PreSonus introduces their budget speakers, and gets it right
By Jon Chappell
PreSonus is new to speakers, but they’ve entered the category in a big way by enlisting well-known speaker designer Dave Gunness to contribute his expertise to the PreSonus line of Sceptre studio monitors and StudioLive AI PA speakers. While that news received the lion’s share of attention, an equally interesting development involves the low-cost Eris line (E5 with 5" woofer and E8 with 8" woofer), developed internally by PreSonus based on the experience they’ve gained in speaker design with their other ventures. While designed as studio monitors, they’re also intended to replace those multimedia speakers you regret having bought after a couple of weeks of putting up with their less-than-admirable sound quality.
What You Need to Know
Both speakers are bi-amplified with Class AB analog amplifiers. The E5 feeds the 5.25" Kevlar woofer with 45W, and the 1” silk-dome treeter with 35W. The E8 does 75W into an 8" woofer, and 65W into a 1.25" silk-dome tweeter.
The speaker inputs handle XLR, 1/4" TRS, or RCA phono connectors, so they can interface with consumer CD players, AV receivers, and the like as well as pro gear. The RCA ins are summed with the other inputs, so you can leave your “consumer” device connected at all times while driving the main inputs from your audio interface or other recording setup.
Both Eris speakers have extensive tone control options—midrange at 1kHz, treble shelf at 5kHz, and a three-position switch that controls low frequencies (flat, or a bass rolloff at 80 or 100Hz)
A unique feature is a second three-position switch that can help compensate for bass buildups due to speaker placement in a room.
All these tone controls can help compensate for room acoustics, but with extreme settings, you can emulate “reality check” speakers the same way pro engineers would switch back and forth between their main speakers and something like the old Auratone or Yamaha NS-10 speakers.
The E5 is very compact, but you don’t get the low end of the E8. There is a little low-end frequency bump on the E5 which gives a more satisfying sound from the small cabinet.
There’s no turn-on thump. Why can’t all speakers do this?
There are plenty of protection circuits onboard, so if you get carried away with the volume, the speakers will shut themselves down if you’re pushing them to the point of damage.
It’s a fine point, but you can switch them for 115V or 230V operation.
The on-off switch and all controls are on the rear panel so if you plan to use the tone options to emulate different responses, you have to reach around. This can get tedious if you adjust the tone controls often to do “reality checks.”
The E5 speaker response is not as accurate as the E8, although mixes made over either speaker translate well.
PreSonus is very upfront that these are their budget speakers, not their high-end speakers like the Sceptre. Maybe they’re too upfront, though; the Eris line sounds very good despite the reasonable price.
For a car analogy, if the Sceptres are BMWs, then the Eris speakers are VW Passats—the Passat will take you anywhere you want to go, but for a much lower price tag. Of course, there plenty of comparably priced speakers, but PreSonus has differentiated the Eris line in some key ways, principally the extensive tone control options (these can really make a different in rooms that don’t have ideal acoustics), analog power amplifiers instead of digital, and the easy accommodation of consumer as well as professional gear. PreSonus has a reputation of making great products “for the rest of us,” and the Eris speakers follow that philosophy.
Musician’s Friend E8 catalog page ($249.95 each, street price)
Musician’s Friend E5 catalog page ($149.95 each, street price)
PreSonus web site
Eris speakers landing page
Jon Chappell is a guitarist and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has contributed numerous musical pieces to film and TV, including Northern Exposure, Walker, Texas Ranger, All My Children, and the feature film Bleeding Hearts, directed by actor-dancer Gregory Hines. He is the author of The Recording Guitarist: A Guide for Home and Studio (Hal Leonard), Essential Scales & Modes (Backbeat Books), and Build Your Own PC Recording Studio (McGraw-Hill), and has written six books in the popular For Dummies series (Wiley Publishing).