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Issue 66
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EVENT 2030 Three-Way Active Nearfield Monitors

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September 26, 2013

2030_leftspeaker_front

Event’s new active three-ways remind us that you don’t need a big-ticket item to have a rewarding musical experience.

Review: Andrew Bencina

I first heard a set of Event monitors when only a few years out of high school. The experience introduced me to the possibility that a home studio could produce a finished product ready for distribution. As my 20-year reunion looms large on the calendar its funny that another set of Event monitors have given me the chance to reflect on how things in audio technology have evolved and how much we stay the same.

2030 EXPERIENCE

From first sight, the 2030 looks to be a step forward. A three-way cousin to the long-established 20/20 BAS (see Issue 84), there’s more than just an extra driver on display, and very clearly Event’s development of the flagship Opal is having a trickledown effect. The view is dominated by a sculptural waveguide assembly housing the mid and high frequency drivers. The design not only seeks to optimise audio dispersion but also contributes to the output efficiency and enhanced sensitivity at higher levels to produce impressively minimal distortion (0.02% THD @ 120W). The 19mm ferrofluid-cooled aluminium dome tweeter employs a fully shielded neodymium magnet, while the 85mm midrange driver below it features a ferrite magnet and copper voice coil driving a polypropylene cone. Snug in their own little pod it almost looks like you could slide out the high/mid section for use as satellite speakers. The 180mm low-frequency driver looks very similar to that of the 20/20 BAS Mk3 but pairs a Kapton former with its mineral filled polypropylene cone. The textured satin black front baffle rounds off at its edges and when you add the golden glow of the (now trademark) backlit Event logo, the overall effect is one of simplicity and class. Optimally mounted on its side, the 2030 comes in mirrored left and right pairs and should be aligned with high/mids towards the inside. The manual identifies the acoustic axis at the centre point of the intersection between upper and mid waveguide and recommends angling the monitors inward so that this point directly faces the listening position.

BEAUTIFUL ON THE INSIDE

On the inside, the 2030 also inherits much of its technological development from the Opal; employing two fully-discrete Class AB amplifiers to separately power the tweeter/mid array and low frequency driver. The signal is channelled via an Event proprietary 2nd order crossover at 3kHz for the high/mid range and a Linkwitz-Riley 4th order crossover at 400Hz for the mid/low. From behind, however, any allusion to the Opal’s design fades away and is instead replaced by a near replica of the more affordable 20/20 BAS Mk3; rearranged for the horizontal positioning. The MDF is not disguised by any curved finishes here. At 16.5kg, the 16-litre cabinets are lighter than the aluminium Opals but still extremely solid. A rear-firing port distinguishes the 2030 from it’s dual driver sibling but in other respects they appear much the same. A full-height aluminium heat sink assists convection cooling and while they do include a thermal cut-off switch, it’s advised that adequate space be left around the monitor to maximise air circulation. The toroidal power supply is rated at 270VA and can be switched between 110V and 240V operation. Just be sure to match the fuse to your mains supply. For the green-minded amongst us, average power consumption is quoted at 95W, or 10W during downtime.
The rest of the rear is devoted to a balanced XLR input and a simple control section. I understand why Event encourages users to connect a balanced source ‘where possible’, but when the price will undoubtedly attract attention from a diverse range of customers it just seems stubborn to omit an RCA or unbalanced 1/4-inch jack input. Especially when this nod to more professional standards is lacking from the control section. A variable gain knob adjusts input sensitivity ±12dB in relation to a reference of 0.775V RMS. While the default setting is zero the pot is not detented in any position, so gain calibration of pairs (or surround arrays) will need to be done coarsely by eye and, of course, by ear. The 2030, like all current Event models, are impressively loud (111dB SPL @ 1m, long term), so if you need to match levels with other monitors you’ll likely be turning them down. Likewise the provided high (2kHz ±3dB for overall room tone compensation) and low (200Hz ±3dB for boundary proximity bass response inconsistencies) frequency shelf controls also lack detented pots — and bypass switches for that matter.
Event go to some length to promote correct positioning and proper acoustic treatment of spaces prior to any use of these tonal adjustments; so for many they’ll remain untouched. I’d recommend Marcelo Vercelli’s (Event’s head of engineering) White Paper on speaker performance and optimisation for those who can’t resist getting hands-on with these controls.

LOUDER THAN A BOMB

The first and only time I heard the original Event 20/20 BAS was in a mate’s studio/bedroom in the mid-to-late ’90s. At the time, powered monitors still seemed like a novelty to me but the combination of affordability and performance was causing a big stir in the hip hop community. Of particular importance was the view that the 20/20 would help you create a translatable mix while not skimping on the thump and attack that connected the genre to its sound system roots. Judging by Event’s stable of endorsing artists, nothing much has changed with hip hop royalty like RZA, DJ Nu-Mark, Babu and James Lavelle (Mo’Wax, Unkle) still taking pride of place. Over the last 12 months I’ve been reunited with the Event sound, mixing in a studio shortly after they’d made the switch to the flagship Opals. While 17-or-so years had passed, the memories endured and when the Opals almost knocked me off me feet — these gems put the ‘brutal’ in brutally honest — I was that excited kid all over again.
The initial impact with the 2030s isn’t nearly as forceful but they still have a solidity about their sound. I came to realise over the test period that this in fact comes from an exceptional tonal balance across their full range. What this meant for me was a heightened perception of the often problematic low frequency/midrange transition; a clarity perceived as weight. At the same time, the Events manage to vividly reproduce the delicate articulation of stringed instruments and the breathy sibilance of vocals with a heightened realism. Perhaps even more pleasing, though, is their re-creation of a spatial depth that to date I’ve always found lacking in more affordable models. In spite of their modest price tag, they’ve illuminated deficiencies in my existing monitors originally costing five times as much.

INSTANT VINTAGE

With the 2030, Event has continued an almost 20-year commitment to push the limits of what can be achieved on a budget and, in my opinion, has elevated the performance baseline to a new level. Inevitably, this achievement will leave many, including myself, greedily craving that little bit more. For a change, we’ll even be prepared to pay more to get it. While it’s not wrong to suggest improvements, we might be missing the point. Computers and affordable audio peripherals have now converted every corner of the planet into a studio. This new classic can’t magically turn every person into a mix balance engineer but it’ll certainly give anyone who’s interested a professional start — and they won’t need to save up for 20 years to get it.

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Issue 66