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Focal Alpha 65 EVO Review (Studio Monitor)

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 10 3.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 39 13.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 189 66.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 48 16.8%

  • Total voters
    286

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Focal Alpha 65 EVO powered monitor (speaker). I purchased it recently for US $404 from Amazon (with kind support from members).

I like the look and feel of this monitor:

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements Review Powered Studio Monitor Speaker.jpg


It has a very wide stance for this size speaker which likely helps with bass response. Also helping is that very oversized front port which helps as place to grab and move it.

The side panel shows a nice design touch, setting the Alpha 65 apart from myriad of other powered monitors:

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements Review Side Panel Powered Studio Monitor Speaker.jpg


Notice the interesting shallow waveguide around the tweeter.

Back panel is rather simple:

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements Review Back Panel Powered Studio Monitor Speaker.jpg


I wish the LF and HF controls had a center detent. I adjusted them by eye but I think I set the treble one a hair too high per measurements below.

Amplification noise from the tweeter is very low. I could barely hear it from an inch or two.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

Reference axis was the center of the tweeter (aligned by eye). It is getting colder with the measurement room temp at 14 degrees C. Accuracy is better than 1% for almost entire audio spectrum indicating a well designed speaker.

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements Frequency Response Powered Studio Monitor Speaker.png


While there are fair number of fine ups and downs, overall on-axis response is flat and extends down to nearly 40 Hz which is impressive for such a low cost and small speaker. As I noted in the intro, the HF control may needed to be set a bit lower to flatten the response a bit more. The chewiness I expected from the front port of such designs is there but is very well controlled as we see in near-field measurements:

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements Driver Frequency Response Powered Studio Monitor Speaker.png


Our early window and predicted in-room response are for far field but still instructive:

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements Early Window  Frequency Response Powered Studio Monitor Speaker.png


Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements Predicted in-room Frequency Response Powered Studio Monitor Sp...png


Because the waveguide is so shallow, horizontal beam width is impressively wide:

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements Horizontal Beamwidth Powered Studio Monitor Speaker.png


Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements Horizontal Directivity Powered Studio Monitor Speaker.png


Tonality should be a lot more consistent as you shift left and right.

Vertical response is good for the design type:

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements Vertical Directivity Powered Studio Monitor Speaker.png


Now we get to a real puzzle: the distortion measurements:

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements THD Distortion Response Powered Studio Monitor Speaker.png

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements Distortion Response Powered Studio Monitor Speaker.png


I don't know what is going on between 1.5 and 8 kHz. Yes, it is distorting at 86 dBSPL but why did it do less at 96 dBSPL? Did a limiter kick in? Or is it sensitive to that 86 dBSPL playback level? To be sure, I re-ran the 86 dBSPL distortion after I ran the 96 and it produces the same elevated results. Very strange.

Edit: I contacted the company and they immediately responded and sent me a sample. Alas, a bunch of things interfered with me testing it until today. I am pleased to say that the distortion problem above is not there in sample 2:

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements Distortion New Sample Powered Studio Monitor Speaker.png


As you see I repeated the measurement on my review sample (left) and confirmed problem is still there in identical setup where the new sample (right) has none of it. Indeed it actually has extremely low distortion now. I will be sending my sample back to them for investigation. There is also reduction in tweeter distortion at 96 dBSPL:

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements Distortion 96 dB New Sample Powered Studio Monitor Speaker.png


CSD waterfall measurements show very persistent resonances so perhaps that is the cause:

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements CSD Waterfall Powered Studio Monitor Speaker.png


Here is the impulse response:

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements Impulse Response Powered Studio Monitor Speaker.png


Focal Alpha 65 EVO Listening Tests
Contrary to my normal routine, I listened to the Alpha 65 in the near-field prior to computing the measurement results. Immediate impression was very positive with warm sound courtesy of good bass which did not bottom out no matter how much I pushed it. It ignores sub-bass but the part of it that it did play was very clean and not subject to distortion.

