Event Electronics' Studio Precision 8 Active studio monitor was an EM Editors' Choice Award winner in 2005 (see the January 2005 issue of EM, available online at www.emusician.com), and although siblings of champion speakers don't always share winning ways, Event's Studio Precision 6 Active (aka ASP6) gets a blue ribbon from this reviewer. The ASP6, a biamplified close-field (Event calls it “Direct-Field”) monitor, offers pristine high end, natural midrange clarity, and surprisingly strong bass.
FIG. 1: Event Electronics'' Studio Precision 6 Active monitor gives you clean highs, clear midrange, and outstanding bass response.
Like the ASP8, the ASP6 is striking to look at (see Fig. 1). The front panel sports a high-gloss black finish. The cabinet's top, bottom, and sides are made of a black vinyl laminate that looks like painted wood. Behind the front panel is a 6.5-inch woofer with a neodymium magnet. A magnetically shielded 1-inch ferrofluid-cooled soft-dome neodymium “radiator” is positioned directly above the speaker. (Event uses the term radiator for its high-frequency driver because of the broad, flat pattern the component generates without requiring built-in — or external — corrective equalization.) The radiator is surrounded by an elliptical backplate.
At the bottom corners of the front panel are dual 3-inch-diameter “linear-flow” bass ports, which were designed to eliminate port noise. This type of port is unique to the Studio Precision series, as are the monitor's power capabilities, custom transducers, and other cabinet-design aspects. According to Event, these features account for the line's high performance.
The ASP6 has the same power amplifier as the ASP8. It provides 200W to the low-frequency (LF) driver and 80W to the high-frequency (HF) driver. The crossover point is 2.6 kHz. An LED power indicator is positioned underneath the woofer.
A number of inputs and controls are included on the ASP6's rear panel (see Fig. 2). A single ?-inch TRS input is labeled Line Input 1. A female XLR connector is Line Input 2. Either input can accept unbalanced or balanced signals. Continuously variable HF Trim and LF Trim pots cut or boost frequencies by 3 dB, and both trims have detents (0 dB) at the 12 o'clock position. Fully turned, the LF trim produces ±3 dB at 100 Hz and ±2 dB at 400 Hz. The HF Trim produces ±3 dB above 2.6 kHz.
FIG. 2: The control section on the rear panel features XLR and ¼-inch inputs, high- and low-frequency trim controls, an Input Sensitivity (level) control, and a highpass filter.
Next to Line Input 1 is a highpass switch (80 Hz) that can be used when a subwoofer is connected to the ASP6s. You also get an Input Sensitivity knob, which attenuates incoming signal from Max at the fully clockwise position down to -20 dB when it is fully counterclockwise. At the center detent position, the attenuation is -5 dB. A power-on toggle switch and power-cable receptacle for the included line cord complete the rear panel.
The highpass switch is a bit hard to access; it's practically flush when in the off position, and its surface is concave. I had to use the tip of my fingernail to engage the button. Similarly, the control knobs are raised only about ? inch from the rear panel and are about the size of a ?-inch input. Nevertheless, I had no trouble grasping them with a thumb and index finger to make adjustments. According to Event, the knobs and switches were designed to be a little difficult to access in order to prevent inadvertent adjustments, which could be disastrous in a mixing situation.
I bypassed my 2.1 system and fed a pair of ASP6s directly from the Control Room outputs of a Mackie Onyx 1620 mixer, which is connected by FireWire to my dual-processor Apple Mac G5. I then began my listening tests.
I started with some AAC files from iTunes, which I knew to be fairly good representations of their full-resolution equivalents. Because I was familiar with the sound of these files on my everyday monitors, I could make a fair judgment about the ASP6s' handling of them. The acoustic guitars in Coldplay's “God Put a Smile upon Your Face” and Bruce Cockburn's “Wondering Where the Lions Are” were clean and crisp, with no upper-midrange bump, even if the files exhibited the usual dynamics flaws and inaccurate stereo imaging that plague AAC and, worse, MP3 files.
