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The Focal Alpha 80 is a flagship model of its line, and perhaps, a solid standard in the music industry. The Alpha series appeared in the market thanks to the great technological innovation of Focal; in particular, many of the solutions were implemented previously in the SM9 reference monitors, as well as a wealth of experience in developing their own drivers.
Despite their big size, developers managed to minimize the influence of room acoustics; monitors do not fall into a specific music genre and are relatively inexpensive, which makes them extremely attractive for budget studios, home studios, as well as for casual listening.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that these are middle-range monitors. The manufacturer recommends using them in a range from 1.5’ to 12’.
For those who like to use 2.1 stereo systems (that is, with a subwoofer), it should be noted that in medium-sized rooms (up to 20 square yards) these monitors deliver great sound reproduction.
Tweeters are designed according to Focal’s special technology. The tweeter of Focal Alpha 80 is a concave aluminum dome. The concave design allows improving the mechanical connection of the coil with the tweeter, also making it more rigid.
Accordingly, the dome transmits vibrations of the speaker coil without any distortion, and the frequency response of the tweeter is quite smooth. The concave dome in combination with the waveguide reduces the directivity of the sound waves, which allows to largely get rid of such a phenomenon as off-axis coloring at high frequencies.
As for the materials of the tweeter, aluminum is a very light metal, which helps to build a diffuser with a good response to high frequencies.
The high-pass filter has a cutoff frequency of 4.5 kHz. The level of amplification or attenuation of the signal simultaneously changes in a very wide frequency band, up to 22 kHz. It is regulated within +/- 3 dB.
If you listen to some electronic mixes with hissing hi-hats, you will hear a highly-detailed sound, but it does not mean it will bite your ears; you will be able to hear what’s there without ear fatigue.
The woofer cones are made from the proprietary Polyglass, which is also used in the CMS. The technology behind it, to put it simply, is follows: a layer of glass microspheres is sprayed on a paper surface coated with a thin adhesive layer. Now, how does it benefit the sound?
The finished diffusers are extremely lightweight and at the same time have significant rigidity, which is necessary for accurate sound transmission. According to Focal engineers, the Polyglass rigidity index is higher than of polypropylene and single skin Kevlar, which are widely used for the manufacture of low- and mid-frequency speaker cones.
As a result, it provides neutrality and transparency of sound, lack of color in the entire operating range from high to low frequencies.
One of the features of this line of monitors is that they maintain tonal balance in a wide range of the sound spectrum. Looking ahead, the sound remains neutral on different volume levels.
The low frequency filter operates in the range of 0-300 Hz with a depth of -6 to +6 dB.
Focal Alpha 80 is a close-range monitor with the following dimensions – 15.6×11.3×13.7 inches. Weight is 26 lbs. The body is made of 15 mm MDF material and finished in black vinyl.
Two enlarged port holes are located on the front panel, allowing you to install acoustics in small rooms.
Class AB amplifiers with increased output current minimize distortion in a wide range of volumes. Different amplifier modules for HF and LF / MF speakers optimize power consumption.
Amplifiers have an Auto-standby mode, which is activated when the power is turned on. If there is no signal at the input for more than 30 minutes, the amplifiers automatically switch back to sleep mode.
To adapt the sound to different rooms, a smooth correction of the bass and high frequencies is provided, and for compatibility with different sources – sensitivity adjustment.
As for the connections, balanced XLR and conventional RCA inputs are provided.
Monitors are well-known for a wide stereo panorama, large-scale and detailed sound.
The Focal Alpha’s bottom is a typical Focal’s sound, slightly “rubbery” without exaggerated booming. If you listen to the first track from Brian Adams’s album “Room Service”, which was mixed by Bob Clearmountain, you will hear that the bass, which effectively comes along with the drums, is very audible, even at the lowest volume level.
Of course, you’ll have to adapt to the sound of Focal (applies to any other monitors). Different compositions have its own mood and character of the sound. It makes Focal Alpha a very flexible system.
The mid and high frequencies in the Alpha 80 sound smooth and transparent. Sharp percussion is transmitted with appropriate sharpness, melodic instruments also work intelligently. The piano, for example, sounds fully balanced, with a springy bottom and an open top. As for the acoustic guitar, it sounds smooth and evenly: it doesn’t have a mutter or something like that, but its character is not emphasized either. It is simply neutral, without any exaggeration, and this is what is usually required from studio monitors.
• Wide stereo image
• Neutral sound without distortion in frequency response up to 22 kHz
• Unique dual-port design
• XLR and RCA inputs with + 4 / -10 dB switch
• Integrated equalizer for bass and highs correction
• Auto stand-by mode can be annoying
• Very heavy and bulky
When it comes to mixing there are certain standards you should aim for; anything under those standards would certainly show up in your mixes. Monitors above those standards can be very different, regardless of price.
Focal Alpha 80 is a great example of a good standard that is accepted and cultivated in the music industry. As for the first pair of monitors (or possible upgrade), they will be more than professional, honest, balanced, transparent, you name it.
This flagship model is a great purchase for anyone who values professional sound and unbeatable quality.
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