Fostex FF85wk and Mark Audio Alpair 6p tested against each other - diyAudio
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Old 22nd September 2013, 03:56 PM   #1
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Default Fostex FF85wk and Mark Audio Alpair 6p tested against each other

I received a pair of Fostex FF85 to try out and test. And I had a pair of Alpair 6p which I consider a fairly direct competitor. So I whipped up a test box for the alpair and went to town.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

The Fostex box is noticeably smaller. I just whipped up something sealed about 7L. I didn't try hard, so don't laugh. Only spent about an hour so forgive the ugly factor. The driver is flush though.

Ok, here's the alpair 6p on axis, 30, and 60 degrees.

Click the image to open in full size.

You can see the baffle step region. Some break up. And a resonance around 1200hz. I haven't measured impedance yet, but I suspect there's a blip there. I've seen a similar resonance in other MA products. I suspect this will give a little bit of annoyance on certain vocals at just that right frequency. I also suspect this will sound a bit shouty.

Here's the FF85wk on axis, 30 and 60.

Click the image to open in full size.

The baffle step isn't quite as bad. Some high up break up. Very flat, smooth response for a full ranger. The peak at 9khz is fairly mild and may actually be enjoyable to some. Any lower in frequency and I think it would be a serious issue. But way up there, it's somewhat benign.

Here's the on axis of each driver.

Click the image to open in full size.

Red is alpair 6p and blue is fostex. Ok, the alpair is a little more efficient, but not in a good way IMO. It's also lower impedance I think? I'll confirm that later. I haven't looked at the spec sheets. But you'll notice the sensitivity is similar down below the baffle step point. Above baffle step the fostex is surprisingly inefecient. I was expecting fostex to beat MA here. To be honest, I could here they were quite inefficient while listening. My EL70s were several db higher. The alpair has a little more top end extension. They're quite similar in fact. I'm not sure which would be the better choice.

I didn't look into bass extension because I don't believe these are any good for bass. These MUST be used as a FAST or at least with subwoofer (80hz) support, IMO. Without, these just won't do hifi sound IMO. PLEASE NOTE THE IMO stands for IN MY OPINION. IF YOU DISAGREE, FINE.

Microphone was a UMIK-1 calibrated by Cross Spectrum Labs to 25khz. Software was HolmImpulse on a windows XP. Minimum reflection distance was about 6ft. Mic distance was 65cm. I can't think of any other pertinent info other than, measurements are always subject to interpretation and if you'd like help interpreting them, feel free to ask. Use at your own risk.
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Old 22nd September 2013, 05:44 PM   #2
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I had a similar experience with those drivers, myself, in bass reflex enclosures.

They both had a slightly rising response, and had noticable resonances above 8k which bothered my ears (but I tend to be pretty sensitive to any undue sizzle).

However, FWIW, I was able to get a really darned decent 60hz out of the MA Alpair 6P, (which was nice, but still didn't quite balance out the quality of the highs for me)

On another note, I maybe was able to get ~90hz out of the Fostex FF85WK, but it wasn't all that enjoyable either, again, because of the rising response.

The FE83En on the other hand, which I didn't see evaluated in your study, however, has been able to confidently fill in the lower end to ~85-90hz or so room dependant in a well built BR, and it did not have the annoying rising response of either of these other drivers. Of course, these are not high volumes I'm talking about getting out of any of them tuned in a BR.

Our ideas of "HiFi" clearly differ which is totally OK. But on another note, in my general practice the overall "real world power handling" is almost identical between all these three drivers once you factor in the tuning frequency of a BR.

One thing I should mention is that (my feelings) are that the random baffle you chose for the MA Alpair 6P was not a fair comparison to the bevelled, rounded over enclosure you chose for the FF85WK. Clearly its a commercial enclosure of the onken type from Planet 10.

Did you try to model the anticipated response for the MA Alpair 6P via the Edge program or anything? It looks like you just stuck the driver in the middle of a baffle that is clearly a bit wide for the driver considering what it'd be put in in normal home use. This is bound to cause problems in the response so its hard to take the data for that driver entirely seriously.

In general, I greatly prefer "natural" solutions to baffle step - driver placement is a big factor, addressing frame resonances next, and a few other detailed considerations. Could you try swapping the drivers between the various enclosures you made?

In my own RnD work, that's kept mostly internal to my company, I find myself trying to narrow things down to just a few variables, keeping the controls well placed, and staying humble that the problem might be my experiment AND my enclosure (which is often the case!) Overall, I just make sure to try things out in many different ways. Its so tough to produce good data in acoustics.

