Alpair 7 Revisited review
This was getting lost in the shuffle of the original thread and thought it important enough to expose more members to it, so please forgive me posting this twice. Here is link to original thread for those interested, hope you enjoy final here as much as I did listening to finished OB.
Thought I would update you on the sound of the Alpair 7 OB system after much time. For a long time I used a Scott 222C that had :ill: ailments that I have repaired and is now tweaked showing the true beauty of these drivers (Alpair 7's) and their subsequent design. My Scott 222C has had numerous upgrades of caps (obbligato Gold Premium) between inverter and output stages, some Bradley resistors (Only!) replaced, selenium rectifier was replaced with a silicon bridge and Wima Black Boxes at the input stage. Also, all tubes were replaced with the following Brimar 12AX7 at (input-stages) line and phono stages, Siemens E80CF inverter-stage, Siemens E84L's at output and an Amperex Bugle Boy GZ34 rectifier. All parts have had months of break in time.
Needless to say I would not be updating you if I were not :spin: enamored with what I have been hearing for weeks/months with the Alpair 7, especially after eliminating a nasty hum that :ghost: haunted the Scott and my life for too long. Still a very minor amount left in right channel but only really audible when using my low output MC cartridge and there is a very quiet passage, not enough of a nuisance to discontinue evaluation or listening enjoyment, it will be eradicated :smash: later, for now it was time to sit and listen.
First, I have no connection too Mark Audio or any of it's affiliates and second I am not paid to write this. Like many of you I am a music lover first and foremost and a DIY fan next.
If you read this post from the beginning you will be familiar with design build and construction of this simple yet elegant design. Thanks again must go out to Phil Townsend for his expert :worship: craftsmanship and patience in construction and input on design. I am a finisher by trade and without Phil's speaker cabinet building mastery I would have likely had to depend on someone less knowledgeable in this arena so I am fortunate and grateful.
I will cut too the quick here as I have already gone on enough about this little project. Yes, the Alpair 7 sound fantastic, yes they have a clarity matched by few drivers, no they do not beam or honk at you nor do they split your head in half with a razor, like so many Full Range drivers IME. Yes they have finesse and stable imaging, yes they need a box or in my case subwoofers (see photos @ beginning) too supplement bass.
In this OB design the speakers throw a deep soundstage too my back wall which is 5ft from driver, they do this superbly with digital as well. Transients and textures are clear detailed and never overblown. Dispersion which is a big gripe with me is excellent, you do not have to sit with your head in a vice, you can wander over too the record shelf and ponder your next record or CD without major sound compromise.
Most importantly how natural do they sound?
I listen to 70% classical and 30% jazz and rock which includes electronic/Krautrock etc. I am one that believes DIY people differ from the herd in their ability to distinguish natural sounding systems from mechanical sounding systems. The Alpair 7 will merely reveal what you throw at it, that's all and it says a lot. The Scott amplifiers are often referred to as sounding fudge colored as opposed to early carmel colored Conrad-Johnson gear. I believe this pretty close to the truth, before proper modifications that is. The combination of my 222C with all it's tweaks (and there are more to come, hard to leave well enough alone when you love DIYing) and not straying to far from it's origins works a magic with the Alpair 7.
The natural and rich beauty from the Vienna Philharmonic performing Anton Bruckner's 7th symphony recorded at Musikeverein Vienna with Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Teldec 3984-24488-2) is reproduced with exceptional deftness and a very pleasing balance. Smoother than most tweeter systems with more than adequate headroom and a more realistic sonic picture without exaggeration. Oddly this speaker can play up to satisfying (living room is 13x23) levels with large orchestral music, undoubtedly the subwoofers play a big roll in this. The 7's have very good control and play horn fortissimo's with aplomb and assurance that I found surprising, just make sure too follow Mark's instructions on break in as a local DIY friend blew a pair the first day with Hip-Hop.
Another important note is how well the Alpair 7 integrates with my subwoofer system. Imbalance or lag is not an issue plus being able to dial in bass proportion is easily handled with a separate crossover box (comes with subwoofers) which incidentally I have set to enter at 140-150 Hz and the phase set around 180 degrees. At 180 degrees I found the tautest most natural sounding bass response after much testing in my living room.
Lastly, the Alpair 7's play chamber music whether jazz or classical amazingly well, transients are quick and never artificial sounding with lowlevel resolution not to be scoffed at. The 7's allow quiet delicate moments and all the subtle inner textures of Anton Webern's String Trio Op.20 on Nimbus Records (NI 5668) to enter from the silent ether with plucks and various other sonic flavors with astounding clarity resembling electrostatic speakers but without the artificial aural mechanics and narrow dispersion electrostats are known for.
The 7's simply sound natural and I know of no other way to put it. On the "Coleman Hawkins encounters Ben Webster" on a Verve (CD 314 521 427-1) recording the 7's perform the magical act you are there trick with a warm, luscious sound that never is muddled or antiseptic, just straight forward, beautiful and elegant. It also displays all the inner hallmarks of a truly classic Capitol tube recording with a natural warmth that suits this performance just the way it's supposed too.
I cannot say enough about these fine speakers except next time you look at at purchasing a pair of Fostex, Lowther or even Feastrex or any full range driver for that matter, you give these a listen thrown into a piece of plywood, cardboard, cabinet or whatever suits your taste. You might just find you saved a lot of money and didn't miss a note.
Scott 222C Modified
Scheu Premier II Turntable
SAEC 308N tonearm
Coph Nia Phonostage made in Sweden
Alpair 7 in small L OB
NHT Sub Two, two 10 inch drivers per cabinet Freq 21Hz-200Hz with 250w Sunfire/Carver plate amps in each cab.
Cables, DIY silver,Stealth, CRL and Aural Harmonies.
Hi. Maybe implicitly you said in your review, but i would like to ask: how real they sound? You say the sound is very natural, but how real is the ilussion of being "there"? (natural sound+realistic 3d soundstage would be a way of refer to).
Nice write up Monte. What other full rangers can you compare them to?
Also, if the 7s were in the recommended pensil 7 BR design, would there be much difference in sonics as oppose to adding the sub....thanks:D
Note: Pensil 7 is not a BR. It is a form of ML-TL
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