How to make the Focal Kanta No. 2 speakers sing?


My first post here and I would like to hear your thoughts and tips for "warming up" my Focal Kanta 2 speakers.



The sound from my Focal Kanta 2 speakers in my room is a bit shouty, bright and thin sounding, clearly lacking level and emotion in the lower mid range. Bass is good, quick and quite deep though.

Any tips for getting more "vocal warmth" into the system? Tube preamp, Dirac, ...? I see that many use old school power hungry amps that can heat your house during winter to drive Focal speakers. Is that really needed or can I get away with a modern amp that doesn’t cost a fortune.


More in depth information

In my living room (5.3 x 4.1 x 2.4m) I have a setup with both 2 channel and a multi channel setup. They share the same front speakers and front speaker amp.

2 channel setup:


5.2 channel setup:


I focus mainly on the two channel setup here. Multichannel is used quite much also for streaming movies, but is ok.

So the main issue for me is that the sound in in the two channel setup is thin sounding with mids clearly lacking in the lower end. It can be fatiguing to listen for a few hours. Bass though is enjoyable, fast and fairly deep.

Earlier I had the Focal Aria 936 speakers as front speakers in the same room (connected to the Yamaha AVR at that time). I liked them but wanted to upgrade to the next level after a few years 😄 The Arias were more forgiving than the Kantas, had more enjoyable warmth in the mids and were a bit rolled off in the top compared to the Kantas. Not fatiguing at all. But everything else the Kantas do better.

I have also had some other speakers, up to half Kanta price range, in the same room where all have had fuller mids and a more forgiving sound: Dynaudio, Totem and Triangle floor standers as well as Buchardt and my really old B&W 602s3 (super full mids but super rolled off in the top) stand speakers. The Kantas are different animals to all these and seem to require the a more delicate and correct chain of components to perform.

I have messed around with speaker positioning quite a lot. It’s mainly the bass region that is affected. Mids not very much.

Options I’m considering:

  • Upgrading the Yamaha AVR to a Marantz Cinema 50 for example to get Dirac room tuning, and run the 2 channel system through this also. The quality of the Marantz might not be the best here to use as a 2 channel pre amp/processor.
  • Use a dedicated pre amp for the 2 channel system. Budget up to 2000€. Not sure what to look for? Used equipment is fine.
  • Tubes? Never really listened to tubes but from what I understand you generally get a more warm sound from them. Tube preamp? Not very modern but might do the trick. Schiit Freya + seems to be within the budget range for example.
  • Other 2 channel amplifier. As mentioned I have tried to avoid the nuclear power plants of amps. I see people recommending amps from manufacturers like Musical Fidelity, Sim Audio, McIntosh, Accuphase etc. But these are really costly and I feel they generally belong in an older age that we are moving away from. But it might be what is needed, I don’t know, haven’t really heard them play.
  • Treat the room more. I have a big sofa, a really big carpet and a few acoustic panels in the room (no real science behind them now). The room in itself is a bit "bright" so here I can make a better effort of course, regardless of other taken measures.
  • Get other speakers. I can also just face it that the Kantas are what they are, sounding thin in the midrange and lacking emotion in voices. Getting other speakers might be the easiest upgrade. But it’s not that easy to find and test speakers in your room either...


Long story. Any recommendations?



Some of these posts were nothing more than rehearsed diatribe about Focal speakers and the beryllium tweeter. Your speakers are fine, but they sound brand new and they will need some time to work in. In the meantime consider the following:

  1. Your room acoustics have at least 50% to do with your room, treat it properly, it will make the biggest difference!
  2. Try not to pair Focal speakers with Class D amplification, or at least pair them with a tube preamp. This will help with the mids and gentleness of delivery.
  3. Adding 2 subs to your setup will really fill out the sound.

Last thing I will note in defense of the tweeter in your Focal Kantas is that they will deliver superb detail... it seems as though many audiophiles like calling this ’bright’. But I will stand by the sale of my Wilson speakers on my move to Focals for the detail that was never apparent in the former.

Do you use Roon? If so, with the addition of a ~ $150 microphone and freely available software, you could probably create a convolution filter to flexibly address any issues with frequency response in the room, at least when streaming with Roon.

That is what I would do personally in order to help get speakers better tuned in a room. I use canned convolution filters with Roon for specific highly regarded headphones and the results are transformational. I have researched but have not had time to try and create my own for room correction, though I will go out on a limb and say that any system out there save those that are already professionally tuned in one way or another can be made better to various degrees using a DSP based solution like that provided with Roon.

Other similar DSP solutions are possible, but for existing Roon users, this is a very powerful and cost effective solution if you are mostly streaming with Roon these days like me. Google Roon website for more info.