I tried to identify distortion in the treble per measurements but I could not. It may very well be there but it is not like you can turn it on and off and hear the effect.
EDIT: as noted in the review now, I received a second sample from the company it does not have the distortion problem.

I did not feel the need for any equalization. The overall signature was maybe a tad bright which I would fix using the rear control.

Conclusions
I really like the look, feel and the sound of the Alpha 65. It innovated with a wider form factor which gives it much stronger bass than a small budget monitor usually produces. It doesn't generate much tweeter noise which is nice. Had it not been for the distortion that I measured, it would have garnered one of my highest recommendations.

I am happy to strongly recommend the Focal Alpha 65 EVO. A brand name speaker with this level of overall performance at this price is impressive.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Attachments

  • Focal Alpha 65 EVO Frequency Response ASR.zip
    60.4 KB · Views: 130
Last edited:

Liopleus

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Nov 2, 2018
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It’s impressive that Focal manages to achieve this level of performance without DSP. However, at this price bracket the Kali IN-5 should be a better choice for most people. I’d argue that even the LP-6 2nd Wave measures better than this one.
 

mightycicadalord

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The tweeter distortion is interesting. I owned a pair of the pre-evo alpha 50's and always felt like something was really off about that region. Perhaps it was that, I believe they use the same tweeter but this one is loaded in a different waveguide.

Love the woofer material aesthetically, really don't care for the plastic side panels. They protrude over the baffle and probably cause some sort of tweeter problems.
 

phoenixsong

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The tweeter distortion results is really interesting. Would love to learn of the reason behind it
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Wonder how this would compare with the Vanatoo T1E since they're around the same price. (Actually not really now that I looked at it). Whatever happened with that speaker, I thought one landed on the porch a while ago?
It did. I plan to test it soon.
 

YSC

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for the money and look I really liked these! if these comes out a year ago I might go to them and not the more expensive 8030Cs

I am amazed about their horizontal directivity too! too bad we don't have a shape 50 or shape 65 to see if the higher end ones actually perform at the same level
 

Maiky76

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Focal Alpha 65 EVO powered monitor (speaker). I purchased it recently for US $404 from Amazon (with kind support from members).

I like the look and feel of this monitor:

View attachment 170967

It has a very wide stance for this size speaker which likely helps with bass response. Also helping is that very oversized front port which helps as place to grab and move it.

The side panel shows a nice design touch, setting the Alpha 65 apart from myriad of other powered monitors:

View attachment 170968

Notice the interesting shallow waveguide around the tweeter.

Back panel is rather simple:

View attachment 170969

I wish the LF and HF controls had a center detent. I adjusted them by eye but I think I set the treble one a hair too high per measurements below.

Amplification noise from the tweeter is very low. I could barely hear it from an inch or two.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

Reference axis was the center of the tweeter (aligned by eye). It is getting colder with the measurement room temp at 14 degrees C. Accuracy is better than 1% for almost entire audio spectrum indicating a well designed speaker.

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

View attachment 170970

While there are fair number of fine ups and downs, overall on-axis response is flat and extends down to nearly 40 Hz which is impressive for such a low cost and small speaker. As I noted in the intro, the HF control may needed to be set a bit lower to flatten the response a bit more. The chewiness I expected from the front port of such designs is there but is very well controlled as we see in near-field measurements:

View attachment 170971

Our early window and predicted in-room response are for far field but still instructive:

View attachment 170972

View attachment 170973

Because the waveguide is so shallow, horizontal beam width is impressively wide:

View attachment 170974

View attachment 170975

Tonality should be a lot more consistent as you shift left and right.

