If you asked us to compile a list of possible products Focal might conceptualise, research, craft and release next, pebble-shaped, stone-colored outdoor speakers would feature precisely nowhere on it – but that doesn't mean we're not onboard.
The French high-end audio specialist (see the most recent Focal Bathys and Focal Utopia – aka some of the most beautiful headphones I've ever seen) has just released Littora – which we assume is a play on 'littoral', meaning relating to or situated on the shore of the sea or a lake.
What you've got is a comprehensive range of water- and weather-resistant speakers fashioned to look like garden stones and other naturally-occurring objects.
And aside from speakers fit to sit in gardens, pool areas and outdoor entertaining areas, Focal also tells us customers might consider the range as an install option for a yacht. (If only we hadn't just got the sound system in the guest yacht redone.)
All of the speakers in the range have the innovation and performance you’d expect from Focal, but the visual star of the show is the OD Stone 8 – an egg-shaped speaker available in textured Limestone, Basalt and Sand finishes.
To me, it looks for all the world like Grand Pabbie, the wise, elderly rock troll who rolls in to dispense magic to Anna and Elsa, in Frozen.
Want the mushroom from the trolls' Valley of the Living home to go with it? You remember, they all live in a small hole with a tangle of branches and mushroom arching over them! Focal gets it: the OD Sub 12 is a semi-buried subwoofer that promises to add superb bass to your outdoor sound.
The OD range is rounded out by the OD Sat 5 speakers: versatile designs that can be wall-mounted or even ‘planted’ in the ground to complete the otherworldly Arundelle aesthetic (and also sound system).
Opinion: Focal is serving Frozen-lovers an audio delight ahead of the festive season – and I say rock on!
I'm a firm believer that audio should be fun as well as sonically gifted (see the vaguely terrifying Wilson Audio stereo speakers, to loveable bug-like Gravastar Mars Pro, the stunning McIntosh RS150 Bluetooth speaker, clothes peg sonic structures and of course Bang & Olufsen's soundbars that mimic graceful sail ships) and I here, I trust Focal's proven commitment to doing the job properly.
I have never met a Naim or Focal product (the two companies merged in 2011) that did not sound exceptional.
Back to the products, and all three Littora speakers use Focal's proprietary IRIS IP cone speaker drivers, developed by Focal for all-weather use with no loss of sound quality.
The speakers are also anti-UV treated and have certified dust and water protection: the OD Stone 8 and Sub 12 are IP45 certified; the OD Sat 5 is IP55 certified.
And the Littora speakers feature a power transformer that allows them to be linked together within a 100V system, which also enables individual volume management for each speaker within the system.
Prices? Of course. All products within the range will be availbale from January 2023.
The Focal Littora OD Sat 5 will cost $679 / £499 / $799 CAD. My favourite OD Stone 8 has an MSRP of $799 / £599 / $899 CAD, while the 'mushroom' OD Sub 12 will cost $1,999 / £1,599 / $2,499 CAD – and this speaker in particular looks very similar to those I've seen pumping out themed music in Disney's own theme parks, which only makes me want it more.
And there's a bundle 4.1 deal too! This comprises fours OD Sat 5 speakers and one OD Sub 12 for $3,999 / £2,999 / $4,499 CAD. We're waiting on Australian prices, but that should mean pricing starts from about AU$1,270 for that Pabbie model.
I'm fighting the urge to purchase a Stone 8 right now for the new year, but I should probably curb my spending. It's probably one of the best party speakers I'll ever hear, but as my favorite magical Disney rock troll said in 2013, "the heart is not so easily changed… but the head can be persuaded".
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Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.