The Focal Bird 2.1 is the first all-in-one hi-fi system from a brand best known for its high-end floorstanders. Unconventional, but is it any good?
The Focal Bird 2.1 perches between two sibling systems distinguished only by their speakers. The so-called Little Bird ships with compact desktop speakers, and sells for £700, while the £900 Super Bird is bundled with larger elliptical enclosures. Key competition comes in the shape of the Ferguson Hill FH009, Denon Ceol and YamahaYSP-2200.
Focal Bird 2.1: Features
The PowerBird console comprises a 2x35w stereo amplifier with an ingeniously integrated, downward-firing 80w subwoofer. Building the sub into the floor of the amp allows for tight integration with the main stereo pair and saves on floor space; the system can be positioned horizontally, vertically or even be wall-mounted.
It lacks AirPlay but there's a Kleer wireless audio receiver built in, just add an iTransmitter dongle to your iOS device to stream; alternatively you can Bluetooth with an optional dongle.
Focal Bird 2.1: Design
With its clean lines and retro-ridged volume control, the PowerBird is nothing if not distinctive. Build quality is enviably high. The desktop Tulipe speakers are equally substantial: they sport a 14cm mid-bass aluminum dome tweeter and stand on an adjustable ball-jointed tripod.
Focal Bird 2.1: Connectivity
The rear-panel of the Power Bird amp is a full-on function junction. In addition to a rotary bass volume adjustment, there are dip switches to alter the electronic crossover for the various speaker types. There are also two digital audio inputs (one optical, the other coaxial) and a couple of stereo phonos.
There's no virtual surround processing provided, nor any video pass-through. Set top boxes and Blu-ray players need to route video directly to a TV.
Focal Bird 2.1: Performance
Any doubts about the potency of this music system are dispelled when it takes flight. Crank the volume and it's immediately obvious there's high-end DNA coursing through its circuits. The system delivers crisp, detail rich stereo. Not only is this a great sounding music system, it's a premium upgrade for your flatscreen.
We ran a digital optical lead from the telly to the amp, and were astonished at the rich, deep stereophonic spread that resulted.
Focal Bird 2.1: Verdict
High-end loudspeaker maker Focal's first entry into the world of all-in-one hi-fi is a revelation. The Focal Bird 2.1 is gorgeous to look at, easy to accommodate, and offers a tightly focused, musical performance. The brand's Tulipe mini-monitors bloom with scant regard for physics and the combo amp/subwoofer is as dynamic as heck.
This system is at its best partnered with a quality disc spinner, but the Kleer and Bluetooth wireless options are a good sop to mobile users. Overall, we rate this 2.1 package a class apart.
Focal Bird 2.1 release date: Available now
Focal Bird 2.1 price: £800