Focal-JMLab history


The world leader in high-end speaker drivers and loudspeakers

A French story

It all began in Saint-Etienne at the end of 70s, in a family run precision engineering business, France Filière, where a small isolated workshop was set up. At that time, only two men worked there, one of whom, Jacques Mahul, was the initiator of the project. Impassioned by hi-fi, he was a trained engineer, a specialist in speaker driver units and a journalist from the specialised press.

Today, he is renowned worldwide as the founder of Focal, the brand recognised as the French designer and manufacturer of headphones, speaker drivers and loudspeakers for the home, the car, the recording studios and public areas.

The creations of this fan of Pink Floyd were soon to seduce music lovers and other audiophiles!

Due to their innovative nature, the first speaker drivers made in the workshop and commercialized under the brand Focal, achieved immediate success among the most reputed producers of loudspeakers as well as high-end kit enthusiasts.

With innovation in his blood, Jacques Mahul didn’t stop there: he created the JMlab brand and launched his own range of loudspeakers at the same time. Jacques Mahul learnt how to set himself apart from the rest by revolutionizing the field of small bookshelf speakers thanks to the famous DB 13 which featured a dual voice coil that enabled it to offer the same sound volume as bigger models, particularly in the bass.

In 1990, Focal entered a new era of growth and the rhythm accelerates with the arrival of Gérard Chrétien, a man equally impassioned by high-fidelity.

By working together to create speaker drivers and loudspeakers, constantly adapting the ranges available to the demands of the market, and delivering a style of sound judiciously combining musicality and dynamics, Focal-JMlab established itself in the mid-90’s as France’s leading producer of loudspeakers.

Resolutely international !

Ever since the company was founded, Jacques Mahul was aware that Focal-JMlab would have to become international in order to compete with its competitors.

Thus, in the early 90’s, an export strategy for Focal-JMlab hi-fi loudspeakers was established, with a particular focus on high-end products for Europe, Southeast Asia and North America. In recent years, there has been considerable growth in these areas thanks to the strong development of the brands’ reputation, first JMlab, and then Focal, which were both awarded. The JMlab Vega model, for example, was voted “Loudspeaker of the Year, 1992” in Japan, a first for a French product!

In 1996, it was the Grande Utopia model’s turn to be praised by the international press as one of the best hi-fi loudspeakers ever commercialised… only to be dethroned by the Grande Utopia Beryllium, which, with its Golden Sound [best product in all categories] awarded by the Japanese, placed itself as the major international reference for loudspeakers!

In the same family, the Nova Utopia was voted “Product of the Year” in 2004 by the American magazine Stereophile...

Today, Focal is truly present on an international scale and its international sales have reached 70%.