AXPONA 2023 debuts: See the latest in audio technology, including the Focal Theva speakers and PSB M4U 9 headphones. Read for more details!
Over the past weekend, audio enthusiasts and industry professionals gathered at the highly anticipated AXPONA 2023 event. This year’s exhibition was nothing short of amazing, with new and exciting products being unveiled left and right. Among the show’s highlights was the AXPONA 2023 debuts of Focal’s new entry-level Theva Speakers and the M4U 9 Headphones from PSB Speakers.
AXPONA 2023 Debuts: Focal’s New Theva Loudspeaker Line
At Axpona, Focal, the renowned French speaker manufacturer, showcased their Theva loudspeaker line for the first time. These new entry-level speakers promise an unparalleled listening experience with trickle-down technology from their flagship models and sleek design. The line includes bookshelf, floorstanding, center, wall-mounted, and surround models, all featuring Focal’s Slatefiber woofer technology and inverted aluminum/magnesium TNF tweeters.
RELATED: Focal Chora 806 Review: A Sub-$1000 Speaker With Remarkable Balance and Refinement!
The range replaces Focal’s existing Chora line, comes in black, dark wood, and light wood finishes, and starts at $998 a pair. In addition, the Theva range offers six different speaker models, including The Theva No. 1 bookshelf speaker ($998/pr.), the Theva N°2, a 3-way floorstanding loudspeaker ($1798/pr.) with an ultra-slim profile and 5″ (13cm) speaker drivers – a first for Focal.
The Theva No. 3 ($2398/pr.) is a 3-way floorstanding loudspeaker, while the Theva N°3-D ($2998/pr.) incorporates an additional speaker driver on top to facilitate Dolby Atmos sound. Theva Center ($649) is a 2-way center channel speaker, and the Theva Surround ($649) can pull surround channel duty in a home theater setup.
At the show, they had the Theva speakers arranged in a 7.2.4 Dolby Atmos setup. They used four Theva N°3-D floorstanders with height speakers in the front and back, two Theva No. 3 floorstanders for left and right surround, along with a Theva Center. They also had two Focal subs and a $20,000 Focal Astral AVR driving it all (check out our YouTube channel for a clip of the setup).
I’m not big on surround sound for Music, but the setup was immersive, and I did get that live “you are there” type feel when seated in the sweet spot. The experience was pretty cool. I also loved the finish on the new entry-level product; it was minimal but still had a premium look and it seemed like a step up over the Chora product it replaces.
I can’t wait to get a pair of these speakers in the house and see how they do in a stereo setup! If you’re interested in the pre-order, check out World Wide Stereo.
Along with the Theva speakers, they also had a nice high-end system with the Focal Maestro Utopia Evo hi-fi loudspeakers paired with the recently released Naim New Classic components, and it had all the clarity and dynamics you would expect from a top-of-the-line Focal/Naim system. Check out our YouTube for a video of the demo!
PSB Speakers’ New M4U 9 Headphones
But that’s not all – PSB Speakers, another heavyweight in the audio world, also revealed their latest innovation – the M4U 9 headphones ($499). These headphones boast advanced noise-canceling features, exceptional sound quality, and a comfortable fit that makes them perfect for long listening sessions. I got some ears on time with the M4U 9, and I can say they are far and above the best headphones PSB has ever made.
These headphones use 40mm drivers infused with graphene, aptX Adaptive wireless HD Bluetooth, and all-digital adaptive noise canceling (ANC) for pure noise-free listening. There is also an option for custom audio calibration with Personal Sound by Audiodo.
The headphones connect to the PSB Headphone App for more control and personalization, and they offer up to 25 hours of battery life for all-day wireless playback. They are compatible with iOS and Android devices and feature a powerful rechargeable battery with a USB-C charger.
When I put them on, I immediately noticed the really soft earpads with larger ear openings than the previous PSB headphones, plus the active noise canceling was excellent, blocking about 95% of the noise on the show floor. For the brief time I listened to them, I was impressed by their balance and detail.
It was hard to believe I was listening to a wireless headphone at times. They weren’t even using the expanded bandwidth of the aptX adaptive codec, which made me wonder how much better they would sound with an aptX-compatible device.
Furthermore, I didn’t have a chance to engage the Audiodo Personal Sound, but according to PSB Speakers founder (and chief designer) Paul Barton (who I had a chance to speak with at the show), the application will make the headphones sound even better to most people. It works by performing a brief hearing test, so the headphones can adjust the timbral balance based on my ears and volume.
I asked Mr. Barton why he decided to use the sound personalization feature this time around. He said that in prior models, he was able to create several technologies to make the headphones good, but the only thing he wasn’t able to account for was a user’s hearing. Now with Audiodo, he aims to lift that barrier as well. Makes sense to me!
The M4U 9 headphones will be available for purchase in June.
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I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My hunger for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.