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Focal Alpha 65 EVO Review (Studio Monitor)

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 10 3.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 39 13.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 186 66.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 46 16.4%

  • Total voters
    281

Subway2400

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My experience was a sort of fizzy graininess to the tweeter that got worse with level, other than that the speaker was fine. The woofer performance was quite excellent to my ears.

Yes I agree, the woofers are good. But the tweeters are not that good. It's the same with their Aluminium car audio tweeter such as the (now relatively old) TNP tweeter, it has a bump and too much "grain" in the 4-8 kHz region, making the treble not natural at all and harsh. I always thought that Focal without their inverted dome tweeters would produce nearly perfect speakers.

Not my experience at all. Must be my room.

To be more specific about the Chorus S series, I tried the 716S. Do you have any carpet, curtains, etc. that could possibly tame some reflections ?
 

pozz

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I find the lobing around 15kHz really interesting. What causes it?
 

pseudoid

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I am embarrassed to ask what really is the definition of this 'in-ROOM response'
Our early window and predicted in-room response are for far field but still instructive:
I would like to thank you for changing your 'normal routine', by choosing the 'subjective-objective-subjective' route.
Contrary to my normal routine, I listened to the Alpha 65 in the near-field prior to computing the measurement results.
They have almost no hiss which makes them much better than 305.
How is 'hiss' ever acceptable? Regardless if you can only hear it 2 inches away or almost not; I'd still have a hissy-fit!
Granted this is an active monitor, shouldn't the review also include some rudimentary testing for the 'active' part of this monitor?
 

brockers13

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Without commenting at length on the sound, I initially purchased a pair of these, one refused to sleep, the both had hum, one quite loud. They did sound nice to me though. From the ads the impression given imo is they are made in France, in fact they are made in China, which is not necessarily bad by any means. I sent them back and after some deliberation and advice from this forum I bought a pair of Genelec 8030c a good deal more money but the 5 year guarantee and the stories of the companies excellent service gave me the peace of mind I required.
 

Pearljam5000

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Without commenting at length on the sound, I initially purchased a pair of these, one refused to sleep, the both had hum, one quite loud. They did sound nice to me though. From the ads the impression given imo is they are made in France, in fact they are made in China, which is not necessarily bad by any means. I sent them back and after some deliberation and advice from this forum I bought a pair of Genelec 8030c a good deal more money but the 5 year guarantee and the stories of the companies excellent service gave me the peace of mind I required.
What about a comparison of the two SQ wise ? Thanks
 

brockers13

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What about a comparison of the two SQ wise ? Thanks

As mentioned because of the defects, hum and sleep failure they were repacked and returned Asap. I was scared of any inadvertent damage before I could return them. Cat scratching one for example even though I don’t have a cat :)
 

Tks

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The xbl woofer technology that's being used along with the passive radiator on the T1E should (hopefully) give some interesting results on Klippel..
I just hope with the extremely non-intuitive DSP selection interface, we get details on the way it was tested (they have shelving, and other sorts of power limiting options that could throw things out of wack when tested). I recall it was somewhat of an annoyance to some people when the desktop speaker smaller variant was tested(the Zero I think it was called).
 

JDS

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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/
Weird that the wave guide has that interrupted circumferential slot. Wouldn't that (slightly) increase diffraction?
 

LoyK

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@amirm : Would be interesting to see if the distortion gets lower with a few hours of burn-in (or how many hours did they play before the measurement?) and maybe a bit hotter room temperature. 14°C for fresh/stiff materials could really cause non-ideal behaviour I guess.
Thanks for the review/measurements!
 

ROOSKIE

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Granted this is an active monitor, shouldn't the review also include some rudimentary testing for the 'active' part of this monitor?
Why? Should he test the screws as well?
Seriously though it is a closed system in terms of amp and speaker. You have what you have.
Though to flip back around to your side, I like many would be interested in testing some high end active speaker amps to see what is really powering these.
 

Pearljam5000

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Shape 65 should be more interesting
Aluminum - magnesium tweeter
And passive radiators
Screenshot_20211209-032040.jpg
Screenshot_20211209-032059.jpg
 

dfuller

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Why? Should he test the screws as well?
Seriously though it is a closed system in terms of amp and speaker. You have what you have.
Though to flip back around to your side, I like many would be interested in testing some high end active speaker amps to see what is really powering these.
I'd be very interested to see what is going on with Genelec's and ATC's amps - we know the drivers are not the limiting factors there. Neumann too.

Shape 65 should be more interesting
Aluminum - magnesium tweeter
And passive radiators
Owned a pair. F3 of 40hz is nonsense, their F6 is above that. S&R measured them. Better resonance behavior though.
Focal-Shape-65-14-1024x764.jpg

Focal-Shape-65-11-1024x768.jpg
 

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Ken1951

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To be more specific about the Chorus S series, I tried the 716S. Do you have any carpet, curtains, etc. that could possibly tame some reflections ?
The original room I had them in has a 19' ceiling, is fairly wide, has a large oriental carpet, and furniture. They're in our MBR now, 9' ceiling, oriental rugs and a king sized bed. They sounded fine in the great room but they were just too small for the room. Chorus 707s.
 

HiFidFan

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Thanks for the review @amirm.

This speaker looks pretty good "on paper" (good directivity, decent response) and should make many listeners buying at this price point happy.
 

Larry B. Larabee

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I think there is a vibration or other anomolie, or a defect in that particular tweeter example. The dustortion is high in 4th and 5th orders like what one sees with cabinet resonaces and port noise issues. It also doesn't increase with increased volume which indicates to me that what ever might be loose or rubbing has a maximum vibrating level.
If it was just a cheap tweeter with high distortion it just seems it would behave differently.
I had a compression tweeter that measured like this and the distortion would come and go. It was strange but I never quite figured it out, another replacementof the same tweet did not have any issues.
A port resonance is indicated in FR graph at 1.2k and spectral decay shows the harmonics at 2.4k,4.8k, 6k and to a lesser extent around 3k so yes level dependent port noise that is, if it ain't broke. actually, it is broke in any case.

L
 

thewas

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Owned a pair. F3 of 40hz is nonsense, their F6 is above that. S&R measured them. Better resonance behavior though.
But unfortunately a tad worse directivity and quite less max SPL in the tweeter region though:

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