1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

MrSpeakers Alpha Prime

Rating:
4.66667/5,
  1. Textfeud
    Call me surprised: finally an open sounding closed cans
    Written by Textfeud
    Published Aug 21, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Soundstage, imaging, clear & open sounding, comfort, bass quality
    Cons - Bass quantity
    I don't do reviews very often unless there aren't many available and I can maybe give a little insight to people in the same boat as me. This review is for planar lovers and for people that want or need a closed headphone but normally prefer open ones just that much more. Because I do. Planar magnetics I like the best. Don't know why, just do. I had closed cans, but always went back to open ones. It sounded just more natural and, well, more open with a bigger soundstage (duh). In the last couple of months I had the Hifiman HE-560 and the Audeze LCD-2.2 pre fazor. For me the HE-560 is a great balanced can, but I found it a tad boring. I like a fun sound signature more. The LCD-2.2 fulfilled my needs and I love love love it. BUT being an open headphone everybody in my house could enjoy my music with me. Working at home and listening to my headphone 6-8 hours a day that's not always what others want..
     
    I had the chance to trade my Audeze LCD-2.2 for the Alpha Prime. I was a bit worried going from an open headphone that I loved to a closed headphone that I normally don't like. But the moment I put these headphones on I knew I didn't have to cry about the trade. These are open sounding! To the extreme that it sounds more open than the LCD-2.2. And what else I noticed is that is sounds clearer than the LCD-2.2. I know the Audeze has a rolled off treble so that's probably it. I never understood what people meant with a 'veil that has been lifted' but now I understand. 
     
    So is the Alpha Prime better than the Audeze LCD-2.2. Well no. They are more different than alike. The bass on the LCD-2.2 is just insane. And that's also the reason why I find the bass quantity on the Alpha Prime a con. It probably won't be for you unless you also own or heard the LCD-2.2 and loved the bass. The Audeze is also more seductive. It's just a fun sound signature that I can listen to for hours and hours. However the Alpha Prime has better clarity and is a better all around headphone. The mids and bass on the LCD-2.2 are to die for. The sound as a whole on the Prime is to die for. The bass is tight and controlled, the mids and highs are great. It's really a matter of preference. I don't miss the LCD-2.2 even though I really liked them and that's saying a lot. 
     
    I'm starting to ramble so let me put an end to this. Do you love planars? Do you want a closed headphone? Do you want comfort? Clarity? Controlled bass? Then you want the Alpha Prime. Great cans, couldn't be any happier!
    1. HouseTremere
      Thanks for the comparison with LCD-2.2! I've been eyeing a used pair but couldn't decide between that or some Alpha Primes.
      HouseTremere, Aug 21, 2015
    2. Textfeud
      They are both great, you really can't make a bad decision here :) If you are bass and mids orientated: LCD-2.2. If you want a more balanced can: Primes. 
      Textfeud, Aug 22, 2015
  2. Frank I
    Alpha Prime The Final Frontier
    Written by Frank I
    Published Feb 23, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Musical and Transparent with Terrific Isolation and Comfort
    Cons - headband can be little more modern
              
     

    [​IMG]
     
    Alpha Prime-The Final Frontier
    Prior to attending the Rocky Mountain Audiofest Dan Clark had mentioned that he was working on a modification to the Alpha Dog and the result was significantly better, so much so that it warranted a new model designation.Dan felt that there was still a higher level of performance that was possible with the driver that would make the sound more defined and improve the performance of the Alpha Dog. The research led Dan on another path and his creative genius took over and he developed the technology that produced the Alpha Prime.
     
     
    Intensive research and development led to a new way of configuring the driver. The V-Planar technology he developed addressed some critical areas of the driver performance. Dan knew that a conventional planar driver is assumed to move as a flat surface. According to Dan (who cites others) is that in reality this is not possible, as the driver substrate is not very elastic and is also “Locked” at the boundaries, so it moves as an arced surface, and that’s prone to creating oscillations on the panel.
     
