Focal Alpha 80 Studio Monitors Review

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Just because this a drumming blog doesn’t mean we’re always going to stick to drums.

As an active drummer in 2020, you need to be learning more skills to showcase your playing.

Variations of the Focal Alpha

January 1, 2020 update: I’ve now had these Focal monitors for almost three years now. They work great for me and I don’t see any reason to upgrade in the near future. They sound great and I hope to get many more years of use out of them. There are many “better sounding” studio monitors out there, but given my line of work, they are fantastic.

Whether you’re going to shoot YouTube videos of yourself playing drum covers or plan to produce your band’s next album, having these skills will only benefit you.

If you aren’t learning how to record music, I highly suggest you start today.

Today we’re looking at the Focal Alpha 80 Studio Reference Monitors.

A general overview of the Alpha 80

These speakers have a 140 watts of bi-amplification. As the name suggests, there is an 8″ woofer and a 1″ tweeter.

On the back of the speaker, there are XLR and RCA inputs.

My biggest complaint thus far is the annoying standby mode. If you have very quiet music playing for thirty minutes or more (they consider this to be “inactivity”), your studio monitors will automatically shut off.

There’s no way to disable this without opening up your speakers and operating on them.

It’s really a tiny thing I’m nitpicking, but it really does get annoying sometimes.

The frequency range of the Focals is 30Hz-22KHz.

My reason for upgrading

I bought these studio monitors after being frustrated with my KRK Rokit 8s. They were super loud and my mixes really sucked.

Part of it was that I was really terrible at mixing at the time, but I also couldn’t hear the clarity in what I was mixing.

Once I upgraded to the Focals it was like everything opened up. I actually started listening better when I was mixing.

I could now hear the high frequencies popping out in the guitars and cymbals that really needed to be tamed.

Using a sub with the Focal Alpha 80s

Focal Alpha Review
One of my Alpha 80s at my desk in the studio.

Contrary to what people may say, you most likely will still want to have a sub-woofer while using these or any studio monitors. 

That’s just my personal opinion, you don’t have to follow it. I know a lot of mix engineers who are completely against using subs.

If you use one, be sure to be mindful of monitoring volume, especially if your room isn’t treated well.

If you don’t have a sub, you can still get excellent mixes with these speakers, I just like to have that extra bottom end when I’m mixing.

Coloration and final words

These are the perfect set of studio monitors for anyone upgrading from a lower-level setup as I had. The speakers are extremely flat and not colored at all.

You can really crank them up if you want to please your artist(s) while working with them in the studio.

The biggest difference for me was now having the ability to hear the clarity in the high end.

I honestly couldn’t believe how harsh my mixes sounded when I used to work with the KRKs.

For this price point, there’s really no better option out there.

One side note: these speakers do not come in a pair, so you’ll have to purchase them individually.

The next step up from here would probably be the ADAM A7X studio monitors (Sweetwater).

If you don’t have that much of a budget and want to get something more affordable, I would go with the Focals. They have the extra low end, tight mids, and clear-sounding highs.

One final thing: if your studio doesn’t have that much space and you’re a little worried that the Alpha 80s are going to be too boomy for your space, Focal also makes this speaker in both a 6.5″ cone and a 5″ cone.

What’s your opinion on the Focal Alpha 80? Have you used these speakers before? Let us know down below in the comments. Thanks for reading.


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