Focal Kanta No.2 speakers - any thoughts? Also in comparison with Sonus Faber Olympica 3s?


Hi,

I am very excited about these new speakers and am looking for some help with a decision I am trying to make. I have an opportunity to buy a used (mint) pair of Sonus Fabre Olympica iii speakers for around $7000 but unfortunately can’t audition them for too long due to travelling schedule and as the seller is moving out soon. The Focal Kantas sounded very good to me (driven by a Devialet 130 pro) at the dealers but the Olympica IIIs  also sounded good albeit possibly a bit more laid back (they were driven by an Audio Research tube preamp and a pass labs power amp). Also, the listening room at the seller's place was not at all ideal/treated so is difficult to do a fair comparison. 

Compared to almost all other speakers I have seen so far the Olympicas are the most beautiful and almost high-end furniture like but the new Kantas don't give the Sonus any advantage in this regard as they are also really lovely looking speakers with many different finishes!  I am planning to run wither of these speakers with a Prima Luna Dialogue HP integrated amp so any feedback in that regard will also be much appreciated. 

If anyone here has heard both these speakers, any suggestions on whether the new Kantas are possibly worth giving up on the Olympicas at $7,000?  The Kanta's are retailing at a bit under $10,000.  If I decide on the Kantas then I will push out the purchase until I can find a better discount at some stage but if with the Sonus then will have to buy right away.

Thanks!
rsure
I have the PL HP. If I were ready to plunk down some serious cash, I’d be on the lookout for the Focal Sopra 2 used. I’ve seen them UNDER $10K.

Big Sonus Faber fan here. Aesthetically, not many brands compare. Id go with the Stradivarius Homage if I were capable$

I’ve heard the Focal Sopra 2 plugged into the PL HP. Very nice.
If you can find a pair for $10k or less, i’d consider adding the #2 on your list, before hitting the buy now button.

Good luck on your quest.

Thank you for your response tablejockey.  In your experience would the PL HPs be a good match with both the Olympicas and the Focal or do they suit one of them more?

rsure-give the distributor a call-Upcale Audio.  Both lines represented there. Kevin can provide more insight on your decision.

fwiw, I own the Olympica iii's and powered them with a Pass X150.8 stereo amp with decent results.  I upgraded to the Pass X250.8 and the speakers literally 'came alive'.  I've read much of the negative commentary on this site about the Olympica III's and just don't agree with any of it.  Powered appropriately they, imho, are not veiled, soft, or boring at all, unless 'boring' equals refined, smooth, effortless, and supremely musical.  They sound much more dynamic with sufficient power and never sound muddled, veiled, or reticent.  I suppose if you have a really large room and expect to be knocked back in your seat you might find them too 'polite'.  I play at moderate to loud levels with excellent results; and you are right, they are beautifully crafted, truly a gorgeous speaker to look at as well as listen to.  Just added a Kiseki Purpleheart NS cartridge to my Ace Spacedeck with 10" Ace Anna tonearm and the combo is just outstanding.  Excellent sense of space around the instruments and vocals with breathtaking soundstaging and dynamics.  One of my dealers sells both SF and Focal and he compares them this way:  if you seek precision and impact, with a slightly 'forward' sound, the Focals are probably your best bet.  If you prefer a slightly 'softer' sound (for lack of a better word), and just want to get lost in the music, the SF house sound is for you.    
Recently about 9 months ago I heard the SF Olympica II with a h-30 Hegel amp and felt it nearly the best sound I have ever heard. Definitely not soft, lacking life but quite the opposite. I was enamored by it's natural life like sound. 
rsure-
This looks like a deal worth checking out.
https://www.audiogon.com/listings/full-range-focal-sopra-n2-2017-11-20-speaker

Based on value- maybe a better deal than the SF's you're considering. Technically, a step  above the Kanta, subjectively as nice looking as Olympica.

Having heard both thru the PL HP, I thought either one would keep me happy. Since they were separate occasions, I can't recall hearing one more convincing than the other. Markmendenhall 's closing statement regarding sonics between the two, I think is spot on.

