Hands-On Review:Event Tuned Reference Monitors
Awesome Sound, Awesome Price... A Father/Son Story
By Lloyd Darwin
I consider myself a pretty lucky guy. I've been a musician all my life, which has been pretty centering and a ton of fun. Writing and recording music is the single most important thing to me-after my family, of course. So when my teenage son started to show a serious interest in music and recording, I thought, "How cool that he's following in my footsteps. We're going to have so much fun making music together in my studio." Turns out he had other ideas. Here's how the story unfolded.
My studio is full of some really great gear-stuff I've collected over a lot of years. Most of it is pretty state-of-the-art (at least it was at the time I bought it!), as I've always tried to keep up on the latest technology. The one area in my studio that was still somewhat of a holdover from the past, though, was my monitoring setup. The monitors were decent-actually a well-respected brand-but they were getting a bit long in the tooth. Even more to the point, they were passive (unpowered), and everything I'd been reading said that active, bi-amplified monitors were the way to go. According to all the articles, when you have built-in amplifiers that are designed to exactly match the components they're driving, you get much better performance, including higher headroom, smoother transient response, better phase accuracy, and so on. So with my "I've got to get the best possible value for my gear dollar" hat on, I set off to find new speakers.
I researched a number of trade mags, web sites, and Musician's Friend catalogs (natch), looking for the "in" monitor. One brand name kept popping up over and over: Event Electronics. I was familiar with the company because I had recently purchased another piece of their gear, the EZbus (an awesome addition to my DAW setup-you should definitely check it out). As it turns out, their primary business is making monitor speakers, and their designs are consistent award-winners. Virtually every major trade magazine-Mix, EQ, Keyboard, Electronic Musician, and the like-has given one of Event's models an "Editors' Choice" award. Even more to the point, users of Event monitors-including famous composers and engineers-were winning Grammys for their sterling mixes. It appeared as though the company's "Mixes You Can Trust" advertising campaign had more than a little truth attached to it.
It was then that an ad for Event's new Tuned Reference Bi-amplified Monitor System caught my eye. In it they talked about how the speakers had numerous design elements that had been handed down from the company's 20/20bas and Project Studio models-both award-winners-and were designed by the same engineering team. "This is good," I thought. The ad also mentioned that the monitors featured a new high-definition amplifier, which provided both exceptional clarity and high output level. "This is good too," I thought. And then I saw the amazingly low price. "This is really good," I thought. So I picked up the phone and called my Musician's Friend sales rep. He told me about his experience with the new monitors-how they sounded not only very pleasing to the ear, but also how they were extremely accurate for mixing. Based on what he knew about my setup, he recommended that I check out the 8" model. So I gave him my credit card number and a short while later my new monitors arrived.
I set them up in my studio and... wow! Did they sound great! Everything was so clean and clear. The stereo imaging was simply unbelievable-I could hear every instrument in the exact position it was supposed to be, not just roughly to the left or right. And the room characters were simply astounding. I found myself being able to discern tiny details in mixes, even getting sonic "visuals" about the room in which the recordings were made. I was stoked!
A few weeks went by, and with each passing day I fell more in love with my new monitors. One day, when I was in the middle of a mix, my son came into the room. "Hey, Dad. Cool. New monitors," he said. "You bet," I beamed. "I just got 'em and they're simply great!" I have to admit, I was thoroughly enjoying showing them off to him. And then I realized that these new monitors could lead to us doing some music together. "You should play around with them," I suggested hopefully. Then, with the kind of hesitation that comes from fear of rejection, I continued with "Maybe we could do some recording together." "Thanks Dad," he replied, "but I don't think you and I are into the same thing." Apparently my fear of rejection was well-founded.
Soon after, I realized that the holiday season was upon us and I was going to need that special present for my son. In a flash it came to me. Monitors! Maybe I wasn't going to have the pleasure of doing music with him, but at least I could help him on his way to success by getting him some good equipment to work with. So I made another phone call to Musician's Friend, and this time picked up a set of Tuned Reference 5s. They have a smaller footprint than my TR8s, which makes them ideal for desktop music-making.
Until I give him his present, we'll continue sharing my studio space-though not at the same time. After hearing his "creations," I realize it was a blessing that he turned down my offer to make music together. He was right-we're definitely into different things. I don't exactly know what you call the music he's making, but I do know this: When it plays on his TR5s, it's going to sound absolutely perfect.
Features & Specs
Tuned Reference TR5:
Tuned Reference 8 TR8