    A technique called knurling is used to address some of these issues. Knurling applies light creases to the traces across or around a driver to create mini-boundaries that break up standing waves on the driver and smooth frequency response.The new V-Planar technology extends upon knurling by very deeply creasing the driver, enough to really leave deeper texture under tension. The re-formed material can more expand slightly as the creases open slightly during driver excursion. Since the drivers are now able to stretch more easily the panel’s motion becomes closer to the ideal, and with increased compliance the driver is faster and higher resolution. Dan Clark has more detailed information on the new technology on his website located here: https://mrspeakers.com/alpha-prime-headphones/
     
     
    The Alpha Prime as a result of the engineering Dan built in the design has much better dynamics. The frequency response is more extended and has much lower distortion than previous models.
    My first opportunity to hear the new Prime was at Jude Mansilla’s annual CanJam at the Rocky Mountain Audiofest. Pushing the play button on the music server I immediately noticed better bass resolution with more definition and deeper extension. The bass appeared to be faster with much greater impact (head rattling). Transparency also was improved and the treble was more refined and extended than the previous models offered. Everything from the midrange to the upper treble seemed more coherent. The imaging, always good on the Alpha series, was now at another level entirely.
     
     
    The November NY Headfi.org member meet was held this year in Stamford Ct. Dan Clark was at the meet, but it also was my daughter Michelle’s first Headfi.org meet and a special day for me. My daughter has Down syndrome and is a music lover and headphone geek with her own headphones. Sharing a table next to MrSpeakers kept Michelle busy. If you’ve been to shows and meets where Dan is present you know the traffic at his table is non-stop and always crowded. I was able to listen briefly as many members were crowding around Dan with questions and anxious to hear the new technology.
     
     
    Dan asked me at that meet to send him my Alpha Dogs and he would do the modifications that would change it to an Alpha Prime. The modification would require the drivers to be replaced and re-engineered and would not take long. The Alpha Dog has become my go to closed headphone and knew that being without it I would miss it terribly. Knowing when they returned I would have the opportunity to listen to the Alpha Prime in my own system with music I was familiar with had me anxious and excited at the same time.
     
    [​IMG]
    Listening
     
    10 Days after sending the Alpha Dog in for modification the Prime arrived. Like a kid at a candy store opening the box was exciting. I could not wait to get it unwrapped and installed in my system. Plugging it in to the Cavalli Liquid Gold and using the Oppo BDP 105 and Tidal as my main music source I immediately got consumed with the music.
     
     
    The “Art of Conversation “ an album by Kenny Barron and Dave Holland is rich with midrange and bass. Dave Holland’s acoustic bass on the opening track “The Oracle” is defined and extended. The bass notes were transparent with texture, definition and extension. Barron’s piano playing was masterful. Both performers were in their own space and the bass definition was noticeably better than it was on the Alpha Dog. The Prime was a different headphone with more definition, and the imaging was now razor sharp
     
    “Hallelujah” is a legendary song written by Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen. Listening to KD Lang ‘s performance from her “Hymns of the 49th Parallel“ album is one of the best performances of this classic song I have heard. The Prime placed KD in the center and upfront on the stage. It was as if I was at the concert sitting in a first row seat. The vocal was articulate and there was just the music. No sibilance was evident in the recording. The Prime was excellent with portraying her image with separation and space between her and the backup musicians.
     
    “Minipops” 67 from Apex Twin’s “Syro” album has deep bass extension and terrific impact. The Prime’s performance was magnificent with electronic music. The grunting bass on this recording had my head rattling, yet was articulate and tight. Nothing was missing from the performance.
     
     
    The New Basement Tapes compilation of Bob Dylan bootleg songs, produced by T Bone Burnett, is an excellent collaboration featuring Marcus Mumford, Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddons, Taylor Goldsmith and Jim James. Dylan’s lyrics come to life on this stellar recording. The Alpha Prime was very dynamic and had my head and toes bobbing and weaving to the tunes.
    Rhiannon’s vocal on Spanish Mary with her banjo was totally engulfing. Consumed with the performance this soulful vocalist had my undivided attention. The Alpha Prime was so good at recreating the space within the recording. The soundstage was very wide on this track and it felt like the headphone was performing like an open headphone. Many closed headphones have issues with creating a soundstage and can make the listener feel confined. The Prime takes closed listening to another level and ranks with the very best in recreating a wide and deep soundstage. It feels as if you’re listening to an open headphone.
     
