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  1. #1
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    Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Hello all,
    Have a pair of Sopra 1s in white and they look nice in our room. They are capable speakers if the right amplification and source are correctly implemented.

    I have tried the following over a number of years:

    1. Bare Naim Supernait 2 with and without HiCapDR. Sounded very acceptable but wanted to upgrade. Naim potentiometers from ALPS were a problem.
    2. Upgraded to Accuphase E-480. Horrible catastrophe. Brittle highs, just unlistenable. Well-built machine.
    3. Side-graded to a McIntosh MA352. Took 6 months to settle down but treble still much too strident for the Focals.
    4. Back to Naim with NAC282 + NAP20DR currently. Could probably live with the sound but NOT with Naim build quality. Their obstinate use of the systematically flawed ALPS blue potentiometers (always skewed left or right) make their amplifiers literally unusable.

    So, debating now to identify a suitably warmish, powerful with high-current supply and gentle upper-frequency response integrated amplifier for the Sopra 1s.

    Thinking of Pass INT25 or INT60 and Luxman L509x or the new 507z.

    Any experience/feedback on successful amplification for the Focal Sopras?

    Thanks!
    Jadis + Sonus faber + Tara Labs
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  2. #2
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Quote Originally Posted by David60 View Post
    Hello all,
    Have a pair of Sopra 1s in white and they look nice in our room. They are capable speakers if the right amplification and source are correctly implemented.

    I have tried the following over a number of years:

    1. Bare Naim Supernait 2 with and without HiCapDR. Sounded very acceptable but wanted to upgrade. Naim potentiometers from ALPS were a problem.
    2. Upgraded to Accuphase E-480. Horrible catastrophe. Brittle highs, just unlistenable. Well-built machine.
    3. Side-graded to a McIntosh MA352. Took 6 months to settle down but treble still much too strident for the Focals.
    4. Back to Naim with NAC282 + NAP20DR currently. Could probably live with the sound but NOT with Naim build quality. Their obstinate use of the systematically flawed ALPS blue potentiometers (always skewed left or right) make their amplifiers literally unusable.

    So, debating now to identify a suitably warmish, powerful with high-current supply and gentle upper-frequency response integrated amplifier for the Sopra 1s.

    Thinking of Pass INT25 or INT60 and Luxman L509x or the new 507z.

    Any experience/feedback on successful amplification for the Focal Sopras?

    Thanks!
    I own both INT 60 and Luxman 509x. They are VERY different sounding.

    The Pass is smoother sounding, but I found it to be too smooth - it didn't sound full of verve and life (in my system). To my ears the 509x is a much better amp for my personal tastes.

    I did find the 509x to be superior in micro dynamics and had more insight/delicacy in musical delivery while being able to boogie when needed.

    The Pass is not bad - it's just pretty far away from the sound of a Luxman. Oh - and my Luxman never sounds brittle or harsh and I am pretty sensitive to that.

    I am surprised you found accuphase to be brittle though. I've always thought of it as more mellow. What are you using for cables?

  3. #3
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelsMinute View Post
    I own both INT 60 and Luxman 509x. They are VERY different sounding..

    I am surprised you found accuphase to be brittle though. I've always thought of it as more mellow. What are you using for cables?
    Hi, thanks for your thoughts and feedback. I have all kinds of cables...The smoothest I've used lately are a French brand called Viard. Pure copper, very popular here and really neutral. The E-480 was probably an excellent machine but it was 200% incompatible with the Focal's beryllium tweeter...Brgds.
    Jadis + Sonus faber + Tara Labs
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  4. #4
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Quote Originally Posted by David60 View Post

    So, debating now to identify a suitably warmish, powerful with high-current supply and gentle upper-frequency response integrated amplifier for the Sopra 1s.
    Well, I'm not into Class A amps and, although I loved the sound from my fully Class A Accuphase A-36, my only real criticism is that it was slightly too "polite". It wouldn't bet powerful enough for your speakers.

    However considering what you say in the sentence quoted, have you considered the Mark Levinson 5805 if you use and analogue sources, or the digital-only 5802 version? I had the 5805 on loan for a while and I'd summarise its features very much as you describe - slightly warmish, not aggressively hard sounding and plenty of current. Its seemingly modest 125 watts will probably be ample with your 89 dB speakers. Very well built and excellent reviews. Also, particularly if more watts are really needed, perhaps add the Hegel H390 to your short list. I'd like to suggest you also audition (with an understandably degree of scepticism), the much less costly, but in my experience fantastic for its price, NAD M33.

