Flagship Monitors a Perfect Fit for No-Compromise San Francisco Mastering Studio
Champlain, NY – June 23, 2009 – Focal Professional announced today that the first pair of their ‘Grande Utopia EM‘ monitors targeted for audio mastering have been installed in the mastering suite at the 1340 Mission Street Studio complex in San Francisco, CA. The Focal Grande Utopia monitors are a third generation speaker system that incorporates groundbreaking technologies and concepts. They feature a four-way system with a built-in Electro-Magnetic sub-woofer, a mid-bass woofer, two mid-range drivers and the renowned Focal beryllium tweeter. All of the Grande Utopia speaker components, crossovers and cabinets are designed and manufactured in France by Focal. The passive monitors installed at the 1340 Mission Street Studio complex have been paired with Pathos amplifiers and MIT cable. Acoustician and studio designer Bob Hodas supervised the monitor install. Studio owner and mastering engineer Michael Romanowski and mastering engineer Paul Stubblebine are both using the Grande Utopia monitors in the studio’s high-tech digital and analog hybrid gear-equipped mastering suite – including Stubblebine’s vinyl record-cutting lathe. The Grande Utopia monitors are Focal’s flagship offering. In fact, all models of Focal monitors are “checked” against the Grande Utopias at their factory headquarters to make sure they stand up in sonic quality.
Mastering Engineer Paul Stubblebine, with a near 40-year legacy of expertise, has mastered a wide variety of music for audiophile record labels and classic sounds of San Francisco: The Clash, John Lennon, Ry Cooder, Sly Stone, Santana, Patricia Barber, Bill Evans and John Vanderslice to name a few. Stubblebine noted the sound quality of the Grande Utopia monitors, “We need a speaker that lets us hear everything about a recording immediately. The Grande Utopia EM, with its seamless integration top to bottom, and excellent resolution, fills the bill for us admirably.”
Studio acoustician Bob Hodas, added, “Focal has made this monitor the most versatile and adaptable monitor in its class. For a room tuner like myself it is a dream come true. Focal has recognized that the room is essentially another piece of gear in the listening chain and has incorporated a variety of adjustments into the speaker to compensate for room issues. Aside from simple driver-level adjustments, there are also bandwidth and filter slope controls. What this translates into is a speaker that not only compensates for certain room anomalies, but also fits a listener’s taste as well.”
1340 Mission Street Studio complex owner, Michael Romanowski has used Focal Solo6 Be monitors for over three years for mixing music projects for many satisfied clients. When deciding what monitors to get for the newly appointed mastering studio he turned to Bob Hodas for the Focal Grande Utopia EM. “I have been using the Focal Solo6s for several years now as mixing monitors,’ stated Romanowski. “I am impressed with their revealing nature as to what is really happening with the individual instruments in the mix. As a result, I make better localization, level and EQ decisions. Mastering, however, requires a different level of detail all together. The Grande Utopias give me an amazing insight as to the sonic nature of the program material”
Romanowski continued, “The most important tools a Mastering Engineer has, besides his or her ears, are the room and the monitors. If you cannot hear what is truly happening with the audio, you shouldn’t be making changes to it. The Grande Utopias do not sugar coat the results. They do not smooth out the flaws in mixes. What they do is tell me is, Good or Bad, exactly what I am hearing. As a result, I can make precise informed decisions. My clients deserve that.” Romanowski has mastered releases ranging from rock and jazz to punk and folk, including Badfinger , Pete Ham, Norton Buffalo, Joe Craven, Too Short, E-40, Jacqui Naylor, Mimi Fox, The Samples, Jim Campilongo, Dredg and Daddy.
Highlights of the Focal Grande Utopia monitors:
– Four-way passive system with tweeter, 2 mid-range drivers, mid-bass driver, EM low frequency driver
– ‘Electro-Magnetic’ (EM) woofer w/15-and-3/4-inch driver utilizing a unique electro-magnet setup
– Pure beryllium inverse dome tweeter w/ unequalled mechanical qualities: lightness, rigidity & damping
– Cabinet resonances damped by using various thicknesses of MDF and reinforcement
– Frequency response of 18Hz -to- 40kHz (+/- 3dB)
– ‘Focus Time’ cabinet structure with integrated crank mechanism allows user to time align the drivers in an arc: eliminating crossover point cancellations and ‘phase smear’
– Beautifully finished cabinets with several color choices
– Approx. 80″ high, 573 lbs each
– $180,000 a pair
The EM in Grande Utopia EM, stands for Electro-Magnetic woofer. It is a 15-and-3/4-inch driver utilizing an electro-magnet in place of a conventional charged magnet. Using this electro-magnetic setup it attains a high efficiency of 97dB/1Watt/1meter. The electro-magnet approach allows the user to dial in just the desired amount of bass in listening rooms of various sizes. The woofer current controller has 6 settings, adjusting the delivered power from 9W to 90W. The woofer and mid-bass cone construction is Focal’s 3rd generation ‘W Technology’ – a sandwich of various materials providing both rigidity and a high degree of damping.
The two mid-range drivers are also designed with the W cone technology. Focal calls these the ‘Power Flower’ drivers because of the ‘petal-like’ magnet structure that provides maximum power with a minimum of magnetic leakage.
The pure beryllium inverse dome tweeter has unequalled mechanical qualities in terms of lightness, rigidity and damping. A specially designed magnet with a tuned cavity sits away from and behind the tweeter so that no damping occurs. This design allows the tweeter to maximize bandwidth, reaching the upper range of 40kHz while reducing any resonant frequencies.
These new technologies developed at Focal combine to give the Grande Utopia EM a frequency response of 18Hz-40kHz (+/- 3dB). Linear phase has also been a priority in the concept of this monitor. Driver phase alignment is achieved with what Focal calls the ‘Focus Time’ structure. An integrated crank mechanism at the back of the speaker allows the user to time align the drivers in an arc in order to focus exactly in on the listening position sweet spot. This personalized phase alignment eliminates crossover point cancellations and ‘phase smear’ regardless of the listener’s distance from the speakers.
The Grande Utopia monitors retail for US $180,000. a pair. Listening sessions can be arranged at the 1340 Mission Street Studio Complex mastering studio through Bob Hodas, contact him at (510) 701-9111.
For more information about the mastering services at the 1340 Mission Street Studio Complex, and to reach engineers Michael Romanowski and Paul Stubblebine please call (415) 522-0108. Or visit www.michaelromanowski.com
Since its foundation, Focal has grown to become one of the world’s leading Hi-Fi and professional loudspeaker companies. Headquartered in Saint- Etienne, France, it is now internationally recognized as a world leader in the design and manufacture of drivers for Hi-Fi and professional loudspeakers. Focal is also a pre-eminent designer and manufacturer of for car-audio and pro-audio. As a market-leader in France, Focal exports over 70% of its product in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia. The company’s key strength is its complete integration and quality control of the loudspeaker manufacturing process, from the design of speaker driver units, cabinets and crossovers, to the assembly of the finished product. Focal maintains an intense, continual research program and development in speaker driver technologies. Five patents have been registered to Focal since 2003. Focal currently employs over 200 people in modern facilities that concentrate production, R&D and management in a single site. In 2006, sales of Focal Hi-Fi and professional speakers reached over 30 million Euros. Please visit: www.focalprofessional.com and www.audioplusservices.com
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