The annual Florida Audio Expo began in 2019. Florida Audio Expo 2021 was canceled due to COVID-19, so the 2023 event marks the fourth time the show has been presented. It’s still a three-day event (February 17 to 19 this year), but the 2023 iteration showed a bit of a twist—instead of being called Florida Audio Expo, it’s now called Florida International Audio Expo (FIAE) to better reflect the fact that this show now has international appeal, for both attendees and exhibitors. The name change also shows that this event is firmly established and, therefore, a success.
As I’m writing this, I’m here at the Embassy Suites Westshore in Tampa with fellow SoundStager Hans Wetzel, and it’s not yet noon on the first day. From what I can tell, the event seems a little bit bigger this year—with more new products than ever. Here’s a snippet of what I’ve seen so far, with all prices in US dollars.
Kicking off our coverage are products from two well-known sister brands: Focal and Naim Audio, who are participating in FIAE with one of their dealers—House of Stereo in Jacksonville, FL. Focal is based in France, and Naim Audio is in the United Kingdom. Both companies make their products in large factories in their home countries—something I know the people who work at those facilities are exceedingly proud of.
Before I go on, I want to state that our show coverage typically focuses on what’s newest, as opposed to what’s biggest or what’s most expensive. So although Focal was showing its Maestro Utopia Evo loudspeakers ($75,988 per pair, all prices in USD) being driven by Naim Audio’s Statement NAC S1 preamplifier ($99,999) and two NAP S1 mono power amplifiers ($99,999 each), with a Naim NDX 2 streamer ($8799) as the source component, this $385,000 setup wasn’t my focus when I ventured into House of Stereo’s exhibit. I snapped the picture you see above, but what really drew me into the exhibit were the new products detailed below.
Focal’s newest line is Vestia, which replaces the company’s Chora series and now represents the entryway to the brand’s loudspeakers. The Vestia series includes the N°1 bookshelf ($1198 per pair) and N°2 floorstander ($2898 per pair), both on display at the Florida show. The line also includes the N°3 floorstander ($3698 per pair), N°4 floorstander ($4398 per pair), and Center center-channel ($699), which were not on display. We’ve been really impressed with the Chora range, so we’ve already requested Vestia review samples to learn what the new series offers.
Reporting on outdoor sound isn’t usually our thing, but since this show is in Florida—a place where outdoor speakers are popular and make perfect sense—it’s appropriate to cover Focal’s new Littora 200 range.
I first looked at the OD Sat 5, priced at $679 each and available in finishes dubbed Light and Dark. Light is off-white, while dark is nearly black. The OD Sat 5 is a two-way design with a 1″ inverted (it’s concave instead of convex) M-shaped aluminum dome over a 5″ woofer with an Iris IP cone. It comes with a bracket that allows for attaching to a wall or under an eave. The OD Sat 5 can also be anchored into the ground.
The other speaker I examined was the OD Stone 8, which—you guessed it—is designed to look like a stone. The OD Stone 8 is priced at $799 and features the same 1″ tweeter described above, but this time it’s married to a bass driver with a 7 7/8″ Iris IP cone. The available finishes are called Limestone, Sand, and Basalt.
The new range also includes the OD Sub 12 in-ground subwoofer (not shown), which has a 12″ cone and is priced at $1999. Like in-ground subs from custom specialists such as Origin Acoustics, Russound, and Sonance, and hi-fi brands such as Klipsch and MartinLogan, the OD Sub 12 has an enclosure that looks like a car muffler, which is designed to be buried, and vents through a mushroom-like structure above ground level. The OD Sub 12 is available in the same finishes as the OD Sat 5, implying that it’s the ideal mate for that speaker. In fact, Focal offers a bundle of four OD Sat 5s and one OD Sub 12 for $3999. Of course, that’s not to say that you can’t use the sub with the OD Stone 8.
All these speakers are designed to resist adverse weather and UV radiation, a necessity for outdoor use. What I was most impressed with was the technical detail Focal provides for these speakers, including acoustic data, which shows how serious Focal is about their performance. Custom installation is a big part of the audio industry, and outdoor sound is an important part of the custom space. It’s clear that Focal is taking this market very seriously.
Now it’s time to get back to traditional two-channel hi-fi—and Naim Audio still represents the traditional side of the business well. Naim Audio’s latest is the New Classic range, which comprises (from top to bottom in photo) the NSC 222 preamplifier-streamer ($8999), NAP 250 power amplifier ($8999), and NPX 300 power supply ($8999), which works with the NSC 222. All three products have classic Naim styling—and all are available right now.
We’re hoping to review these products as well, but I want to make sure you know that we’ve already written about the new range. UK-based SoundStager Jonathan Gorse recently visited Naim’s headquarters and penned a feature called “Naim Audio, Part One: How I Was Introduced to the Brand and a New Range,” which you can read on SoundStage! Ultra. Make sure you check it out—it’s a fun read.
Now I’m off to search for more new products for upcoming reports. After all, there are more than two-and-a-half days of show time left, and our goal is to cover as much as possible.