    Grammy winner Sam Smith’s “In the Lonely Hour” is another of my favorite releases. “Stay with me” also highlighted the soundstage and Smith’s articulate vocal. The music is dynamic and fast with excellent bass. The Prime was able to sort out the arrangement and put each performer in their own space within the soundstage with air and separation between the performers.
     
     
    Pitbull’s “Globilazation” album is presented with fast pace and excellent bass. The album makes you just want to dance. The Prime had the speed to recreate the performance and make Pitbull’s performance believable and alive. The music had me totally consumed. I never wanted the music to end. The Prime evaporated and left me with nothing but terrific music.
     
     
    Ed Sheeran new album” X “has a dynamic get up and kick ass beat to it. Sheeran’s “ I am a Mess” will get your body grooving. The Prime made it a fun listen and made the
    song exciting. The vocal was articulate and track after track I could see why Sheeran’s star is rising. Listening with the Prime kept my attention and had me totally involved with the music and the artist.
    Critically listening on the tune “Sing” I could hear the extension in the treble. Missing was any evidence of any shrill sound or harshness Many headphones fail to deliver proper extension in the treble area. The Alpha Prime had the refinement that made percussion and cymbals sound lifelike with the proper amount of shimmer in the delivery.
     
    [​IMG]
    Conclusion
    The many hours spent listening to the Alpha Prime confirmed in my mind what I had already concluded months ago; Dan Clark is a gifted and serious designer. Dan’s endless hours of research into design technology show his commitment to designing serious musical instruments. He has taken the Fostex T50RP and recreated an entirely different headphone. The innovative technology he developed from working with prior designs transformed his new creation into a spectacular and accomplished design. The Alpha Prime is a serious headphone that gets it right musically. The Prime is an emotionally and musically rewarding monitor.
     
     
    Dan has assured me that the Alpha Prime modification is final. There will be no more modifications to the design. Dan feels he has achieved the most from this model. After spending considerable hours using the Prime I can confidentially say this is one of the very best closed headphones I have experienced. It is very comfortable and can be worn for long periods of time and lets me concentrate on what matters most-the music.
     
     
    The market is getting very crowded with reference headphones and good closed phones are hard to find. The Alpha Prime narrows the gap in high quality closed phones and achieves reference grade status. Amazingly the Prime gives you the performance levels of open headphones. The isolation is excellent and I am able to shut out outside noise in my listening room and get deeply involved with the performance.
     
     
    The change from the Alpha Dog to the Alpha Prime is not subtle. The bass extension is deeper and the transparency stepped up to another level entirely. The treble is more refined and extended and the midrange ranks up there with the best of any closed headphone currently produced.
    Dan’s accomplishment with this design has been an adventure for me as well as many of his devoted listeners. Dan’s genius is evident in every new design he has created and one can only imagine what will come next from this gifted designer. I have a sneaky suspicion we have not heard the last from MrSpeakers. If you’re considering closed headphones the Alpha Prime deserves serious consideration and highly recommended.
     
      ibs63 and CasperBxl like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Frank I
      Thanks Ross-
      Frank I, Feb 23, 2015
    3. Jeff Y
      Wow the leather pads look super big and fat in the photo above the conclusion :p
      anyway can you tell us more about the imaging with these phones?
      Jeff Y, Feb 23, 2015
    4. Frank I
      The imaging is razor sharp. The Prime images with the best of closed headphones and has  a terrific soundstage with pinpoint focus. There is good air and musiciands are seperated  within the stage.
      Frank I, Feb 24, 2015
  3. CasperBxl
    MrSpeakers Alpha Prime - Great sounding headphone, clear treble, great bass, wide soundstage, comfortable
    Written by CasperBxl
    Published Nov 14, 2014
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Wide soundstage, precise sound, great bass, comfortable, not that difficult about the source
    Cons - Is a bit higher priced.
    MrSpeakers - Alpha Prime Review
     
