Alpine SPX-177A Component System
www.alpine1.com

Alpine’s new component systems offer two-way aural bliss and a host of mounting options.

by Brian Smith

Alpine’s SPX-177A is a two-way component systems utilizing 6.5-inch midrange drivers and 1-inch tweeters. The midrange drivers are constructed with aluminum baskets, strontium magnets, and hemp fiber cones with rubber surrounds. The tweeters are soft dome units with neodymium magnets and feature provisions for swivel or angled surface mounting and swivel or fixed flush mounting. The system’s external crossovers feature a number of small jumpers that allow fine-tuning of the systems overall response. Unlike most crossovers where the only tweeter’s output level can be manipulated, these systems provide a myriad of options on both the woofer and tweeter with the intention of providing correction for less than optimum speaker placement. (Alpine reports that this is the first crossover to ever take into account mounting position, phase, and phase integration between subwoofers and tweeters — Ed.)

Subjective
Ok, I’ll admit that I cheated with the SPX-177A’s and did the objective measurements first. After listening to and measuring more speakers than I can even put a number on, I’ve got a pretty good idea of the type of response curve that appeals to my personal taste. Given that the crossovers included with these systems have five jumpers in the low pass section and another seven in the high pass section, I figured it would be easier to find the “optimum” setting with the computer and mic than with the old ear bones. I won’t go into which settings I picked because they will likely be irrelevant once the systems are integrated into your particular installation. Also, I’m not including the different responses caused by the various settings because the number of possible combinations is vast, and, after five or six sweeps, the display becomes very difficult to read. I will say that moving any single jumper causes a change in response that should be easily audible. This is one of those situations where you’ll just have to install the speakers, listen with the crossovers sitting in your lap, and move jumpers around until you find what works best. As with an equalizer, I can’t say what settings will work best for your application and neither can Alpine, although they do attempt to provide some general ideas in the system’s manual. It’s also true that these crossovers won’t do anything that a good EQ won’t, but it is always very nice to have options. (Alpine reports that the phase shift control has been built into the crossovers to correct in-vehicle integration of woofers and tweeters. Only time correction devices can achieve this capability — Ed.)

After about 30 minutes of fiddling with the jumpers and running sweeps, I found the settings that seemed to make the systems work best in our test enclosures. With this task complete, I set the systems up for some critical listening. It didn’t take more than about two songs to realize that these are some of the finer sounding component speakers that I’ve heard in quite a long time. Come to think of it, it rarely takes more than a couple of songs to come to a conclusion about a set of speakers. The better ones just end up taking longer to audition because the process is actually enjoyable. In all honesty, bad sounding speakers make me ill tempered and I have yet to find a set that got any better by listening to them for an extended period. In contrast, I listened to the whole collection of tracks that I use for this type of evaluation through the SPX-177A’s. While they’re not perfect (nothing is), if everybody else’s speaker systems were at least this good, reviewing them would be a lot more fun.

Objective
Impedance measurements on the SPX-177A’s show a maximum of 25 ohms at 67 Hz and a minimum of 2.3 ohms at 9.5 kHz. Average impedance measured 3.7 ohms between 100 Hz and 20 kHz. One watt at one-meter sensitivity measured 86 dB SPL with 200 Hz to 5 kHz band-limited pink noise. Both RTA and semi-anechoic measurements show a response that fits within a window of about 6 dB over the vast majority of the systems usable range.

Price & Contact: $450; 310-326-8000. Web: www.alpine1.com.