Written on: 15/04/2007 by peterhuppertz (4 reviews written)
Soundstage, detail resolution, accuracy, sweet midrange.
If I have to mention a bad point:
Very slight coloration in the midbass region (as do all bass-reflex speakers) when compared to much more expensive systems.
These speakers create a sound stage that is way better than anything else I've heard in this price range.
The slight color in the midbass region (audible in, for instance, David Sylvian's baritone voice) is present when compared to high-end transmission lines, and the problem (if you could call it a problem) magically disappears when the sub (a Rel Strata) is switched on and configured correctly. Don't ask me what causes this - I've configured the sub to only cover 30 Hz and lower (the Alphas are down something like 6 dB at 30 Hz), and I feed the sub straight from the speaker terminals, not from a low-level subwoofer output.
Even with the sub off, I fail to detect the lack of punch in the low frequencies that some reviewers are on about. It may be that the Alpha wants to live on an amplifier that has some serious headroom to play with. I've detected a lack of low when I hooked up the speakers to a run-of-the-mill Sony integrated amp, but on the NAD and the Rotel I've played with, these speakers pack quite a bit of punch from 31.5 Hz upward - and there is not a lot of information in most music that goes below that.
If you want to get lower than that (for instance if you want to hear what a 32 ft organ pipe can do to the plaster on your ceiling, or if you play The Two Towers or Gladiator a lot), you do need a sub. As you would with all speakers in the 3-figure price range, and with many in the 4-figure price range.
I have found that it is possible to find speakers that produce more decibels below 80 Hz than the Alpha 50 - but the way in which these decibels are produced invariably do not contribute to a pleasant listening experience in the long run. With or without the subwoofer, the Alpha 50's bass output is accurate, and never tiring or oppressive.
I cannot think of any other speaker in the 3-figure price range that reproduces music so utterly pleasingly. I know a couple in the 4-figure price range that do, but I have decided that I am not going to afford these.
My listening setup: NAD 1700 preamp, NAD 2600 main amp, NAD 5000 CD player, REL Strata II subwoofer, configured to cover 30 Hz and lower.