Regardless, those speakers deserve to be placed well into the room, away from the walls and gear rack. The sellers setup looks compromised. I would have those in a room 3ft from the side and 4-5 from back to start. 

Thank you all very much for your responses and help with this.

@markmendenhall - my experience is almost exactly what your dealer describes.  When I heard the Focal Kantas for the first time I was just blown away with the clarity and how "clean" they sounded especially  compared to the other speakers I had heard earlier on the same day (Focal Electras 1028be/1038be and the Aria 936).  This is what got me excited about them because I was not in the market looking for speakers in that price range.  The only reason I did was to compare them with the Olympicas IIIs which I now have an option to buy pre-owned.

My initial thoughts on the Kantas were that while they sounded great would they be a bit too bright or forward over longer listening sessions.  I think the Beryllium tweeters definitely have some magic about them though.  Also don't know how much the Devialet 130 Pro has influencing the clear/forward sound.    

The Olympica IIIs on the other hand sounded much more relaxed to me and I thought they needed to be played louder to sound good which I'm not sure is a good thing with any speaker. 

I'm also now a bit concerned that all the amps you'll have recommended for the Olympicas (Pass Labs 150.8, 250.8 and Hegel H30) are more expensive and much more powerful than the Primaluna HPs and wondering if the PL HPs would not be enough to push the Olympica IIIs well enough?

@tablejockey- the speakers will be in a reasonably largeish room 18" * 17" (it's the living room hence the requirement for reasonably nice looking speakers) but unfortunately this room opens out a bit on one side (to the side of one of the speakers)  to a long corridor (33" * 4.5") and on the opposite side to a dining area (about 17" * 9").  To add to this I don't have much room to place the speakers too far apart from the walls.  I can keep them about 1.5" away from the back walls and about 2" away from the side wall (this applies only to the speaker on the left while facing me as the one of the right has the long corridor on it's side).  Sorry about the description, really hope that made some sense!   
Do you think the Olympicas IIIs would work well in such a space?

The pressing matter for me now is to decide whether the Olympicas IIIs at the price ($7000) are not worth losing out on or if I should hold out and wait for something better at a similar price (what?) later on or save the purchase for later and stretch a bit more for something like the Kantas or even Sopras if I can find a good price.  Unfortunately though I don't have access to AG and all the great deals on pre-owned gear as I don't live in the US. 

Thanks again for all the responses, really do appreciate it!  

fwiw, part of the reason my Olympica's need more power is because of the large room they are in; my living room is 24' wide (where the speakers sit) and 36' long, with 13' ceilings - certainly not ideal

I position them approx. 15" from the back wall; the left speaker is 3' from a side wall, the right speaker about 5' from it's side wall - sounds like our room configurations are similar as my living room opens up on the right side to a corridor to the front door

I actually had my dealer to my house, 3 states away from his dealership, so he could set up my new TT and cartridge.  While visiting, he said the several pair of Olympica III's he sold to other customers sounded plenty impactful in rooms smaller than mine, with amplifiers less powerful than mine.  He was especially impressed with their bass response.

All that said, all I can suggest is in a larger room, to get the best from the SF's, try not to under power them - at one point I powered mine with a pair of Bel Canto M1000 class D 500 watt mono amps and they sounded excellent.  I wish you the best, these are difficult decisions to make!

rsure-any room short of a "listening room" is always a compromise,especially in a living space.
We have significant others we answer to,and other "real" factors.

I use the Cardas placement, with great results.
http://www.cardas.com/room_setup_calculators.php
Not for everyone, since speakers take a good deal of room space.
Certainly not wife approved!

I would get the straight talk from Upscale regarding just how competent the HP is, driving the Olmpica's. 

rsure,

I have owned the Primaluna HP and used it with the Sonus Faber Olympica IIIs for about a year or so.  I am also looking at the Focal Kantas for my next speaker as well but haven't had the chance to listen to them yet - hopefully soon.  Feel free to message me if you'd like and we would be happy to go over my experience with the Olympicas and HP Primaluna.  
Hey rsure,

I have the Olympica 3 and using Primaluna

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OLR1fA5txw

You can message me if you want to know my thoughts of the speaker. I have tried the Kanta as well.
Thanks guys for all the feedback, really do appreciate it.