    Before deciding on the M33 for my own system, I home auditioned a short-list of 12 solid state amps, including the Mark Levinson and the Accuphase, but eventually settled on the M33. Although it includes Dirac Live, I prefer not to engage this room correction feature, but it's an added bonus that may improve your sound, particularly if complicated by subs.

    PS - All these 3 amps include good DACs that may or may not better the one you already have, but they offer the option of using either - or sell the one you have if the new DAC proves better!
    Sources - NAD M50.2 (streamer, CD player, CD ripper, hard drive music store)
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  5. #5
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    There are multiple EU based brands you should look at that should be accessible for you to hear. Audia Flight and Norma Audio from Italy, Trilogy from the UK and Circle Labs from Poland. All have integrated amps that should work well with the Focal's. The Trilogy and Circle Labs are hybrids which should help tame the Be tweeter to some degree.
    Main - JVC QL-Y7/Denon DL-301 Mk II, Gold Note PH-10, Jays CDT3 Mk3 , Auralic Aries G1, Holo May KTE, Supratek Cabernet, Kinki Studio EX-B7 monoblocks, Verity Audio Otello, (2) Rythmik F12SE, Audio Envy IC, SC & PC's, Triode Wire Lab PC's, Inakustik USB and I2S, PS Audio Stellar P3, PI Audio Uberbuss, Timbernation rack

    Family Room - Oppo UDP-203, Auralic Aries, Aqua La Voce S3, Kinki Studio EX-M1+, Nola KO, (2) Rythmik F-12G, Wireworld SC & IC's, Neotech PC's, SurgeX SA-1810

    Greenville, SC- Jays CDT2 Mk 3, Auralic Aries G1, Holo Spring 3 KTE, Supratek Chardonnay, Van Alstine Vision SET 400, Rosso Fiorentino Volterra 2, (2) RSL Speedwoofers, iFi Audio Power Station, Wireworld IC's, Inakustik USB and I2s, Triode Wire Lab SC, Triode Wire Lab PC's, Furutech NCF Clear Line.

  6. #6
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    David - Maybe we've both missed a trick and this may be a great solution -

    You are based in France, Focal is French, Micromega is French and (I believe) a sister company to Focal. At a recent audio fair the Micromega M150 amp was paired with a big Focal speaker and judged as Best Sound in Show.

    Well now - how about you try this combo? I bought an M100 3 years ago (direct from Micromega as they had no UK distributor at the time) and found it to offer a very pleasent sound with my Avantgarde speakers. If offers MARS room correction too and came with a good quality calibrated mic to help with room acoustic measuring. Of the DSPs I've used, MARS is as good as any, though I'm basically anti-DSP in most circumstances.

    What's more, you can order your Micromega amp in the same colour as your Focal speakers!

    M-One range - Micromega
    Sources - NAD M50.2 (streamer, CD player, CD ripper, hard drive music store)
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  7. #7
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Hi Hear,
    The sister company to Focal is Naim and both are managed under the holding company called Vervent Audio Group based in St Etienne, France. I have had in the past some Micromega equipment which was prone to breakdowns. I think the M One is a form of Class D or some sort of digital amplification like the Lyngdorfs and it just doesn't inspire me.
    I was looking more for a "heirloom" type of "forever amplifier" around which I could continue to tweak and upgrade.
    I recently tried Accuphase and McIntosh, both massive failures with the Focals. Currently, Naim is listenable but they have lost the plot in terms of component choice and quality control.
    Still looking and hoping! Thanks for your feedback. Brgds.
    Jadis + Sonus faber + Tara Labs
    and all sorts of other stuff...

  8. #8
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Quote Originally Posted by David60 View Post
    Hi Hear,
    The sister company to Focal is Naim and both are managed under the holding company called Vervent Audio Group based in St Etienne, France. I have had in the past some Micromega equipment which was prone to breakdowns. I think the M One is a form of Class D or some sort of digital amplification like the Lyngdorfs and it just doesn't inspire me.
    I was looking more for a "heirloom" type of "forever amplifier" around which I could continue to tweak and upgrade.
    I recently tried Accuphase and McIntosh, both massive failures with the Focals. Currently, Naim is listenable but they have lost the plot in terms of component choice and quality control.
    Still looking and hoping! Thanks for your feedback. Brgds.
    Are you able to try Boulder or Gryphon?

