Review: EVE Audio SC205
From ADAM’s ribbon comes EVE. The new monitor speaker brand uses the same Air Motion Transformer concept, yet achieves surprisingly different results.
Roland Stenz was one of the founders of German speaker manufacturer ADAM Audio. But after 11 years of popularising the use of ribbon tweeters in modern monitor speakers he left ADAM for EVE. At first the name seems like a cheap shot from a deeply acrimonious split with ADAM, but according to EVE’s promotional material Stenz did complete an MBA around the same time, so maybe his new brand strategy was to keep things in the family. Either way the newly-released range of EVE active monitor speakers uses ribbon tweeters based on Oscar Heil’s Air Motion Transformer (AMT) concept, just like the ADAM range, and some of the design shapes and features look intentionally similar.
IN THE FAMILY
The EVE Audio range has been designed primarily as studio monitors for nearfield use but the large models will also work for midfield applications. The range starts with the SC204 2-way with a 4-inch woofer and goes up to the SC408 4-way with dual 8-inch woofers. All woofers feature a glass fibre-coated cone that is rigid but light, and a magnet structure that enables extended linear excursion. All speakers in the range use one of three variations of EVE’s proprietary AMT tweeter. Four subs of different sizes with woofers from 6.5-inch to 12-inch complete the range. The speakers are active with in-built crossovers, PWM amplifiers and DSP to provide EQ and protection.
I’ve been trying the EVE SC205 model that uses a 5-inch woofer and the smaller RS1 version of the ribbon tweeter, powered by two in-built 50W amplifiers. It’s a convenient and familiar size at 175mm width x 275mm height but it is deeper than some others in this category at 233mm. At only 5kg each they are easy to place and position. Two screw threads on the back enable the use of a mounting bracket and one underneath means they can also be mounted on a mic stand. Input connections are via either balanced XLR or un-balanced RCA sockets on the rear of the cabinet.
THE RIGHT DRIVING POSITION
The ribbon tweeters are mounted flush with the front of the cabinet and work without any sort of horn device to focus the throw. The tweeters used in the EVE range have similar origins to those in the ADAM range but have been re-engineered with the more open slots in the faceplate, designed for greater precision and less colouration of the sound. Two horizontal metal bars placed across the front of the tweeter offer some protection to the delicate vertical slots but to be really safe I’d recommend using the circular, perforated-metal covers provided with each speaker. They attach magnetically and provide solid protection for the tweeters without making any noticeable difference to the sound quality or frequency response.
One of the best design features, common to the whole range, is the multi-function rotary control at the bottom of the front of the cabinet. It’s surrounded by a ring of lights that illuminate sequentially on power-up to get you back to the last settings in use before power-down. Intended to optimise the frequency response in different placements the control selects the high-shelf EQ (–5dB/+3dB from 3kHz), the low-shelf EQ (–5dB/+3dB from 300Hz) and a setting labelled Desk (–5dB to 0dB centred at 180Hz, 0dB to +3dB at 80Hz) that aims to control the effect of reflections from flat work surfaces. There’s a brightness control for the ring of lights and pressing and holding the control knob places the speaker in standby mode. A touch of the knob then powers it up again and returns it to the last settings. Another thoughtful touch is the dip switches on the rear of the cabinets that ‘lock’ the level and/or filter settings. Anyone who occasionally lets their partner drive their car will appreciate how handy it is to have your preferred settings in place next time you want to use it and the same applies in studios where more than one engineer works.
NEED TO KNOW
EVE Audio SC205
SMOOTH AS A RIBBON
I’ve had a pair of SC205s set up beside my usual nearfields and I’ve found them to be easy to listen to with a neutral tone that doesn’t wear your ears out during long sessions. The quoted frequency response is –3dB from 53Hz–21kHz with a maximum level of 101dB SPL. The tweeter is accurate with good detail and an even spread across the front of the cabinet contributing to a wide sound stage. They’re not as strong in the very high frequencies as some ADAMs I’ve heard but that may be a good thing as the ADAMs can seem somewhat exaggerated up high. This exaggeration provides a nice sparkle for listening but it could mean work done on them does not translate as accurately as the flatter response of the EVE tweeters. The SC205’s midrange is somewhat forward above 1kHz, but it’s not hard or harsh and there’s a pleasing clarity to the bitey part of vocals. By comparison the low midrange response is a little shy but not to the point of being hollow or thin. The low end is not that deep but it’s tight and surprisingly full for a small speaker. For real full-range work a sub would be needed but for most applications there’s enough here to let you know where the bass is and not end up with muddy mixes.
The EVE SC205’s response stays consistent over a wide volume range and they don’t lose bass when turned up. Sensible users won’t expect huge volume from speakers this size but they are loud enough for recording/mixing full-strength music. The ring of lights around the control knob on the front of the cabinet flashes on overload but both the tweeter and the woofer start to overload before then to effectively define full level.
EVE Audio is a new company but its founder brings a depth of experience that should ensure the speakers will be auditioned with interest. Comparisons with the ADAM range will naturally persist and while there are some physical similarities between the product ranges they sound quite different and each should be judged on its merits and how they suit particular users. Due to their size the SC205s will probably be best suited to home/project studios but they could also be used by professional studios in small rooms, as part of surround or mobile setups, or for music playback installations. The larger models would be better suited to bigger spaces or midfield use but the model range is wide enough to ensure there’s a speaker to suit pretty much any application. The pricing across the EVE range seems attractive for the quality on offer and the $699 RRP for the SC205 shouldn’t frighten any potential customers.
SILVER FOX: Out of the box it’s a good-looking speaker with EVE’s distinctive silver stripe along the bottom, honeycombed woofer cone and ribbon tweeter giving it a strong family identity. Its clean looks are enhanced by the absence of any visible ports. All models in the EVE range use tuned bass reflex ports to increase low-frequency efficiency but the ports are located on the back of the cabinets where they can be larger without looking ugly.
SMALL BUT DEEP: It’s a convenient and familiar size at 175mm width x 275mm height but it is deeper than some others in this category at 233mm.