A novel architecture for a phased-array high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) device was investigated, aiming to increase the capabilities of electronic steering without reducing the size of the elementary emitters. The principal medical application expected to benefit from these developments is the time-effective sonication of large tumours in moving organs. The underlying principle consists of dividing the full array of transducers into multiple sub-arrays of different resonance frequencies, with the reorientation of these individual emitters, such that each sub-array can focus within a given spatial zone. To enable magnetic resonance (MR) compatibility of the device and the number of output channels from the RF generator to be halved, a passive spectral multiplexing technique was used, consisting of parallel wiring of frequency-shifted paired piezoceramic emitters with intrinsic narrow-band response. Two families of 64 emitters (circular, 5 mm diameter) were mounted, with optimum efficiency at 0.96 and 1.03 MHz, respectively. Two different prototypes of the HIFU device were built and tested, each incorporating the same two families of emitters, but differing in the shape of the rapid prototyping plastic support that accommodated the transducers (spherical cap with radius of curvature/aperture of 130 mm/150 mm and, respectively, 80 mm/110 mm). Acoustic measurements, MR-acoustic radiation force imaging (ex vivo) and MR-thermometry (ex vivo and in vivo) were used for the characterization of the prototypes. Experimental results demonstrated an augmentation of the steering range by 80% along one preferentially chosen axis, compared to a classic spherical array of the same total number of elements. The electric power density provided to the piezoceramic transducers exceeded 50 W cm(-2) CW, without circulation of coolant water. Another important advantage of the current approach is the versatility of reshaping the array at low cost.