Often within the studio monitor market, manufacturers will roll out refreshed models with minimal improvements. But Focal has completely overhauled its entry-level Alpha series, and this new generation delivers in multiple areas. This review takes a closer look at the mid-sized Alpha 65 Evo to see where it sits in a crowded market.
Focal Alpha 65 Evo
The Focal Alpha 65 Evo boasts superb sound quality that appeals to professionals and home studio enthusiasts. Below are the quick highlights before we take a deeper dive into what it has to offer.
The difference between the original Alpha series and this revamped Evo line is stark. Take everything you knew about the previous series out the door, as this studio monitor is an entirely different beast altogether.
Sound quality is at the heart of all studio monitor evaluations. You can have all the bells and whistles in the world, but without impeccable sound, you’ll be unable to achieve your goals in the studio. To make a long story short, the Alpha 65 Evo delivers in this area with finesse.
One of the most notable improvements is bass response. The previous model featured a dual port setup, but now, in its place, a long and engulfing solitary port dominates the bottom of the cabinet. The result is a much tighter and voluptuous bass that retains clarity and precision. The bass is up to the task whether you mix at low or high volume levels.
The mid-range is equally impressive, with the same level of detail and precision. Accuracy is paramount when working within this critical range, and the Alpha 65 Evo hugs the baseline tightly with only minimal dips and peaks. There are no huge swings in either direction, giving you maximum confidence when working on your latest project.
The Focal Alpha 65 Evo is an excellent choice for a professional studio.
Another area of improvement is in the top end. The previous model displayed a slight sharpness and offered highs that were a little too brittle. With this new model, Focal has cleaned up the top end to deliver a satisfying and accurate sound that won’t grate your ears and cause fatigue.
Stereo imaging and sound stage representation are also excellent, with a consistent response. These are near-field monitors, but you can deviate slightly from the optimum sweet spot and still experience balanced and refined audio.
Amp noise is nearly non-existent as well. You’ll need to come right up to the speaker within an inch or two before hearing any audible noise, which is a massive tick in my book as I can’t stand monitors that hiss. Distortion is also remarkably controlled even as you creep up to the top of this monitor’s potential sound pressure level.
Reworking a series of monitors can be risky, but Focal has looked at all aspects of the sound profile and implemented effective changes that elevate this series. It’s inviting and fun to listen to while retaining the detail and accuracy that professionals demand.
Focal is a French-based company with over 40 years of experience developing and producing audio gear. In that time, they have built a reputation for high-quality equipment, which is evident with this new series.
Initially, I was skeptical as other Focal products are entirely manufactured in France. But this entry-level series is manufactured in China, which, as I’ve seen from other companies, can lead to some quality control issues. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here. It seems Focal has chosen its manufacturing partner carefully to maintain its reputation.
High-quality components within a durable cabinet.
The thick MDF with black vinyl covering is robust and rock solid. The additional bolted side panels are equally expertly crafted and integrated. The slate fiber woofer is still produced in France and shipped over, so close attention to detail is also present here.
Every connection point and knob are high quality, and the tweeter also doesn’t disappoint. There isn’t a hint of sloppiness present, and I can easily see this monitor lasting you for years.
If you do have any concerns, the after-sales support from Focal is fantastic, but to make things easier, I suggest buying from a reputable seller just in case there are any issues. But as it stands, that would be unlikely. This expertly designed and crafted monitor bears all the hallmarks I expect from a company with such a high reputation in the industry.
The heart and soul of the Focal Alpha 65 Evo is the bi-amped design that features Class D amps. A total of 85W of power is on hand, with 55W watts for the low-frequency driver and 30W for the high-frequency driver.
The 6.5-inch woofer cone features a unique Slatefiber design for tight bass. Supporting the in-house designed woofer is a 1-inch Aluminum Inverted Dome tweeter for delicate and precise high-frequency performance. It’s an excellent combination that delivers on the sound front.
Impressive specifications for a monitor in this price bracket.
With a frequency response of 40Hz-22kHz, the Focal Alpha 65 Evo creeps up beyond the usual 20kHz in the top end, and the extension down to 40Hz is controlled and accurate. This monitor punches well above what I expect from a monitor in this size category.
The Alpha 65 Evo also offers plenty of headroom with a Max SPL of 104dB. Many monitors can tout a high Max SPL but often fall short as you begin to creep up, but the 65 Evo handles the pressure like a champ.
The Focal Alpha 65 Evo features two primary tuning controls to help sculpt the sound to your needs. You’ll have access to two control knobs to adjust LF and HF Shelving.
The low-frequency shelving ranges from -6db to +6dB, a vital option to help adjust to your studio space and tame unwanted bass build-up. The high-frequency shelving features a range of -3dB to +3dB. I found the Alpha 65 Evo near-perfect out of the box, but if you want to trim back or boost the highs, it is nice to have this option up your sleeve.
LF and HF Shelving give you some level of control.
While these two controls are effective, the knobs lack an ident in the 0dB position, making setting identical levels across two monitors a little tricky. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but it would have been a nice inclusion.
It’s also worth noting that the Focal Alpha 65 Evo doesn’t feature a variable input sensitivity control. You’ll need to make changes via your audio interface or workstation. A 0dB and +6dB switch is present, but I always prefer a knob. Once again not a deal breaker but worth highlighting.
Beyond that, the Focal Alpha 65 Evo doesn’t feature some of the more modern DSP controls that are becoming increasingly popular. Despite lacking extra bells and whistles, the Alpha 65 Evo gives you enough power to adapt to your space.
