Focal Sopra n1 - mids are a bit recessed compared to Lumina IIs

I upgraded my speakers from Sonus Faber Lumina II's to Focal Sopra N1. I am using the Luxman 595 class A amp, which I used for the Lumina IIs as well. 

I love the bass and imaging of the Sopra N1s. Really good! However, one thing is bothering me. The mids or vocals seemed more recessed on the Sopra N1s when compared to my much cheaper Lumina IIs. Why is this? I miss the liveliness of the Lumina IIs from having those mids more forward. 

Also, when I heard the Focal Sopra N1s at the store on a McIntosh 12000, I did not detect the mids being recessed. So it's very confusing also in that respect.  


The 2kish/presence band dip and boosted top end of the Focal will give you the perception of recessed mids. You will find it very hard to compensate with purist amps. If your amp has tone controls, turn down the treble knob to try and get the mids back. Or get a dac like the RME with built in PEQ and adjust to taste (Purism hurts/leads to constant disgruntlement).

Good luck.

@deep_333 would it be like that also for the kanta 2s? I was deciding between those and the sopras 1, I went with the sopras because they were a good deal. But now I wonder if I should got the kanta 2s

@dman777 , You are not going to get away from that Focal house sound you experienced on the Sopras (which you didn’t like) with the Kantas either. But, if the Kanta, 11k/pair is in your budget, you should take a serious look at the Wharfedale Elysian 4 floorstander @ 10k/pair, give it a listen. Essentially, it is the British mid-centric type of house sound (with non-abrasive easy highs) pushed into "high end" with Schweikert/Wilson like bass impact, dynamics, etc. Sonically, it is very much a "high-end" speaker all freaking day long without the high-end pricing and should give you a signature that’s more up your alley. Thank Mr. Peter Comeau for all his hard work if it ends up becoming your "end game". Audit before you buy, of course.



The Brits got your back on this one....The French are gonna let you down here 😁



OP I'm with you, I also hear that recessed mids plus I'm not a fan of the slight brightness Focals have, at least that is what I always hear every time I've heard them. Yes you most likely got a "good deal" but if you don't like the sound well then it's not the deal you really thought! 

@rsf507  @deep_333 when I heard the the Sopra 1s (and Kanta 2s) at the hifi store on a MacIntosh 12000, I did not detect recessed mids at all. In fact, I feel in love with the sound! The MacIntosh 12000 has a EQ, is that why? I can’t remember but I think I also heard it with the EQ off and did not detect a recessed mid sound.

Also, as a side note... on my home system I don’t think the highs are very strong on the Sopra 1s. I think the Lumina IIs had more strong/boosted highs. But yet the mids where not recessed on the Lumina IIs so doesn’t make sense.

I've listened to prior generations of the same speaker and found a similar issue.  Interestingly enough, the problems goes away with the larger versions.  For instance, the Focal Profile 2-way vs. the 2.5 way (2 vs. 3 drivers).  I think it's a deliberate balance, the 2-ways seem to be better suited for low-mid volume listening.

I have had a few listing sessions with the Sopra's and kanta 2-3's over the last few weeks, in a well treated room. I agree the Sopra's midrange is recessed and the top end is tipped up. the Kanta's are not nearly as bad and are a bit wormer presentation IMO. Amps were the new Naim mono blocks and the new Chord Integrated (very nice amp but lacking in options). 


I’ve not heard recessed mids with any Focal speaker I’ve heard or seen any evidence of that in measurements. If someone has measurements showing this I’m interested. Love my lowly 836w speakers and they have fought off pricier competition I’ve bought and sold and they remain. I had some Aria 906 monitors also and detected no recessed mids. 

I’m waiting for that localish sale of some Sopra or Electras and I would likely bite if the price is right. 

What you describe sounds completely correct. Focal speakers are very treble forward speakers and MacIntosh are very midrange / bass heavy… details light. The combo probably sounded good. Your Sonus Faber are very natural sounding with very midrange revealing speakers, your Luxman is very trebbly with a fair amount of slam… kind of bimodal with emphasis on treble and bass.

That sounds exactly what I would expect.


Mating a Luxman… you want very relaxed / warm speakers or they are going to sound like the midrange is sucked out. Not a good combination unless you want copious quantities of detail with bass emphasis. If you want musical, fleshed out… well, neither Focal or Luxman are the ticket. 

I would measure your room for starters. REW is free software, you just need a mic. 

Recessed mids seems odd for a focal but I have not heard the Sopra1. In general maybe toe them out a bit to knock down the highs which might push the mids more forward in perspective. 

Worse case cut your losses and try again. I have found Revel Be line to sound similar but be smoother in frequency response. The 126be might surprise you and save a bunch of money. 

Ah, the dealers/pied pipers/V curve ferals, etc have started to arrive for damage control and stating that the OP’s experience is illegitimate. These dudes will soon claim "It’s not the speaker, it is you!!"

On a half moon night for exactly 14 mins before midnight, the lush chocolatey full bodied mids of the Sopras will pop out, right boys? Mmhmm.

I auditioned the Focal Kanta 3 a couple of weeks ago with a McIntosh integrated and found them to be as you described with the Sopras, good bass and highs but poor mids.