    The Gryphon may be a good match to keep the Focal's from sounding too bright.

  9. #9
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Quote Originally Posted by David60 View Post
    Hi Hear,
    The sister company to Focal is Naim and both are managed under the holding company called Vervent Audio Group based in St Etienne, France. I have had in the past some Micromega equipment which was prone to breakdowns. I think the M One is a form of Class D or some sort of digital amplification like the Lyngdorfs and it just doesn't inspire me.
    .
    Yes, I've found nothing to support my earlier belief that Micromega and Focal were related - apart from Focal choosing Micromega at Hi-Fi shows and the fact that both companies used to offer their products in an identical range of colours.

    So, ask yourself - Why does Focal think so highly of Micromega? Why did this combo get chosen as best sound in show? Why should you discount (or even be uninspired by) an amp that uses Class D technology without at least trying it?

    You can of course choose whichever amp yuo want to, but if you apply logic, rather than hunch, there's no reason not to consider the Focal Micromega match.
    Sources - NAD M50.2 (streamer, CD player, CD ripper, hard drive music store)
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  10. #10
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Hi , i have been reading through the posts , and one thing comes to my mind, no matter how much you like the look of the speaker it might simply not be the right speaker " sound wise " for you. Maybe consider trying out other speakers you might also like the look of and then try to get to hear them before buying into a new pair.
    Flemming

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  11. #11
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Good idea and since you're in Paris try to have a listen to the Reynaud Voce Grande. As it is made in France there are multiple Reynaud dealers in your area.

    VOCE GRANDE - JMR Electroacoustique
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    Family Room - Oppo UDP-203, Auralic Aries, Aqua La Voce S3, Kinki Studio EX-M1+, Nola KO, (2) Rythmik F-12G, Wireworld SC & IC's, Neotech PC's, SurgeX SA-1810

    Greenville, SC- Jays CDT2 Mk 3, Auralic Aries G1, Holo Spring 3 KTE, Supratek Chardonnay, Van Alstine Vision SET 400, Rosso Fiorentino Volterra 2, (2) RSL Speedwoofers, iFi Audio Power Station, Wireworld IC's, Inakustik USB and I2s, Triode Wire Lab SC, Triode Wire Lab PC's, Furutech NCF Clear Line.

  12. #12
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelsMinute View Post
    Are you able to try Boulder or Gryphon?

    The Gryphon may be a good match to keep the Focal's from sounding too bright.
    I was able to demo the Diablo 300 on Focal Diablo Utopias. Yep, very convincing indeed but runs hot and is very expensive. Maybe the Diablo 120 would be more affordable but haven't heard it.
    Not much Boulder being sold where I live...
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  13. #13
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    I own a pair of Focal Sopra 1s (also in White) and I have tried several different amps with them including a Luxman integrated and a Pass Labs 60. The Pass Labs heated up my back room too much (live in Florida and the back room is starved for A/C). I currently use an SST Son of Ampzilla II amp paired with the SST Ambrosia 2000 Second Edition Preamp. I have stopped looking. Although my system could probably be categorized as MidFi, I enjoy it. By the way, I moved from the Wilson Sophia IIs to the Focal Sopra and have never looked back. Great speakers and I believe Mike from Suncoast Audio (this forum’s owner) a few years ago and I believe he was pleased with their sound. More information on the amp is at SST - Spread Spectrum Technologies. American High Fidelity.
    MAIN SYSTEM - SST Ambrosia 2000 Second Edition Preamp and SST Son of Ampzilla II Amp, PS Audio Directstream DAC w/Bridge II, PS Audio Directstream Memory Player, PS Audio P3 Power Plant, Focal Sopra No. 1 Speakers, JL Audio F112 Subwoofer, Roon Nucleus w/8TB SSD storage

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  14. #14
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Hello @projectman, thanks for the reply and suggestions. Yes, the Sopra 1 is indeed a very nice speaker but it requires careful matching as you have found. The SST products do indeed look very interesting and capable but they aren't distributed here in France.
    One question for you: do you recall which Luxman integrated you had (or atleast if it was Class A or A/B) and why you didn't keep it? Would be useful for me to have your firsthand experience.
    Thanks and brgds.
    Jadis + Sonus faber + Tara Labs
    and all sorts of other stuff...

