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This article was originally published in issue #30
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Electro-Voice, more commonly referred to as EV, has been in the business of making professional audio products for 85 years. Not many can boast such heritage. EV is not only responsible for some of the most reputable microphones ever made; in the large scale touring industry EV has been making waves for huge international artists around the globe for years. It is safe to say that when it comes to professional audio these guys know their onions. With the new portable ETX system we have a product that is designed and built in the USA and attempts to blow the “like for like”, yet cheaper, technology that’s flooding the pro audio market, out of the water.
When the brand EV is mentioned I typically think of the classic microphones that they produce or the large scale touring PA systems that I have had the opportunity of mixing through. I wouldn’t usually associate them with small scale portable PAs but of course they have been in the business of building these with great success for years. The ETX system is a continuation of this tradition. Put simply the ETX range is intended as a versatile, high-end choice for live entertainment venues, rental companies, pro musicians, DJs, and installed sound.
The ETX Powered Loudspeakers family features three two-way models (10”, 12” and 15”, all with a precision HF titanium compression driver), a three-way model (15” with a 6.5” MF driver and a precision HF titanium compression driver) and two subs (15” and 18” drivers). I have been listening to the 10” top combined with the 15” sub woofer. Broadly the spec is a 10” LF SMX woofer with a 1.25-inch HF titanium compression driver, featuring a 2000 Watt Class-D power amplifier with integrated FIR-Drive DSP giving you an outrageous 135 dB peak SPL. Frequency response is set at 55Hz – 20kHz with a 90 x 60 degree coverage pattern. There are 2 XLR / TRS combo inputs and 1 XLR output to daisy chain the signal to other speakers. The enclosure is 18mm, 13 ply birch plywood coated with the special EV coating which gives the speaker a very durable and attractive finish. The grill is 16AWG steel with powder coat and finishes the cab off to a very high standard. There are two pole mount angle options and eight suspension points for fitting rigging and various accessories for instillation. The subs are finished to a similarly high standard and come with four caster wheels for ease of transportation.
Positioned above the ZLX and Live X families respectively (EV’s previous product lines), the ETX Powered Loudspeakers complete a trio of recent EV portable loudspeaker offerings - each of which was designed to bring best-in-class performance to its price point.
Inside each low-profile, tour-grade wood enclosure are a host of unique new features that set ETX Powered Loudspeakers apart, combining intelligent technology and innovative industrial design intending to achieve spectacular results across all applications. EV-engineered high-efficiency transducers and high-powered Class-D amplifiers, Signal Synchronized Transducers (SST) waveguide design and smart FIR-Drive DSP all work together to provide peerless EV sound quality and precise coverage at the highest SPLs.
Going through the setting up process I notice that the system is a little more involved than others in its class. It features a simple yet powerful on board DSP system that is controllable via an LCD screen on the rear of the cab. As there are various configurations available within the range, it is important to have the speakers doing what they are supposed to be doing when coupled with different elements of the system. Therefore within the DSP controller of each speaker you can select which speaker it is being used in conjunction with. This is so the crossover point and phase coherence is set correctly. In addition to this you have a built in parametric EQ and you can set delay times and have control over gain settings. This added control is indeed very welcome.
Using the LCD display and rotary pot I told each speaker where it was in the system and what it was being used with. This only takes a minute and is essential in order to use the system correctly. Upon first listen I knew I had something that was a little bit different to anything else I have heard in its class. The sound quality really is outstanding for a system of this size and portability. Set at nominal and listening within the near field the system is wonderfully balanced in the bottom end. No over hyping of the sub. Nice and tight with great punch and clarity right up to the cross over point. At higher volumes the system just keeps on giving. It feels as though there is headroom for days. The DSP is transparent and musical. The frequency response from the very lows right up to the very highs is even and smooth. There is a rich clarity to the sound, even at very high levels, which is consistent with more high-end professional systems and is certainly down to the high quality components and DSP.
I ran a vocal mic up in to the system and had a similar result. All I needed was a high pass on the channel of the desk to get rid of the unnatural sub frequencies caused by the proximity effect of the microphones and the vocal sounded natural and clear. When stood in front of the speaker I was able to get impressively close to the tops before feedback occurred and when stood behind the PA I could get another 6db of volume out of the mic without the need for any feedback eliminating EQ. The speakers are very well insulated around the rear and sides.
This is certainly the best system in its class that I have had the opportunity to review and although the higher end price reflects the difference in quality there is no doubt that the extra money would be very well spent. This system is ideal for every application you can think of. It would sit most perfectly as an installation in a small to medium sized music venue but would also be ideal for rental companies, working bands, corporate events, DJ systems, rehearsal spaces, lip fills to augment larger scale PA systems and the list goes on…
Experience and heritage really do count for something in the audio industry and in this case, the affordable ETX family of speakers are really raising the bar!