@tablejockey  I tried the Cardas room placement calculator and it suggested I keep the speakers 7' away from the rear walls!  In my room that would be like 2 "guests" with me all the time in the living room :-) . I agree though that in our regular world nothing is going to be ideal.

I have done a lot of research on the Primaluna HPs and all the feedback seems to be really good.  I've also seen Kevin Deal's (Upscale Audio) reviews and videos but not sure if he's the right person for an unbiased opinion since he is their main distributor (although the way he campaigns for the Prima Lunas it feels like he's a part owner)!  I don't mean that in a bad way, I do appreciate his passion for the product and the facts that he points out do seem to make sense to me.  But you're right given his experience with all the 3 brands in question he would have useful insights on how the PL HPs match up with the Olympicas vs. the Focals and I do intend to reach out to him on that.  

@djfst and @nnnnny - thanks for writing in, I will be messaging you'll.

Hi sorry about the silly question but how do I message individual members of the group?
rsure,  Thought Id lend a voice for the SF Olympica III's I currently own the OlyII's and love them.  I have driven them with lots of differing gear, old and new... The PL gear is wonderful stuff... 

My Oly II's sound great with my ARC DS-135 130 watt amp and LS17SE preamp... I do have an ancient M&K 125 sub which I have crossed over at about 35Hz and blends seamlessly driven off the ARC speaker outputs... I rarely listen at ultra high db levels however it does crank up nicely when I do.

My room is about 24x20 carpeted, glass at the far end from the system with an 8' ceiling and is open to the kitchen in an L shape which is another 15x20 space. Far from an ideal listening room...

The Oly II's are 1 db less efficient that the III's and don't have the same bottom end response however they are amazing in many similar ways... I would have purchased OlyIII's if I could have found them used at the price you are pondering given that they may be in excellent condition with original boxes etc.

My suggestion to you is this...  it's hard to go wrong either way and there is a bit if time pressure on the OlyIII's... I'd suggest  you BUY THEM and if you get tired of them simply sell them... like rent, it might cost you a few hundred $$ over the course of a year or two to use while you may save up for whatever comes next... or like myself you may have no need to upgrade.  Buy them and you get enriched with more listening experience...

I have found my audio "hobby" to be highly experiential even after working many years in the business myself... Those Oly's are a beautiful pair of speakers to live with and listen to. I think you will love them, of course keeping them long term will be up to you and yes they do need air around them, 2 feet in each direction of clear space is probably minimum but it is all unique to your own room  for image and overall listening at their best as well as high grade cables, sources etc.

A friend was the rep for SF and ARC for years and she came by at some point and adjusted them in the room to her liking with instructions "Don't move them!" ... They have about 2' behind them and about 3' open to  either side.

I have friends that LOVE the Prima Luna gear and I have had great experiences listening to the PL HP through SF $25K higher end speakers... great gear and amazing setup...  I may swap some of that PL into my system at some point to see if I like it here..
Anyway, nothing ventured nothing gained... good luck and enjoy the music!

I know both speakers more so the Sopra though here ,snd recently sold the  Olympia-3 this summer for ML
11-a. Thst too Sold. After  I found a speaker right in the $7k range that hit me Like a ton s bricks and consistently bests speakers at much more money.
The Pure Audio Project  Loudspeakers , if you can use a screw driver and Allen wrench these wonderful open baffle speakers beat by a Wide margin the emerald,and spatial by s long Margin.  Just research them I bought with the simple 1 capacitor Leonitis  crossover,and Voxativ full range driver but  used from 350hz to around 20khz - magical I use a clarity CSA capacitor and a 2uf Duelund JAM Copper oil cap .if you want a speaker that disappears and does Bass to 29hz
And 95db efficient look no more . Plenty of reviews online.
I own the Olympica 3 in my second system.  Unless I get the opportunity to buy a Futura, that O3 isn’t ever leaving my family room.
Thanks again for the feedback.  Where I'm located it is not easy to sell used equipment given the small market for these products and so I need to be reasonably sure that I'd hold on to something for a while before buying it.  And so I've decided for now to not rush into the purchase and audition a few more speakers before making the decision.  If the Olympicas get sold before that I'll just consider that a sign that they weren't for me ;-)