Vertical response is good for the design type:

View attachment 170976

Now we get to a real puzzle: the distortion measurements:

View attachment 170977
View attachment 170978

I don't know what is going on between 1.5 and 8 kHz. Yes, it is distorting at 86 dBSPL but why did it do less at 96 dBSPL? Did a limiter kick in? Or is it sensitive to that 86 dBSPL playback level? To be sure, I re-ran the 86 dBSPL distortion after I ran the 96 and it produces the same elevated results. Very strange.

CSD waterfall measurements show very persistent resonances so perhaps that is the cause:

View attachment 170979

Here is the impulse response:

View attachment 170980

Focal Alpha 65 EVO Listening Tests
Contrary to my normal routine, I listened to the Alpha 65 in the near-field prior to computing the measurement results. Immediate impression was very positive with warm sound courtesy of good bass which did not bottom out no matter how much I pushed it. It ignores sub-bass but the part of it that it did play was very clean and not subject to distortion.

I tried to identify distortion in the treble per measurements but I could not. It may very well be there but it is not like you can turn it on and off and hear the effect.

I did not feel the need for any equalization. The overall signature was maybe a tad bright which I would fix using the rear control.

Conclusions
I really like the look, feel and the sound of the Alpha 65. It innovated with a wider form factor which gives it much stronger bass than a small budget monitor usually produces. It doesn't generate much tweeter noise which is nice. Had it not been for the distortion that I measured, it would have garnered one of my highest recommendations.

I am happy to recommend the Focal Alpha 65 EVO. A brand name speaker with this level of overall performance at this price is impressive.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

Hi,

Here is my take on the EQ.

These EQ are anechoic EQ to get the speaker right before room integration. If you able to implement these EQs you must add EQ at LF for room integration, that is usually not optional… see hints there: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...helf-speaker-review.11144/page-26#post-800725

The raw data with corrected ER and PIR:

Score no EQ: 4.1
With Sub: 5.9

Spinorama with no EQ:
  • a lot of resonances
  • Not smooth
  • Not a big fan of the tweeter
  • Port!
Focal Alpha 65 EVO No EQ Spinorama.png


Directivity:

Better stay at tweeter height but not that critical +/-10deg
Horizontally, anything up to20deg and have the axis crossing in front of the listening location,

Focal Alpha 65 EVO LW Better data.png


EQ design:

I have generated two EQs. The APO config files are attached.
  • The first one, labelled, LW is targeted at making the LW flat
  • The second, labelled Score, starts with the first one and adds the score as an optimization variable.
  • The EQs are designed in the context of regular stereo use i.e. domestic environment, no warranty is provided for a near field use in a studio environment although the LW might be better suited for this purpose.
  • Fine EQ points might not translate well on other units
  • 1300/1400Hz boost needs to be carefully listened to.

Score EQ LW: 5.5
with sub: 7.4

Score EQ Score: 6.0
with sub: 7.8

Code:
Focal Alpha 65 EVO APO EQ LW 96000Hz
December082021-121250

Preamp: -1.5 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 527.72,    1.47,    4.12
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 986.44,    -1.39,    4.14
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 1308.27,    1.72,    2.07
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 2468.97,    -1.19,    4.25
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 4221.93,    -1.29,    4.69
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 6326.79,    -1.19,    2.64
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 14115.50,    -3.39,    5.00

Focal Alpha 65 EVO APO EQ Score 96000Hz
December082021-120600

Preamp: -1.5 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 542.12,    1.46,    4.88
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 1014.95,    -1.00,    4.88
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 1407.41,    1.72,    2.76
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 2651.92,    -1.19,    2.23
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 4241.54,    -1.57,    4.98
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 6503.39,    -2.30,    1.34
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 14132.63,    -4.81,    5.00

Focal Alpha 65 EVO EQ Design.png

Spinorama EQ LW
Focal Alpha 65 EVO LW EQ Spinorama.png


Spinorama EQ Score
Focal Alpha 65 EVO Score EQ Spinorama.png


Zoom PIR-LW-ON
Focal Alpha 65 EVO Zoom.png


Regression - Tonal LW EQ looks flat
Focal Alpha 65 EVO Regression - Tonal.png


Radar no EQ vs EQ score
Nice improvements
Focal Alpha 65 EVO Radar.png


The rest of the plots is attached.

