Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Verdict

The Aria X No3 isn’t cheap and it is very large but it delivers a level of performance that will have many people reaching for their credit card. It balances realism scale and presence with a level of plain good fun that makes them a star turn at the price.

Pros

  • Heady combination of realism, scale and joy
  • Extremely well built and finished
  • Look very smart, particularly in the green

Cons

  • Rather large
  • Need good quality partnering equipment to deliver their best
  • Can sound fractionally confused when pushed very hard

Key Features

  • Speaker set-up3-way floorstanding design
  • Aria X seriesMatching centre and surround speakers

Introduction

From the outside looking in, the Focal range can look both enormous and faintly intimidating. The company has more model tiers than most key rivals and there is more overlap in pricing terms as well. 

What you’re looking at is a policy of alternating changing between drivers and tweeters (as well as beefing cabinets up at the same time). The Aria X range takes the same tweeter from the Vestia line up below and partners it with a new set of midrange and bass drivers. These same drivers will go on to be used in the range above but with a different tweeter. See – it’s easy when you know how. 

The original Arias did a decade of service and now Focal has taken it upon themselves to give the range a refresh. The new range doesn’t change the basic recipe that the original line up established but it brings a selection of new Focal technology to the table and does so while keeping the price within sight of the outgoing range.

This means that, in the periodically expensive world of 2024, the No3 floorstander looks like rather a lot of speaker for the money. Is that the case once I get listening?

Availability 

The Aria X No3 is available in the UK for £3,499 the pair and is available from a wide selection of specialist retailers, some of whom seem to be allowed to ship the Focal online. 

It is less widely sold in the USA but can be found for $5,200 the pair (a more important distinction as it is frequently priced per speaker). It is available in Australia for $7,100 AUD the pair. All finishes are priced identically which is something to take into account when looking at the Focal against some rivals which can often ask for a premium for some finishes.

Design 

  • Tall slim cabinet 
  • Range of finishes 
  • Clever plinth design 

The Aria X No3 is the second largest member of the Aria X range which comprises a standmount, three floorstanders, centre speaker with a dedicated surround speaker and subwoofer as well. There are some caveats to ‘second largest’ though. 

The first is that the range topping Aria X No4 is no taller than the No3, simply wider and this is probably just as well because the No3 is pretty tall. The 1150mm height is significant and accentuated by the Focal being relatively thin and having that row of drivers up the front. This is not a speaker that is going to vanish into most rooms you put it in.

Focal Aria X No3 moss green finish
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Perhaps with this in mind, Focal offers three finishes for the Aria models and all of them are rather well judged. Gloss black and Prime Walnut are reasonably conventional but flatter the styling rather well. The review samples showed up in the ‘Moss Green high gloss’ and this really works well to complement the Focal’s appearance. The absence of white will be an annoyance to some potential customers but the options available are very good ones.

There are some other neat features too. The leather effect baffle is effective at adding a bit of contrast to the drivers and the plinth design is really very good indeed. The spikes come pre-fitted to the plinth but they are retracted on a screw thread so they won’t spear things during installation. Once the plinth is installed, you can drop and level the spikes and you are good to go. 

Focal Aria X No3 plinth
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

It complements the rest of the speaker which is well built and finished to a very high standard. Almost nobody who visited me while the Focals were here guessed the price correctly and one (quite experienced) visitor was out by nearly a factor of three. I’m not going to pretend that £3,500 isn’t quite a lot of money but you can see where Focal has spent it. 

Specification

  • Aluminium and magnesium tweeter
  • ‘F Sandwich’ Flax drivers 
  • Sensitive… but demanding design 

The Aria X range makes use of the same tweeter that first puts in an appearance in the Vestia range that is directly below it. Focal calls it TAM (a take on Tweeter Aluminium and Magnesium) and it is an alloy made of the two metals which is then formed into an M shaped dome (M shaped in profile I should say, it’s entirely round when viewed from the front). 

Focal prioritises lightness as a value in their tweeters (going to the effort of using Beryllium; the lightest solid element there is in high end models) and this design achieves the lightest possible dome they can make. 

This hands over to a quartet of drivers that make use of flax as part of their construction. Focal is a keen advocate of drivers made from composite materials that vary in materials and thickness depending on the frequencies they are being asked to reproduce. 

Focal Aria X No3 F Sandwich mid driver
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

A flax weave acting as the main layer has been used as Focal feels the properties are ideal for the task. There are four of these F Sandwich drivers (and F Sandwich is actually written on the surround which is likely to have some of your friends asking searching questions). Three of them are 165mm bass drivers tied together to work in unison while the top one is also 165mm across but it’s set up to operate as a midrange driver. The five drivers give the Aria X No3 a claimed frequency response of 39Hz – 30kHz at +/- 3dB, which is pretty convincing. 

