19 September 2016
- Event Reports
The Speaker Shack visits HMF Solutions with the Focal Stella Utopia EM Speakers.
I paid a visit to HMF Solutions who are based in London and specialise in some of the best boutique high end audio products which will make you never want to leave or listen to Stravinsky on anything else but Focal and NAGRA electronics. It was a few hours of musical bliss and for the first time I got to hear what amazing sound NAGRA and Focal Speakers can make together.

The system that Ian the owner of HMF Solutions was demonstrating was a pure reference set up with the new NAGRA Classic amplifiers in bridged mode, meaning the Focal Stella Utopia Speakers were being fed with some serious current from the NAGRA Classic amplifiers. The line stage was equally impressive comprising of the NAGRA Jazz Preamplifier with dedicated PSU to feed clean DC current to the delicate pre-amp stages. Also accompanying the Jazz was the NAGRA HD DAC and CDC Transport which was playing some of John Rutters Requiem. This sounded sublime with great resolution and imaging from the Focal speakers. The high notes just melted away with no stress or strain on the ears but instead was a soothing and satisfying blend of how good Classical music can sound and one of the reasons I love listening to quality high end audio equipment, especially when it is of this calibre.

The NAGRA Classic Amplifiers had an amazing grip on the Focal speakers with plenty of headroom as Ian adjusted the volume levels, giving a hint of just how much they actually possessed, suffice to say they easily drove the room to very high levels with plenty more power in reserve. The power of these amps in bridged mode was very impressive and for the price they sounded as good as anything else that I have heard before, that includes the likes of Krell, D’Agostino and Audio Research. I love the look of NAGRA kit as they simply ooze quality. With thick aluminium panels they are solid and have such a retro but fresh and up to date modern look about them, I also like the black and white VU meters that they have on each of the amps. Indicating the power levels on both units. This is not something new but distinctly NAGRA in style.

The Focal Stella Utopia EM Speakers are an extremely menacing looking speaker, but for all the right reasons. They are so well built and look stunning in room and are big, but nowhere near as big as the Grand Utopia speakers that I have also listened to. They lack nothing when it comes to scale though and were firing off a huge sound stage on the end of the NAGRA electronics which seem to be so well mated. My favourite part of the visit to HMF Solutions was when Ian put on some Vinyl, it sounded simply sublime with so much power from the Focal speakers that you could really hear everything off the album. The detail and resolution had me drooling for more. Stravinsky’s Firebird was breath taking on the end of this kit. Every bit of emotion came through in the music which had me glued to my seat.

NAGRA is a brand that I have been longing to hear and I am so glad that I made the trip up to HMF Solutions as Ian has really done a stupendous job at setting up this intricate but fascinating system. I have had a taste of what the Swiss can do and it is truly magical when in full flow. NAGRA is a brand that I will certainly be revisiting and listening to again, hopefully next time it will be in my room with my set up.

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