If you need a pair of portable and compact monitors, the Epic 4s have you covered!
It’s not a trivial task to conceive, engineer and bring to market a new range of active monitors, especially one that features an innovative and unusual industrial design philosophy, so ReProducer Audio Labs ought to be proud of their achievements so far. In previous reviews, I’ve looked at the company’s Epic 5 and Epic 55 active monitors and been decidedly impressed. The subject of this review is their most compact, entry‑level model.
At 24 x 16 x 17.5cm, ReProducer describe the Epic 4 as a nearfield monitor, but to my eyes it has a portable/location monitor kind of vibe, not least because the monitors ship in a smart zip‑up fabric shoulder bag. The Epic 4 enclosure follows the unusual skewed trapezoid form first established by the Epic 5, and uses the same classy construction materials. A CNC‑machined and paint‑finished aluminium front panel is attached to an MDF carcass finished with a faux brushed‑aluminium laminate.
Around the back of the enclosure is a heatsink, connection and control panel that offers balance XLR and unbalanced phono inputs, an input gain knob, low‑ and high‑frequency shelf EQ knobs and a switch that engages and disengages the auto‑standby feature that legislation often requires. The two EQ knobs provide ±5dB of adjustment below 250Hz and above 2.5kHz. Downstream of its inputs, the Epic 4’s amplification comprises 50 Watts of Class‑D power each for the bass/mid driver and tweeter. The crossover between the drivers occurs at 3kHz, with symmetrical 24dB/octave filter slopes. The last rear‑panel feature of note is a pair of blind tapped holes intended for the attachment of mounting hardware — including ReProducer’s own soon‑to‑be‑introduced wall bracket. It seems to me that the rapid increase in multi‑channel monitoring installations means mounting bracket facilities have become almost obligatory on compact active monitors. ReProducer have probably made a smart decision to have that kind of practical need covered.
The front panel carries an 85mm‑diaphragm bass/mid driver and, behind a perforated grille, a 30mm‑dome tweeter. The bass/mid driver incorporates a copper pole‑piece cap and secondary magnet in its motor system aimed at reducing distortion and voice‑coil inductance modulation, and it features an aluminium diaphragm with a rubber half‑roll surround. The aluminium dome tweeter features a damped chamber behind its diaphragm that will serve both to lower its fundamental resonance and reduce the degree to which energy radiated from the rear of the diaphragm reflects forward and causes response and anomalies.
Like both the Epic 5 and Epic 55, the Epic 4 is reflex loaded courtesy of an auxiliary bass radiator located in the underside panel of the enclosure. The ABR is slightly larger than the bass/mid driver, at 110mm diameter, and employs an injection‑moulded polypropylene diaphragm. Using an ABR for reflex loading is more expensive and complex to implement than a simple port, but it can offer advantages. It side‑steps the compression and distortion mechanisms that ports can introduce — although ABRs also potentially have compression and distortion mechanisms of their own — and enables lower reflex tuning frequencies to be more easily achieved.
Having said that, the Epic 4’s reflex...