  15. #15
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Just a quick update:

    L-509x on loan for 5 days and have been listening/testing for one day on Focal Sopra 1s.

    Very smooth and balanced top to bottom. Surprisingly, the beryllium tweeters are behaving acceptably, not harsh or bright or abrasive.
    Bass is somewhat rounded but well present and defined with good texture.
    Mids and voices are nice and full, very detailed and clear.
    Overall, for the moment, I think the 509x is a qualitative amplifier doing many things right and very few wrong. If I had to criticize, based on my personal sonic objectives, I could do with a tab bit more warmth, a tad less sparkle on top and perhaps a fleshier midrange.
    All this is pointing me toward the L-590AXII, which is still available new near me. My dealer thinks it would be just the ticket...
    We shall see what happens.
    Brgds.
    Jadis + Sonus faber + Tara Labs
    and all sorts of other stuff...

  16. #16
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Quote Originally Posted by David60 View Post
    Just a quick update:

    L-509x on loan for 5 days and have been listening/testing for one day on Focal Sopra 1s.

    Very smooth and balanced top to bottom. Surprisingly, the beryllium tweeters are behaving acceptably, not harsh or bright or abrasive.
    Bass is somewhat rounded but well present and defined with good texture.
    Mids and voices are nice and full, very detailed and clear.
    Overall, for the moment, I think the 509x is a qualitative amplifier doing many things right and very few wrong. If I had to criticize, based on my personal sonic objectives, I could do with a tab bit more warmth, a tad less sparkle on top and perhaps a fleshier midrange.
    All this is pointing me toward the L-590AXII, which is still available new near me. My dealer thinks it would be just the ticket...
    We shall see what happens.
    Brgds.
    I have owned and listened to MANY amplifiers. I LOVE Luxman.

    Also see if your dealer has a Luxman LX-380 tube integrated. It is a FANTASTIC unit that may give you the best of both worlds. I actually preferred it up against the L-595aSE on my current speakers which is why I'm selling my 595.

    Keep in mind I've demo's 4 different Luxman's and they all need 300+ hours of burn in.
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  17. #17

    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    A Luxman LX-380 would not be a good choice for the Focal Sopra 1 speakers. It only puts out 20 watts at 8 ohms and Focal recommends a minimum of 25 watts for the Sopra 1 speakers. While the Sopra 1 speakers have a nominal 8 ohm impedance with a sensitivity of 89dB 1w/1m, they have a minimum impedance of 3.9 ohms which the LX-380 would struggle with. The much higher powered SS Luxman integrated amps that David is looking at and listening to are a much better match for his speakers.
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  18. #18
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Whether or not they "fit your room design" it seems pretty obvious with the number of amps you have tried that the problem for you is the Focal Be tweeter. Instead of continuing to try and mitigate the problem seems much simpler to just find another speaker with a soft dome or even AMT tweeter that works in the room. Where you live that should not be all that hard to do. There is no shortage of "design friendly" speakers built and sold in the EU that would more closely fit what you are looking for in top end presentation.
    Main - JVC QL-Y7/Denon DL-301 Mk II, Gold Note PH-10, Jays CDT3 Mk3 , Auralic Aries G1, Holo May KTE, Supratek Cabernet, Kinki Studio EX-B7 monoblocks, Verity Audio Otello, (2) Rythmik F12SE, Audio Envy IC, SC & PC's, Triode Wire Lab PC's, Inakustik USB and I2S, PS Audio Stellar P3, PI Audio Uberbuss, Timbernation rack

    Family Room - Oppo UDP-203, Auralic Aries, Aqua La Voce S3, Kinki Studio EX-M1+, Nola KO, (2) Rythmik F-12G, Wireworld SC & IC's, Neotech PC's, SurgeX SA-1810

    Greenville, SC- Jays CDT2 Mk 3, Auralic Aries G1, Holo Spring 3 KTE, Supratek Chardonnay, Van Alstine Vision SET 400, Rosso Fiorentino Volterra 2, (2) RSL Speedwoofers, iFi Audio Power Station, Wireworld IC's, Inakustik USB and I2s, Triode Wire Lab SC, Triode Wire Lab PC's, Furutech NCF Clear Line.

