Focal and Bowers & Wilkins are two renowned and well respected brands in the audio industry that produces high quality speakers, soundbars, headphones, and subwoofers.
In this article, we will cover a general overview of both brands, looking specifically at sound quality, durability, price and so on. Of course, each brand has different devices at different price points, however we will compare them as closely as we can.
Focal Quick History
Focal is a renowned French speaker brand that is well known for its quality and performance. Focal has been creating and manufacturing home audio loudspeakers, automobile audio speaker drivers and amplifiers, recording monitoring loudspeakers, and headphones since 1979. The Focal brand, based in Saint-Étienne, France, has earned its place among the audio industry’s leaders by producing constant innovative technology.
Every new generation combines existing advancements and inventions, allowing them to continually add new products to their collections. The Focal goal is to create a faithful replica of its original work while preserving its reputation.
Bowers & Wilkins Quick History
Bowers & Wilkins, best known as B&W, is a British manufacturer of consumer and professional loudspeakers and headphones. B&W was founded in 1966 by John Bowers in Worthing, West Sussex, England. They currently have many award-winning loudspeaker designs to their name.
Focal Sound Quality
The Focal brand has been working on producing high-quality sound that is rich and precise in order to set itself apart from other companies. When you listen to music on low-quality equipment, you lose the richness of the sound.
The final presentation is heavily influenced by the sound production equipment type and quality of the initial recording and the file type (MP3, CD, etc.). Focal acoustic professionals specialize in sound precision and know how to bring out the richness of recorded sound samples.
Focal sound qualities include good dynamics (the contrast between bass and treble) and sound neutrality (the absence of coloration or frills which lead to distortion).
B&W Sound Quality
B&W puts a lot of money into research and development. This has allowed them to make many audio breakthroughs over the years. B&W devices are noted for delivering pure, natural and detailed sound reproduction. There’s chest-thumping bass and clear mids and highs.
One feature of some B&W speakers is a tweeter separated from the main cabinet, this allows the tweeter to produce an accurate sound that’s unaffected by the subwoofer.
Focal designs every component to work together to deliver the highest possible musical quality. Some of the features of the Focal brand that make them one of the best are listed below:
- Magnetic grille for woofers
- Aluminum/magnesium inverted dome tweeter
- Slatefiber midrange
- Bass reflex design (front-firing port)
- Lean-back design ensures precise sound at the listening position
- Bluetooth, HEOS, Wi-Fi, and AirPlay 2 streaming support.
- Multiple input and output ports
- Up to 5 years warranty on their product
- Innovative technology
- Sensitivity 92.5 dB
- High power handling
- Low distortion
- Bi-amp system
- Accurate and natural sound output
- Reliable construction material
Even though B&W is an older brand, they are still competing with best-in-class modern devices with modern features, like:
- Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth, WiFi
- Wired connectivity includes USB, HDMI, optical audio
- AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and aptX Adaptive Bluetooth support
- Bowers & Wilkins Music App, which supports music streaming services including Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz, Soundcloud and TuneIn
- Amazon Alexa voice control for hands-free operation
Focal Build Quality
Most Focal products you buy will have a solid build. Focal has maintained a consistent level of product build quality over the years. If you desire a high level of build quality in your devices, Focal is among the best you can get out there.
Their products are often compared to more reputable brands such as Yamaha and lots more.
B&W Build Quality
B&W has always been at the forefront in pioneering new techniques that improve the acoustics and durability of their devices. Their devices are enclosed in aluminum or sturdy plastic for a durable and attractive finish.
B&W patented the use of Kevlar fibers, impregnated with a stiffening resin to provide controlled rigidity and internal damping; and minimize distortion. They currently use their own material, Continuum, for their speaker cones.
Ease of Use
Focal Ease Of Use
Focal products are very simple to use and come with a guidebook that explains how to set up and use the equipment.
You’ll love the Focal brand speaker base because it makes speaker positioning and alignment (and, if necessary, re-positioning) very easy.
Unlike most other speaker designs, which require reaching beneath a cabinet with one or more spanners to adjust the spikes fitted to the base, the focal speaker base lets you simply reach below and make changes quickly, easily, and without the use of any equipment.
