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Madison Sound as go-to DIY audio source had this on the Alpair7: "This 4-inch driver represents a large step forward in the design and production of 'extended' fullrange audio drivers. In its size class the Alpair 7 currently delivers the widest frequency range which extends to 32kHz above 80dB, higher than many tweeters! It has an advanced damping system to deliver a near flat response across its range. The 7 employs a rear ring-clamped suspension system and a new torque-loaded spider. Both add pre-tension to the motor. The result is improved linearity and damping on the moving parts. The acoustic performance is solidly placed in the purist audiophile category. Its cone and motor are the most micro-resonance sensitive made by Markaudio to date. With the rear and front covers attached, the driver has near 86dB SPL whilst retaining an X-max of 4mm. In a optimised box design, the system can be made capable of operating from 40Hz to 32kHz, possibly unique for a simple cone driver in its size and class. The off-axis response and central stereo image are possibly best in class. Its cone profile and under-hung front suspension allow for a clean wide acoustic image. The Alpair 7 has advanced suspensions that require careful running in. Donʼt use any kind of artificially generated signal. Hours 1 to 20: low volume vocal and light music, no heavy bass. Hours 21 to 120: gradually increase the volume to normal listening levels and gently introduce rhythmic bass music. Patience and care will bring musical rewards."

On an Irish audio forum Fran has this on the subject: "All our drivers are run in continuously for a week before assembly but even so extra time on them improves the sound further." On which owner Seán had this by the middle of January: "I’ve had these now since July and don’t regret the purchase in any way. I didn’t think there was much more to get from them but after six months I can say the bottom end has deepened and any slight running-in-edge—really only noticeable on a very few recordings—has been sanded silky smooth. Vocals have breath and weight, realness if you like. To repeat my initial post, dynamics are to die for and microdynamics just beautiful, a window to the music."

New owner Derek shared: "... my setup consists of a 24wpc Airtight ATM4, Pink Triangle LPT with Roksan Artemiz tone arm and Clearaudio Discovery cart, a DIY Shiga-clone CDP into a DIY Buffalo DAC... the Eist vs Quad sound are like apples and oranges. I enjoy both but find my preference changes with mood, taste, accompaniment etc. The Quad delivery is analogue, they love being partnered with valves and the use of vinyl as a source just sets them up for long blissful non-fatiguing evenings... The Eist are more engaging. They ask you to listen. They want you to be involved, to look deeper into the music. They invite you to analyse what you are hearing and because of their clarity and openness you can. Following instrumentation behind the lead is effortless. Dynamics are part and parcel with them, microdynamics are apparent and refined, soft counter melodies are easier to spot and follow." To which Fran of Eist Audio posted: "... when you mention Quad, I've long been a Quad 57 devotee and personally never thought I would change. The day I realised a prototype of the Dubhs not only gave me everything that the Quads did but more again, I was really excited. That was my commitment point."
Back to Madison Sound, from their Alpair7 spec sheet we get a 5.4Ω nominal impedance, a resonant frequency of 70.9Hz, a BL factor of 3.83G/cm, moving mass below 4g, a voice coil Ø of 20mm and 20-watt nominal power handling.

Their left graph shows a pronounced 400Hz dip and following squiggles up to 2'000Hz and a jump at 10kHz as the two likely areas Eist Audio focused on smoothing out with their response correction filter. Of course the real deal would be in the listening; and how our Irish team had maximized this ambitious small driver with their folded backloaded horn. Widebanders of course aren't about specmanship, silly power handling records or a horizon-flat response. People who shop for them tend to have outgrown fascination with measured ideals of the sort which are proposed by the mainstream journals*. But that doesn't mean all mainstreamers shun them. Nelson Pass for example is a big fan of the breed and has amassed a large collection of wideband drivers which he pops into modular open-baffle frames during R&D for many of his FirstWatt amplifier projects. Having a number of those on hand was a lucky stroke for this assignment.

* For some insight into this, you might enjoy a YouTube interview with Hans Kortenbach of Musical Affairs about their Grand Crescendo Appasionata field-coil loudspeakers using EMS/Fertin drivers. Whilst different in design, it reconfirms the vital role of the enclosure on such speakers and what type of qualities are important to their makers.

Now we get to chatting with Gerry and Fran—the Ben & Jerry of hifi?—about Eist Audio and their Dub. First up? The very strange "where's the price" bit. "The projected sell price in Europe is €3'500/pr. To be honest, we didn't put all that stuff on the website as we aim to sell through hifi shops. Yeah, old school I know but we think it's sound advice to hear them (or any equipment) before forking out cash." This met my projections. I'd figured on direct sales and €1'995. €3'500 at a high-street dealer's shop then made perfect sense.