Saturday, April 9, 2011

Alpine Type-X SPX-13PRO 5.25" Component Speaker System Review

Competition in the electronics industry can be very fierce. This is also true in car stereo. For the consumer, this is a good thing. This competition can bring to us consumers either a good product at a great price, or a product with more features and better performance than we thought at a certain price point. And then, there are times when we experience a product that is really special. Alpine Electronics appears to have done it all with the SPX-13PRO component speaker system. And it is completely loaded, with some of the best specs and features of a component speaker system at ANY price!

It's features and specs include:
Power Handling CEA-2031 Power Rating:
Power Handling Capacity (RMS): 80 Watts
Power Handling Capacity (Peak): 240 Watts
Dimensions Tweeter Mounting Diameter (mm): 47mm
Tweeter Mounting Diameter (in): 1-55/64''
Tweeter Mounting Depth (mm): 18mm
Tweeter Mounting Depth (in): 45/64''
Woofer Diameter (mm): 130mm
Woofer Diameter (in): 5-1/8''
Woofer Mounting Diameter (mm): 115mm
Woofer Mounting Diameter (in): 4-17/32''
Woofer Mounting Depth (mm): 59.4mm
Woofer Mounting Depth (in): 2-11/32''
Crossover Size (mm): 112mm x 162mm 32mm
Crossover Size (in): 4-13/32'' x 6-3/7'' x 1-1/4''
General Frequency Response: 40Hz - 60kHz
Impedence: 4 Ohms Sensitivity: 87dB /W(1m)
Tweeter Tweeter Type: Smooth, 1-1/4'' Ring Tweeter with Tuned Chamber and Integrated Wave Guide
Mounting Design: 13/16'' Depth Mounting Design (with cup)
Application Type / Design Detail: External / Flush Tweeter Mounting Kit
Magnet Material: Low Distortion High-Grade Neodymium Motor Structure with Copper Shorting Cap
Woofer Dustcap Detail: Machined Aluminum Phase Plug with Direct Heat Transfer Heat-Sink Cone Material: Hybrid Cross-Rib Glass Fiber Cone
Motor Technology: Heat Transfer Motor/Frame Coupling
Voice Coil Type: High Temp VC CCAW Wire on 39mm Aluminum Former
Cooling: Airflow Management
Magnet: High Grade Neodymium Magnet
Mounting: Shallow Mounting Design
Frame: Machined Low-Carbon Steel U-Yoke Crossover Network
Grade: Audiophile / Expert Grade
Network Case Design: Audiophile Layout Attenuation Control: 4 - Level
Mounting: Easy-Mount Screw Terminals

Quality was also top notch, starting with the packaging. The box was a bit on the big side. But all the components were well protected in multiple layers of Styrofoam. All of the mounting screws, brackets, and grills were included. Construction was top notch. Neodymium magnets were used, to give it a shallower mounting. Cast aluminum brackets provide not only a durable construction for years of use, it also protects the voice coil and motor structure. The leads were well stitched into a high quality spider. The speaker positive and negative terminals are gold plated for the best connection. Positive and negative terminals were well labeled. The terminals also used a hex screw to use when using just bare speaker wire.

The cone area was also well constructed. The NBR Multi-Roll surrounds helps to maintain stable suspension, at any volume level. It also helps them handle a lot of power. Performance is also increased through lower distortion, improved bass performance and sound quality, and increased woofer reliability.

Speaking of woofer, Alpine has chose to go with more exotic materials this comes in the form of a hybrid glass fiber cone, with special pressed-in cross ribs to help increased stiffness. This helps to increase the sound quality of both bass and mid-range. NRSC (Non-Resonant Suspension Coupling) prevents resonant nodes to really increase the depth of the sound. Last but not least is an excellent solid machined Billet Aluminum Phase Plug. It prevents problems with phasing and yields a more focused sound. Being solid aluminum with slots, it also helps with cooling. Fit and finish was top notch!

