A Problem with Focal Sopra No2s -- Or Maybe Not

To Doug Schneider,

Thanks very much for publishing the answer [to my question]. I just bought a pair of Focal Sopra No2s! Financially, it makes sense for me right now versus the Vivid B1 Decade.

I know it needs a significant time for break-in. I can’t help myself, so after about 20 hours, I took out my RadioShack SPL meter for a measurement at my listening position, an 8’ equilateral triangle, with the speakers’ tweeters turned in directly toward me, using the Stereophile Test CD 2. The measurement revealed a problem: a 10dB drop from 10kHz to 20KHz, which is very different from the measurements you published along with your review. Any thoughts? Problem with the speaker? The room?

To match this great speaker, I would like to upgrade my digital front end. Currently, I am using the Cambridge Audio Azur 840C. The reason I bought the Sopra is for its live, resolving, transparent, but somewhat neutral and musical sound, with tight and articulate bass. The 840C does not fit that description. Therefore, I am going to use the 840C as a transport and buy a separate DAC. Could you please point me to the right direction regarding what brands of DAC I should audition? The ones with a house sound to match the Sopra? Or just a good step up from the 840C? Preferably, DACs with the capability to connect to my NAS (I would like to try high-resolution downloads). How about a Cambridge such as the 851N? Or a PS Audio such as the DirectStream DAC or Junior? Simaudio? Ayre Acoustics? Too many choices!

United States

I am glad I could help. I believe you purchased an excellent pair of speakers -- really hard to beat for the price.

For frequencies above 10kHz, I’d take what the RadioShack SPL meter says with a grain of salt -- I doubt it’s accurate for frequencies so high. Besides, if the tweeters are really way down in level, the sound will be extremely dull. Is the sound really dull? If so, contact the store you bought them from. If the sound is lively and spirited, you’re fine.

Without knowing more about your budget or your listening preferences, it’s really impossible to help with a DAC. The only thing I can say is that Cambridge, PS Audio, Simaudio, and Ayre Acoustics all make excellent ones, as do other companies such as Bryston, Meitner, EMM Labs, Hegel Music Systems, among others. I suggest listening to as many as you can. . . . Doug Schneider