     
     
    Used Hardware:
     
    MrSpeakers Alpha Prime
    1. with 3.5mm jack cable (and 6mm converter if needed)
    2. with XLR balanced cable
     
     
    DAP Astell & Kern AK100 II (new model)
    DAP FIIO X1
    DAP iPod Classic 160GB
    DAC/AMP Centrance HiFi M8 LX
    DAC/AMP FIIO E18
    Phone Samsung Galaxy S5
    PC Soundcard ASUS Xonar Xense

     
                          
     
     

     
     
     
     
    Delivery .... what is in the package:
    DSC03315-2.jpg DSC03316-2.jpg DSC03318-2.jpg DSC03327-2.jpg

     
    The main packaging is simple, clean black box with a discrete MrSpeakers logo in the middle.
     
    In the box all is very well secured by dense foam, and you'll find:
                  - the headphones
                  - headphone stand (branded discretely with MrSpeakers)
                  - velour carrying bag for the headphones
                  - cable of your choice/order
                  - cloth for cleaning the headset
                  - bluedots to tunes the headset a bit to your preference
                  - userguide
     
     
     
    Sources tested with the Alpha Prime:
    Samsung Galaxy S5 (with PowerAmp and Viper V4 installed)
    Astell & Kern AK 100 II
    FIIO X1
    iPod Classic
    PC (Asus Xonar Xense)
     
    Samsung Galaxy S5 (OTG) + FIIO E18
    AK 100 II (optical) + Centrance M8 LX
    FIIO X1 + E18 (analog, only AMP)
    iPod Classic + E18 (analog, only AMP)
     
    FIIO E18: “gain; high”, “bass; off” for best result
    Centrance HiFi M8: “gain; medium” for best result
    NO EQ set on any device, DAP or PC
     
     
    Sound files used:
    A wide variety of files was used. From lossless standard iTunes files up to 24bit/192khz FLAC files.
    As I like all kinds of music, but most often listen to Classical music, I reviewed the Alpha Prime with all genres I use.
     
    Some Titles:
    Seasick Steve: I Started Out With Nithin' and I Still Got Most of it Left (iTunes)
    Passenger: All the Little Lights (iTunes)
    Armin van Buuren: A state of Trance 2014 (iTunes)
    Buena Vista Social Club: Buena Vista Social Club (iTunes)
     
    Armin van Buuren: Intense (16/44 lossless)
    Ton Koopman: J.S. Bach, Toccata and Fugue (16/44 lossless)
    Lang Lang:
     
    C.C. Colletti: Bring It On Home (HD Tracks, 24/192)
    Norah Jones: Come Away with Me (HD Tracks, 24/192)
    Keith Jarrett: The Köln Concert (HD Tracks, 24/96)
     
    Dr Chesky's; Sensational, Fantastic and Simply Amazing Binaural Sound Show (HD Tracks, 24/192)
     
    ... and many more ...
     
     
     
    First the obvious, sound levels with the combinations …. Does it push the Alpha Primes?
    ([​IMG] = happy, [​IMG] = it works, [​IMG] = not happy)
     
    Source
    Volume (0-10)
    Bass
    Treble
    Quality
    Feels like
    Samsung Galaxy S5
    7
    8
    9
    8
     [​IMG]
    AK 100 II
    9
    9
    9
    10
     [​IMG]
    FIIO X1
    9
    9
    9
    9
     [​IMG]
    Impressed​
    iPod Classic
    5
    8
    8
    8
     [​IMG] - [​IMG]
    PC (Asus Xonar Xense)
    10
    10
    10
    10
     [​IMG][​IMG]
     
     ​
     ​
     ​
     ​
     ​
    Samsung Galaxy S5 (OTG) + FIIO E18
    10
    10
    10
    9
     [​IMG][​IMG]
    AK 100 II (optical) + Centrance M8 LX
    10
    10
    10
    10
     [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    FIIO X1 + E18 (analog, only AMP)
    10
    10
    10
    9
     [​IMG][​IMG]
    iPod Classic + E18 (analog, only AMP)
    10
    10
    10
    8
    (only lossy possible)​
     [​IMG][​IMG]

     
     
    In general, the Alpha Prime is not difficult BUT most sources shine more with additional amplification.
     
