Test Report: Focal Little Bird 2.1 Speaker System Page 3

Bottom Line

What can I say about a thousand-dollar micro system that cannot be made to sound bad, whatever you throw at it? That it’s worth it. I’m not even going to speculate on the market segments to whom the Focal Little Bird might appeal. (Yes, I am: well-heeled dorm-room denizens? Home-office workers of the Architectural Digest set? Microcosmic audiophile acolytes?) Whoever and wherever they are, folks who choose to pony up $1,000 for a system that, at least in one sense, competes with the latest $49.95 CyberAcoustics 2.1-channel trio will get what they pay for and then some. And included in the “some” is a side door to the fevered world of serious sound reproduction — one that just might infect some next-generation audiophiles. With audio Bird flu.

Test Bench

Frequency response

• satellite 143 Hz to 20 kHz ±2.8 dB
• subwoofer 54 to 132 Hz ±3 dB

Sensitivity (SPL at 1 meter/1 watt)
• satellite 84.1 dB

Impedance (minimum/nominal)
• satellite 3.2/6 ohms

Bass limits
• satellite 100 Hz at 83 dB

Bass output, subwoofer (CEA-2010 standard)
• Ultra-low bass (20-31.5 Hz) average:             NA

20 Hz            NA
25 Hz            NA
31.5 Hz            86.2 dB

• Low-bass (40-63 Hz) average: 104.7 dB

40 Hz            102.9 dB (L)
50 Hz            105.9 dB (L)
63 Hz            105.5 dB (L)

To measure the frequency response of the Little Bird satellite, I placed it atop a 2-meter stand and placed the microphone at a distance of 1 meter, enough to incorporate the contributions of all the drivers plus diffraction off the cabinet edges. Measurements above 240 Hz were made quasi-anechoically using a Clio FW analyzer in MLS mode. Measurements below 240 Hz were made with the Clio FW in log chirp mode and the mike placed against the Little Bird’s grille in front of the woofer. The curve you see here is the average of responses at 0°, ±10°, ±20°, and ±30°, smoothed to 1/12th octave.

The frequency-response measurements of the Little Bird would be impressive for any small speaker at any price. The dispersion is nothing short of awesome. Even way out at 60° off-axis, there’s almost no change, just a slight treble rolloff and a broad dip of about 5 dB between 2 and 4 kHz. The averaged 0°-30° response looks almost just like the 0° on-axis response. Bass response gets down into the 140-Hz range, just barely low enough to mate reasonably well with the Power Bird subwoofer.

Although I wouldn’t normally measure the impedance and sensitivity of speakers included in a system like this (because the amp is built in, there’s no need to be concerned about how hard the speaker is to drive), the Little Bird is available separately, so I decided to run these measurements. Sensitivity is a little low at 84.1 dB (average response from 300 Hz to 10 kHz, measured quasi-anechoically at 1 meter). Impedance is moderate, though; even at the minimum of 3.2 ohms, phase angle is very mild at -0.5°. Given the little speaker’s dynamic limitations (i.e., you’re probably not going to crank it up loud), it shouldn’t be a problem if you want to combine a pair of Little Birds with, say, a 10-watt-per-channel mini amp.

I measured the frequency response of the subwoofer built into the Power Bird base unit with the Clio in log chirp mode, close-miking the woofer and port and then scaling and summing the responses. The sub section is tuned for maximum response at 90 Hz and doesn’t have significant deep-bass response. CEA-2010 output measurements were taken at 2 meters and then scaled up 6 dB per CEA-2010 requirements; an L appears next to those measurements in which maximum output was dictated by the unit’s internal limiter. As expected for such a small unit, usable output is decent in the second bass octave (40-63 Hz) but low to nonexistent in the lowest bass octave (20-31.5 Hz). — Brent Butterworth