Next, I checked out some cuts from several recently purchased CDs, with the CD player connected directly to the mixer. On Patty Loveless's “Keep Your Distance,” the ASP6s gave some extra bite to the snare drum that drives the tune. On Marc O'Connor's Live in New York CD, I was very impressed with the overall smoothness with which the monitors reproduced his fiddle. O'Connor's range of tones is staggering, and the ASP6s exhibited no breakdown in response even during the breakneck multi-octave soloing on “Cherokee.”
Having satisfied myself that the ASP6 was as dependable in the high end as other Event monitors I've regarded highly, I moved on in my testing to my standard search for low-midrange muddiness in bass parts that I know to be well defined. These included Jaco Pastorius solos and the mellower but distinct sound of Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire. The ASP6 shone here as well. When a bass note had a high-end attack, it was present but not overpowering. When a part was distinct amid other low-end content, the ASP6 put it across without descending into a sea of mud.
Despite these successes, I was skeptical that the ASP6's woofer could handle all the low-frequency content of a modern dance mix without a subwoofer. Yet when I fired up Rihanna's “Pon De Replay” and Outkast's “I Like the Way You Move,” the bass was room shaking and seemed to dip deeper than expected, considering the ASP6's steep rolloff at 40 Hz. It was also great to listen to a single monitor at close range with ample volume without feeling the blast of air you'd get from a single-port enclosure. On the ASP6, only an occasional gentle breeze (and extra bass) exits the ports.
On my own mixes, which lately have involved country songwriter demos and new arrangements of jazz standards, the ASP6 made me reevaluate my recently adopted 2.1 system. I noticed that upper-mid parts like restrained piano solos had more definition with ASP6s than on my monitors. That didn't necessitate a remix, because I liked the piano out front. But it did make me realize that I was working a bit harder than I needed to, and that my monitors were deficient in upper-midrange reproduction.
An engineer friend brought over stems of a rock remix that he had spent several days working on, and we listened to them on the ASP6s. He was surprised that the attacks on the song's intense drum and guitar parts sounded more restrained than they had in his studio. He realized that his system was overemphasizing high-frequency content, causing him to record the drums and guitars without enough highs. He then realized why his client hadn't liked the mixes. He vowed on the spot to get a pair of ASP6s.
The ASP6 made me change my opinion of stereo close-field monitors with woofers less than 8 inches in diameter. In the past, I felt I couldn't be satisfied with such monitors without a subwoofer. The ASP6 has blown that theory out of the studio for me. The monitor's handling of bass, its high-end clarity, its dependable midrange, and its price should add up to a big win for any personal studio.
Rusty Cutchin is a former EM editor and a producer, engineer, and music journalist in the New York City area.
Studio Precision 6 Active active monitor
$1,199 per pair
RATING PRODUCTS FROM 1 TO 5
PROS: Excellent design and sound. High power. Dual front ports.
CONS: Small knobs and buttons.
STUDIO PRECISION 6 ACTIVE SPECIFICATIONS
Analog Inputs (1) balanced XLR, (1) balanced ¼" TRS High-Frequency Driver 1" soft-dome neodymium radiator Low-Frequency Driver 6.5" mineral-filled polypropylene cone with neodymium magnet Frequency Response 40 Hz-20 kHz ±3 dB High-Frequency Equalization trim control, continuously variable, ±3 dB above 2.6 kHz Low-Frequency Equalization trim control, continuously variable, ±3 dB @ 100 Hz; ±2 dB @ 400 Hz Highpass Filter 80 Hz in/out, second-order slope Power Rating 200W (LF amplifier); 80W (HF amplifier) Crossover Slope 2.6 kHz, active fourth-order asymmetrical Dimensions 10.75" (W) × 13.625" (H) × 10" (D) Weight 25 lbs.