    It seems a bit reverse logic, but in this case the Prime's seem to allow your source to give what it can and make to most of it.
    The Alpha Prime always sounds great, the volume and fullness of the bass changes with the source.
     
    That said:
    To get a high volume with the FIIO X1 and AK100 II I'm at about 80% - 90% of max volume.
    They do still produce wonderful sound though!! No or not detectable deformation.
     
    Both the X1 and the AK100 II gave good base, a solid and nice sounding base.
    (Tested with Seasick Steve and Walking Man)
     
     
     
     
    Starting the Listening with my all new rig:
     
    AK100 II + Centrance HiFi M8 LX + Ultra Short Fiber connection (from Sys Concept)
     
    No EQ, No Bass Boost, No Treble Boost, Gain on first setting up.
     

    smaller04.jpg

     
    Other headphones I own, as reference 
    Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro 250 OhmSennheiser Momentum (over-ear)
    AKG K551B&O H3 (in-ear)

     
     
    I start off with one of my favorite sets, "The Köln Concert" by Keith Jarrett. The sound is immediate, very wide open and pure is the best word I can find. The piano can speak and projects its softness and its force. Keith's gentle touch on the keys brings soft, hmmmm, careful tones I would use to describe the sound. The high notes in the opening of the first track ring all around me. Almost floating in space as they are far apart. Keith lets the notes be, hang there in space. The bass notes are in detail, subtle but very part of the melody. The Alpha Prime is giving me feeling I'm sat on a bench next to Keith watching him play this wonderful instrument. Close your eyes and you can see his fingers effortlessly walk over they keys... What a projection and open sound.
     
     
    By now I'm in love with my new headphones ...
    ... I've been listening for 67 minutes I see ... no fatigue in the ears,
    ... I do notice the headphones are on; as they are not light, 440 gram to be precise, but not uncomfortable ... or would have taken them off  [​IMG]
     
     
    Time to move on ... lets test the base ... hmmmm ... aha!
     
    Why not start gentle ... The Buena Vista Social Club.
     
    Big smile, the contra bass is so nice to follow under, over, in between the melody and song ... When you listen to the song you 'notice' the bass. The Prime presents it subtle, almost sneaky!
    Then when you switch your concentration to the bass ... you can follow its melody without any effort. It is easy to follow, even the deepest tones ... no muddy cover-all sound but a very distinct vibration of the strings can be perceived. It makes me smile, Cuban music with soul and feeling and MrSpeakers Alpha Prime to give me the vibes!
     
     
    Switching it up brings me to a cool, strange person, Seasick Steve (he got that name from his friend on a boat trip ... seasick, Steve?)
     
    The album is "I Started Out With Nothin' and I Still Got Most of it Left". Steve uses his boot to stomp on a box to make the bass drums, his guitar has only 3 strings.
    He starts his intro saying the song is about "nothin", then the bass beat starts in short precise pulses with the snare drums rumbling away. All instruments are sounding precise and with a lot of presence. Steve starts to play his 3 string guitar to complete the tune and his raspy voice adds so much character. The instrument separation on the Alpha Prime is great. Each instrument and voice can be itself, never drowned-out by the others. Listing to the entire album, the sound is engaging, fun, present ... Just got to track "St. Louis Slim", I notice the drum sticks hitting the side rim of the drum, this is the first time i really notice them, softly dancing their rhythm.
     
     
    Time to go look for some awesome bass ...
     
