Metal Alp10 Gen.3 V Paper Alp10 Gen.1
My email bag is growing with requests for more information on the comparative differences between the Alpair 10M(A) gen.3 metal cone driver and the Alpair 10P(A) gen.1 paper cone driver.
Apologies that we don't have comparative performance T/S, frequency and impedance data sets right now as I'm still final tweaking the 10P's suspensions. However, I can describe the differing historical design perspectives on these 2 stable-mate drivers.
Alpair 10M(A) Gen.3 (metal)
The development of this driver is largely been driven by members of this forum. The Gen.3's performance characteristics are the result of feedback over recent years for more high range output and increased efficiency while retaining its smoothness in terms of tonal quality. Past praise from members over the years (Gen.1 onwards) is the relative docile nature of the Alpair 10 metal drivers. The reason for my design efforts to create a neutral sounding driver was historical criticism levelled at all metal drivers; That they sound "metallic". The first metal Alpair 10 quickly overcame this criticism so much so that some said it was too laid back, too smooth. All the same, its sales were good and helped to establish the Markaudio brand. The Gen.2 driver followed with the introduction of cone Multiform technology allowing me to use more complex alloy materials reducing driven masses as the feedback from members was for more efficiency. The emittance from the driver increased along with LF bandwidth, extending the drivers performance. However some members still felt the driver remained performance limited, especially when compared to the later Alpair 7 units. The work done by Evan Yu with some help from me was to address the issue of tonality and dispersion. The introduction of the super light weight coil and a revision in the cone design have now addressed member requests. The driver illustrated in this thread, I believe, will answer the needs of member looking for these improvements:
I think the Alpair metal Gen.3 has got allot closer to its design zenith. In 3 or so years time (health permitting), I'll look again at the design profile of its cone but for now, this Gen.3 version is in a nice mature development state. I think guys, you will enjoy this driver.
Alpair 10P(A) Gen.1 (paper)
The influence for this driver has largely come from Japan (land of the rising sun). Japan is the largest market for the purchase and use of single point Full-Range audio drivers. Its audiophile community is, I understand, proportionally the largest in the world. Sales of Maraudio drivers in Japan have rocketed. 4 years ago, we had no sales in Japan. Today Markaudio is the third largest Full-Range driver supplier in the country. Currently 50% of all Markaudio's production goes to Japan, the quantity grows year on year.
Metal coned Full-Range drivers in Japan are still considered a novelty by many traditional Japanese Diyers and custom builders. Many of these guys have bought into metal CHR's, Alpair 6's and especially later version Alpair 7's and MAOP variants, refreshing their hobby. However, more recent encouragement from these guys was for me to develop larger single coned Full-Rangers using paper. For the purposed of cone making, the 2 main technical advantages paper has over metal alloy is its lower mass to surface ratio and better surface area to rigidity ratio, the latter having a more reliable engineering design constant. In essence, the bigger the single Full-Range cone, the better suited to paper for its design and function. The Alpair 12P was the first larger Markaudio driver to take on these technical advantages, reducing its moving mass to 10g from the original metal version's 17g. The next natural step was to develop a paper version of the Alpair 10, known as the 10P, its current design moving mass is 5.3g compared to its metal version of 7.3g.
Audiophile Japan has a tradition for lower power applications. It still has a thriving valve (tube) amplification manufacturing base. Along with Diyers from N. America and Europe, low power audiophile applications remain popular. The 10P goes some way to answer the needs of these communities. In particular, the issue of LF response in Full-Rangers was raised in my many trips to guest speak at Tokyo audio events. Hence the 10P remains a "long throw" design with a coil winding length of +14mm. Development progress of this driver can be found on this thread:
What to expect from these 2 drivers and which should you choose?
These 2 questions are interesting. Much depends on each individuals perspective and personal taste. However, there will be distinct audible performance differences. For those guys who prefer "neutrality" in a driver, the 10 metal would likely be the favoured choice. For guys who like the tradition of paper and have a love for low power applications, the 10P will make more sense.
In terms of personal listening taste, this becomes a matter of choice. Due to my recent health challenge, I've had more time in front of these drivers. Something I've enjoyed very much, although not the reason for it! I can only comment from my own perspective and naturally accept that others may differ from my tastes.
