Our Verdict 
This simplified take on a Bluetooth receiver isn’t without its quirks, but the Focal is a very talented performer
For 
Loads of detail
Open soundstage
Convenient design (for some)
Against 
No digital outputs
Lacks an ounce or two of refinement
Reviewed on

This Focal DAC is convenient, yet inconvenient. How? Well, it’s compatible with aptX Bluetooth – and that’s definitely a bonus for those toting compatible smartphones and tablets. 

Design

But the best (and cleverest) part is that its analogue output uses actual plugs so you can connect it directly to the back of your amplifier – there’s no need to add stereo interconnects and have them trailing around the back of your system.

The down side is that your connectivity options are restricted (i.e. there are no digital outputs should you want to use your amp’s DAC or an external DAC).

And depending on the distance between the left and right analogue sockets on the back of your amp (most, but not all are equal), the Focal might not be a perfect fit. 

Power it up, and a small white LED on top of Focal starts flashing – this shows that it’s ready to team up with your Bluetooth device.

More after the break

Performance

Stream some music and you are greeted by a very clean and clear sound. There’s a fantastic sense of spaciousness and atmosphere during the intro to Feeder’s Moonshine.

Drums and guitar caress the peaceful and fluid intro, but when the chorus kicks in, the Focal shows plenty of attack and bite.

The kick drum sounds solid and powerful and the high hat crashes with precision and texture, before the track shifts back down the gears to the lazier rhythms of the verse.

The Focal dishes out loads of detail too, arguably as much as the Arcam miniBlink

Play Adele’s Someone Like You and the Focal shows a fine grasp of the emotion in her vocal, but it just lacks that extra layer of refinement and sophistication the Arcam delivers.

Verdict

The miniBlink creates a stronger connection with the listener, for which we’d willingly pay the extra, but the Focal makes a very fine fist of music streamed over Bluetooth.

MORE: See all our DAC reviews

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