Room treatments to reduce energy in problem range as indicated above earlier is the other possibility but it’s hard to know to what extent this would have to be done and what the end cost would be in order to have desired affect. Personally, I would probably not hold on to any speakers that would require me to go to extreme length for room treatment, but that just me. DSP is much more practical these days if needed.

Or rather than go to the nth degree to get the speakers tuned to the room, a simple graphic equalizer could surely at least make things better. Schitt sells one these days that is not expensive and has been very well received. Many other software based eq solutions are possible.



I would second trying a tube preamp along with tube DAC, the Lab 12 DAC 1 or something from MHDT, I had a balanced MHDT tube DAC that did make a noticeable difference. 

I would still stand by shifting away from your current Amp and to something that is known to drive speakers with difficult loads, impedance swings.  In my research, found a good amount of people with real world experience that echoed this, it made the biggest difference for me, gear wise.  There is also a lot of truth in room treating but I think you are in the same boat I am, it’s a shared living space and you can only room treat a certain extent before the family will shut it down.  

I’d also be weary of anyone making absolute statements, Focal makes amazing speakers, they are designed and built in house, likely one of the if not the top Speaker company when it comes to their ability to scale, making really high quality speakers with outstanding engineering, R&D, craftsmanship and synergy.  That said, they have a sound signature, not everyone loves Focals, if you aren’t in love with the sound signature, which does lean into the hyper detailed side of things, even with the room treated properly and the right electronics, you likely won’t love the speakers.  That’s why different speaker manufactures have varying philosophies, sound signatures.  Take Sonus Faber as a compare and contrast to Focals, in general, if you are a big Sonus Faber fan, you won’t be a big Focal fan.  Both are high end speaker manufactures in Europe with Focal likely having an edge due to their vertical integration on just about every component in their speakers but you’ll still have a decent percentage of buyer pick Sonus Faber based on a preference toward a more laid back, warmer sounding speaker. Neither is right or wrong. 

I think the plan around using your Yamaha receiver is a great place to start.  Do some research on room treatment, you can try some DYI things out form a temporary basis along with using the Yammy, that should give you the baseline to decide if the speakers are right for you and that is absolutely all that matters, your ears, what sounds good to you.  When I sold the Electra’s I had was to a new Audiophile, he had nothing but the speakers, I ended up hooking up an old Yammy HT receiver I had, didn’t have Room Correction, he listens to the Yammy, A/B against a Parasound A21 and Primaluna 400 Evo Integrated, he bought the Yammy from me for $ 50 and last check was still using it to power the speakers.  If you do keep them and you want to stay in your budget, I would look at used Parasound a21’s, the older version is a really good deal, jump into a used Tube Pre, that combo would work wonders for the Kanta’s and what you are trying to accomplish.  You could then upgrade the Streamer / DAC at a later date and the Pre if you got the itch.  The Parasound A21 isn’t the best Amp out there but for the $$, used, you will have a really hard time beating the value for what you are looking to accomplish, high quality parts, designed by a legend in the industry, A/B amplification that is beefy and leans slightly to the warm side of the spectrum.  I have no bias towards Parasound, I’ve cycled through a ton of gear, I don’t own any Parasound gear at the moment, I did however use an A21 with multiple Focal Towers, again, wasn’t my favorite but for the money and I bought mine new, it from a value play, beat everything else I had, hands down. 

Good Luck! 

@pennfootball71 100% agree that the Parasound JC5 is a great match, that's what powers my Kanta 3s. And there's plenty of lowend. Getting speaker placement dialed in with basic room treatment is crucial but that's far from unique to Kantas.

Good input from everyone.

It seems that the Class D amp I have now is not really recommended at all in this setup. Noted. 😁 Also a few Parasound amp recommendations have come in. That might very well be a way forward. A used one seems to be possible to get here in Sweden too. The positive here is also that the sound when watching movies is affected when using the Yamaha as Pre and a Parasound as front speaker amp.

Also trying out a tube preamp would be a interesting. I will see if I can get hold of one for testing.

I'm not using Roon, but the "canned convolution filters" that you mention @mapman is worth some more reading up on. Never heard of these filters.

And as mentioned more room treatment is on the list. I will fire away an email to GIK and see what they have to recommend that is not too obtrusive and has a medium WAF at least. A level up is needed. I have sometimes put up some temporary generic absorbing panels (I have 12 pieces of 0,5m x 0,5m standard "ceiling absorbing panels" lying around for testing) for first reflections and center stage and it makes a difference. With correct positioning and tailored panels here the effect should be more noticeable.

Also the digital path for "treating the room" is interesting with all the kinds of devices out there. YPAO / Dirac / MiniDSP:s/ ...