• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

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

xaviescacs

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Messages
1,150
Likes
1,326
Location
La Garriga, Barcelona
Personally, I wouldn't buy anything with this level of distortion. It's quite shocking they release a professional product with this figures.

Edit: When Focal said to be sending a new pair, it was clear the distortion of this unit was something strange, so I ordered a pair of 50 EVO.
 
Last edited:

DSJR

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
1,743
Likes
2,204
Location
Suffolk Coastal, UK
Terrible that UK Naim/Focal dealers will never hear what Naim's sister company Focal can do for bargain basement money - the 'pro' styling can probably work in some rooms too. No money in boxes like this thoiugh, when you need to sell speakers at thousands a pair to make a real living in the turbulent UK domestic audio market now.


Incredibly cheap but not sure if the price includes 20% VAT or not. A little bit of subjective 'life' up top is fine if it's clean I think. My memories of Focal are a bit coloured by the boom-tizz era models at around a grand from twenty years ago, although the current Chora models 'sound' safer to me as do the Kanta 2 and 3 I heard, which are daft money really (wife and I don't care for the 'tilted back' floor standers' look though). Thankfully, it seems the pro's don't want fancy looks nor fancy prices
 

dasdoing

Major Contributor
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
2,591
Likes
1,446
Location
Salvador-Bahia-Brasil
(similar) Sound & Recording measurements

not realy

their waterfall doesn't show the tweeter resonances
but even more diferent is the max SPL @3%. acording to Kipple measurement it should hit 3% wayyyyy lower.

we have seen "why doesn't it go up?" before, right? this is sometinhg that realy seams to need investigation. Klipple should have an answer to this, no?
 

AudioSceptic

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Messages
2,021
Likes
1,881
Location
Northampton, UK
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/
Is there a better speaker available for less money, especially as it's powered so you don't need a power amp?
 

AudioSceptic

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Messages
2,021
Likes
1,881
Location
Northampton, UK
Terrible that UK Naim/Focal dealers will never hear what Naim's sister company Focal can do for bargain basement money - the 'pro' styling can probably work in some rooms too. No money in boxes like this thoiugh, when you need to sell speakers at thousands a pair to make a real living in the turbulent UK domestic audio market now.


Incredibly cheap but not sure if the price includes 20% VAT or not. A little bit of subjective 'life' up top is fine if it's clean I think. My memories of Focal are a bit coloured by the boom-tizz era models at around a grand from twenty years ago, although the current Chora models 'sound' safer to me as do the Kanta 2 and 3 I heard, which are daft money really (wife and I don't care for the 'tilted back' floor standers' look though). Thankfully, it seems the pro's don't want fancy looks nor fancy prices
The price includes VAT. £500/pair (or £543 inc stands!) is great value, especially as you don't need a power amp. I wish I had an excuse to buy these!
 

DSJR

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
1,743
Likes
2,204
Location
Suffolk Coastal, UK
The price includes VAT. £500/pair (or £543 inc stands!) is great value, especially as you don't need a power amp. I wish I had an excuse to buy these!
Yeah, I've got too many vintage power amps here that I'm reluctant to flog :D
 

Remlab

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
May 22, 2021
Messages
60
Likes
117
Location
Oceanside California
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?
The xbl woofer technology that's being used along with the passive radiator on the T1E should (hopefully) give some interesting results on Klippel..
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tks

YARE

Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2021
Messages
14
Likes
16
For 349€ this Speaker is bang for buck. The tweeter distortion is really strange, I would like to hear what the Focal Engineers is saying about this issue.
 

thewas

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
4,513
Likes
10,108
For 349€ this Speaker is bang for buck.
Is it when a 3-way coaxial with 8" woofer Kali Audio IN-8 2nd Wave costs just 50€ more?

The list price of the Focal is actually even higher than the Kali one:


 

Subway2400

Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
22
Likes
21
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.

I always found the Focal inverted dome tweeter to have a particuliar sound, sometimes sounding like a metal can ! Some older hifi speakers like the Chorus S were horrible to listen to.
 

thewas

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
4,513
Likes
10,108
not realy

their waterfall doesn't show the tweeter resonances
It does, although not so good to see due to the longer window look at the mid blue delayed regions around 2 and 5 kHz
index.php


index.php


For the tweeter resonances the chosen axis scaling of ASR is more appropriate, on the other hand the S&R one is more appropriate for the bass region. A better compromise for both though would be frequency dependant time scaling in cycles.
 

VintageFlanker

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
3,053
Likes
9,762
Location
Paris
I just realized that this unit (contrary to all Focal passive speakers, which are assembled in their factory in France) is made in... China.

That would explain the similarity in price: 360€ - $400.

Pity.:(
 
Last edited:

Helicopter

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 13, 2020
Messages
2,669
Likes
3,837
Location
Michigan
I just realized that this unit (contrary to all Focal passive speakers, which are assembled in their factory in France) is made in... China.

Pity.:(
The new outdoor speakers and the bottom tier 100 series in wall speakers are China too. Pretty sure the Listen headphones as well. Probably Sib Evo, and 100 series car speakers as well, but I can't find it either.

Well, Solo6Be is better.
 

BostonJack

Active Member
Editor
Joined
Jul 2, 2019
Messages
259
Likes
288
Location
Boston area, Cambridge, MA
Thank you for reviewing these! I'm a Focal fan-boy based purely on aesthetics and my new-found love of things French. These look like a really credible entry in this market slice.

I don't want to jinx myself, but I'm booked to ski Chamonix in February (first time in Europe in > 30 years). Guided day on the Vallee Blanche, four days of free skiing (probably Brevent and Grand Montets) and another guided day of off-piste. Totally psyched!

My imaginary French girlfriend is similarly stoked.
 

YARE

Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2021
Messages
14
Likes
16
Thank you for reviewing these! I'm a Focal fan-boy based purely on aesthetics and my new-found love of things French. These look like a really credible entry in this market slice.

I don't want to jinx myself, but I'm booked to ski Chamonix in February (first time in Europe in > 30 years). Guided day on the Vallee Blanche, four days of free skiing (probably Brevent and Grand Montets) and another guided day of off-piste. Totally psyched!

My imaginary French girlfriend is similarly stoked.
damn that was a good read LOL
 

dasdoing

Major Contributor
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
2,591
Likes
1,446
Location
Salvador-Bahia-Brasil
It does, although not so good to see due to the longer window look at the mid blue delayed regions around 2 and 5 kHz
index.php


index.php


For the tweeter resonances the chosen axis scaling of ASR is more appropriate, on the other hand the S&R one is more appropriate for the bass region. A better compromise for both though would be frequency dependant time scaling in cycles.

they still look diferent. where are the ones above 2kHz and around 5kHz. but the graphs are dificult to compare.
anyways my main point was about the max SPL @3% distorsion graph. that's a big discrepancy. unless I am understanding something wrong about how to get to that graph
 

beagleman

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Sep 24, 2020
Messages
680
Likes
821
Personally, I wouldn't buy anything with this level of distortion. It's quite shocking they release a professional product with this figures.

I found it far more shocking how many "Fine" and "Great" ratings this got based on very high distortion, versus how many beeched about a few center speakers having limited dispersion.

I guess objective measurements only matter some of the time.

Not sure why, but just feeling a bit of hypocrisy about how some over reacted about center speakers, but this just flies under the radar?
 
Top Bottom