I'm a Sopra No2 owner.  The Sopra's are very sensitive to where they are placed in the room.  If you get them dialed they will sound wonderful.  The Sopra's will work very well when placed closer to the front wall than most speakers.  This will give you room gain in the upper mid base and smooth out the presentation.  In the Focal owners manual, it describes a very specific ratio of distance between the side and front walls.  Start there and tweak as you see fit.  As others have said above, the Sopra's don't need much toe in.  They will still image like crazy unlike many other designs when not toed in.  This will help keep them from sounding tipped up.  Good luck and cheers.

If you don't have 200-300 hours on them I'd patiently wait them out. I heard how everyone called Sopra's bright until they broke in and settled down and it really does take some time. Now they're just slightly forward and very detailed. He patient and try different positioning to see what works for you. This really took me a while with my Sopra 2's and was discouraging. Now I'm super happy. 

@rsf507  @deep_333 when I heard the the Sopra 1s (and Kanta 2s) at the hifi store on a MacIntosh 12000, I did not detect recessed mids at all. In fact, I feel in love with the sound! The MacIntosh 12000 has a EQ, is that why?

@dman777 , Here's the ~sound power for your Focal....  Directivity indices are ok with Focal where you could try some salvage solution to improve perception with digital PEQ (no analog eq), i.e., they are a relatively more EQ friendly speaker.  But, you don't want to slap too much lipstick on a pig either. If i were you, i'd sell it to any number of dudes who like these types of things and move on to some speakers out there that better suit your ears...Audition the Wharfedale Elysian 4, JBL HDI 3800, etc...or stick with the Sonus Fabers you had...Audition something higher up on the Sonus Faber chain.

@deep_333 is it possible to bring up the freq graph of the Sonus Faber Lumina IIs to compare? 

@j-wall That sounds good, thanks. I kind of wish the Sopra's were brighter though. 

@ghdprentice You hit the bullseye about the Luxman. I am on the fence about selling it because I can not afford to keep buying speakers until I find the right speakers for it. Although, the Sonus Faber Lumina IIs are not neutral. I also tried the Sonus Faber Sonettos II and those were neutral. In fact, they were boring to me and I much prefer the Lumina IIs. 

I got a really good deal on the Sopra 1s. I bought them brand new, unopened and never used from a dealer for just 7k. I really like the McIntosh 12000 amp. I plan on buying that amp in 6 months. Should I just wait until I buy the amp to see if I like the speakers more? I get anxiety where I feel like I should sell the speakers right away before they loose more value (I am still new to this hobby).

Watch this before you look at the Wharfedale Elysian

I own the r11 non metas which I love.. the thing I noticed about them the most when I listened to them was the deep engrossing sound stage something I rarely have Heard on any speaker jazz is simply (you are there)sublime.. I almost bought a used pair of Electra 1038 be's, and was always a focal fan.. but lately I have turned towards Sonos Faber, Amanti G5.. if I had the money of course..

I did some research, and based on the measurements here:

Besides the normal advice for Focals (little to no toe-in) you may also want to add some EQ between 5 and 10 kHz to dampen the treble bump.  Alternatively some gentle use of the treble control will work.

I read on the Focal website that it takes about 50 hours to break in their speakers to get the correct audible characteristics.  I think I might have total 1-2 hours. So maybe the mids might change? 

I don't see how 50 hours of burn in time can be enough for any speakers. 200-500 hours is where it often is. That's in addition to Luxman amp, as ghdprentice said. I bet, D'Agostino Momentum would be great. Sorry, had to say it. Or VAC.

Definitely need 300 -400 hours on that speaker played at louder volumes and the beryllium Tweeter takes a long time to break in I’m sure it’ll make a difference in the mids

you have pointed out why i do not prefer focal speakers because i highly value the midrange, 

latest generation mcintosh amps are much clearer and slightly midrange forward hence the improvement. 

I own the wonderful and highly valued Borresen X3's and they told me 500 hours is needed of burn in...They're correct ...between 300 and 500 was a Big difference. Consider those at 11K from a company that makes half million dollar speakers. they are a bargain.

Why isn't anyone commenting on the amp?  I must be missing something.  My Focals sound better in the mids with more power.  

Just my 2¢: I auditioned a pair of Sopra 1s using my Luxman 5M20 and a streamer/DAC as source with no preamp. They sounded very nice across the frequency range. I was listening to mostly classic jazz.

Yep, I love the looks of the Sopra's but to me, sound isn't as good for classic rock and heavy vocal stuff as many other speakers and most much less costly. But these others don't look as good as the Sopra's:)

Just to follow up on this, I did the break-in period of 50 hours and the speaker sound 100% better. I think that was the issue

@dman777 Speaker break-in is a real thing. My current pair of speakers sounded heavily distorted out of the box and it took like 50 hours for the distortions to subside and another further 50 hours for the sound balance to settle. 

@blancpain1 For French speakers, Cabasse IMO is the fastest and has the most luscious mid and vocal. I auditioned Triangle Duetto, Focal Diablo, Apertura Adamante, and Cabasse Baltics. I ended up with the Baltics. It can handle everything thrown at it, including speed metal.