  19. #19
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Jack is right. Try a pair of these:

    MAJISTRA | Neat


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    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

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  20. #20
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Great option along with SF, Franco Serblin, Rosso Fiorentino, Reynaud, QLN and dozens of others. The EU market has almost unlimited choices of great looking monitors to fit any preference just have to go listen and quit beating the same dead dog. Most would be overwhelmed by the number of audio choices you have at your disposal in Paris.
    Main - JVC QL-Y7/Denon DL-301 Mk II, Gold Note PH-10, Jays CDT3 Mk3 , Auralic Aries G1, Holo May KTE, Supratek Cabernet, Kinki Studio EX-B7 monoblocks, Verity Audio Otello, (2) Rythmik F12SE, Audio Envy IC, SC & PC's, Triode Wire Lab PC's, Inakustik USB and I2S, PS Audio Stellar P3, PI Audio Uberbuss, Timbernation rack

    Family Room - Oppo UDP-203, Auralic Aries, Aqua La Voce S3, Kinki Studio EX-M1+, Nola KO, (2) Rythmik F-12G, Wireworld SC & IC's, Neotech PC's, SurgeX SA-1810

    Greenville, SC- Jays CDT2 Mk 3, Auralic Aries G1, Holo Spring 3 KTE, Supratek Chardonnay, Van Alstine Vision SET 400, Rosso Fiorentino Volterra 2, (2) RSL Speedwoofers, iFi Audio Power Station, Wireworld IC's, Inakustik USB and I2s, Triode Wire Lab SC, Triode Wire Lab PC's, Furutech NCF Clear Line.

  21. #21
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Are you a Neat dealer? I think you’ve mentioned them before. I used to own a pair of MF7’s. Had them for about 10 years, and loved them. A house move, and an itch to try something new lead me to replacing them. Still miss the chest pounding bass.

  22. #22
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Quote Originally Posted by gordon View Post
    Are you a Neat dealer? I think you’ve mentioned them before. I used to own a pair of MF7’s. Had them for about 10 years, and loved them. A house move, and an itch to try something new lead me to replacing them. Still miss the chest pounding bass.
    Yes. I’m a sucker for ribbon tweeters. Add isoberic bass and I’m in!


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    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

    Dealer for: Aqua Hi-Fi, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Block Audio (distributor), Boulder Amplifiers, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Clarisys Audio Loudspeakers (distributor), Classe’ Audio, Degritter Record Cleaning Machines, Enleum (Bakoon), Esoteric, Finite Elemente, FirstWatt, Focal Loudspeakers and Headphones, Franco Serblin Loudspeakers, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, HiFi Rose, Innuos, ISO Acoustics, Keces Power Supplies, Kharma Loudspeakers and Electronics, Koetsu Cartridges, Kuzma Turntables, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MSB Technologies, MySonicLabs Phono Cartridges, Naim Audio, Nordost Cables, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Rega Turntables and Electronics, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, STAX, Stein Music Products, Stillpoints, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, VPI Industries, WireWorld Cables.

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  23. #23
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    Re: Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Yes. I’m a sucker for ribbon tweeters. Add isoberic bass and I’m in!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Why stop at tweeters? Piega uses ribbons for all but bass - and astonishingly good they are. Coaxial top and middle ribbons. I heard Coax 711s soon after auditioing Magicos of similar size and construction - I know which sounded better! PeterPIEGA Coax Ribbons.jpgPiega COAX-711.png
    Sources - NAD M50.2 (streamer, CD player, CD ripper, hard drive music store)
    Amplification - NAD M33 all-in-one, NAD M12 preamp
    Speakers - Avantgarde Duo XD, Avantgarde Duo (2006) - both aesthetically modified

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Audioshark is a community of like minded individuals. Audioshark welcomes participation from all manufacturers and owners of all brands and products. It is our belief that online forums provide a community of like minded audiophiles and music lovers to encourage the growth of this wonderful hobby.

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Focal Sopra 1: challenging amplifier search...

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