Professional studio monitors are expensive. Top-of-the-line monitors can easily exceed $1,000. But you don’t have to spend that much if you are a home-based producer.
In this review, we check out a studio monitor from Focal, a brand that is well-known for pro gear. But the difference here is that this is their more affordable entry-level Alpha 50 Evo.
Focal Alpha 50 Evo
With such a strong history in the audio business, there are a lot of expectations. Especially with this latest Evo update. Let’s see if this cheaper option can compete with other choices in the market.
The Focal Alpha 50 Evo has a lot to live up to considering the reputation Focal has. The previous Alpha 50 was a big success so I was very curious to see how this new model stacked up. Let’s dive into the details to see if it can match these high expectations.
This is one area that Focal consistently delivers in. Their pro-level gear is a mainstay in many studios. That same expertise has carried over to the more affordable Alpha range and continues with the Evo update.
Balance and neutrality are excellent. The low-end offer plenty of substance and depth. Warm without any muddy bass tones.
Normally I recommend adding a subwoofer. But, it can be a challenge to integrate correctly into your studio space. The Alpha 50 Evo provides enough range in the low-end that you can forgo the subwoofer. Something other 5-inch monitors sometimes struggle with.
Mid tones are just as impressive. Detailed and clear. Precise and defined vocal components along with instruments. Likewise, they handle electronic elements just as well as organic instruments.
The top-end is also extremely tight and maintains excellent clarity. Elements like cymbals crash cleanly without any harsh tonality.
The large sweet spot is another excellent feature. While still near-field monitors they manage to project sound extremely well. This allows for more precise and flexible placement within your studio space.
These are excellent-sounding monitors. Focal has leveraged their experience and delivered. A fantastic choice for any home studio setup.
The attention to detail continues when it comes to the build quality. The updated Evo offers a thicker and more robust cabinet than its predecessor. It’s solid and robust.
Component quality is also high with a brand new Slatefiber low-frequency driver along with an aluminum inverted dome high-frequency driver. Not as refined as their more expensive line. But, there is no doubting they have approached these monitors with care and precision.
Exclusive components set the Alpha 50 Evo apart from the competition.
Focal is not one to make changes unless they feel it will improve performance. The Slatefiber cone is stiffer and offers better distortion control. A good improvement over the previous generation’s model.
This monitor is on the heavier side but still lighter than the original Alpha 50. While still weighty it does add to the premium feel. A well-built monitor that is sure to last you a long time. As long as you treat them well.
The Focal Alpha 50 Evo offers a 5-inch Slatefiber woofer cone powered by a Class D amplifier. 30W for the low-frequency driver and 20W for the high-frequency driver. This switch from an AB amplifier does offer less power but the efficiency is higher making the change in power negligible.
They have an in-house team that develops drivers. Something few audio companies do. This new woofer cone design was 4 years in development. It offers a better bass response, increased damping, and a lighter weight compared to the previous Polyglass cone.
The Focal Alpha 50 Evo is lighter than the original Alpha 50.
The tweeter is a 1-inch aluminum inverted dome. Not quite as premium as the other tweeter configurations available from Focal. But, it still performs exceptionally well.
The frequency response is 45Hz-22kHz much like the previous Alpha 50. An excellent range that delivers smooth sound across the full spectrum. With a max SPL of 101dB, these are quite loud and more than enough to fill a small or medium-sized studio.
The tuning options on the Focal Alpha 50 Evo are another excellent feature. You’ll have access to both Low-Frequency and High-Frequency shelving controls. These two controls allow you to fine-tune the studio monitor’s performance based on the acoustics in your room.
Placement of speakers and room dynamics play a massive role in audio quality. Having access to these shelving controls is critical to get the most out of your monitors. The controls are also precise and accurate.
An added Sensitivity switch completes the options. This allows you to bump SPL by 6dB. While I doubt you’ll need to use it often it can be handy for niche circumstances.
The Focal Alpha 50 Evo studio monitor is attractive and more appealing than the previous model. Strong performance is the top priority for Focal. But I’m glad they took the time to improve the monitors appearance.
The cabinet is sleek with distinct angled edges on the side of the monitor. The blue-toned cone draws the eye and adds some much-needed pop. But you still have the option of attaching the grilles if you prefer a more basic appearance.
The Focal Alpha 50 Evo offers a sleek and modern design aesthetic.
The front bass port is also a new addition. The previous model offered two smaller ports while the Evo line offers one larger port. This helps with bass delivery. I’m also always happy to see a forward-facing port to reduce low-end build-up when placed against a wall.