Edit:
Added one Biquad for what it's worth.
Score EQ Full Score: 6.2
with sub: 8.0
Focal Alpha 65 EVO Score Full EQ Spinorama.png
 

Attachments

  • Focal Alpha 65 EVO Raw Directivity data.png
    Focal Alpha 65 EVO Raw Directivity data.png
    467.6 KB · Views: 44
  • Focal Alpha 65 EVO Normalized Directivity data.png
    Focal Alpha 65 EVO Normalized Directivity data.png
    328.9 KB · Views: 49
  • Focal Alpha 65 EVO Horizontal 3D Directivity data.png
    Focal Alpha 65 EVO Horizontal 3D Directivity data.png
    417.7 KB · Views: 49
  • Focal Alpha 65 EVO Vertical 3D Directivity data.png
    Focal Alpha 65 EVO Vertical 3D Directivity data.png
    429.8 KB · Views: 47
  • Focal Alpha 65 EVO Reflexion data.png
    Focal Alpha 65 EVO Reflexion data.png
    148.9 KB · Views: 33
  • Focal Alpha 65 EVO LW data.png
    Focal Alpha 65 EVO LW data.png
    151 KB · Views: 42
  • Focal Alpha 65 EVO 2D surface Directivity Contour Only Data.png
    Focal Alpha 65 EVO 2D surface Directivity Contour Only Data.png
    251.8 KB · Views: 48
  • Focal Alpha 65 EVO 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    Focal Alpha 65 EVO 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    311.9 KB · Views: 51
  • Focal Alpha 65 EVO 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    Focal Alpha 65 EVO 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    410.3 KB · Views: 52
  • Focal Alpha 65 EVO 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    Focal Alpha 65 EVO 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    419.7 KB · Views: 57
  • Focal Alpha 65 EVO APO EQ Score 96000Hz.txt
    400 bytes · Views: 43
  • Focal Alpha 65 EVO APO EQ LW 96000Hz.txt
    396 bytes · Views: 49
  • Focal Alpha 65 EVO APO EQ Score Full 96000Hz.txt
    450 bytes · Views: 39
Last edited:

dfuller

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Hm... Not bad! I think I can comfortably recommend these then. The tweeter...Yeah, that's not amazing I'd say. But that's a cheap tweeter. I imagine if one could get one of the M surround tweeters like on the Shapes, then these would be pretty much perfect.

I think it could also be the tweeter amp - if you have a few minutes Amir, I'd be curious to know what chip amps they're using. This to my understanding is Focal's first real foray into class D plate amps in at least a decade.
 

thewas

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Here are the (similar) Sound & Recording measurements


A65-Spin-580x357.pngA65-FRE-580x430.pngA65-PHA-580x421.pngA65-hor-580x357.pngA65-ver-580x357.pngA65-MAX-580x434.pngA65-MLT-580x440.pngA65-CMP-580x441.pngA65-SPC-580x436.png

The Spinorama match well:

A65-Spin-580x357.png

1638940460487.png


What I don't understand though is how an experienced company like Focal does not manage their new active to measure as good as their much older passive one:

1638940460487.pngFocal Alpha 65 EVO Measurements Distortion Response Powered Studio Monitor Speaker.png

Focal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker spinorama CEA2034 frequency response measurements.pngFocal Aria 906 Bookshelf Stand mount speaker Relative THD distortion measurements.png

Sure, the newer ASR measurement of the EVO has more points/less smoothing than the older one, but the weird tweeter behaviour is unacceptable and does not give trust in the engineering and long time quality of the monitors and unfortunately matches also reports with reliability problems with other of their active monitors and headphones.
 
Last edited:
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