Home | Audio Reviews |Audiophile Shows | Partner Mags News

 

July 2020
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine

World Premiere Review!
Alta Audio Alyssa Stand-Mounted Loudspeaker
A wisp of warmth that makes the human voice seem more human.
Review By Ron Nagle

 

Alta Audio Alyssa Loudspeaker Review

 

  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, It was the age of foolishness...
— Charles Dickens

 

It is an age of caution. It is the time of cloistered living. I found two large boxes were left on my doorstep. Donning latex gloves I sprayed all surfaces of those UPS boxes with disinfectant, and I left them till morning. Bright and early I opened the boxes and found purposely shaped inserts cradling a pair of Alyssa speakers. It was then that I noticed the handwritten note informing me that the contents had been carefully sanitized. Alta Audio's Alyssa speakers, as reviewed here, are wrapped in a beautiful Beechwood veneer that covers the speakers with a single seamless sheet.

Alta Audio's Beechwood veneer on their Alyssa wraps over the top and covers both sides of the cabinet. The entire speaker's surface is buried under layers of shining clear lacquer. Alta Audio's  Alyssa has the appearance of fine cabinetry and they conform to a very high standard of craftsmanship. I was impressed even before I listened to them.

A little more than five years ago, April 2015 to be exact. I reviewed another Alta Audio speaker, the Celesta FRM-2 that is priced at $15,000. Right about now the new Alyssa speaker, and the larger Celesta speaker, have some things in common. Both are stand-mounted two-way designs with a ribbon tweeter on top of a conventional mid-bass cone driver. The Celesta has a 2.75" ribbon tweeter and a 6" mid-woofer.

The Alyssa, by comparison, is priced at $5000 per pair. Given current trends in high-end audio loudspeaker pricing, this is becoming a mid-priced product. It has a 2.5" ribbon tweeter and an improved 6" mid-woofer. Despite their compact size, the Alyssa's are rated at 32Hz up to 47kHz (+/-3dB). Understand they are certainly not bass shy. It is quite obvious to me at this point that the new Alyssa speaker exhibits an advanced level of refinement.

 

Specifically Speakering
The first and most obvious aspect of Alta Audio's Alyssa speaker is it's sloped sided bell shape. I asked the designer and CEO Micheal Levy why he chose this unusually shaped enclosure. He tells me it mimics the curved shape of a musical instrument and is integral to its tonality. It does seem to work. Curious, I asked Mr. Levy about his Alta Audio companies advertisement within a magazine. Interestingly, the Alyssa speaker in that photo is the very same speaker I'm now auditioning. Specifically, it is 14.5" high and with the provided spikes it becomes 15" tall. The width measures 8" at the top and 9.6" at the base. The depth from front to back at the base is 14.25", and at the top it is 13.25". This means that the front face is tilted backward by one inch. Each Alyssa weighs 28 pounds.

 

Alta Audio Alyssa Loudspeaker Review

 

This is a transmission line designed enclosure with a rear port. The company literature will tell you that they have an exclusive implementation called XTL (Extended Transmission Line) technology. Explanation: When employing Transmission Line loading the rear wave from the mid-woofer is directed through a folded labyrinth or duct inside the cabinet. The enclosure is a hybrid between a tuned port and a transmission line. Keeping the best of both, while removing the weaknesses of each of them. The port tuning works from resonance on up. From resonance on down, the transmission line controls and extends the output of the speaker. At Alyssa's rear panel within a recessed space is a single set of speaker wire five-way binding posts, which adhere to European plastic-covered safety standards).

 

Alta Audio Alyssa Loudspeaker Review

 

Simple Install
Initially, I mounted the Alyssa's on 24" tall stands but I eventually moved them to a set of lead-filled 28" high stands. At that increased height the bass sounded better integrated. What that did was eliminated a bit of floor interaction at low frequencies. Within my 12' wide by 19' deep listening space, there lives an acoustic poltergeist. It is the Boom Beast, yet he only comes out when the music slides down to around 55Hz. At that point, the room tries to join the performance. Technically that would be called a Bass Node, which is partially proscribed by my room's dimensions.

