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This article was originally published in issue #39
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I don’t think I’d actually heard of Proel before GI's Editor called and asked if I’d like to review a set of the company's brand new studio monitors. Anyway, the courier duly arrived and threw a box with a pair of Eikon6 nearfield monitors at me, and then as I was closing the door he came staggering back with an Eikon10S sub-woofer. Excellent!
(Actually, he gave me three boxes – the third contained UK power-cables because the ones packed in with the monitors have European 2-prong plugs - I presume this will be sorted by the time they hit UK retail and with a suitable plug for North American markets as well).
The Eikon range offers three models of two-way nearfield monitors plus the 10” sub. The Eikon5, Eikon6 and Eikon8 models have 5.25”, 6.5” and 8” woofers respectively. Slightly unusually, the smaller monitor also has a smaller (.75”) soft-dome tweeter than the 1” unit on the larger boxes. For the sake of this review, I’ll check-out the Eikon6 on its own, then as a set with the 10S.
Eikon6 Nearfield Monitors
The Eikon cabinets are made of vinyl covered MDF with ABS front panels containing integrated waveguides, and forward facing bass ports. Twin, class AB amplifiers are rated to provide 50W continuous to the woofer and 20W continuous to the tweeter, with a maximum quoted 106 dB SPL. That 106dB is quoted in the specs without any distortion figures - but in any case it’s much more than you’ll ever reasonably need from a pair of nearfield speakers unless you’re into pain and hearing damage.
Rear panel connectivity covers just about everything you might need; balanced or unbalanced on XLR or jack, and unbalanced on RCA, and you get a level control and HF adjustment ( -2, -1, 0, +1 dB – no frequency quoted) but no low-end adjustment to allow compensation for near-wall or corner positioning.
Hook-up is dead simple, and the user’s manual explains how to position your monitors both for stable stereo-image and to minimise phase cancellation from a desk. The sound is rich and involving and they are easy to listen to - which is hugely important. They do sound quite different to my usual monitors, rather fuller in the lower-mids (no surprise there as they’re bigger boxes with bigger speakers in them) and the low end has a bounce which sounds quite exciting, but seems to have a bit of ring to it. The decay of low notes doesn’t sound to be particularly tight, which is worth bearing in mind if you work with blast-beating drums or fast, low-tuned bass/guitar parts, but you can hear everything that you need to and after a couple of hours of getting used to them, they started to sound quite “normal” to me.
Eikon10S Sub Woofer
The Eikon10S has a 10 inch driver in a roughly cube shaped, ported MDF cabinet. You get a 150W class AB amplifier and a frequency range quoted as 40Hz to 150Hz, XLR and jack connectivity, and controls for level and high and low cut. Those low and high cut filters are used to pair the sub with your main monitor - your full signal is fed to the sub, then the low cut sets the cut-off frequency for what is sent on to the nearfield, and the high cut rolls-off the (relatively) high end that you hear from the sub. These settings, along with a phase (polarity really) switch are essential to make sure that your lower mid-range doesn’t get turned into a confused phasey mess between the sub and main monitors. The user manual has sample setting for each of the nearfield settings and they’re mostly pretty good – thought a little tweak to suit your own room will always be in-order. I say mostly, because at the levels that I was listening at, the recommended overall sub level was far, far, far too loud - start with it turned to minimum when you do your set-up!
Positioning and filtering are key to getting a sub to work well, and I probably took about 15 minutes to get it to where I figured it was working best. I listened to some mixes that I’m familiar with, and they sounded pretty good, but when I ran a test signal that sweeps from 20 to 20K Hz, it was apparent that I still had far too much low end. This is the paradox of a well set-up sub - unless you’re working in a very bass heavy style, you really don’t seem to get much for your money - until you turn it off (and bypass the filters – obviously)! The obvious benefit is that the low-end is extended - not to a stupid degree but very noticeably - but removing the lower frequencies from the nearfield set-up really opens the mid-range.
I know that people worry about sub set-up (perhaps we should do an article about this) but really, once you get a decent set-up right it should blend into a seamless, full range sound. Does it? Oh yes. The Eikon10S doesn’t just add low-end extension, in fact I actually found myself using little, if any, more bottom end than with just the Eikon6s on their own, but unloading the bass frequencies from them made the whole system tighter and cleaner sounding, and with a bit of volume it sounds glorious.
I’ve enjoyed the combined Proels so much that I left them plugged-in well after I finished reviewing them - I had to re-assemble my usual set-up to make the video for this article - and I’m currently feeling a bit of a loss. There’s not a lot of pricing information available online as I’m writing, but I’ve seen the official distributor pricing and they are very affordable. As always, only you can know if you’ll actually like the sound, but a pair of the smaller nearfields, with the ability to add a cost-effective matching sub at a later date, could be a very attractive route to an extremely usable and solid 2.1 monitoring system.
These are good solid monitors, albeit in a very crowded part of the market. The Eikon10S really does upgrade the system. Well worth an audition to see how you like them - but don’t assume that the bigger nearfields will necessarily be better for what YOU need - I suspect that a set of the smaller speakers along with the sub would have actually worked better for me in my mix-room. Definitely add these to your audition list.