    Starting this off with Armin van Buuren, Intense ... heeeeeeere we go ... first track, electronic vibes, the notes simply go up and down, a bass track is added, the Alpha Prime's are giving to sound with authority, very wide open. The electronic violin start the real tune, high up there ... in the open sky, floating, the song is gaining substance, volume and strength. Then there it is, the strong bass. It is like the song IS the bass line with a bassy electronic kind of violin. Very nice ... my Alpha Prime is making me happy. I enjoy the strength of the music, the power being present. Not harsh, and certainly not timid. The track has a lot of contents and body. Very, very nice ... lets find another great one;
    ... there we go, 6th in the list "Sound of the Drums", as you can imagine, the title is not stolen!  [​IMG] 
                                                     THIS IS FUN!    
     
     
     
    This is going very well ... been listening non-stop for 5 hours now ... the Alpha Prime is still on my head!
    Comfort is very good. No sweaty head or ears.  [​IMG]
     
     
    Going back to subtle waterfall of notes on a piano ... Lang Lang, "Liszt - My Piano Hero".
    I jump to the second track ... "La campanella in G-sharp Minor" from "Grandes études de Paganini, S.141/3"
    This track has a lot of high notes, the end of the ladder and it sounds delicate and wonderful. Even the highest notes sound their sound. The Alpha Prime makes the piano sing, no harshness or lost clarity. The notes jump out in what seems like a wide field ... those enormous tone ladders. Up and down we go, I think he uses all the keys he has! Forceful when the piano is hammered, relaxed when it is stroked. What a piece, what a great headphone.
     
     
     
    Conclusion
    My conclusion can probably be guessed, I'm very, very happy with my new (blind) purchase.
    I had never the chance to listen to any of the MrSpeaker products before i decided to buy it.
     
    I had been looking for a great closed headphone for a while, I had been considering the Audeze LCD-XC for a while.
    Then I saw the new Alpha Prime came out. Read some of the reviews ... well ... the one review on Guru.
     
    I did hear good things about the Alpha Dog, I like the small business, VERY HIGH effort Dan and the team is putting in.
    So ... I went with the MrSpeakers. Pushed the button, easy, you dont have to pay any more  :wink:  just push the button on the web.
     
    (PS: for young people ... you DO have to pay, to avoid misunderstandings, before you buy anything, always check with your parents!!)
     
     
    I am a very happy customer.  [​IMG]
     
     
    Small side note: the stock cables are a bit cumbersome on the move or in the office, a bit stiff. So I will probably look out for some replacements.
     
     
    With very kind regards,
    Wishing you a great day, evening, night,
     
    CasperBxl
     
    (still enjoying Lang Lang and his piano ........)
      DoctaCosmos, LoveKnight and ibs63 like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. CasperBxl
      @swspiers Thank you for your comment and feedback. Much appreciated!
       
      As for the first review ... I'm astonished nobody else did!   lol
      I had to create the product in the listing and add all the knows (got those from MrSpeaker Website).
      No a lot of comments for 650 reads ... So i hope on more feedback!  :)
       
      Of course it is new and many people can listen to the Alpha Prime a lot, I can ... at work and at home!
       
      Back to the sound; what is your view/experience on the presentation of the Piano with the AP?
       
      Thanks again for the kind, positive comment!
      CasperBxl, Nov 23, 2014
    3. Uncle Monty
      Great review - I'm thinking about the Audeze lcd-xc because I need to minimise leakage but the Alpha Primes might do the job for a lot less £, problem is I can't find a UK stockist. Supposing I could import them - do Mr Speakers post to UK? 
       
      Like you, I'll be buying blind as no way of auditioning either XC or APrimes - any thoughts on whether the Audezes are worth the extra?
      Uncle Monty, Mar 29, 2015
    4. CasperBxl
      @Uncle Monty Leakage for the Alpha Prime is almost non existent. Due to its double sidewalls on the cups. They are also a lot lighter than the LCD-XC. Although I have not tried the LCD-XC, I'm very, very happy with the Primes. I ordered mine direct from the USA at MrSpeakers and I spoke to Dan on the phone for an extra balanced cable (so I have 3.5mm and a XLR one). There is a site http://www.mrspeakers-europe.com/ , it is NOT MrSpeakers but an importer for Europe.
      CasperBxl, May 6, 2015