Reference 3a vrs Focus Audio

What do you think would sound better?
Anyone had a chance to compare?

Reference 3a vrs Focus Audio

De Capo i vrs 688 Signature

I have never heard 3A's, but I have heard lots about them.

I heard some 688's once and I am in LOVE. xoxo,

Heard the Focus 788's recently in a store, and was very impressed. Full range, nice balance, very alive, sweetly detailed. Unfortunately, no 688's in stock at the time.

I've had both the Reference 3a De Capo i's and the newer Dulcets home for a more substantial audition. My take is the Focus has the superior tweeter and high frequency detail.

There is something special about the sound of Reference 3a's which may be attributable to the cross-overless design; something very clean and direct about the sound. Voices and mid-range particularly compelling. Personally I preferred the baby of the Reference 3a family; the Dulcets. Heard in a small room, their imaging and disappearing act exceptional; completely refreshing to listen to. Inevitably, they yield some bass-weight and the last word in detail to higher-end product, wonderful nonetheless.
Hope this is of some use...
Thank Panderso,

I knew these speakers would be very close. Having not heard both side by side (or 3A'a at all), I imagine that it is all in trade offs.
I do like the look of the 688's but I do like the cost on the 3A. I image that both speakers would be more than satisfing, and there really is no wrong choice as neither speaker is clearly better than the other.

The dulcets do have a very attractive price, are they are a very good speaker from what I have read and heard from people.

I should also note that I can not afford to buy anything, anytime soon. It's just nice to know what people think.

I am trying to think long term and have a goal in mind (and cost).

To the extent cost is a factor, I think you'd be doing yourself a favor listening to the Dulcets. I seriously considered unloading 3 ways costing several times as much in favor of the Dulcets...

I think a lot of your choice between the Decapo I and the 688 will depend on what you intend to drive them with. I'll agree with Panderso that the 688 has superior high frequency performance , but it is also significantly harder to drive...a good 80wpc amp is the minimum I would use with the 688, whereas I think the Decapo I can work well with significantly less power (IMHO, the Decapo I can be a little tilted up, and probably works better with tube gear). All this assuming that your room size is appropriate to both speakers...something smaller than 250sqft. Assuming they are matched with the right amp, I agree that you can't really go wrong with either.

(disclaimer: I am a Focus Audio dealer).

Hope this helps...

Thanks Phil for the advice.

You have given me some before and I appriciate it. Currently my amp is a Blue Circle CS. I just got it and it is breaking in. I am loving it.

It has preouts. So over the next few years I am going to work towards a poweramp (BC22 or 24 - not sure which yet but thinking 24) and use the CS preouts then replace it with a 21.1 pre.

It would be nice if I did not have have to replace my speakers again (at least for a long while), and I would like some that would last me well into my next few rounds of upgrading.

Like I said, I can't not afford anything now, but I would like to have a goal to work towards in the future.


I own the DeCapos (non-i version) and I think it is a great speaker overall. Unlike Phil above, I do not find the DeCapo "tilted-up" at all. In fact, I would consider it just the opposite based on my listening experience over the last year.

One GREAT thing about the DeCapos is that you can drive them with virtually ANY amp. I've use mine with several different SET tube amps that generated as little as 1.5 watts/channel and I've driven them with solid state. Currently I'm using either a pair of BottleHead Paramour 2A3 tube amps @ 3.5 watts/ch or a pair of Channel Islands VMB-1 40 watt/channel solid state amps. Both are excellent!

There are a lot of lower powered amps available at relatively bargain prices. That alone keeps me happy with my "easy to drive" DeCapos. I don't think I will ever own another pair of speakers that require high powered amps. Quality high-powered amps cost to much for my frugal comfort level.


Yes, as Phil pointed out the 688s really benefit from high power. I found it interesting though that a gentleman I corresponded with was driving the 688's in a 18x21 room with a 30wpc Audiomat tube amp with no complaints.

I know in my own room 12x13 a 40wpc Jolida was adequate but the 688's really came alive with a 80wpc Jungson class A amp.

One thing I will say though is IMO the 688's really don't need tubes in the signal path. They work well with tubes but I think they benefit more from adequate power then they do from the tubes.