Open is the first adjective we find in our notes. Does that have something to do with that unobstructed sound box? Must be. It’s even a bit overwhelming at first because we can’t immediately compare it to another brand. There is an enormous amount of air between the instruments and vocals. This loudspeaker is also characterized by its relaxed and natural sound.
A direct consequence of that lightness is the speed with which the music is brought. Provided that it is positioned properly, read: a bit closer to the back wall, you get enough, tight bass that is in balance with the rest of the sound. The soundstage is very wide but remains an orderly whole. Bad recordings are not made better and problems in the chain are mercilessly exposed. This small monitor is mainly intended to play the finer classical work optimally but also lets jazz and folk come through particularly well. Even electronic music succeeds nicely, although of course this is not a party-speaker.
It’s been a long time since a new album of The Orb could charm us again, but their new “Abolition of the Royal Familia” is a blast. It’s an album that returns to the roots and still manages to surprise here and there. It also has become a remarkable social critical album. Because of the Black 50 you get an open and surprising room filling sound. Depending on your space and placement, the bass is nicely balanced with the rest of the playback. Although the languid beats are a bit lacking in quantity, the quality is there. No forced or ‘boomy’ bass here. On the contrary, the tracks get a kind of drive that is quite addictive. No punch in the stomach feeling, but a kind of rhythm that drives the songs forward. Small samples and soundscapes crisps and crackles like a gigantic campfire on a sultry summer evening.
Another album we keep returning to the last few weeks is the almost visionary “Alfredo” by Freddie Gibbs. This wonderfully varied rap album is full of gems and because of the Black 50 we can effortlessly follow the complex lyrics and we have enough time to really absorb them. You understand flawlessly what is being said which enhances the experience. The Black 50 reflects the atmosphere and tone of the album beautifully. Precision and speed are abundant and the many tempo changes are a piece of cake for this little monitor
But didn’t we say that this was a sophisticated speaker? Classical and vocal work really shines. Yes, we said that indeed, but because we at Alpha-Audio are a bit contrary, we often start with less obvious music. We believe that a good monitor should bring every genre well. Fortunately we have a rather eclectic taste witness our third choice in the form of Bridget Mae Power. This originally Irish folk singer, married to Peter Broderick, writes enchantingly beautiful songs. And her last “Head Above Water” again is a pearl. Her voice pops and the old, atypical instruments like the saw, bouzouki and bodhran sound very natural and right to our ears. Even deep into the night at lower volume every nuance comes through nicely and creates a haunting atmosphere in the house.
Classical work is not to be missed and this time we will go for Mozart, Haydn and Gluck but in opera form. Patricia Petibon sings magisterially on the album “Amoureuses” together with the Keulens Baroque Ensemble conducted by Daniel Hardin. Because of the spacious soundstage the music really comes in and in a small space you get a striking feeling of scale and depth. Because we had just finished the review of the Q Acoustics 3030i we initially missed a bit of energy in the lower areas. But after a while that feeling disappeared completely. Sufjan Stevens, Shelby Lynn, Natalie Merchant, Damien Jurado and Fleetwood Mac also sound great on the Black 50. Hard rock music, but that’s often the case with small monitors, doesn’t sound as good. Symphonic rock does go pretty well.