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drspence 5th November 2009 05:44 PM

Initial Impressions: Alpair 12 full-range driver by Mark Fenlon
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Mark Fenlon has a desire 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. I ordered a pair of Alpair 12 drivers when they became available to evaluate. I am glad I did.

In addition to Marks 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. First, the Alpair 12 is of excellent build quality and sports an improved appearance over previous Alpair drivers. The magnet assembly is substantially larger than previous Alpair drivers. Whether it is Marks 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.

Compared to the Alpair 10, the Alpair 12 presents with a 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 add their own set compromises), has been an unfulfilled goal of full-range driver enthusiasts.

Tonal accuracy is a top priority. The Alpair 12 beautifully renders the Grand Piano, delivering a complex harmonic structure. Bass extension is also tight and extended. The Alpair 12 surprises with very good immediacy, while maintaining a controlled upper midrange (no shout or obvious peaks).

In summary, the Alpair 12 is a superb driver. It 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 07:00 PM


What kind of box do you have these in?


Scottmoose 5th November 2009 08:03 PM

Well, I wrote a very lengthy series of comments detailing my thoughts on the thread in the MA forum. Unfortunately, it was closed while I was doing it, with the result that when I tried to post, the whole damn lot was lost. I don't have time to try re-writing it all now, I'm too tired & I've got to go to the hospital in a minute. Broadly speaking, my impressions are similar to Bob's.

rjbond3rd 5th November 2009 08:38 PM

Intriguing -- what kind of watts are required?

drspence 5th November 2009 11:08 PM

Alpair 12: Initial Impressions
Dave, I am evaluating the new Alpair 12 in Affirm's new Elation loudspeaker enclosure, a proprietary back loaded tractrix horn design. It has been modified as neccessary to accommodate the larger size magnet structure, wider stance, and deeper profile.

I have utilized three amplifiers: The Art Audio Carissa, Class A, 18 watts per channel 845 amplifier, K & K Audio's modified Dynaco ST70, 10 watts per channel, Class A1, and a 30 watt per channel solid state design by Chris Owen, Clarity Cable.

brookbh 6th November 2009 01:11 AM

I would be interested in the opinions of any alpair owners, what type of amps they are running, and what type is preferred. I am particularly interested in the alpair 12, results. I know there is limited experience at this point.

planet10 6th November 2009 01:51 AM

I am eagerly awaiting mi\y set...


albertli 7th November 2009 04:28 PM

Would the 12 be a good candidate for OB :confused:

MJK 7th November 2009 05:00 PM


Originally Posted by albertli (
Would the 12 be a good candidate for OB


But you will need a woofer driver for the bass that is 6 to 10 dB more efficient to offset the OB's 6dB/octeve low frequency roll-off. I think just about any full range driver will work in an OB speaker if the proper bass driver(s) and crossover are used (a crossover is probably required for both drivers). I do not believe that a single full range driver will work in an OB all alone. You need bass reinforcement of some kind.

rjbond3rd 7th November 2009 06:55 PM


Originally Posted by MJK (
...I do not believe that a single full range driver will work in an OB all alone. You need bass reinforcement of some kind.

Hi Martin, with a healthy does of digial EQ (with PC and USB DAC as a source), the high-Qts Visaton B200 does pretty well in a large, three-piece hinged baffle (48"h x 38"w). (I'm psyched to build your Goldwood H-frame this winter...)

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