A note in the box told of the baffle having a special protective plastic cover thingie that you have to remove after unpacking. This was not the case here. Luckily the baffles were unscratched.
The ASP8 measures 12.5 x 16 x 11.9-inch. Event is calling this a direct field monitor. This is either some sort of new-speak for near/mid field monitor or simply that Event is recommending that people actually sit in the same room as the monitors ( :shock: 8) ). That said, if you turn up the volume you just might want to leave both the room and the building. The amps in each monitor are rated to a total of 280 watts. I can ensure you all that these can play LOUD. The power rating is what Event Electronics is claiming in the specs; I have not actually measured the actual performance. These monitors are biamplified; the 280 Watts consist of 200 W for the LF driver and 80 W for the HF driver. :wink: The bottom line is anyways that these will play loud. Do not try to impress friends with a heart condition.
Event has included various sorts of speaker/amp protection. There is output current limiting and sensors for overheating of the amps. Supposedly there is some sort of transient sensitive circuit in here too. Additionally, the cabinets have magnetic shielding.
As the case is with pretty much all modern monitors, these are bass reflex designs. The enclosure has not one but two ports. One slightly unusual feature is that the port tubes are very long because they are curved inside the cabinet. (This is not unusual for many high end DIY HIFI speakers.) It is very understandable that ported speaker designs is the hot thing right now. Good closed chamber designs need far larger cabinets in order to provide the same depth and level of bass; very few vendors are making these right now.
Bass reflex speakers used to have "deep" but very undetailed bass. The internal damping used in the past was quite bad, and many of the budget products had very troublesome ringing. This is not the case anymore. By the late 80s most serious HIFI loudspeaker companies had learned how to make great ported loudspeakers. It is important, though, to understand that many of today's budget hifi speakers still have that boomy warm low end. If you feed such speakers a very complex and LOUD bassy signal most will go pretty berserk. The rule these days is to keep the bass clean. Most popular music will actually not have much real bass at all, certainly no weird and complex bass components below 80-50 Hz.
According to the leaflet in the box, the amps have some sort circuitry that will prevent "thumping" when you turn the power on. Haha! :shock: :D However, they have put something in there in order to dampen the "thud", so this is not really much of a problem.
The bass driver is a mineral damped polypropylene design with a neodymium magnet. The cone suspension seems to be a pretty standard rubber component. The active crossover filter is a fourth order design. The crossover frequency is at 2.5 khz. The tweeter is a one inch soft dome with ferro fluid cooling and a neodymium magnet. I am not anal about neodymium vs. standard ferrite magnets and I can see why they went for neodymium. As far as I can see these drivers aren´t rocket science, but rather sensible modern designs that can play loud and clean.
The tweeter is slightly recessed into a waveguide, and this waveguide actually seems to work quite well. I will get back to that later.
Initially my focus when evaluating these speakers went for the crossover filter; how good is it? I did some test recordings in order to explore possible problems in the range from 1KHz to 5 KHz. I simply found none. Well, not quite, but what I managed to expose is pretty esoteric stuff that you wouldn´t really find objectionable unless the gear costs at least $20,000 US. 2 weeks earlier I tested the Mackie 824s in the same way and really found some serious weirdness. because of this I had not expected to see the ASP8 deliver this kind of consistent performance.
So, how did I do the tests? I simply recorded a heavy deep bass line first. Then created a blanket of noise in the range from 8OO Hz to 5 KHz slightly modulated by the bass line. Then I recorded a multitude of singular synth voices (square waves) in the range 800 Hz through 6 KHz and panned these out. I did the recording and mixing using my Beyer Dynamic 770 Pro headphones. I am completely aware that headphone mixes does not translate to speakers, however this test was about exploring inconsistencies in the stereo imagery in the regions around the crossover frequencies. What I found was amazing. First of all the headphone mixes proved consistent with the ASP8s. Then there were no obvious imagery problems around the crossover frequency at all. On the other hand I did notice some small issues at approx 5-6 KHz that might as well be caused by the room rather than the speakers. ([ It must be said that the 770 Pro is a bit peaky in the mids and highs, but the stereoimagery is consistent. And I did use some Stax headphones for checking too... )
This frequency response measurement is from the ASP8 marketing material. It is indeed pretty good. It does have some bumps and peaks but please notice the scale.
We can compare this to a chart from Yamaha for the MSP5A monitor.
The scale is a bit different to say the least, but as you can see, the chart for the ASP 8 is far from bad by comparison. I should add that the MSP5 frequency response, as measured by Yamaha, is pretty similar to many small nearfield monitors. Do not trust vendors who are publishing flat frequency response charts. The scale will probably have been adjusted in order to make the graphics look nice. There is no such thing as a flat frequency response. The technology is simply not there at the moment. One must also consider the room the monitors are supposed to be used in. BTW: the MSP5A is a great monitor, and is probably one of the best buys in the low end right now.
My interest in how the crossover filter really sounds is of course primarily because stereo imaging is the most interesting issue. If the imaging is pretty consistent, in this case around 2.5 khz, then the filter is probably pretty good.