As if it wasn't special enough, Alpine chose a Ring Radiator design for the tweeter. Instead of vibrating a diagram, a ring radiator tweeter moves linearly. With this design instead of edgy or bright, you get extremely smooth response that is undistorted. Dual suspension pivot points make it fast, and reduces distortion. The integrated wave Guide and tuned chamber optimizes the frequency response, dispersion, and increases SPL and dynamics.

Construction of the tweeter, like the woofer, is top-notch as well. Installation instructions were easy to follow, and the kit allows for flush swivel and fixed flush mounting. Surface mounting is not an option. Construction materials, and fit and finish is very good. Alpine makes high quality products, but for these Type-X PRO speakers, they have taken it up a notch.

That quality really shone through in the crossover network. It was built on an aluminum heatsink with a smoked plastic cover. Internal components are all audiophile grade, which even includes optical tweeter protection in the form of a small 20 watt bulb. There are 4 levels of tweeter attenuation, and the crossover network design allows for bi-amping.

Last but not least with the crossover network, there are 6 different phase link modules. Speaker system design can be different, as all vehicle installations are different. Woofer and tweeter install locations can vary. Based on the speaker locations, tweeters and or woofers can be out of phase. The phase link modules address those problems. The design is nothing short of phenomenal! I can think of a few high end manufacturers that don't appear to have anything over the engineers and designers at Alpine! When it comes to crossover networks, tweeter attenuation is common. Midrange attenuation is less common, but available. And there are a rare few that addresses phasing. Not only does the Alpine SPX-13PRO address phasing, it does so for both the tweeter and woofer. But Alpine didn't stop there. They designed modules that anyone can understand with the easy to read included instructions. When I got these, pulled out the instructions, and saw the modules, my jaw dropped. All I kept thinking was...Wow...Wow...and WOW!

I have to admit, and it may sound funny, but I was surprised at the value of this package for only $699 MSRP. You read correct. I said only. The woofer design, ring radiator tweeter, and this crossover network...I was giddy to listen to these babys! I know of component systems that cost over twice what these sell for, and they do not employ a ring radiator tweeter or a crossover network as extensive as this! Alpine appeared to have a product on their hands that was truly special! I couldn't wait to listen to them. I felt like a kid in a candy store with Daddy Warbucks footing the bill.

For the listening tests, I first turned to Fresh Aire VI- Night Festival at Rhodes. The resolution in the stringed instraments was excellent. Pitch definition in the drum was also nice. The soundstage was huge, and the sound was smooth. The bass was tight. Star Wars- The Throne Room, is another favorite of mine. Again, the sound was smooth with a large soundstage and precise imaging. The trumpets were extremely clean without being edgy or brassy. I got goosebumps all over, and had to remind myself to pay attention and not get lost in the music. The sound was clean and undistorted, even at high volume levels. Dire Strait Brothers In Arms- Money For Nothing, had nice bass extension that was punchy. The vocals were smooth with great pitch definition, and dynamics were excellent! I loved the harmonics. Brunson Brothers- Fleace Movae had great bass extension. Again the soundstage and imaging was spectacular! These personal friends of mine can really wail on the trumpets, and the Alpine SPX-13PRO's really showed how well they can perform. I felt like I was right there watching them perform again! The sound was smooth with phenomenal dynamics. Kudos! Last but not least is Def Leopard- Rock of Ages. The kick drum had excellent extension and pitch definition. Dynamics were great. The vocals also had pleasant timber. This song just screamed play me loud, and the Alpine SPX-13PRO's responded......OK! Delivery was done without harsh harmonics & distortions.

I was tickled pink with the Alpine SPX-13 PRO component speaker system. It had an excellent design and choice of components used. And the end result was a phenomenal aural treat. And I will say it again. At $699.95 they are a bargain. Some manufacturers could be very worried. Based on design, quality, and performance, they have won our Editor's Choice Award. Kudos! I only have one request. Next year, can you bring out a 3-way version? For more info and specs, check out their website at Reference gear used included Kenwood KDC-X991 receiver, Vibe Audio Space 6 3D Component system, Diamond Audio D6 12" subwoofers, Vibe Audio Black Death Bass 1 and LiteBox Stereo 4 amplifiers, and AudioControl DQSX Digital Crossover and Equalizer.