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drspence 5th November 2009 05:26 PM

Alpair 12: Initial Impressions
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Over the last year Mark Fenlon and I have collaborated to develop a new line of drivers for Affirm Audio for use in our new Elation model. During our many conversations, he has kept me updated upon his latest discoveries and advances in full-range driver technology and performance, a passion both he and I enthusiastically share.

Mark’s desire is to build his finest drivers for a reasonable price. This goal is being fulfilled in his Alpair line of drivers. In a recent conversation with me, Mark was unusually excited about his new Alpair 12 driver which sports his newest cone and spider technology. He assured me it offered both improved clarity and better treble extension over his Alpair 10, which has received much recent praise. So I ordered a pair of Alpair 12 drivers when they became available. I am glad I did.

In addition to Mark’s new metal cone and spider technology, he has further differentiated his drivers from other full rangers with a striking new appearance. I believe the new visual appearance will better position the identity of his brand. (See picture below.)

Having listened to the Alpair 12 for about 150 hours now, I want to share my early impressions with fellow members. First, the Alpair 12 is of excellent build quality and sports an improved appearance over previous Alpair drivers. (See picture.) The magnet assembly is substantially larger than previous Alpair drivers. Whether it is Mark’s latest cone and spider technology, the larger magnet, the greater cone diameter, or all of the above, I like what I am hearing very much.

The Alpair 12 presents with an audibly lower noise floor thus yielding better detail retrieval from a clearer and more open midrange and highs. The extended highs Mark has coaxed from the Alpair 12 cone is stunning. It is much better than anticipated, delivering believable size, textures and dynamics. Snare drum pop is crisp and tight; the ride & high hat cymbals are percussive; bold, yet airy, with good decay characteristics. This kind of extension and presence in a coned full-range driver without the use of a supporting tweeter or whizzer cone (both which adds their own set compromises), has been an unfulfilled goal of full-range enthusiasts. I have not experienced it previously.

Tonal accuracy is a top priority for me. The Alpair 12 beautifully renders the Grand Piano, delivering a surprisingly complex harmonic structure continuing throughout the difficult lower mids and upper bass. Bass extension is also tight and extended.

The Alpair 12 also surprises with very good immediacy, while exhibiting a controlled upper midrange (no shout or obvious peaks).

In summary, the Alpair 12 is a superb driver that likely redefines the upper the limits possible in a full-range single-driver of its type. Mark tells me his driver will continue to improve for up to 500 hours. I believe him.

Bob Spence

planet10 5th November 2009 07:07 PM


Note: the 1st post is a duplicate of a post on the Full Range Forum. instead of deleting this thread, i leave it as a redirect. I have closed this thread to keep all comments in the same place.

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