In Star Wars speak Yoda might comment: "Fighting this many times you are". So the problem is that the Alyssa speakers go way below that to 32Hz. Please note that 32Hz from a loudspeaker this size is generally unheard of. Other than measuring and then setting both speaker stands at a 5' distance from the rear wall, I found the speaker placement was very easy. Note: This placement is room dependent.

To get an exact stereo image, I have been known to use a laser pointer to aim the speaker's toe-in directly at my listening chair. But this time none of this painstaking set up was necessary. They ain't at all set evenly, but still, the Alta Audio Alyssa speakers image like crazy. I can't figure out how the Alyssa can do it; they look so conventional. They are spaced five feet apart but they don't seem to care, they can work pretty much (within reason) where I place them. The sound stage image remains solid, deep, and wide and that is a quality I must have.

 

Audition
I still have the Schitt Bifrost DAC and Ragnarok integrated amplifier I just reviewed within my system. Because of the pandemic, I am unable to send them back just now. By this strange confluence of events, I can now evaluate the Alyssa speakers in what is essentially two different systems.

You only need to set the speakers down and turn on the tunes. Even with Pandora MP3 music playing I couldn't help but notice the nice stereo image they generated. The manufacture's literature recommends a break-in period of 100 to 200 hours. But as of now with only 50 hours on them, I do hear the mid-bass driver becoming tighter and more controlled. Confession time, long ago in a galaxy far away I use to sing Doo Wop songs with a group called the Devotions. So if I tell you my reference is based on the sound of the human voice, you will understand this is what I know best.

 

Alta Audio Alyssa Loudspeaker Review

 

I was listening to a Kenny Vance and the Planotones CD on the Ace records label. The Soundtrack to the Doo Wop Era [London CDCHD 1117.] This is a four-year-old recording of classic love songs. I intended to just sample one song from this CD but I became hooked. I listened to the whole disc from start to finish, I couldn't shut it down. Two weeks later after Diana Krall and Nils Lofgren and many others made their debut I thought I could describe one unique quality that I found so captivating. So the following is my gestalt conceptualization.

There is a very subtle emphasis on what some have called the presence range of the human voice. It seems to affect the baritone voice range and it imparts a warm and organic quality that lends a very specific timbre that can only come from a human. This quality seems to focus and impart dimensional space within its range. The baritone influence helps localize a distinct layer coming from a bit farther back in the center. At the same time, the second tenor and first tenor benefit by occupying a separate and defined space of their own.

Now for something different, let's substitute my Sanders Magtech amplifier and my Parasound P5 Preamplifier in place of the Schitt Ragnarok 2 Integrated amplifier. Instead of the Bifrost DAC, I substituted my Music Hall 25.3 DAC. I immediately heard different shades and subtleties. The sound of Nils Lofgren along with his brother Tommy Lofgren their two guitars sound was at the same time crisp and clear but very slightly cooler. And I found myself missing that midrange warm edge that added body and placement specificity to the human voice.

Now a small part of that is due to the break-in of the Alta Audio Alyssa's 6" mid-woofer. Before switching anything I could hear that the driver had partially broken in and become better integrated with this Transmission line design. It produces a remarkably expansive soundscape, as the width and depth quality all remained intact.

The ability to look back into your system and its components are a testament to an ability to resolve minute details. A prime example would be my recent purchase of a new 180 gram pressing of the Beatles Revolver album [Gramophone PCS 7009]. The promotion said, Remastered from original master tapes. OK, I admit I'm very late to this particular party. But as I was researching a mastering technique called Flanging and Phasing. I found out George Martin and the Beatles experimented extensively with this while making this album. So as I listened to it I could hear noticeable variations in the quality between some of the tracks.

 

Alta Audio Alyssa Loudspeaker Review

 

On side two, the first cut, Good Day Sunshine, it is crisp, clean, and more dimensional than most of the other tracks. This album serves as a history lesson in advances made in recording and mastering techniques. The Alta Audio Alyssa detail resolution makes this album's studio mastering abundantly clear. I attribute much of this resolution to the ribbon tweeter. It is smaller than my reference Aurum Cantus V30M ribbon tweeter speakers, but it projects a hell of a lot more information. As for the lower bass end of the audio spectrum, I will need to put more hours on the Alta Audio Alyssa speakers to be certain they have reached their best performance.

