Hands-On Review:The most accurate affordable studio monitor on the market
I've been making and recording music for a lot of years. In the process I've collected a fair assortment of cool gear: 16 tracks of MDM, a 24-channel, 8-bus console, a number of outboard processors (including a couple of classic pieces). My latest prize is a screamin' new Mac with tons of RAM. So you'd think that with all these tools, the stuff coming out of my studio would sound awesome. Well, happily, it does - now. But it didn't used to.
My mixes, like so many others I've heard done in home and project studios, just didn't sound quite right. The instruments are usually a little out of balance, or the bass too loud (or not loud enough), the guitars too edgy (or not edgy enough). You know how it is. You always end up wishing you had mixed your finished product just a little differently.
The problem, I decided, was with my monitor speakers. Despite being "reference" monitors, they weren't giving me an accurate enough picture of my mix. So even though I would run my bass track through the best compressor around, and tweak the lead vocal with the sweetest EQ on the planet, my finished product never sounded "pro." Time for a change
No question about it: I had to find a new set of speakers. I made a quick checklist of the features that I absolutely had to have. First, and most important, they had to give me a sound reference that would translate accurately to other playback systems. I wanted to be able to do a mix, take a tape out to my car, and have everything sound balanced, not bottom-heavy like my mixes usually sounded. Second, they needed to let me mix to exactly what I heard, without having to compensate for missing frequencies. That was the problem I already had. Finally, I wanted them (needed them, rather) to be affordable.
After checking out the music mags for reviews, and ads, and discussing my problem with the tech guys at Musician's Friend, I learned that for the quality of sound I needed, I had to move up to a bi-amplified system. Bi-amped systems offer so many advantages: power amps matched perfectly to individual speaker components, greater efficiency resulting in lower distortion, higher headroom, and better transient response. The last item especially appealed to me. I'm a sucker for the big drum sound.
It wasn't long before I narrowed my search to the monitors made by Event Electronics. They had a good number of models to choose from. All of their monitors are magnetically shielded (important for use with a computer). I knew the company's reputation for delivering high-quality products, and for a clincher, they had systems priced easily within my budget.
I also had the support of experts. Every magazine review I could find raved about Event's new Project Studio series. Keyboard gave them their Key Buy award. Several reviewers claimed to be so sold on them that they bought them for their own studios. But what I liked most was that all the reviewers agreed that mixes they produced using the Events translated accurately to other playback systems. This was my numero uno concern!
My next stop was Event's Website (www.event1.com). There I learned about the engineering team of Frank Kelly and Walter Dick, the brains behind all Event monitors. Walter and Frank are honest-to-goodness science guys, and they've been at it for a lot of years (over 55 between them). They have a bunch of hit products to their names.
For the Event products, they design everything from the ground up - the tweeters, the woofers, the amps, the crossovers. Nothing is an off-the-shelf part. Walter concentrates mainly on the speaker components, figuring out what materials the cones should be made of, what kinds of wire to use - all the nitty-gritty details that go into building a custom driver. Frank concentrates on the amplifiers and crossovers. His designs are legendary, with carefully tweaked circuits that deliver tremendous bang for the buck.
I also read how Francis Buckley (the world-class recording engineer) won a Grammy for "Best- Sounding Record" using Event monitors. Needless to say, that got my dream wheels turning. I was already imagining myself on stage, at the Grammies, accepting my award. But which model would fulfill my dream? Which was the best I could afford?
An article in EQ magazine helped me decide. It was the story of how producer David Was wrote, recorded, and then mixed the music for the Academy Award Show using Event's new PS6 monitors. Even more impressive was the fact that he was using the PS6s for the first time. He simply mixed to what he heard, with his fingers crossed, and was thrilled with the results. This story was all the proof I needed. I decided the PS6 monitors were the ones for me, and I put in my call to Musician's Friend.
A few days later, my beautiful new PS6s arrived. Hooking them up was a snap. Their size made it easy to get them in tight by my new computer monitor. I didn't even have to worry about putting them too close to the back wall because their ports are on the front. This was important because my studio space is so small I don't have much choice in placement.
The Final Test
I took out a mix I had recently done and played it on my new, revised system. Gaak! It sounded awful. I told myself not to freak, that the real test was to do a new mix, not listen to an old one. So I fired up the MDMs and started remixing the same tune's raw tracks. The first thing I noticed was how incredibly clear the midrange was. I could hear the very end of the reverb tails - lots of details I had never heard before. Things were really sounding good!
I played around for the better part of the afternoon until I had a mix that I thought was dead-on. I dubbed a copy to cassette and walked out to my car for a listen. It was perfect.
- LF Driver: 6.5" magnetically shielded polypropylene cone
- HF Driver: Magnetically shielded 1" diameter ferrofluid-cooled natural silk dome
- Frequency Response: 45Hz - 20kHz, ±3dB
- Crossover: 2.6kHz, active fourth order
- LF Amplifier Power: 70W
- HF Amplifier Power: 30W
- Inputs: Balanced, gold XLR and 1/4"; accept balanced or unbalanced sources
- Protection: RF interference, output current limiting, over temperature, turn-on/off transient, subsonic filter, internal fuse
- Cabinet: 5/8" vinyl-laminated MDF
- Dimensions: 8-1/4" W x 12-1/2" H x 10" D
- Weight: 23 lbs. each