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I mentioned this in my Vestia line review, but I was so happy to meet up with Focal this year at CEDIA in Dallas, TX. The group from Focal were proud of all the new products they were coming to market. That excitement and pride was palpable as we walked through their outdoor speaker garden. I don’t know if the speakers sounded better because of it, but it really was contagious.
Focal created an outdoor landscape that would match the areas of your home you’d find these amazing new speakers installed. The outdoor rated in-ceiling speakers were in a pergola, the OD Stones and SAT 5s were in a grassy path with the sub buried in a flower bed. Focal made sure it looked like an outdoor area that you’d want to sit, relax, sip on a cool beverage, and enjoy an aural escape. Focal created a line of speakers for you to slowly enter your happy place and escape into your outdoor oasis.
When Focal walked me through each different point of the brand and let us experience the difference between the 200 Series and the 1000 Series in-ceiling speakers I was surprised at how big of a difference there was between the two. An even bigger swing was Focal stated the system didn’t have the 1000 ICW Sub10 (their in-ceiling subwoofer) engaged, but when they turned it on, I was gobsmacked by how much more musical the pergola became.
Focal made me feel like they put as much thought and precision into their outdoor speakers as they do their award winning HiFi speakers. Focal even went one step beyond their competition by creating an optional tilted stand. The tilted stand allows the in-ceiling speakers to angle the full speaker array towards a specific area. Other manufacturers use a pivoting tweeter to aim the treble, but Focal made sure everything was firing towards you. Just one more step to make sure that you can create the best sound no matter where you sit.
Two important specifications in the Littora line (and any outdoor speaker) that are important to discuss are the IP Rating and the Temperature tolerance.
Focal is measuring temperature tolerance in Celsius (so I’ve added a little reference point so you don’t have to google the Fahrenheit conversion).
IP Rating stands for Ingress Protection of an object. In layman’s terms, it’s how well something is protected against solids and liquids. Pieces are rated by IP (Ingress Protection) Solid Rating (first number) and Liquid Rating (second number). For example, IP12 means it’s protected against solid objects over 50mm, e.g. accidental touch by hands for solids and protected against direct sprays of water up to 15 degrees from the vertical.
It sounds like a lot to figure out, but a simple reference point is that IP ratings between 44 and 65 may be used for both indoor and general outdoor use, but anything lower than IP44 should ONLY be used indoors.
The In-Ceiling speakers (LITTORA 200ICW6/8, 1000ICW8/10/SUB) share the same ratings:
- IP rating: IP65
- Protection against dust and against low-pressure water jets (like a garden hose).
- Temperature Tolerance: -20C / 90C (a winter day in Chicago and the perfect Well Done Texas Beef Brisket).
The LITTORA 200 OD SAT 5 / SUB 12 / STONE 8 have the following ratings:
- IP rating: IP55
- Protection against dust limited ingress, not harmful deposits and greater and against low-pressure water jets (like a garden hose).
- Temperature Tolerance: -20C / 65C (the coldest it gets in the United Kingdom and the melting point of the Crayons you left in the back seat of a car once when you were seven).
Focal Littora Lineup:
- 200 ICW6 6.5" In-Wall/In-Ceiling 2-Way Speaker
- 200 ICW8 8" In-Wall/In-Ceiling 2-Way Speaker
- OD Stone 8 2-Way Outdoor Loudspeaker
- OD SAT 5 5" 2-Way Outdoor Speaker
- OD Sub 12 12" Outdoor Subwoofer
- Littora 1000 ICW8 8" In-Wall/In-Ceiling 2-Way Speaker
- 1000 ICW10 10" In-Wall/In-Ceiling 2-Way Speaker
- 1000 ICW Sub10 10" In-Wall/In-Ceiling Subwoofer
The Littora 200 ICW6 is the first speaker Focal designed for their new outdoor series. It’s an in-ceiling speaker (it can also go in-wall). It is the shallowest in the line up at only 3 ¾” deep.
It shares the same 1” Aluminum ‘M’-shaped inverted dome tweeter as the other 200 series outdoor speakers in the line, but don’t think that these can only live outside.
This would be a perfect speaker to live in your steam shower. Why? It won’t be adversely affected by the high humidity and will outlast you while you jam out.
