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July Issue Feature: Tech Today - Tour de France

7-26-2017, Mobile Electronics -- We are just starting a series on tuning that I am very excited about. First we had Ken Ward show us three simple steps to finding a good signal. I wanted to have him start the series because without a good signal, no amount of tuning can result in a great sounding audio system. Next, we had some fundamental groundwork laid out by Andy Wehmeyer. Andy shared with us some basic information on sound and how we hear it, and how the automotive environment affects that. Moving forward we will hear some more perspectives on tuning from a few other guest writers. The series will wrap up with an overview of multi-channel tuning by Andy Wehmeyer. Before we proceed further in that series, I wanted to take a break and give what you have read so far a chance to really sink in.

As the outside temperature begins to heat up, my mind and body remind me summertime is upon us. I can’t help but think back fondly on an adventure my wife and I went on last year with a wonderful group of people. Every year, Orca Design & Manufacturing sends a group of its dealers to France for a tour of the Focal factory. Last year I was able to go as a representative of Simplicity In Sound. As I do with most trips, I documented it with many photographs. I thought it would be fun to share the experience of the trip and some of the cool tech-related things I learned while there.

Jumping the Pond

The hop across the Atlantic was my second, so I had a general idea of what to expect. Thankfully, our flight was pretty uneventful. We touched down in France and were greeted by the smiling faces of Nalaka Adikari and Carrie Sahotsky of Orca. After a short bus ride, we were at our hotel and sitting down to a wonderful dinner. We were introduced to a few Focal employees and given an agenda for the next day. The first day was going to be a tour of the factory in which our plus-one guests were invited. The second day was to be a more in-depth factory tour and more technically oriented discussion. The plus-one guests were treated to a trip into Lyon for shopping.

The next morning, we had breakfast and took a short bus ride to the Focal factory. The factory is located in the beautiful town of Saint-Étienne. We started the tour by meeting Pierre Pérard. Pierre was our factory liaison for the next two days. I was captivated by Pierre’s passion for speaker manufacturing and the Focal culture. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the history of Focal. After a brief review of Focal, its history and culture, we moved on to the factory tour. 

First Impressions

Before I tell you about the actual factory experience, I wanted to share what I thought it was going to look like. Up to this point, I had never been to any speaker manufacturing facility. My exposure was limited to a few pictures I have seen of workers building speakers in the JL Audio literature. So, my thoughts were that we would be touring hundreds and hundreds of feet of conveyor belts that paused briefly at times for machines to complete their tasks on the belted product. I expected to see a few lab-coated individuals with clipboards walking around, making sure the machines were in proper order. What I found, though, was quite different. We entered the factory to see people. People either holding speakers, or parts of speakers. As we paused before going any further we were told that some of the machinery we would see was manufactured by Focal, specifically for a task unique to some stage in the building process. I was unable to take photographs of these proprietary machines. However, I was able to take photographs of many other machines, which I will share for the amusement of those of you who have never been to a speaker manufacturing factory.  

Read the rest of the story HERE.

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