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Old 26th February 2012, 09:40 PM   #1
goneill is offline goneill  New Zealand
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Default Alpair 7 listening session

I had a visit from Peter Richardson of CabinetWorks, who lives quite close to us here in New Zealand. He has started building cabinets for the A7 drivers and brought over his first set of speakers.

For comparing the speakers we concentrated on two CDs – Cheryl Bentyne’s “sings Waltz for Debby” (a good quality Japanese CD) and that old “favourite” Jazz at the Pawnshop (the XRCD version).

We started with our study system (NAD 541 and Rotel 1060 amp), swapping out the normal B&W Solid speakers. Even on this quite modest system the A7’s had a nice warmth to the vocals, with a natural balance across the frequencies. It was noticeable with the Solid speakers that the treble and bass were extended which at first listening sounded better but you soon realised Cherly’s voice sort of disappeared into the background rather than being the main focus.

Then we moved on to our second system in our dining room (about 4m by 6m with a 2.3m ceiling). Obviously the smaller cabinets from Peter had a different sound to our normal B&W Matrix 802s3 speakers but we were impressed with how well they performed. They were certainly adequate for this size room and didn’t sound stretched at all. We were a bit surprised how well the A7 speakers worked in this room. One interesting thing about Cherly Bentyne’s voice is that she has quite sharp S’s which can sound very sibilant on a poor system but the A7’s handled them well giving a nice smooth sound. The instruments were clear with all the background noises from the JatP CD coming through as well as the performers instruments.

Finally we tried them on our main system of an Esoteric X05 CD into a Django TVC and Ella tube amp in our main room (7m x 7m with 5m ceiling). It was clear that this room was a bit beyond cabinets this size, but if you had only heard the A7 cabinets and couldn’t compare them to our Pensil 12s you’d probably still be quite happy.

I was impressed with Peter’s work on the cabinets, especially as this was his first attempt. He had trouble getting some ports locally for the cabinets in time for the listening session so instead had rounded off the hole in the front and used a tube he had to hand on the inside of the cabinet and I must say it looked quite neat. I’m looking forward to seeing his future work!
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Old 26th February 2012, 09:56 PM   #2
frugal-phile(tm)
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A note to Peter (have him contact me if hewants some helpful advice): the raised "picture frame" bit on the front of the cabinet is not going to help the diffraction signature of the box, hiding how well these little babies can image.

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Old 27th February 2012, 02:00 AM   #3
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Hi Guys,
I've been working with Peter for the best of a year now. I mentioned Peter in a post made while I was in New Zealand last January.

Peter's cabinet/furniture making skills are top draw profession. He run's a mature business making custom items from a large workshop on an industrial complex in Morrinsville, around 1 hour's drive south of Auckland.

This first pair of boxes are purely experimental for Peter. He's keen to bring in a professional furniture design and makers perspective to audio cabinets. The picture frame is part of an experimental 2 part baffle, the front section being removable.

Referring to Graham's observations:

"We started with our study system (NAD 541 and Rotel 1060 amp), swapping out the normal B&W Solid speakers. Even on this quite modest system the A7’s had a nice warmth to the vocals, with a natural balance across the frequencies. It was noticeable with the Solid speakers that the treble and bass were extended which at first listening sounded better but you soon realised Cherly’s voice sort of disappeared into the background rather than being the main focus".

Peter attached a 0.2mH inductor to the Alp7's + feed so suspect (along with the picture frame on the front baffle) there's more range performance to be got from Peter's set-up. Given the technical differences, the Alpair 7's has the capacity to emit more range than the B&W Solids, so its a question of optimising Peter's set-up.

Compared to many small bass reflex commercial 2 way systems, I'd expect the Alp7's to deliver a more balanced performance without specific emphasis on lows or highs. Interestingly, Peter's set-up is already proving itself in the all important vocal range, the most critical section of a speaker system's performance.

I'd like to thank Graham and Joy for hosting Peter's first listening session and offering observations to forum members. I'm hoping Peter and Graham can stay in touch as is good to see local audio community support in action.

Cheers

Mark.

Last edited by markaudio; 27th February 2012 at 02:14 AM.
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