We are one of the fortunate displaying Persona dealers in the East Coast of the USA, NJ to be exact and we have a lot of experience with these speakers.
These are two fantastic speakers with some similar traits and some major differences.
Both are fast, clean and dynamic, however, Focals don't image very well their large wider baffles create a big sound stage, the Personas have a much more focused sound stage which is both wide with superb image specificity set up correctly the Personas are incredibly holographic!
Also the Personas use the same material Beryllium for both the tweeter and midrange drivers, so the sound is very coherent and remarkably detailed. Their midrange is a bit cooler then the Focals whose W sandwich cone has a bit more coloration.
Lastly the Personas have deeper bass with the added advantage of active room correction to ensure that the bass response in your room is very tight and clean this also makes them highly adaptable and immune to room size.
We had fantastic sound in the last New York Audio show in a very small hotel room.
These are two very revealing loudspeakers so you must be very careful how and what you are using with them.
The Krell electronics are very good however, they can seem a bit mechanical and don't have the speed and articulation of some of their newer competitors, and cast does not sound as good as regular cabling.
However, with the right digital front end, cabling and power conditioning the electronics you have may be able to work very nicely.
If you can pay us a visit our reference system will convince you on how magnificent the Personas are when paired with the right components.
Our reference setup includes T+A electronics, Baetis music server, LH Labs Davinci Dac plus Enklein Cabling:
Here was our show setup:https://www.facebook.com/rutherfordaudio/photos/pcb.612221115616753/612220672283464/?type=3&thea...
and after the show
Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
First off, absolutely wait for the Scala Utopia Evo. Buying the v2 would be a mistake. The Evo is a huge improvement to an already incredible speaker.
Moving on to the Personas. WTF? No , literally.
How are they this good? I don’t know – but the Persona B, 3F, and 7F are so good when set up right, it’s hard to describe. I haven’t heard the 5f, but the 3F is honestly underpriced severely.
I agree with most of what AudioTroy said, aside from the Utopia’s having a small soundstage due to the baffle. While I do agree and take into consideration the baffle width - I don’t think it’s the end all determining factor. Obviously Raidho is magical, but so would Golden Ear be. That’s not the case (although they are good speakers).
I haven’t heard enough of the Evo in a fair environment to say anything concrete but what I heard was really really amazing. As far as the comparison, I think you are looking in the right direction.
Either way, the Personas... if they had a different brand label on the bottom, they’d be on every audiophiles wishlist. They should be. I hope Paradigm can overcome the audiophile snobs who scoff at the speakers just because they make budget stuff as well. The Personas are something truly special.
Sorry for the rant, you just happened to post about two of my favorite speakers.
I know you are hearing what we are hearing with the Personas.
I think if you keep on looking at the differences between the two the Personas are still really heard to beat.
The active room corrected bass is a fantastic feature that guarantees one of the most difficult to achieve things in all of audio is done properly ie, clean tight well defined bass response in room.
A passive speaker without room correction technology will be difficult to get the bass to be in the same league.
Troy and Dave
Audio Doctor NJ
@contuzzi Where have you heard the EVO? To my knowledge the speaker isn't out until September and was on static display in Munich.
Yes Troy, I agree with your comments on the Cast Cables. I am running Siltech throughout my system. DAC is EMM Labs DA2 with Bryston BDP-2. I can get a much better bang for my buck if I go for the Scala V2's with the EVO's coming out.
Yes there are always buys on the older model, and should not be the answer, if you purchase a great product that you can buy and keep for a long time you will gain much greater satisfaction and not be shopping for the next deal for a long time,
It has taken us 3 years to build our reference system and quite frankly we wouldn't want to change it just tweek it.
Once you create a system that sounds magical you will want to get off the merry go round.
We could show you a lot of tricks that will make you take notice of how real a system can sound.
If you purchase a great anything you will not be tempted to exchange it for a long long time, that includes cars, watches, women, etc.
Find what works and keep it you will be happier and wiser in the long run.
That is our approach to audio, we have the best sounding turntable one that costs $7k and it sounds nearly as good as a $40k one, so why would we be looking for another? Same thing with our choice of T+A electronics and the LH Labs Davinci dac, which we compared to the DA2, no contest there at all. The LH Labs Davinci can be upgraded from MK 1 to MK 2 for a reasonable cost, so if you purchased one 5 years ago, you would still be happy today again long term satisfaction vs models which can't be upgraded such as DCS, and Meitner. You can do board upgrades but you can't turn a Dac2xSe into a Da2 different platforms for examplel.
Different philosophy if you want a deal, we have a pair of $68k Polymer Research MKXS which use all Aucton pure Diamond drivers, for $28k probably the best speakers ever made, dropping the line due to lack of marketing otherwise buy a pair of Personas or the newer Focals and keep them for 10+ years.
Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
Well, the guy above never responded and it really doesn't matter anyway, nothing Focal can do to the Scala is going to make it a Maestro - which is the big jump in performance. If you are going to get the Focal, what you're thinking is correct - you pick up a V2 on a steep discount which is going to be a way better buy versus the EVO which will cost 20% more MSRP versus the V2 and be unlikely to be offered at any significant discount since it sill be brand new. Plus the V2 as is is an excellent speaker so its not like you're not going to be very happy with the choice.
What do you all think about the SASHA 2's being added into the equation??
Plus my listening room is on the smaller side, 12’ x16’ with 8’ ceilings. My room is heavily treated as a result with absorption on the side wall reflections, rear walls. Deflection behind the listening position and bass traps in the corners. Carpet on the floors. Haven’t had a chance to do anything with the ceilings yet aside from bass traps in the upper corners. I can listen at fairly loud levels. I am also planning on auditioning the Wilson Sasha 2’s as they are available here. Focals Scala V2's I listened to while on a trip out east and liked them very much. They were in a larger room and were quite a bit brighter than my current C4’s. I worry they may be to bright with the Be tweeter in my smaller room and worry about the bass as well. Hence my interest and hesitation in the Persona with Be tweeter and Mid-range plus ARC room tuning tech. My concern is the added cost for this technology, class D amps, over perhaps non amplified 3 way speakers. I have heard the Persona 3F and they were OK but again on the brighter side of the spectrum. No chance to audition their 7F or 9H and hence my hesitation. I guess the other small concern is re-sale if ever I get the bug (lol) to change down the road. I am hopeful the Sasha 2’s sound great with the music I enjoy...... Anyone with experience in smaller rooms with Sasha's 2's please chime in. My listening is mostly at moderate levels and mostly, Jazz, Blues, Contemporary, easy listening. Not much rock or orchestral. I listen to Flacs thru my DA2. Cabling is Siltech.
If the reason you’re considering anything other than the Scala V2 is that they might be bright, I wouldn’t sweat it much - there’s a jumper on the base in the back that shelves treble down slightly if you have any issues. I’m really sensitive to treble and that took away the brightness. Same option on bass if you need it. It’s a great feature that Focal has included on all of their current Utopia models that almost completely reduces the risk of the speaker not working in a room.
In 50+ years of this game, I never heard a French speaker I didn't like .
Your room is way too small for almost all of these speakers. The Personas 9H might work due to the room correction of the speaker and their ability to tune out bass nodes and standing waves.
The Persona 3F are similar the 9H, in many ways, the 9H do indeed sound better, the biggest issue with the Personas is setup many dealers are not up to the task of showcasing a speaker system with this kind of resolution.
As per the Focals sounding bright they are a bright speaker it is only with setup that speakers with high resolution tweeters Personas, Focals, etc will sound good, the Dynaudios are a much more laid back sound without the incredible clarity that the Focals or Personas have so they are much less likely to overwelm a listener with too much treble information.
The Wilson Sashas are a bit over blown in the bass and will probably sound very boomy in that size room.
What you need is either a smaller reference speaker that won't overload the room or some kind of room tuning either in the speaker or external.
Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
I don’t agree. The Scalas will work just fine. Any treble or bass issues should be able to be handled by the jumpers. Please stop promoting your goods on these forums.
Bar we are not selling this man anything! He lives in Canada where the Personas are made therefore it is impossible for a US dealer to make that sale.
Just a bone of contention: this mans room is 12* 16
the Focals bass in room -3db at 27hz
-6db at 24hz
You misunderstand that the Focals allow for basic boost/cut in reality this is a very primitive way of helping make a bad situation slightly less bad by offering a few positions of bass boost or cut, even in the EM Focal models you are controlling damping which can create tighter or looser bass but still can’t magically create in reality a totally shelved bass response, with tighter damping you will create a bit less bass, but the amount of air a large cone makes is why people use large bass cones in the first place.
If you notice I said the Personas might work, they are also go too deep in the bass for that size room. The only saving grace with the Personas is that they have very advanced room correction which is a sophisticated way of creating numerous digital filters in the bass frequencies designed to tame standing waves.
In a digital filter you can create a many position parametric equalizer and can therefore precisely affect the room in the ways you want to with the end goal of creating a flat bass response.
The ARC (Anthem Room Correction) measures numerous positions and then calculates the null points in the filters to compensate for the higher room gain caused by room positioning.
We had a pair of Personas in small hotel room that was about 13 wide by 16 deep and the sound in the bass was shocking, it was deep, tight and tuneful without boom. All the room’s participants were just stunned at how good the system was sounding. So we have direct experience that this system with careful tuning might work.
Without electronic room correction I would never venture to put that large a speaker in that size room.
Traditionally a room that small can handle bass to 30-35hz with out severe issues with bloat and boom.