One of my biggest complaints with the previous model was the frustrating standby mode. Essentially after 30 minutes of no input, the monitor would turn off. It wouldn’t re-engage until it received a signal. The problem here was that the signal needed to be a certain volume before they would kick back in. This lead to a delay. You had to then need to adjust the volume again once they are active.
The good news is Focal took on board this feedback and now offers an on/off switch for the auto standby. A big improvement over the original.
The Focal Alpha 50 Evo is on the larger side compared to other 5-inch studio monitors. While this no doubt assists with the audio performance it does mean they can be difficult to place.
The Focal Alpha 50 Evo is slightly larger than similar 5-inch monitors.
Considering the intended use I would suggest monitor stands to get these up to the appropriate height. It’s not ideal to have these just sitting on your desk. Despite been lighter than the previous generation’s model, these are still good candidates for stands. They’ll quickly place too much pressure on flimsy shelving.
The Focal Audio Alpha 50 Evo also offers some changes to the connection options over the previous model. A balanced XLR connection point and an unbalanced RCA inlet remain. This RCA connection features preset sensitivity compensation specific to unbalanced sources. But what is new is the included balanced 1/4-inch connection. This now gives you full flexibility when it comes to connecting the monitor.
The Focal Alpha 50 Evo offers both balanced and unbalanced connection options.
Beyond these primary connections, the Alpha 50 Evo doesn’t offer any extra inputs. There is no headphone jack or AUX option.
Focal studio monitors are expensive. The Alpha range however is more affordable than the rest of the offerings in the Focal Audio range. Value-wise it is difficult to assess these studio monitors. The sound quality is exceptional and hard to match.
They deliver performance levels that are usually found in more expensive gear. So while some monitors may be cheaper you’ll have a hard time matching this level of quality.
If you are in the market for 5-inch monitors these are a good choice. Albeit on the pricey side. But if you are on a budget you can still find alternatives that deliver good sound quality. They just won’t sound as nice as the Alpha 50 Evo.
What Others Have To Say
Focal has an excellent reputation in the audiophile community. The Alpha range has won many fans due to the excellent sound quality. While this new series is still quite new there are already good reviews coming in.
How To Break In New Speakers
I often see reviews for studio monitors where the user has returned the speaker nearly instantly after purchase. These reviews often mention poor audio performance. But, there can often be more to this story than meets the eye (or should I say ear!).
All loudspeakers should be ‘broken in’. This is the process of establishing the speaker and warming it up so to speak. You should expect to run the speakers for around 20-30hrs before they reach optimal performance levels.
New speakers need to be broken in to attain maximum performance.
While you can get specific audio tracks to help with this general music is fine. But, if possible aim for more low-frequency heavy tracks. These help the mechanical elements to settle and adjust to the environment.
Once the transducers have has a chance to settle you’ll be able to achieve the best performance from your new monitors. During this time be mindful to not push the speakers too far. Aggressively playing at loud volumes is not good for the initial break-in period.
So when you do get your shiny new studio monitors make sure to take the time to properly warm them up.
There are several 5-inch studio monitors on the market. Here are some alternatives to the Focal Alpha 50 Evo studio monitors.
Yamaha HS5 Review
Yamaha is another brand with an excellent reputation for studio monitors. The HS series is a reasonably priced range on par with the Alpha range from Focal.
- A neutral sound response that’s great for professional production work.
- Attractive design that is also available in an all-white version.
- The low-end isn’t as full as the Focal Alpha 50 Evo.
Mackie CR5-XBT Review
This adaptable set of monitors from Mackie is on the cheaper side of the spectrum. These feature a modern and striking design with versatile features.
- Bluetooth and a headphone jack add extra flexibility.
- The low-price point makes these an appealing choice for budget-conscious buyers.
- The response is not as neutral as other pro-level monitors.
ADAM Audio T5V Review
Another fantastic option is the ADAM Audio T5V. This monitor features an accurate and refined sound that is ideal for serious studio work.
- A superb sound that is neutral, loud, and distortion-free.
- The U-Art tweeter delivers crisp highs that are not harsh or overly bright.
- The rear-facing bass port can be an issue if you have these up against a wall.
Adam Audio T5V
Should You Buy?
The Focal Alpha 50 Evo studio monitors are an excellent option for the dedicated professional. The fantastic audio quality sets these apart from other 5-inch monitors. The clarity and brightness are just right with plenty of depth in the low end.
With a range of innovative new features, they are a big step up from the previous model. They are however still on the pricier side. Despite the higher price, these are worth it.
Focal Audio ALPHA 50 Evo