After doing this, and starting to fall in love with the monitors, I played some CDs. A good test is to play badly produced CDs and first out was Fatboy Slim "You´ve come a long way baby". It sounded just as bad as it should, and then some. Typical for many pop music CDs is that real bass is missing. Next up was a series of Verve reissues. First I played the famous Getz/Gilberto (Verve Catalog #3145214142) YES! Bass! And a really great mix! YES!
Sequenox has great mix and is a very good example of music in the style of what the members here at electro-music.com is making. The quality of the production also shows how badly produced stuff like that Fatboy Slim CD really is. In this specific case it might of course be the mastering that has been badly done.
I find the ASP 8 monitors to be perceived as very flat frequency wise. It is non fatiguing, detailed and its bass reproduction is very interesting to say the least.
I tried to hit it with some weird bass signals in order to see how well the port tuning/internal damping etc. really is. I had expected to get similar results as when I did the same to a pair of KRK V8s. (I am not going tell what happened in detail, except that I am very pleased with being able to return the V8s to the shop without being questioned about why the LF driver suddenly died a horrible death).
OK.. what happened with the ASP8s? Nothing really, a slight tendency at losing control and some odd noises did show up... but the drivers pretty much coped very well. That said, the amp protection circuitry actually does work pretty well too. :D
One of the interesting features of the ASP8 is the ability to let you listen into a mix. It is easy to isolate sounds and these monitors makes it easy to spot distortion, noise and stuff not supposed to be in a mix. The HF driver waveguide does gives probably contribute a lot to the wide stereo imagery, but a side effect is that the listening room must be treated acoustically if it is small. Reflections from walls, ceiling etc can mess up the sound a lot. This is of course always the case anyway, but the ASP8 makes it easy to spot acoustic problems in the listening room.
How good is it compared to other monitors? Personally I think it is far more analytical and wide than the Mackie products. The Mackie HR824s a have the ports mounted at the back, which makes placement very hard in small studios. Wrong placement actually very often contributes to a wild boomy bass that a lot of people actually will prefer. Compared to a wrongly placed 824, a well placed ASP8 will actually sound bassless. However, the ASP8 shines when it is given signals that are really low and loud. The ASP8 is also not "rockish" sounding in the same way KRK and Mackie monitors are. Another very interesting feature with the ASP8s is the fact that I found a slightly better consistency between loud and low volumes than say with Genelecs and KRK monitors. This might again be caused by the room, but frankly I found several of the Genelecs (models from $1000 US to $2500 US) to be very tiring and blairy when played really loud. I must add that none of the competitors were bad sounding as such, just different and I guess my love for classical music has made me more interested in a slightly different sound than what many of the other vendors are going for these day. Personally I think that monitors that can play classical music and acoustic jazz really well also can deliver great results with electronic music.
The back panel of the monitor provides a few adjustment pots for input level, and HF and LF trim. The inputs are xlr and jack. Both are balanced. There is no cooling fins on the outside and the metal panel gets a bit hot when the amps have been on for some time. This is probably not a problem, but I like cooling fins.
Compared to more expensive stuff like the Dynaudio BM15A monitors, the ASP 8 still sounds great. The bass in the Dynaudio BM15A can possibly be described as a bit more detailed. The BM15A also has a soft dome tweeter, and to a certain extent the two monitors sounds a bit the same in the high end, but the BM15A has possible a tad more edge to the upper highs. The stereo imaging of the ASP8 still sounds a bit better to me, but these two monitors will have to be placed slightly different and this will of course make direct comparisons a bit hard to do.
I found it far easier to judge compression artifacts and reverb adjustments with the ASP 8 compared with the Mackie 824 and the Yamaha MSP 10. I also had great fun trying out different settings in the Dreamverb plugin (a part of he UAD-1 plugin suite) and comparing Dreamverb with other VST reverb plugins.
Surely the ASP 8 is not the best monitor in the world, but I could not find any serious problems and it is in fact far better than I had expected. At the price it is a steal and it performs very well compared with other pro monitors at the same price and up to $2000 - $4000 US. I can recommend it both for tracking and mixing. There is nothing cheap about this product and it can be an excellent addition to both project studios and midsized pro studios. The sound of the ASP8 is a tad different than many of its competitors, and anyone looking into new monitors these days should have this one on their short list.
Event Electronics has a matching subwoofer. This one is not a must unless the listening room is large. The bass in the ASP8 will be more than enough for most purposes. Personally I am a bit sceptical about the whole sub fad, unless one is getting a full 5.1 rig for mixing in surround.
When I think of it, the only major problem monitors of this class will present is the need for MORE monitors in a project studio. You will need some consumer speakers that actually DO have that dreaded bass reflex boominess in order to judge what happens with your mix when played back on lesser gear. However, I found that the test mixes I did indeed translated pretty well to other speakers. Another issue is crossover frequency problems on passive speakers. It is important to be aware that on the ASP8 you will actually hear of what is going on, but most HIFI budget gear do have problems with their passive filters no matter what the product blurb is claiming.
I used a Mac, Cubase, the Clavia Nord Modular (M-1) with Motu 828 and M-Audio Firewire 410 audio interfaces for the testing. I am aware that there are better audio interfaces out there, but these are quality wise pretty decent and consistent with what most potential owners of studio monitors in this price range will have in their studios.