- Speaker Driver: 6.5” Mid-Bass / 1” Aluminum ‘M’-shaped inverted dome tweeter
- Frequency Response: 65 Hz – 28 kHz
- Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Recommended amp power: 25 – 130W
- Dimensions: 8.25” x 3.75”
- Weight: 3.1lbs
Slightly larger in size than the Littora 200 ICW6, the 200 ICW8 has a 8” mid-bass driver that not only increases it’s diameter, but enhances your bass and lets it drop lower.
How low? It’s frequency response goes down to 48 Hz in comparison to the 65 Hz of its smaller sibling. And if you want to increase your bass, without having to purchase a dedicated subwoofer, make sure you purchase the larger speaker.
It is also rated to take more power. I have always found the bigger the speaker (and the bigger the amplifier), the bigger the area of sound you’ll cover. These would be great if you plan on spreading out your speaker configuration, but still want expansive audio coverage.
- Speaker Driver: 8” Mid-Bass / 1” Aluminum ‘M’-shaped inverted dome tweeter
- Frequency Response: 48Hz – 28kHz
- Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Recommended amp power: 25 – 150W
- Dimensions: 10.06” x 4.44”
- Weight: 5.8lbs
I love the OD Stone 8’s unique design, but I also love its sound. It feels like Focal figured out how to have a proper bookshelf speaker live outside (not an easy task).
The OD Stone 8 has incredible dynamics as it plays thumping basslines and precise vocal reproduction with it’s 8” mid-bass drive and 1” Aluminum ‘M’-shaped inverted tweeter.
As an integrator, I really appreciate that Focal has a 5-strand cable so it can be wired to either a “traditional” 8 ohm amplifier or a 70/100volt amplifier (which is usually saved for commercial installations).
Focal designed the OD Stone to have a physical wire to choose between the two and not a switch to engage one versus the other. This calculated design choice means there was no chance of degrading the audio by having to pass through an additional component. When you design with uncompromising audio as your end result like Focal, you know you’re in for an outdoor speaker of the highest quality.
Even though the OD Sat 5 perfectly matches the OD Stone 8’s audio signature, it looks very different. Focal designed the OD Sat 5 to be more discrete for its placement but didn’t take away from its impact. The size and shape allows you to interlace speakers throughout your landscaping, or even up next to your existing outdoor lighting (as they share a similar form factor).
These speakers are more inconspicuous and subtle visually, but still pack a dynamic punch when it comes to delivering a HiFi audio experience.
The OD Sat 5s are also able to be connected with a 70/100volt amplifier much like the OD Stone 8. This allows your outdoor design to be versatile without compromise.
To complete your outdoor paradise, you will NEED to incorporate a subwoofer. Even though the OD Sat 5 and OD Stone 8 go low, they’ll never be a direct replacement for a speaker who’s only goal is to shake the ground around you.
The Littora OD SUB 12 is built to hit hard with a 12” Iris IP woofer and can create precise, deep and powerful bass (400 watts at its peak).
If you’re concerned about how much space an outdoor subwoofer will take up, don’t be. It is designed to have most of it hidden underground. However, there is an adjustable height vent, so you can control how much is exposed into your space.
If you’re looking to cover a small space, one will suffice. If you’re looking at making your backyard to be the envy of everyone in the neighborhood, you can add as many as you need (just make sure you have enough amplification).
As you choose the 1000 series Littora In-Ceiling over the 200 series speakers (which includes the OD pieces), the most important upgrade will be the ‘M’ shaped Beryllium tweeter. Focal is using the same inverted dome tweeter that is in their Utopia loudspeakers, which allows this In-Ceiling speaker to have unparalleled treble precision (especially impressive in the outdoor speaker category).
This also allows the point where Focal expands the range of the 1000 series to reach up 40 kHz compared to the 28 kHz capability of the 200 series. This allows the speaker to reach higher notes, so you can really listen to Mariah Carey hit her highest register, around the pool in the summer or celebrating the winter season (when it’s all you want for Christmas).
Focal also added a tweeter setting to adjust the treble based on the environment so you can set it +/- 3 dB giving you the ultimate flexibility based on the speaker placement.