Well, in either case, it was a fun study to read and thanks for the info!

Best,

Clark
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Last edited by blumenco; 22nd September 2013 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 22nd September 2013, 07:04 PM   #3
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I've been living with A6pEn's in mMarKen boxes for a couple of years now on my desktop. I've also had the FF85WKEn's in the same uFonken-T box (different wood) for an extended listen. For me, the 6pEn is superior for this application, more mid-bass and top end extension. The FF85's sound a little "dark" up top, almost like the old EL70's. They do have a lovely natural tone, which some listeners may prefer over the 6p's. It really boils down to personal preference.

jeff
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Old 22nd September 2013, 07:37 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by vinylkid58 View Post
I've been living with A6pEn's in mMarKen boxes for a couple of years now on my desktop. I've also had the FF85WKEn's in the same uFonken-T box (different wood) for an extended listen. For me, the 6pEn is superior for this application, more mid-bass and top end extension. The FF85's sound a little "dark" up top, almost like the old EL70's. They do have a lovely natural tone, which some listeners may prefer over the 6p's. It really boils down to personal preference.

jeff
Wow, sounds like some really killer desktop setups you've had. I too agree, all these 3" drivers are stellar performers. So much sound from such a small package. I tend to prefer a more smooth and sultry sound myself with natural scale and the sensation of big dynamics so midbass is really, really important and I guess overall everything is very important to me. I was a music major in college, did alot of ear training and even a little bit of early keyboard instrument building so I'm usually trying to get a very smooth and non fatiguing sound coming from a vast variety of musical choices, (everything, really), but especially and including acoustic instruments and the human voice.

Cheers!

-Clark
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Old 22nd September 2013, 10:11 PM   #5
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Hey blumenco.

I've measured the FE83 as well and it has some issues. Rising response and huge resonance around 2khz. The only handy measurements of it that I have were in a completed speaker, in a different measurement setup, on a different day. The raw measurement of that driver is somewhere on my computer I'm sure, if you think it would be worth showing here.

The baffle is a valid concern. That's a big reason why I mentioned "measurements are subject to interpretation". The truth is that these drivers don't see much of the baffle above the baffle step point. Most full rangers don't have much problem with diffraction. But as far as baffle step is concerned the box I put the Alpair into will have a lower baffle step point. You can see from the measurements though, they're fairly similar. The baffle wasn't much bigger. They're both so small that the baffle step diffraction peak is about 1800hz or there abouts. I personally don't see there being an advantage for the Alpair. And I don't see the chamfers as much of an advantage either for the fostex.

I had a chance to look at the spec sheets. The fostex measurement has a very similar result and I'm impressed with Fostex's sheet. Very reliable IMO. And the impedance blip I was anticipating on the Alpair at 1200hz is there.

Both are nice drivers. On a desktop I think id agree with you Jeff, the Alpair will dig a little deeper. I'd still want a woofer on the floor though.

No comments on the excellent off axis performance of both these
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Old 23rd September 2013, 12:21 AM   #6
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need to do this again on an similar/infinite baffle to really pass judgement.

that fostex driver was already pretty well regarded, so this will probably help the sales.
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Old 23rd September 2013, 12:37 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post
I.. I can't think of any other pertinent info...
They are FF85wKeN treated drivers (vrs stock A6.2p)

dave
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Old 23rd September 2013, 01:35 AM   #8
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So enable CAN be measured!
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Old 23rd September 2013, 02:10 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by gafhenderson View Post
need to do this again on an similar/infinite baffle to really pass judgement.

that fostex driver was already pretty well regarded, so this will probably help the sales.
All one needs to do is consider the baffle effects and compare to the spec sheet. Also, most of us will use these drivers in a similar sized enclosure to what I've used.

I should note, I wasn't really going for competition between these two. Maybe it came off that way. Really just comparing them, measurement wise. I had both so why not. And it helps to measure more than one driver to understand performance better. If all I did was post the measurements for one or the other, it wouldn't be as much help as it is with a comparison.

Yes, the fostex does quite well. I didn't test their dynamic range though, by upping the amp 3db at a time. It's a lot of work so I didn't bother. I have to wonder how the fostex would do because it would really help establish where it starts to choke and where a FAST XO should be set. A box sim can off a lot of help with that though.
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Old 23rd September 2013, 02:17 AM   #10
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They are FF85wKeN treated drivers (vrs stock A6.2p)

dave
Ah yes. I did mean to note that. Thanks. Any thought on if the treatment reduces breakup or anything else Dave?
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