That low end is helped by two front firing bass ports and a downward firing port which acts against the plinth. Crucially, both set of ports fire away from the back of the speaker and mean that the Focal is not too seriously affected by boundaries but still won’t really thank you for ramming it into a corner. 

Focal Aria X No3 cable
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

It’s also extremely sensitive at 92dB/w but it dips to a minimum impedance of 2.8 ohms. Couple this with the fairly revealing nature of the Aria X No3 and you will find that you don’t need hundreds of watts to drive them but neither are they going to flatter all electronics you might think to put with them. 

Sound Quality

  • Exceptional levels of detail
  • Needs good qualit equipment to sound their best

The original Aria range did something quite important in the evolution of the Focal sound. It was the first time I listened to one of their speakers and, as well as admiring all the technical things that they did well, actually found the result genuinely good fun at the same time. ‘Fun’ isn’t something easily measured but you know it when you hear it and the Arias were very good at it.

The Aria X No3 has not forgotten all the things that make Focal speakers what they are though. This is an exceptionally tonally accurate and detailed performer that will pry open things you play on it like a metre long crowbar. The dense orchestral and electronic passages of To Dream is to Forget by Hidden Orchestra is opened out and revealed for all their complexity and elegance. Everything you play on the Focal sounds convincing in a way that has you forgetting what you are listening on and simply concentrate on what you are listening to. 

This is helped by the integration of the drivers and the overall balance of the speaker being extremely even from top to bottom and it presenting a frequency response that doesn’t over emphasise any part of what the Focal is doing. Some speakers that have a dedicated midrange driver can tweak things so you appreciate its presence. On the Aria X No3, it’s simply part of a seamless delivery of sound. As you might expect from that hefty cabinet, there is no shortage of scale either. 

Focal Aria X No3 tweeter
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

There are some key improvements over the older models that reflect what Focal has been up to over the last few years too. Positioning Focal speakers used to be painstaking work that needed time and a willingness to move things around them. The Aria X No3 still needs a little attention to deliver their best but they are much less demanding than their ancestors. 

They are also rather more forgiving. Focal has a long history of making pro audio speakers so they haven’t become super soft overnight but the Aria X No3 will happily play Language, Sex, Violence, Other? by the Sterephonics and nor ram home that’s it’s a truly awful recording while it does so. 

Really lean on the Focal with high tempo material and you can sense a very slight lack of fluency in the way it handles high tempo bass lines. You can delay this by ensuring that there is plenty of current available to drive them; I used a HiFi Rose RA280 to good effect in testing but there are more out and out ballistic speakers available for the money if that is what you want. 

This doesn’t stop the Focal being every bit as fun as the original Aria was though. The effortlessly groovy Love Dance by My Baby is something that absolutely flows on the Focal which gets the timing spot on while ensuring that the lovely vocal harmonies and surprisingly complex arrangements that go with them are effortlessly stitched together.    

The highest praise I can give the Focal is that it directly followed the Acoustic Energy Corinium (£6,000) and Bowers & Wilkins 702 S3 Signature (£7,000) through the test space and there have been more than a few points where I really can’t see how the Focal costs several thousand pounds less. It delivers a level of performance that I really struggle to find many faults with and asks impressively little of you while it does it.

Latest deals

Should you buy it?

Big and clever

The Focal delivers a level of performance that can really only be secured from a big, well-engineered speaker and it does it at a price that feels extremely competitive given how well made and capable it is.

Demands to be met

You don’t need to spend an absolute fortune partnering the Focal but it won’t make every system better and it needs space to do what it does. This is not a quick fix for a broken system.

Final Thoughts

Some of Focal’s recent releases have been deeply capable speakers but the Aria X is easily the most impressive. If you have the space for them, it’s very hard to think of another speaker that does more for the same sort of outlay or looks as good doing it. 

Trusted Score
rating-star rating-star rating-star rating-star rating-star

Sign up for the Trusted Reviews Newsletter

How we test

We test every hi-fi speaker we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry-standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.

Tested across several weeks

Tested with real world use

FAQs

Can I use the Focal Aria X No3 in a home cinema set-up?

Yes, the Aria X No3 aren’t just speakers for a hi-fi set-up, you can use these towers in a home cinema set-up too

Full specs

UK RRP
USA RRP
AUD RRP
Manufacturer
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
Release Date
Driver (s)
Connectivity
Colours
Frequency Range
Sensitivity
Speaker Type
Impedance

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.

Trusted Reviews Logo

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the best of Trusted Reviews delivered right to your inbox.

This is a test error message with some extra words