Naming a range of loudspeaker systems "Bird" might well be a criminal offence to stoic marketing types, but the French can make it sound like an almost unavoidable course of nature. Other than looking at Focal's present plans for quality multimedia sound, we bare forth the barely-documeted Focal XS Book, just for you.
By the eighth year of this new millenium, wild and rampant proliferation of mobile music devices has forced France's quality-loudspeaker maker Focal, to reconsider their strategy in making good sound accessible to music lovers. Not only was it unglamourous to litter Zen-themed houses with fire-hose-looking cables and imposing monoblock power amplifiers – many listeners have switched to alternate modes of music-listening – the kind of things known to draw deep frowns from the "serious audiophile" fraternity.
Home entertainment setup featuring the Focal Bird loudspeaker system.
Clearly, not everybody wants to get hopelessly entangeld in power cords, or Okki Nokki-ing the B side after playing the A. In order to address the evolving needs of what Jean-Philippe FONTAINE (grand export sales manager of Focal) calls "nomadic devices," Focal is growing its range of "simple, affordable" loudspeaker systems.
Immeasurably hot-looking and Focal's Grand Export Sales Manager: Jean-Philippe FONTAINE.
The Focal Bird range we are looking at today is indeed resultant from Focal's rapid embrace of multimedia and lifestyle markets. Focal uses a multi-way approach to creating Bird's satellite loudspeakers (so each Bird is essentially a two-way miniature). Gérard Chrétien maintains that Focal's core business involves drive units, made in-house, and that to settle for anything less (such as using a single wideband driver, or an OEM one) is "not possible."
Justin Choo, editor of T3 gets the full story from Gérard himself.
Gérard also warned invitees of the dangers of compressed music files: "Do not expect miracle from Bird" he stressed, when the topic of low-bitrate MP3 and other nasties crossed his mind. Remember the Linn folks who told you the how "information lost at the source is lost forever," when they sold you the LP12?
The Power Bird can connect to any iDevice via a transmission dongle. The use of the Kleer codec allows improved throughput for wireless audio streams alongside lower power consumption. This is not unlike Chord Electronics' and Creative's adoption of aptX for improved audio throughput. Of course you might want to read about John Atkinson's take on "bit-budgets" here at Stereophile.com. Putting Kleer on the test bench should make an interesting comparison.