- Speaker Driver: 8” Fiber IP Mid-Bass / 1” pure Beryllium ‘M’-shaped inverted dome tweeter
- Frequency Response: 45Hz – 40kHz
- Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Recommended amp power: 50 – 180W
- Dimensions: 10.13” x 4.88”
- Weight: 4.1lbs
The Focal Littora 1000 ICW10 is the crème de la crème of their bespoke line of outdoor speakers. What do you get when you finally reach this far up the line? The 1” Beryllium tweeter and 10” Mid-Woofer will produce a dynamic sound and a wide soundstage. I want you to hear them. You will be amazed at how rich they sound.
For a speaker with this much musical depth, it doesn’t have a deep mounting depth. It’s only 4 ¾” deep and a shallow mounting depth like that make it easy to fit in overhead spaces. Also, the optional tilted insert allows the 1000 ICW10 to be installed so it is focusing sound in all the right places, while looking discrete.
- Speaker Driver: 10” Fiber IP Mid-Bass / 1” pure Beryllium ‘M’-shaped inverted dome tweeter
- Frequency Response: 38Hz – 40kHz
- Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Recommended amp power: 50 – 200W
- Dimensions: 10.88” x 5.25”
- Mounting Depth: 4.75"
- Weight: 5.8lbs
Even The 1000ICW10 goes deep, it won’t go as deep as a dedicated subwoofer. Focal’s solution to that is the 1000 ICW SUB, their in-ceiling outdoor subwoofer. Are you excited as I am about an in-ceiling weather resistant subwoofer? I really hope so, because I am, and I don’t want to be alone.
I am excited because one request I get in outdoor systems is to put in something with face melting audio and chest thumping bass. We’ve melted a lot of faces but sometimes only tap on your chest. This is never an easy task in outdoor spaces because there is nothing to enhance your experience (like walls) only empty space.
The Littora 1000 ICW Sub can intermingle with the Littora 1000 ICW10s because they share the same size and look (except they’re a little deeper). Everything will look and sound seamless.
- Speaker Driver: 10” Fiber IP Woofer
- Frequency Response: 25Hz – 500Hz
- Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Recommended amp power: 100 – 300W
- Dimensions: 11.5” x 5.38”
- Mounting Depth: 4.88”
- Weight: 10.2lbs
As important as it is to discuss how good everything sounds, it’s just as imperative to consider how the Littora lineup looks. The OD Stones have a fascinating shape and feel more like an art installation than what we would normally find in in outdoor speaker, which are either very large rocks, or are the more inconspicuous match to an outdoor landscape uplight (like the design of the OD SAT 5s).
Don’t get me wrong, both have their place, but I appreciate Focal’s desire to create something new. The OD Stone’s modern design simultaneously stand out in the market, but blend into an outdoor environment.
You can place the OD Stones where you want to make a visual impact, but even better yet, you can mix and match OD Stones, OD Sat 5s, and the 200 ICW6 or ICW8s throughout your backyard without compromising your audio experience.
Focal designed them to all share the same sound qualities because they all share the same 1” Aluminum ‘M’-shaped inverted dome tweeter. Focal made it so no matter where you were you could get your sound perfectly matched.
The OD Stone 8s and OD Sat 5s are also able to be setup in a 100v/70v environment which used to be installed in primarily commercial environments, but World Wide Stereo has seen the move into the residential landscape (pun intended) to cover the vast area needed for an outdoor system. As for the In-Ceiling speakers, the Littora 200s and 1000s, they have a switch to optimize their crossover to match to either an indoor or outdoor environments.
Focal made sure the mid-bass driver didn’t feel too boomy if placed indoors, but still allowed it to be massive if it’s placed outside. In outdoor environments, you need extra help to compensate for the lack of walls that would reflect the sound. By Focal adding this switch, we can use the same speaker throughout an entire home, and you’ll enjoy the same sound experience everywhere you go.
And if you’re still looking for more bass, they brought the boom with their dedicated outdoor subwoofers. Designed to sound and look like they belong with the rest of the line. There is something inherently pleasing about a seamless soundscape, and I love the flexibility that Focal created with different styles sharing the same sonic attributes.
One of the things l like to do when evaluating outdoor speakers is something some may consider odd. I listen to them by standing behind them. Stay with me. Since we’ll be installing them in a residential area, I like to know how the sound will carry to the unfocused areas, since this will affect placement based on proximity to neighbors or maybe other listening areas (always be conscientious of others). For the Littora lineup, I found it dissipated quickly as I moved further back, but more importantly sounded rather good for indirect audio. I can’t wait to start adding the Focal Littora speakers to our 2023 outdoor projects!