As per Focal speakers they are great we really like them they are a bit more colorful than the Personas, personally the Personas image better, the Focals have always been tuned to offer punchy bass, a full bodied midrange and a bit aggressive treble with great clarity and a bit of air.
The Personas are the more neutral of the two and require a bit more work to add some color to their sound, we have found that when setup correctly they are very, very, hard to beat.
So Bar if you want to come to the shop and take a listen then maybe you might see things differently.
Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
I don't really feel like Troy is trying to flog his equipment to me. Like he said I am located in Canada and couldn't buy from him even if I wanted. I am just trying to find out what might be the best answer with my smaller room in a very small audiophile market. Unfortunately, I don't have the opportunity to audition any of the higher end speakers where I live, otherwise I would just go have a listen and make up my own mind. Many of us don't live in a large market offering all the different options in gear and come to the forums for information. I know he is partial to the Persona's with heavy bias to what they sell, but have found some of the info he provides helpful. I did listen to the Sasha 2's and although quite musical I think their bottom end will not do my room any justice. I must add I wasn't blown away by their tweeter either. Sparkly music seemed somewhat muted compared to my C4's.
We had the chance to listen closely, wilsons sabrinas, focals utopia and paradigm persona 9h. The thing is comparing this 3 fine loudspeakers found that paradigm incredible approach pays rewards. The combination of both high and mid freq made in beryllium makes this one better than other 2 units, sabrinas seems colored and not so well in image specifity and precision, even as the owner of martin logan clxs found this amazing loudspeakers competing neck to neck with coherence and speed. A homerun from paradigm and definitively my next buy.
What don't you like about your current C4, may I ask?
Our shop has been championing the Personas since they came out and all I can say is right on!
The issue with the Personas is their remarkable transparency just doesn’t hold anything back and comments we have heard from some of the other people who have heard the Personas, not running on the correct gear, was that many of these people were not blown away or found them bright.
Too many dealers accross the country do not have the correct matching equipment or setups that an uber high resolution speakers like the Personas really require.
We would invite you to hear our reference setup with the Persona 9H it is a jaw dropping mix of T+A electronics, a Light Harmonic Davinci MK II Dual Dac a Baetis computer and Enklkein cables. Spooky trasparent, and oh so holographic. The midrange and tweeter being made out of the same material makes the speakers so coherent, and I always thought the midrange in the Focals and the tweeters sounds a bit different.
Wilson doens’t have the transparency of the Personas, and the fact that the Persona 9H can do battle with an Alexia at $55k is a testment to the engineering prowess that Paradigm has demonstrated with this line
If you ever are in our neck of the woods please give us a call and take a listen to this setup it is truly amazing.
Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
I have a pair of Diva Bes & they are absolutely not bright. John Atkinson of Stereophile said this when he tested the Utopia Maestro 111 on one of its settings:
"I preferred the balance with them set to "3," which took away most of the mellow top-octave quality. But, my goodness, this is one smooth tweeter.... & "...a touch mellow in the top octave..."
"I had wondered about the Maestro Utopias’ imaging, given the fact that the tweeter is set within a wide baffle, though this does have a slightly convex curve. I shouldn’t have been concerned. The dual-mono pink-noise track from Editor’s Choice
(CD, Stereophile STPH016-2) was reproduced as it should be: as a very narrow spot of sound midway between the speakers, without any splashing to the sides at any frequencies. The instruments on Rendezvous
were stably placed in space precisely where I had mixed them to be, with excellent image depth where appropriate."
My Divas have a much narrower baffle and the Scala is about 12% less wide then the Maestro - most likely helping image better then Atkinson says of the Maestro.
I have the strongest doubts the Evo offers any particularly noticeable improvements over the non Evos. Unless one is biamping, which it was designed for. Biamping inevitably introduces the colourations of the xover into the mix as it simultaneously adds its own virtues in (ideally) a two steps forward, one backwards kind of way - if it works well. It has to be approached carefully.
It must be remembered Focal has done literally nothing meaningful to improve the Utopia line (in sonic terms) since Jacques Mahul left. Despite the re-engineering of the tweeter & assorted tweaks of the Utopia 111s , I & everyone I know can hear no difference between it & its predecessor. None of the reviews anywhere of any of the 111 line have ever compared any of them to its predecessor (a common practice in audio reviews). Why do you suppose that is? Exactly.
Are you absolutely convinced you need new ones? The money saved on getting first generation Bes can be applied elsewhere to great sonic effect.
Hope you haven’t bought the Focal Scalas yet - here’s a chance to get a pair for an initial asking of (before bargaining) $7500 less than retail. > https://www.audiogon.com/listings/lis8fa6h-focal-scala-utopia-reference-3-way-floor-standing-loudspe...
I got one of the last new sets available Scala V2 in black will be here Tues....