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Page 2: Focal Trio11 Be

Three-way Active Monitors By Bob Thomas

Amplifier Technology

In developing the amplification for the Trio11, Focal had to meet both the requirement for midfield‑level SPLs and the low noise needed for nearfield operation. Focal achieved this using a combination of Class‑A/B and Class‑G amplification, as in the Trio6, with 100W of Class‑A/B power driving the tweeter, 150W of Class‑G on the mid‑range and 300W of Class‑G powering the woofer.

Class‑G amplification, as I discussed in more detail in my review of the Trio6 (SOS June 2015), is simply a more efficient implementation of Class‑A/B amplification in which, instead of a single pair of power rails running constantly at a fixed voltage, multiple pairs of power rails arranged in increasing voltage steps are instantaneously switched in or out as and when required, thereby increasing the power of the amplifier only for the time required to amplify the signal being fed to the output stage.

Both of the Class‑G amplifiers in the Trio11 use BASH amplifier technology, which is based not on multiple supply rails, but on a continuously variable supply voltage, driven by a high-speed Class‑D power supply. Rather than seeking to maintain a constant voltage in the power supply rail, the 'smart' PSU in the Trio11 tracks the demands of the power amplifier, dropping the supply rail to almost zero volts when there is no input signal and increasing and decreasing in level as the input signal rises and falls. This Class‑G/Class‑D combination delivers the sonic benefits of Class‑A/B amplification with the efficiency gains of Class‑D, reducing the amount of energy lost as heat in comparison to the performance of Class‑A/B amplification powered by a conventional linear power supply. This has allowed the designers of the Trio11 to dispense with the massive rear‑panel heatsink required by the 600W of Class‑A/B amplification in the SM9, and to rely solely on the speaker's metal rear panel as a radiator. Impressively, even after sustained periods of operation at higher SPLs, the rear panel was only warm to the touch, and never got hot.

One final point to note is that, in order to optimise the amplifiers' noise, bandwidth, distortion and power performances for the task in hand, Focal opted for an entirely discrete component layout, despite the added design complexity involved. Incidentally, if you're interested (as I am) in the whys and wherefores of the TMD, Faraday ring and BASH Class-G technologies used in the Trio11, Focal have a white paper on the subject at https://sosm.ag/trio11be-whitepaper. Should you want to delve deeper into the subjects themselves, searching the web will bring up a fair number of very interesting and informative discussions, articles and academic papers.

I don't think I have ever come across a pair of loudspeakers that can delineate dynamic details so effortlessly and precisely across their entire operating range.

Performance

In the user manual, Focal state quite specifically that the transducers used in the Trio11 require breaking in to operate at their best, and that this can sometimes take several weeks. To kick-start and shorten the process, Focal advise running the Trio11 at medium volume for 20 hours with programme material containing significant low-frequency content — so I did, and I listened to the Trio11 in earnest over the following couple of weeks.

Having listened in detail to the eclectic selection of material in my current crop of audition CDs, my overarching impression of the Trio11 was of a loudspeaker that was in total control of the audio that it was reproducing, both in its three-way and its two-way Focus modes. I don't think I have ever come across a pair of loudspeakers that can delineate dynamic details so effortlessly and precisely across their entire entire operating range, be that in terms of frequency bandwidth or SPL. This sense of control and detail didn't appear to me to change either at the low to mid-level volumes that I'd typically use in the nearfield, or at the increased levels that operating them in the nearfield would necessitate.

With a peak SPL of 118dB at 1m in three-way mode, the Trio11 has the reserves of power to accurately reproduce fast transients across the frequency and volume spectrum. This, combined with the linearity and reduced distortion of the mid‑range driver, the vastly reduced distortion in the woofer, and the effortless extension of Focal's inverted-dome beryllium tweeter, results in an expansive, superbly balanced stereo sound field in which even the smallest sonic details are presented with a level of clarity that makes picking them out seemingly effortless.

My overall sense is that it is the overall speed and definition in its response that lies behind the Trio11's ability to distinctly define the delicate dynamic details that are critical not only to the accurate reproduction of the individual timbres of instruments and voices, but also to the positioning of those sources precisely and solidly within the width and depth of the Trio11's stereo sound field — all without any loss of subtlety or overall musicality.

Finally

The Focal Trio11 Be is a professional-level studio monitor that combines power, accuracy and control with high levels of detail and delicacy to deliver a performance that is both analytical and musical and that is consistent across volume levels for either nearfield or midfield applications.

Its sheer physical size and weight mean that the Trio11 Be occupies a fair amount of space and will require suitably sturdy stands. If you can fit a pair in your studio and you're looking for a monitor at its price point that will enable you to hear deep inside your mix, but will still allow you to listen to the music, then the Trio11 Be is yet another innovative masterpiece from Focal that definitely should be on your audition list.

Alternatives

The competition around this price point is quite stiff and you'll find possible alternatives to consider from the likes of ATC, Genelec, Neumann, PMC, Quested and Unity Audio.

Tuned Mass Damper

A tuned mass damper (also known as a TMD or a harmonic damper) is a device that consists of a mass, a spring and a damper, and which is tuned to reduce or stabilise the amplitude of a resonant-frequency vibration within a structure by resonating out of phase with that vibration. Examples can be found in car suspensions and in skyscrapers and other buildings in earthquake zones.

Although Western textbooks may claim that the TMD concept was first used by Frahm in 1909 to reduce the rolling motion in ships, if you visit Japan you'll find a five-storey wooden pagoda in Kyoto that employs the underlying principles of a tuned mass damper and which has successfully survived the total of 46 magnitude 7.0 (or greater) earthquakes that it has experienced since it was built in 607AD.

Pros

  • Superb audio performance.
  • Combines power, control and accuracy with detail and delicacy.
  • It can go very loud indeed.

Cons

  • If you can handle its size, weight and power — and have the budget — absolutely none.

Summary

An impressive performer that delivers a stellar level of performance that is powerful, controlled, accurate, analytical and musical, the Trio11 Be is yet another innovative masterpiece from Focal.

information

£6199 per pair including VAT.

SCV Distribution +44 (0)3301 222 500

www.scvdistribution.co.uk

www.focal.com

$7998 per pair.

Focal Naim America +1 866 271 5689

www.audioplusservices.com

www.focal.com

Published June 2019