The 10 metal remains my overall favourite but only by a nose length (and a short nose at that). I suspect with more run-in time on the 10P, my tastes could easily modify. The 10P is one of those drivers, when first listened sounds awful. The after a 100 hours or so, its character mellows out. After fiddling around with valves (tubes) generally "tweaking" one's set up, the 10P's come into their own. They are so resonant sensitive, you really can hear a "pin drop". Where such sensitivity leads Diyers/forum members, will be interesting to see. All the same, I'll not give up the use of my Alpair 10 metal Gen.3's. I'm a typical "train spotting" bloke, never totally satisfied, always looking for the next tweak. Either way, both these drivers are going to give plenty of fun hours in front of my system! Hence my renewed interest in 2A3 valve (tube) amps and small solid staters!
I was wondering if you have any idea how the 10.3 and 10P will compare to the 10.2 efficiency wise using a SET tube amp. Would there be noticeable increase in SPL?
From the data posted, the 10.3 has about 1dB greater sensitivity than the old 10.2 model. Since the 10P isn't finalised yet, we're purely speculating, but Mark has said it's at 90dB or thereabouts, so on the order of +3dB over the 10.2
How would a 1db and 3 db increase translate to the listening experience? If say a SET 2A3 amp was giving a SPL reading in the high 70's with peaks to 80 with the 10.2 driver how would you see it performing with these two drivers theoretical increases?
Without a large amount of additional information, about all that can be practically said is that you will have more dynamic headroom & reduced distortion from the amplifier given the lower power output for a given SPL.
Amps on 10M G3 and 10P G1
I've spent some more time swopping amps on these drivers. So far i've used:
Accuphase E-308 integrated SS 100 watts a/b
Twinaudio 300B (Zhu Transformer set) 8watts
DiyHiFi Supply Joplin intergrated 7 watts
Diy HiFi Supply Joplin Pwr + Django Pre 7 watts
Twinaudio 6v6 integrated 10 watts
Results so far:
10M on Accuphase, classic Japanese quality solid state amp, more than enough power for the 10M (care taken with the vol control). Interestingly, I tried some of Bob Brine's suggestions and up'd the bass gain control. The 10M to for my taste didn't need it, as its already LF capable but it was nice to see the drivers chuck out allot of LF without breaking into a big sweat.
10P on Accuphase, interesting, very very detailed. For solid state guys, they could have some fun with this driver, but the 10P only needs a fraction of the E-308's available power. I did enjoy upping the bass gain and toning down the HF gain a little on the Accuphase. Made the driver/amp match very sweet indeed.
10M and 10P on 300B. The amp had no problems with either driver, plenty of power in reserve. More a matter of personal taste. If your into "smoooth", the 10M, sheer detail and snap, the 10P. I kept swopping drivers, couldn't choose between them as both personalities had appeal.
2A3 Joplin Integrated
Interestingly, I put the 10M ahead of the 10P on this amp, the 10M was the more balanced musically of the 2 drivers.
2A3 Pwr Joplin + Django.
This time the 10P was the better driver for this amp combo. The reserve effect, 10P being the smoother. I think the Django is toning down the output being a transformer pre (none powered pre).
I've had this amp along time, its the warmest amp I've got in my collection, very silky. The 10P's fell in love with it, the results for me were absolutely fab. This combo was the one played the most over the day. Ironically, it was a cheap(ish) amp, nothing special, modest price Chinese tubes etc, but it works. What more can I say? Just got lucky with this combo.
Will be borrowing a 3.5 watt 2A3 soonest possible. I'm ubber confident a 3 watt 2A3 will be a nice combo, given the 6V6 result, the 10P will settle on low watt tubies very nicely indeed. For those boys on classic solid staters with gain controls, or equalisation on hand, the 10P is a highly "tunable" driver. You'll likely be pleasantly surprised what can be extracted within its power handling limits. The 10M is the all-rounder, you'll get a nice result on pretty much any descent amp. Its not as docile as 10 gen1/2's as there's more HF bandwidth to play with, but its remains inside the "smoothy" camp. I find it hard to choose between these drivers.
The singing mutt.
Hooter is one of our rescue mutts. Here he is, singing his chopps off to Dawn Upshaw, joining in with the 10P's 6v6 combo.
More as time permits.
Cool thanks Mark. I'll stay tuned to hear what you and Hooter think of the drivers on a 2.5 watt SET 2A3.
I'm no expert on valve amps, but FWIW, based on my limited experience, make sure the 2A3 amp has a 'suitable' power supply. For that read 'massively over-specified.' Then, assuming a good circuit design & decent quality output transformers & valves, you should be laughing.
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