting-edge slate midrange/woofer, offering unparalleled audio quality.
The Theva employs Focal's renowned TNF tweeter, which was previously used in the Chora series. This exceptional tweeter is also found in more expensive Focal models, thanks to its proven performance and use of aluminum and magnesium. Focal has been utilizing inverted tweeters in its designs for over two decades and has been able to fine-tune this design to deliver the best possible sound.
During the development of their luxury Grand Utopia series, Focal devised a groundbreaking method of using Poron - a material with shape memory - as the suspension between the dome and bracket. This ingenious application of Poron significantly reduces distortion in the 2-3K range, by a factor of three, and can be found in the new TNF tweeter.
While there's no definitive "right" or "wrong" way to design a tweeter, it's hard to argue with Focal's decades of engineering expertise. With over 20 years of experience utilizing inverted domes, Focal continues to refine and improve this technology, making it a trusted and innovative choice for audiophiles worldwide.
They also had a goal with the TNF tweeter of improving how linear the sound is off axis. This is especially important for home theaters in media room situations where the viewers may not be in the sweet spot. Focal improved the waveguide to give them a very wide and linear dispersion pattern.
When you first see a Theva with its grill off, you will be struck with a very unique-looking woofer. The history and tech behind this is pretty interesting. Focal, like a lot of great speaker companies, has been experimenting with combinations of materials to improve performance. They decided to use an idea from the aviation industry and combine carbon fiber with plastics. After lots of trial and error, they discovered a magical combination of recycled carbon fiber held together with a thermoplastic polymer. Instead of weaving the fibers, they got better performance with them all going in the same general direction and held in place by the polymer. Can you imagine what it was like testing all those materials? Quite loud, we’d imagine.
Focal then had to design special machines to create these unique drivers at their factory in France. The random nature of the way the strands are put into the polymer creates a look very similar to slate, which is where they came up with the name Slatefiber for this new driver material. It is very light, extremely rigid, and highly damped, which are all things you aim for in a midrange or bass driver. No two are exactly alike, which is why we love these with the grills off. These first came out in the Chora models and are in the updated Theva series as well.
While the Theva shares the same drivers as the Chora series it replaces, Focal did make improvements to the internal crossovers and cabinet bracing for even better performance.
What’s New In the Focal Theva Line?
Now let’s take a look at each model. Picking the right one for your system will come down to the location you want to use them in and your room size. Focal has made it very simple with Theva as there is one bookshelf speaker, two floorstanders, a floorstander with elevation Atmos drivers, a matching center, and a surround speaker.
Theva N°1 Bookshelf Speakers
The Theva N°1 is the bookshelf model in the series. The N°1 uses the TNF tweeter with a 6 ½” version of the Slatefiber driver. The front is very sleek and has a rear firing port on the back. The N°1 might be too large for most bookshelves as it's a little over 15” tall, around 10” deep and 8” wide. Most people will probably use these on the Theva N°1 stands, which are extremely solid and rigid. The stand also tilts the speaker back for time alignment. Their sensitivity is rated at 89db, which is actually pretty decent for a bookshelf speaker. As with all the Theva models and the prior Chora, the top end is very smooth, yet extended. This tweeter actually goes out beyond the range of human hearing to 29Khz. Bass response is quite good for a bookshelf speaker pair, getting down to 49hz as its 6db down point. We see these being used in a great two-channel system in a smaller space or possibly as sides or rears in a surround system.
Theva N°2 Floorstanding Speaker
The Theva N°2 is a brand new model designed to allow people to fit a tower speaker into a smaller space. These are only 7” wide, 13” deep, and three feet tall. They use two 5” Slatefiber drivers for the midbass and a 5” for the midrange with the TNF tweeter. The Theva N°2 floorstanding speakers also come with a very cool floor stand that tilts the speaker back to time align the drivers.
Speakers with this design using small drivers have always been some of our favorites. You get good bass extension, but with a speed that is hard to beat. The very small width of the cabinet translates into great stereo imaging, which these definitely do. Set these up right in a small to mid- sized room and you’ll have some outstanding sound. Their 6db down point is 44hz and they are easy to drive, with a sensitivity of 90db. There is a lot to like about these new additions.
Theva N°3 Floorstanding Speaker
The Theva N°3 is the top-of-the-line tower in the Theva series and looks very similar to the Chora model it replaced. You’ll get dual 6 ½” Slatefiber woofers that have a 6db down point of 39 Hz mated up with a 6 ½” Slatefiber midrange driver and the TNF tweeter. These pick up a db in sensitivity over the N°2 and come in at 91 dB sensitivity. While that is only one dB, the N°3 does seem to have a lot more authority and slam than the N2, as the dual bigger drivers move more air and it benefits from a larger cabinet design. These also come with the stand that tilts them back for time alignment. They are physically larger all around at 39” tall by 8 ½” wide by 15” deep. We see these being used in midsized to larger listening spaces.
That covers the three models you could use either in two-channel stereo or two-channel home theater system. The next models we go over allow you to take these amazing two-channel audio speakers and put together a perfectly matched home theater system.
Theva N°3-D Floorstanding Speaker
The Theva N°3-D is an N°3 with a built-in Dolby Atmos height speaker on top. You’ll get the exact same listening experience as the N°3 with a great way to get height effects into rooms without cutting holes in your ceiling.
On the top of the N°3-D is an oval grill that hides a 5” Slatefiber woofer with an aluminum and magnesium inverted dome tweeter in the center. These are mounted in the top of the cabinet at an angle to bounce the height channel effects off your ceiling. These will work great with a flat ceiling from 8-12’ in height.
Theva Center Channel Speaker
The Theva center channel uses the TNF tweeter with two of the 6 ½” Slatefiber midrange/midbass drivers. With a width of over 20” and a height of 8 ½”, you will want this on top of your cabinet or on the optional stand. We do not recommend putting it inside a cabinet with a tight fit unless you can really damp the cabinet as it does have rear ports. We love the fact it comes with a small base to tilt it up some when you have it on top of a cabinet or on an open shelf. There is also a matching center channel stand that also provides the tilt to both time align and aim it at the listening position.
With a sensitivity of 91db, this is one dynamic center channel that can handle all of the dynamics we are seeing now in action films. The Slatefiber midrange cones do a great job on dialog as well.
Theva Surround Speaker
We loved the Chora Surround. So much so, when we first saw the Theva Surround, we thought Focal just took the same model and put the Theva name on it. But upon closer inspection, these are upgraded from their predecessors. The cabinet is slightly larger and heavier than the Chora Surround to allow for a bit more dynamics. These use the same 6 ½” Slatefiber midrange/bass and the TNF tweeter you’ll see in the other models and have a really cool angled look to them.
Mounting them at the right height is very simple - wherever you put the bracket is what the tweeter height will be. You mount the wall bracket, put some feet on the back and they slide onto it. Your speaker wire can hang down the back or for a more custom look, you could run the speaker wire inside the wall.
What is great about all of these models is they share the exact same driver materials and tweeter which means if you use these all matched up in a home theater system, your surround and Dolby Atmos effects will seamlessly pan around your room.
What is Our Recommendation?
The Focal Theva series once again proves Focal’s dedication to pure, natural sound combined with beautiful design. These models can work well in a two-channel system and their perfectly matched drivers make them ideal for home theater. Plus they just look fantastic. We do recommend you power them with a high-quality integrated amp or a higher-level AV Receiver. When you send them good power, they will really come to life and provide you with both dynamics and musicality that is hard to beat for their price.
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