B&W Ease Of Use
B&W devices are very easy to install and operate. This is made even easier by the company’s support for voice assistants, such as Alexa. The B&W music app allows you to use streaming services on your devices and finetune the sound output to your taste.
Focal products are significantly less expensive than some of the other audio system manufacturers in the same league.
This does not imply that they are inferior to other brands, and, of course, some other manufacturers’ products are less expensive, while some are more expensive than Focal.
The price range for different focal devices is listed below:
Home speakers: $150 – $1500
Headphones: $50 – $300
subwoofers: $150 – $2000
Car speaker: $100 – $500
Focal produces sound systems that include a variety of high-quality characteristics, such as a durable design and a powerful sound, and they are all reasonably priced. No matter how inexpensive a focal product is, it will still provide an adequate output for the purpose for which it was created.
B&W devices usually have midrange prices, though some devices are well into the high-end price range. Their price ranges are given below.
Subwoofers: $900 – $3200
Earbuds/headphones: $320 – $550
Speakers: $500 – $8400
Focal Space Requirements
Focal offers numerous products that are ideal for use practically anywhere and offer excellent portability. These include loudspeakers, soundbars, car audio, Bluetooth speakers, and lots more.
However, it’s important to remember that the size of these products isn’t the only aspect to consider when deciding where to put them; ventilation requirements are also to be considered.
Insufficient space may cause the device to overheat, resulting in a sudden shutdown. It is ideal to leave a few inches of free space around a Focal device, especially those that must be installed in a confined space.
B&W Space Requirements
B&W floorstanders require quite some space in which to operate and are better suited to spacious rooms.
The bookshelf speakers are more versatile and can either be mounted on a stand, fixed to a wall using brackets or placed on a desktop or shelf space. Keep in mind that they all require some free space around them for ventilation.
Focal Remote Controls
Focal provides easy access to their devices as well as the ability to control them. With the use of remote control, users can listen to music on the gadget from any room. The FSP-8 remote control is an example of this. This LCD remote control enhances the DSP FSP-8 user experience.
You may simply make a change in the primary settings, and also significantly, remember up to four saved presets thanks to the easy control
B&W Remote Controls
Some B&W devices have their own in-house remote controls but they also support the use of third-party remote controllers. The B&W music app and Alexa allow you to control your speaker from any device on the same WiFi network.
B&W Connectivity Options
B&W devices can be connected to each other and to other devices using wired or wireless options. These include Bluetooth, HDMI, WiFi, USB, aux input and a whole range of other options.
Focal Power Range
The amount of power consumed by Focal devices differs from one gadget to the next. For example, an entry-level Focal receiver’s power range is roughly 120 watts for one channel and 60 watts for two channels. However, the average soundbar’s power range/consumption is around 74 watts.
It is advisable to look through the user manuals to understand the power range of your focal device in order to get the most out of it.
B&W Power Range
The power range for B&W devices varies for different devices, though they all give quite powerful performance, even without the use of amplifiers.
The B&W 607 S2 bookshelf speaker is rated at 100 Watts, while the B&W Zeppelin peaks at 240Watts.
Focal Frequency Response
We will make a few comparisons to give an overall idea. Focal Chora 826-D floor-standing loudspeaker has a frequency response of about 48Hz-28kHz while Focal Sopra SW 1000 BE Subwoofer has a frequency response of about (+/- 3dB) 20 Hz–150 Hz.
You can do your research on Focal Audio products to know about each device’s frequency response when you need to get one.
The B&W 606 Speaker has a frequency response range of 52Hz on the low end and 28KHz on the high end, which is simply amazing for a bookshelf speaker. The B&W 804 D4 floorstanding loudspeaker has a vast 20Hz to 35KHz frequency response range.
If you need a good sound system in the future, you can put your faith in Focal. Decades of experience have made the organization into a market-leading brand. Try Focal for your next sound upgrade if you’re looking for great sound quality and high-fidelity sound. B&W devices deliver excellent performance at reasonable prices. Though they can be quite costly, you should expect nothing but the best from them.