On another note, I just recently read about the new Magico A3 announcement and that has me super excited given that they cost the same as the Kanta's!!  It's just speculation on my part but I'd expect them to be better than the Kanta's for sure?!  Of course will have to wait for it to be released and more importantly have a listen before reaching a conclusion.  But I for one feel like it's worth putting off my purchase for now and wait for the A3s!

What do you'll think - are you'll excited about the new "cheaper" Magicos too?
My thoughts...whenever I heard Sonus Fabers, they seemed laid back to me. That seems to be what they are tuned for, a darker sound.  And Focals are quite opposite. So you can't really compare them. Plus you don't want to rush into buying something that you already are doubtful of.

Magico A3 should be real nice, but in your budget check out Dynaudio, Legacy Audio, Dali, Endeavor Audio E3.

The Focal Kantas seem more of a lifestyle range geared toward millennials, so I'd be careful, you are paying a lot for the looks and comparably priced speakers may outperform them by quite a margin.

The new Magicos are very exciting, I'd definitely love to hear them when they are out. I love my speakers and unsure if the Magico's will be better on all aspects but down the line in  a few years, who knows!
Post removed 
“The Focal Kantas seem more of a lifestyle range geared toward millennials, so I'd be careful, you are paying a lot for the looks and comparably priced speakers may outperform them by quite a margin.”

Unbelievably stupid assumption.

Also, focal speakers are not forward at all.  Period.  If you’ve heard them sounding that way, start hanging around people who know how to set a system up.  ;)
Yes , lifestyles of people who love jazz .

having an old Sonus Grand Piano, I always had a soft spot for Sonus.They have a softness that I cannot find in a Kef or Focal within the same price range. I addition their cabinet wood work is unequaled . Also depends what kind of music one is addicted to ( piano concerto tell the story). Last but not least, one must have a preamp and amp that can push them correctly and all ears are not the same.
I have been looking at McIntosh C47 and MC152 but I think they are too limit to push Olympica 3 or Kanta 2. More W is serious $.  7 Grands for new Olympica 3 is a very very good price. 
I have the Kanta 2's for my L/R/C driven by a mcintosh mc452 for 2.2 and a mcintosh mc275 tube amp for 2.0.  Awesome speakers. 
I compared Focal's with Sonus Faber's and found them to be vastly different.  With that said, I'd make sure I'd pair whatever choice you make in speaker with an amp that would bring out the best.

In my opinion the Sonus Faber's have a "softer", less dynamic sound, and would probably respond well to a "fast" sounding amplifier.  I have found the Focal's to benefit from smoother sounding amps, I have a McIntosh MC452 driving my Sopra No2's, a very good match...but have heard similarly priced Sonus Faber's connected to that same amp, and they sounded (to me) somewhat muted.  When I did that audition the Focal's seemed to fill the room, while the Sonus Faber's sounded like they were played in another room...very much muted.
When selecting my current set of speakers, I listened to both the Focal Kanta No. 2 and the Sonus Fabor Olympica 2 (not the 3).  Not the exact comparison you are looking for, but close.  Both speakers were driven with the same equipment in the same room.  I liked both of them quite a lot.  I ended up with the Focals (which admittedly cost more), mainly because they resolved to a greater level of detail, without being too harsh or bright.  

One note about the Focals (which I drive with a Levinson 585) - I have seen a number of comments about the Focals being harsh or bright.  My experience has been that once broken in (which takes quite a while), they are very smooth.  If they sound harsh, the problem is somewhere else - either in the system driving them or the room acoustics.