Focal XS review

The XS is very good, but with tighter bass control it could be a class-leading system Tested at £400

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Our Verdict

The XS is very good, but with tighter bass control the Focal XS could be a class-leading system

For

  • Good looks
  • extensive spec
  • fast, detailed performance

Against

  • Bottom end can struggle to keep up with the rest of the frequency information

No doubt about it, the Focal XS certainly looks the part on your desktop. The two satellite speakers are slim and elegant and the subwoofer, while slightly less visually appealing, can of course be hidden under the desk.

In specification terms, too, the XS promises plenty. The sub houses 2x30W of power for the speakers and 70W for itself; one speaker incorporates an iPod dock, 3.5mm input and mini-USB socket; and digital-to-analogue conversion is handled by Burr-Brown components. When computer and iPod are attached, a 'sync' button offers iTunes synchronisation.

Playing an Apple Lossless file of PJ Harvey & John Parish's Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen via the iPod dock, the XS sounds rapid and well controlled. The highest frequencies wouldn't benefit from being any harder, but they're substantial with fine tonal variety.

Laptop audio also impresses
The story is much the same when listening via a laptop. The XS sounds much more agreeable when receiving information from a computer via USB – the Focal DACs are far superior to those in any laptop we've heard. Again, the speed and attack of sound is occasionally thrilling.

The subwoofer, though, sounds a bit portly and a lethargic – it's not short of punch or depth, but the lack of rigour where trailing edges of bass notes are concerned means it can sound estranged from the rest of the system.

A little more low-end discipline and the Focal XS could win an unreserved recommendation – as it stands, try before you buy.

Specifications

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General Information

Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.focal.com
Brand NameFocal
Product SeriesXS
Product TypeSpeaker System
ManufacturerFocal JMlab
Manufacturer Part NumberFOCAL XS 21
Product NameFocal XS
Product Model2.1

Physical Characteristics

Satellite Speaker Width8.8 cm
Satellite-Speaker Weight Approximate997.9 g
Subwoofer Height26 cm
Satellite Speaker Depth14.9 cm
Subwoofer Weight Approximate8.39 kg
Subwoofer Width23 cm
Satellite Speaker Height32.1 cm
ColourBlack
Subwoofer Depth37 cm

Technical Information

Minimum Frequency Response39 Hz
FeaturesBass Reflex, PMP Docking
PlacementDesktop, Floor Standing
Maximum Frequency Response20 kHz

Audio

Subwoofer TypeActive
RMS Output Power130 W
Speaker Configuration2.1

Miscellaneous

Compatibility
  • PC
  • Mac
  • iPod

Interfaces-Ports

USBYes