Three additional weeks listening time have passed and now with a bit more than 200 hours on the speakers, something has been added down below. The bass has gained a much better pitch definition. To illustrate, imagine the sound of a plucked bass fiddle string. Initially, you hear the sound of that very first instant the bass string vibrates. But now and more evident are the very subtle wooden textures and overtones of the bass fiddles' resonant body. With this increased coherence the sound decays and fades into silence. This is essential to understanding the live envelope of air surrounding the instrument. It is the textures of life that draw us believing in an alternate reality.

 

Alta Audio Alyssa Loudspeaker Review

 

Conclusions
All the aforementioned bits and pieces were put in place to satisfy a single need. The goal was to design and build an apartment suitable speaker that could image like a large full-range tower. Logically, this is a very difficult task to accomplish within a smaller enclosure with two drivers. The Alyssa is now the most compact two-way speaker in Alta Audios lineup of nine different speakers. The Alta Audio Alyssa paints two of my absolute must-have qualities. The overall tonality contains a wisp of warmth that makes the human voice seem more human.

Alta Audio's Alyssa

Remember to Enjoy The Music and from me, Semper Hi-Fi.

 

 

Tonality

Sub–bass (10Hz – 60Hz)

Mid–bass (80Hz – 200Hz)

Midrange (200Hz – 3,000Hz)

High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)

Attack

Decay

Inner Resolution

Soundscape Width Front

Soundscape Width Rear
Soundscape Depth

Soundscape Extension Into Room

Imaging

Fit And Finish

Self Noise

Value For The Money

 

 

Specifications
Type: Two-way ported compact loudspeaker
One Elegant brand 2.5" tweeter.
One 6" midrange / woofer with titanium former.
Frequency Response: 32 Hz to 47 kHz (+/- 3 dB)
Sensitivity: 87.5dB/W/m
Impedance: 4 Ohms
Alta XTL Bass with DampHard faceplate
Dimensions: 14.5" x 9.6" x 14.25" (HxWxD)
Finish: Black Onyx, Rosewood, and Beech (all high gloss)
Price: $5000 per pair

 

 

Company Information
Alta Audio
139 Southdown Road
Huntington, NY 11743

Voice: (631) 424-5958
Website: www.Alta-Audio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

Quick Links


Audiophile Review Magazine
High-End Audio Equipment Reviews

 

Equipment Review Archives
Turntables, Cartridges, Etc
Digital Source
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Preamplifiers
Amplifiers
Cables, Wires, Etc
Loudspeakers/ Monitors
Headphones, IEMs, Tweaks, Etc
Ultra High-End Audio Reviews

 

Videos
Enjoy the Music.TV

 

Columns
Editorials By Tom Lyle
Viewpoint By Roger Skoff
Viewpoint By Steven R. Rochlin
Various Think Pieces
Manufacturer Articles


Show Reports
The HiFi Summit Q2 2020
AXPONA 2020 Show Report
Bristol Hi-Fi Show Report 2020
Florida Audio Expo 2020 Show Report
New York Audio Show 2019 Report
Capital Audiofest 2019 Show Report
Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2019
High End Munich 2019 Show Report
AXPONA 2019 Show Report
Zagreb AV Show Report 2019
CanJam Singapore 2019 Show Report
Salon Audio Montreal Audio Fest 2019
Click here for previous shows.

 

Other
Audiophile Contests
Cool Free Stuff For You
Tweaks For Your System
Vinyl Logos For LP Lovers
Lust Pages Visual Beauty

 

Resources & Information
Music Definitions
Hi-Fi Definitions

 


Daily Industry News

High-End Audio News & Information

 

Partner Print Magazines
audioXpress
Australian Hi-Fi Magazine
hi-fi+ Magazine
HIFICRITIC
HiFi Media
Hi-Fi World
Sound Practices
VALVE Magazine

 

For The Press & Industry
About Us
Press Releases
Official Site Graphics

 

Contests & Our Mailing List

Our free newsletter for monthly updates & enter our contests!

 

 

    

Home   |   Industry News   |   Equipment Reviews   |   Press Releases   |   About Us   |   Contact Us

 

All contents copyright©  1995 - 2020  HighEndAudio.com and Enjoy the Music.com®
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.  All rights reserved.