EB Acoustics ER1

Passive Nearfield Monitor

Published in SOS September 2013
Bookmark and Share

Reviews : Monitors

Respected British hi-fi speaker company EB Acoustics are now turning their hands to studio monitors — with impressive results!

Hugh Robjohns

EB Acoustics is probably not a name that many in the music-technology world will be familiar with. Until now, they have been mostly involved with the world of passive hi-fi loudspeakers, all designed by the owner, Richard Allen, and built in-house in a small industrial unit in Kidderminster in the UK Midlands.

Allen has an electronics background, and started out as an apprentice TV engineer, aged 17. Since then, he has turned his hand to stints as a studio engineer, a live sound engineer and an installation engineer, before setting up his own furniture business. In 1994, Allen started working with the likes of Celestion on cabinet design and prototype construction, and has developed that interest further over the last 20 years, by designing his own loudspeakers — he estimates about 60 different designs to date!

EB Acoustics is a trading name of Arcaydis Limited, which Allen formed in 1997 with a business partner, and both companies market a range of (mostly) compact, passive, hi-fi loudspeakers. These hi-fi speakers have always been sold directly from the factory, rather than through the normal retail chain, but that hasn't always worked as well as it should have. Indeed, a quick web search on EB Acoustics reveals numerous grumbling posts over slow delivery! Apparently, the delivery problems were because the EB range is made entirely in-house, including the cabinets, and the production line often couldn't keep up with demand. Thankfully, all the reports on the sound quality of Allen's EB speakers are full of praise, which is reassuring!

The new ER1 model reviewed here shouldn't suffer from delivery delays because the cabinets are made elsewhere, and only the final assembly and testing is done at the factory. More importantly, the ER1 model will be distributed as a retail-only product through mainstream dealers in the UK, with online factory-direct sales employed only for overseas purchasers. Allen estimates producing 70 to 80 pairs of ER1s per month, with 25 to 30 retail outlets nationwide.

The Box

The ER1 is a low-cost, passive, two-way loudspeaker housed in a reflex-loaded cabinet measuring 170 x 310 x 264mm (WxHxD). The cabinet itself is 250mm deep, but the front grille is mounted on pillars that increase the overall depth by 14mm. The review model was finished with a gloss-black oak veneer, but a natural oak veneer is also available. The cabinet is constructed from MDF and lined with bitumen damping pads and acoustic-grade foam to control panel and internal resonances, respectively. Two small circular ports are located on the rear panel, along with a single pair of gold-plated 4mm binding posts for connecting the speaker cable from an external power amp.

The bass-mid driver is a 125mm paper-cone design, accompanied by a 25mm soft-dome tweeter, with a simple first-order crossover tuned to about 3kHz. The usable frequency range is given as 55Hz to 20kHz.

Listening

I used a pair of Bryston PP120 monoblock power amps, rated at 120W into an 8Ω load each. Each speaker was connected with short, one-metre lengths of 10A twin-core mains cables — I'm not a devotee of 'tweaky' speaker cables, and stick to well-engineered power amps and sensibly thick cables in short lengths.

Listening sources comprised mostly ripped commercial CDs via a Sonos media server through a Grace Audio M902 monitor controller, but I also worked on a variety of my own project material to assess the ER1's suitability as a mixing monitor.

It's impossible to escape the fact that the ER1 is a very compact speaker, and clearly that imposes an inherent restriction on both the low bass extension and bass power handling. These speakers are never going to flap your trouser-leg bottoms on low pipe-organ notes, although the bass response is actually surprisingly good for a cabinet of this size, and very well balanced relative to the rest of the audio spectum.

The mid-range has a mild but noticeable forwardness, and that lends a sense of detail and clarity through the vocal region, which helps to make it well suited for audio mixing duties. However, this forwardness or presence does not become fatiguing or annoying, and so the ER1 serves as a good hi-fi speaker for enjoying music, as well as a monitor tool for analysing it.

The speaker is extremely dynamic and crisp, with a fast transient response — drum attacks are very well defined, for example. However, I found that the high end could also sound slightly hard and metallic at times, and this was most noticeable on well-recorded solo piano works. This would be unacceptable in a high-end studio monitor, but I feel it churlish to make too much of it in a monitor at this price point, especially given all of its other valid strengths.

Without doubt, the most impressive aspect of the ER1 is its stereo imaging. Speakers with small and narrow cabinet baffles always image very well, and the ER1 is up there with the best of them. It produces extremely solid and stable phantom images, with wide and deep sound stages on appropriate material.

Although the studio monitor market is dominated by more fashionable active products these days, passive monitors can still pass muster when partnered with decent power amps, and often provide a lower-cost route. The ER1 has very little competition at its £399 retail price and is recommended as a low-cost monitor when partnered with a modest amplifier.  .

Alternatives

The ER1's UK price places it amongst many budget active monitors, including Avantone's active Mixcubes, the Adam A3X and F5, Fostex's PM1 MkII and PM0.5 MkII, the Yamaha HS7 and HS5, and Dynaudio's DBM50.

