This is a review of three portable loudspeaker systems from the hand of one of the best designers in the world. Consider this a bias if you'd like, but David Gunness has a long and distinguished career with several of the finest loudspeaker manufacturers and is at the top of his game and continuing to do things that no one else is. He's also the finest technical writer I've ever read. Rich Frembes seems to be responsible for voicing decisions and these loudspeakers are the first ones I've heard in my life that I don't want to change the EQ. That's actually a little irritating, but I did find something else to monkey around with that you'll see later. :)
The FA12, FA15 and FA28 all sound the same. They are the best sounding wedges I've ever heard. The larger two maintain their sonic composure to the threshold of pain and all are extremely feedback resistant. Off axis is smooth and consistent with no surprises as you move dead on-axis with the horn. The smaller one is a bit more "open" sounding and the larger ones can go louder, both are physics things. Each loudspeaker is completely interchangeable in tone and phase. They are also light and easy to handle and have all kinds of mounting options for brackets, poles and two available angles for floor wedge use. The bracket mounts and pole cup share the same bolt pattern, thus you can move things around to taste. The NL4 cable connectors are protected by the handles on the boxes. Everything is simple and necessary - a basic definition of good engineering. Loudspeakers like this make things easy.
There are two types of processing available for these loudspeakers. One is what Fulcrum calls "Level 2" that uses conventional processing characteristics and the other is called "Level 1" that adds correction for a large portion of time domain distortion. Only a subset of the processors and processed amps on the market can import the FIR coefficients involved with the L1 presets and they do cost more. The improvement the L1 presets make is not subtle and places these boxes in a small league with the best there is.
Grills Removed: (FA12 horn rotated for fill use by prior user)
Side Panels Angle 1:
Side Panels Angle 2:
FA12 Coax Driver Front:
FA12 Coax Driver Rear:
I spent the most time working with the FA12 due to personal interest. I've been using the wonderful EONA ADRaudio M1225 self powered wedges for several years and have been very impressed with their sound quality, feedback resistance and amazingly light weight. The FA series definitely has the edge on them sonically with the L1 presets, but the M1225 is still in the neighborhood. Now that I've been spoiled with the FA wedges, I'm going to hack a flat phase preset for the M1225's' and see how much I can narrow the gap, though there is more going on with the TQ processing than flattening the phase as you'll see later.
(End Part 1 of 4)