I’ve spent a lot of time reviewing studio monitors, and the Alpha 65 Evo is a welcome change in the design department. Far too many bland and uninspired monitors populate the market. And all things considered, looks shouldn’t matter. But it’s great to see an attractive and modern-looking monitor that also delivers in the sound department.
The larger-than-average cabinet for a woofer this size gives the unit a bulky and aggressive footprint. It’s stocky and commanding, but not in a bloated way. The angled side panels add plenty of character with the lower wedge wrapping into the wide bass port.
An attractive studio monitor with or without the grille.
The tweeter features a waveguide that is effective but equally doesn’t overwhelm the available real estate. With its unique texture and blue hue, the woofer catches the eye and helps set this monitor apart from competitors. You can also attach a protective grille for added security if you desire.
One minor issue with the Alpha 65 Evo is the auto standby feature. In theory, this is a great way to minimize power usage, but it is a frustrating addition in practice. The amount of delay before the monitor fires back up led to me switching this feature off. While it did frustrate me, at least the Alpha 65 Evo allows you to switch it off, unlike some other monitors.
As for technical design, creative, innovative, and effective elements are abundant. From the excellent woofer design to the updated port design, every facet of the Alpha 65 Evo is a masterclass of high-quality and ingenious design work within a constrained budget.
The Focal Alpha 65 Evo does command a presence. Its broader footprint might be a challenge for smaller studio spaces, and I recommend you check your stands to ensure they can accommodate this monitor.
The Alpha 65 Evo is wider than some other 6.5-inch monitors.
Despite its larger size, the Focal Alpha 65 Evo isn’t overly heavy at 16.8 lbs. (7.62 kg). This is on par with other monitors in this category. It’s enough heft not to make it feel cheap but equally not cumbersome to move about.
The 65 Evo gives you access to all three primary connection types. You’ll have two balanced options: an XLR connection and a ¼-inch TRS connection. Completing the trifecta is a solitary unbalanced RCA connection. This trio will be enough to handle a wide variety of applications.
You’ll have access to both balanced and unbalanced inputs.
As is to be expected from a studio-focused monitor, there are no additional connection options available. There is no Bluetooth connectivity or AUX port, and also, there is no headphone jack. These features are uncommon among these types of studio monitors, but more consumer-focused monitors are available if you need these features.
The Focal Alpha 65 Evo sits in the mid-tier compared to some studio monitors, but they are also the cheapest option if you want Focal monitors. You can get highly neutral monitors for cheaper, but considering the high degree of quality, these monitors present superb value. The Focal Alpha range is an excellent choice if you want to move beyond cheaper entry-level gear.
The Focal Alpha 65 Evo is a popular studio monitor with a consistently high rating. Most reviews are five stars, with just a tiny fraction of four-star reviews. The sound quality is the most praised element of this monitor, with them constantly impressing both beginners and seasoned professionals.
One of the unique elements of the Focal Alpha 65 Evo is the Slatefiber cone. This design has been in development for over four years and has been a showcase of the Focal brand since 2019.
This non-woven and orientated carbon fiber cone design gets a lot right. It offers exceptional rigidity, which enhances its ability to deliver a punchy bass response.
The Slatefiber cone on the Alpha 65 Evo delivers exceptional performance.
While it is exceptionally tough and rigid, it doesn’t weigh much, so sensitivity remains optimized. The non-woven design also delivers excellent damping, and when you factor in the thermoplastic polymers, it’s a design that is hard to beat.
It’s a testament to the hard work of the team at Focal and something that sets them apart from other companies. While others will incorporate off-the-shelf woofers, Focal has invested in developing something they fully control. In a world of cheap imitations and generic offerings, there is something special about a company that places R&D at the forefront.
If you are looking at picking up some new monitors, many options are available. Below we take a look at some other monitors worth considering.
ADAM Audio A7V Review
If you have more money to spend on your studio monitors, the A7V is a superb upgrade. With exceptional clarity and detail, they are an excellent choice for studio work.
- Excellent sound profile that is clear and precise with generous headroom.
- The build quality is superb and it comes with a long warranty.
- The X-ART tweeter delivers crisp highs, but some may find them too sharp.
ADAM Audio A7V
Tannoy GOLD 8 Review
For those that want a monitor with a larger woofer, the Tannoy GOLD 8 is a viable option. It’s a studio powerhouse with a design that delivers exceptional accuracy.
- The dual concentric driver configuration delivers outstanding stereo imaging.
- With high detail and flat response, these are ideal for serious studio work.
- The retro-style appearance is not as slick as the Alpha 65 Evo.
Tannoy GOLD 8
ADAM Audio T7V Review
The T7V from ADAM Audio is another professional-level studio monitor without a huge price tag. It’s loud and clear with a detailed high-frequency response.
- A high degree of clarity in the sound profile. Nice lows, smooth mids, and detailed highs.
- Clean design aesthetic in a robust and durable cabinet.
- The rear-firing port means you’ll need to keep these away from back walls.
ADAM Audio T7V
Should You Buy?
The Focal Alpha 65 Evo is an impressive monitor in every sense of the word. It’s tailor-made for serious studio work while maintaining a price that is more than reasonable. The futuristic design lends itself well to a modern studio fit-out.
But above all else, the sound delivery is exceptional. Sometimes flat monitors can sound dull, but this monitor is full of life without sacrificing precision. An excellent mid-tier monitor from a well-respected company.
Focal Alpha 65 Evo