EB Acoustics ER1 £399£399
pros
Excellent stereo imaging, with very stable phantom images and broad soundstage.
Tonally well-balanced, with very good bass extension for their size.
Slightly forward balance aids impression of mid-range clarity and presence.
Very compact dimensions.
cons
Slight HF hardness.
Passive design requiring a separate power amplifier.
summary
This is a relatively low-cost, passive, nearfield monitor that excels in stereo imaging and has a fine overall tonality, with good bass extension for its size.
information
£399 per pair including VAT.
Arcaydis Ltd +44 (0)1562 865788.

SOS Readers Ads
GRAB A BARGAIN

£506,189

of Second-User Gear for sale now — don't miss out!

AVI Neutron Five

2.1 Monitor System

Thumbnail for article: AVI Neutron Five

This interesting monitor system uses the natural roll-off of the satellite speakers to provide the crossover with the subwoofer.

Tannoy Reveal 601A

Studio Nearfield Reference Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Tannoy Reveal 601A

Building to a price inevitably entails compromises. The art is in choosing the right ones...

Quested V3110

Three-way Active Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Quested V3110

Sometimes, a dose of old-fashioned good engineering delivers something well worth listening to...

Adam A7X

Active Two-way Studio Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Adam A7X

Their A7 nearfield monitors received many plaudits, not least in the pages of SOS, but manufacturer Adam thought there was room for improvement.

PMC TB2S AII

Active Nearfield Monitors

Thumbnail for article: PMC TB2S AII

PMC broke new ground a decade ago with their TB2 monitors, but the competition have been catching up. Does PMCs new activated design nudge them back to the front of the pack?

Avantone Active MixCube

Secondary Reference Monitors

Avantone have added on-board amplification to their contemporary take on the classic Horrortone secondary monitor, and the result is something quite special...

Sonodyne SM 50AK

Two-way Nearfield Active Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Sonodyne SM 50AK

India may be a growing force in most industries these days, but few Indian pro-audio companies have made it into Western markets. Can Sonodynes speakers change all that?

Unity Audio The Rock

Monitor Speakers

Thumbnail for article: Unity Audio The Rock

The time-domain response of monitors is often sacrificed for level, but this sealed-cabinet design tackles that issue head-on...

Infrasonic Blow 4D

Nearfield Monitor Speakers

Thumbnail for article: Infrasonic Blow 4D

With digital and analogue inputs, these small speakers from newcomers Infrasonic promise a lot for the money. Can they outperform their budget price tag?

Blue Sky Sat 8 & Sub 212

2.1 Monitoring System

Thumbnail for article: Blue Sky Sat 8 & Sub 212

If you demand brutal and revealing precision from your monitors, read on...

Barefoot Sound MicroMain 27

Active Three-way Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Barefoot Sound MicroMain 27

As well as a distinctive design, these huge nearfield monitors offer a frequency and time-domain performance that compares with the best.

Adam S3XV

Studio Reference Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Adam S3XV

Adam make the leap to a three-way speaker design that seems to pay dividends in clarity and separation.

JBL LSR 2300

Monitor Speakers

Thumbnail for article: JBL LSR 2300

JBL have a reputation for clinically precise monitors, but this time theyve come up with something a little smoother...

Equator Audio Q8

Active Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Equator Audio Q8

Coaxially-mounted speakers may seem a bit old-school, but theres nothing wrong with the theory — and a touch of DSP can make them very modern indeed!

M-Audio Studiophile DSM1

DSP Reference Monitors

Thumbnail for article: M-Audio Studiophile DSM1

Built-in DSP extends the flexibility and usefulness of these capable speakers.

Event Opal

Studio Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Event Opal

Events new owners make some extravagant claims for these new high-end monitors, whose design is said to put quality first. Do they live up to the hype?

Samson Resolv A6 & 120A

Studio Monitors & Subwoofer

Thumbnail for article: Samson Resolv A6 & 120A

Samsons new low-cost nearfields can produce a big sound, but do they measure up for serious mixing? We find out.

Prodipe Pro Ribbon 8

Active Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Prodipe Pro Ribbon 8

Ribbon tweeters can yield a smooth sound, while still capably reproducing transient detail — and the Pro Ribbon range promises to do so for an attractive price.

Focal CMS65

Active Nearfield Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Focal CMS65

Focal control everything from design to manufacture in their factory in France — and this approach appears to be paying off.

Klein+Hummel O410

Active Midfield Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Klein+Hummel O410

Getting the balance right between the benefits and disadvantages of ported and non-ported speaker designs is a tricky job, and K+H do it better than most with this ported model.

WIN Great Prizes in SOS Competitions!

 

Home | Search | News | Current Issue | Tablet Mag | Articles | Forum | Subscribe | Shop | Readers Ads

Advertise | Information | Privacy Policy | Support | Login Help

 

Email: Contact SOS

Telephone: +44 (0)1954 789888

Fax: +44 (0)1954 789895

Registered Office: Media House, Trafalgar Way, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8SQ, United Kingdom.

Sound On Sound Ltd is registered in England and Wales.

Company number: 3015516 VAT number: GB 638 5307 26

         

All contents copyright © SOS Publications Group and/or its licensors, 1985-2014. All rights reserved.
The contents of this article are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, whether mechanical or electronic, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Great care has been taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this article but neither Sound On Sound Limited nor the publishers can be held responsible for its contents. The views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the publishers.

Web site designed & maintained by PB Associates | SOS | Relative Media