Focal has been a key part of the pro audio landscape ever since it was founded in 1979, straddling the line between the consumer and professional markets. While known for its home audio loudspeakers, headphones and car audio speaker drivers and amplifiers, the company’s pro offerings include long-revered monitoring loudspeakers and headphones. Finding a balance that allows the company to address both sides of the commercial fence is a unique talent—and it’s one that Romain Vet, vice president of Marketing and Communications for Focal Naim America, noted as soon as he joined the company.
Vet first entered the pro audio business a product manager for Sennheiser in the mid- 2000s, before moving to Focal in 2014 to take on the role of chief of Multimedia Products. Moving up through the ranks, he shifted to marketing and product manager roles within Focal Naim America in 2018, and quickly rose to his current position of vice president of Marketing & Communications.
“Year after year, we develop new products in new categories—speakers, headphones, custom integration—and we see more and more partners distributing all our products,” he says. “Now we are opening new stores, like the ‘Focal Powered by Naim’ in Houston, TX, or studios like ‘Studio DMI Powered by Focal’ in Las Vegas, and, for the moment, we see more success than failure. Failures have been transformed into success with adjustment, re-work and studies.”
The physical locations are a new endeavor for the company—the Houston store is a 1,615-square-foot space with two Stereo and Home Cinema listening rooms, a pair of open Hi-Fi listening areas and a specialized area dedicated to high-fidelity headphones. Meanwhile, Studio DMI is a full-fledged production facility offering three studios, a recording booth and an artist lounge in a 4,000-square-foot building, all underlining Focal’s professional offerings…and credentials.
Further emphasizing that professional connection, earlier this year, the company announced “Mixed on Focal,” highlighting its crucial presence at every part of a track’s existence, from its creation by pros to its enjoyment by listeners. “With the playlists for ‘Mixed on Focal,’ we finally have this link: Listen to music mixed on Focal,” he says. “Everyone we work with—dealers, partners, HIFI customers and pro audio professionals— are all linked with one passion: the music, from the creation to the listening.”
Mix engineers featured on the first “Mixed on Focal” playlist include Mike Pepe (who worked with Focal Trio6 Be / Twin6 Be monitors), Ryan West (Focal Solo6 Be), Eric Stenman (Focal Trio6 Be), Rob Tavaglione (Focal Trio11 Be), Luca Pretolesi (Focal Trio11 Be), Jimmy Bralower (Focal Twin6 Be), Ian Boxill (Focal Solo6 Be) and Will Yip (Focal Trio6 Be).
In the near term, Focal North America will be focusing on partnerships with artists and studios, as well as its new ‘Focal Powered By Naim’ stores. Nonetheless, the long-term plan remains unchanged, says Vet: “Our main focus, forever, is to respect our dealers and customers, and make sure the Focal brand is well respected for its products, company image and what we do as a company.”