PSB Alpha P5 Loudspeaker

A Classic Reimagined

Equipment report
PSB Alpha P5 Loudspeaker

The tweeter was quite smooth overall and open in the harmonic range, not tinny or cold. About as good as I’ve experienced in this range. A funny story about this. My wife is a pretty good whistler, and I often hear her as she moves about the house. Coincidentally, I was listening to James Taylor’s “My Romance” [That’s Why I’m Here]. Unexpectedly, I heard whistling to the music nearby and assumed it was my wife. Turns out she wasn’t whistling at all—the whistling was in the recording, an element I’d completely forgotten about. My point is that it takes a pretty good tweeter to fool me, and this is a $399 speaker. 

Imaging was also fairly precise with good edge boundaries. When you add the fact that the drivers integrate well enough to prevent localization, you get a speaker that effectively disappears from view. The dearth of image smearing was also testimony to the absence of overhang and turbulence—evidence of the solid engineering of the port and of superior cabinet damping. 

Bass response was tunefully balanced and weighted for a subcompact, especially one that barely reaches a height of twelve inches. Extension much below fifty cycles was beyond the purview of the P5, but it still provided enough low bass to allow my brain to begin filling what was missing. The port picks up where the five-inch transducer leaves off, adding weight and power. As touched upon earlier, the port responds quickly, with minimal coloration or overhang, and cabinet resonances have been reduced to near imperceptibility. 

While midbass performance was solid in the 60–70Hz range, pitch precision dropped off somewhat further down. However, within its comfort zone in the mid- to upper-bass ranges, the P5 was pacey, often sounding fairly unstoppable in the way it locked onto rhythm tracks with drums and bass. 

As with virtually every small monitor—that is, every two-way restricted to a single four- or five-inch woofer—spatiality and orchestral soundstaging were strictly small-scale affairs. The ability to define the full contours of an auditorium or to reach upstage to the furthest corner of an acoustic venue are beyond this segment’s purview. Nonetheless, within its limitations, P5 conveyed string section layering, orchestral depth cues, and image focus that outclassed much of the competition. 

All things considered P5 really does nothing wrong-headed. What makes it so winning is that it unpretentiously stays in its lane, steers clear of broad frequency dips and peaks, and maintains its balance, thus honoring the ethos of the two-way rather than pretending to be something it’s not. And this honesty makes P5 a prime candidate for partnering with a subwoofer down the road. To that end PSB recently released a pair of DSP-controlled, powered subwoofers designed to optimize the Alpha series L/C/Rs. They are the Alpha S10 ($549) and the Alpha S8 ($449). 

As a company, PSB has been so sonically consistent in its annual model offerings that the PSB name itself has become synonymous with high-performance affordably priced loudspeakers. And now we have the Alpha P5—a rock-solid effort proudly upholding the reputation of its predecessors. 

A highly commendable updating of one of the most musical and affordable mini-monitors available, the Alpha P5 represents the essence of what it means to be a budget compact in 2020.

Specs & Pricing

Design: Two-way, bass reflex
Drivers: 0.75" aluminum dome-type, 5.25" polypropylene woofer
Frequency response: 55Hz–21kHz
Nominal impedance: 8 ohms (4 ohms min)
Sensitivity: 87dB
Dimensions: 6.75" x 11.4" x 9.5"
Weight: 10.15 lbs.
Price: $399/pr.

633 Granite Court
Pickering, Ontario L1W 3K1
(905) 831-6555