PreSonus Eris Monitors: Cost-Effective and Accurate!

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My first car was a used 1966 Beetle, and it refused to die. But in 2000 it became almost impossible to find certain parts, and figuring I owed Volkswagen some brand loyalty, I bought a used 2000 Beetle. (I did get a diesel model, though.)
What does this have to do with speakers? The Eris is PreSonus’s Volkspeaker. Yes, they have their Porsche equivalent—the pricier Sceptre monitors, which got the buzz at Winter NAMM. But you don’t need a Porsche to get from point A to point B, and you don’t need to spend a bunch o’ bucks for speakers that let you create solid mixes.

The Models There are two versions. The E5 powers a 5.25” Kevlar woofer with a 45W amp; the 1” silk-dome tweeter uses a 35W amp. The E8 has an 8” Kevlar woofer (75W amp) and 1.25” silk-dome tweeter (65W amp). All amps are Class AB, and both models have the same control complement: midrange and treble controls (gentle peak at 1kHz and shelving starting at 4.5kHz, respectively), along with a three-position lowcut filter (flat, or a bass rolloff at 80 or 100Hz) to help match the speakers to your room. An additional three-position switch compensates for the bass boost inherent in placing speakers close to walls or corners by gently rolling off frequencies below 800Hz by either –2 or –4dB (or flat).

Fig. 1. The E8’s response, with the E5’s low-end response shown toward the left.

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Ins and Outs Inputs are XLR or 1/4” TRS connections, and an unbalanced RCA input sums with the others. This makes it easy for the speakers to double as computer multimedia speakers, as well as speakers for an audio interface.

Sound The E5 has a slight bump around 100Hz, while the E8 has a smoother bass and extends down further (Figure 1). For studio monitors, the E8 is worth the extra bucks (and bigger footprint). The bass is tight and defined, with solid transient response, and the highs are accurate. If you’re really tight for space, the E5 will do the job; as long as you’re aware of the E5’s bump, you’ll find the mixes translate well to other environments. But also note the various rear-panel controls make it easy to emulate car speakers or desktop speakers. If you have a monitor control system just itching to switch between your “big speakers” and smaller, real-world speakers, the E5 could be an excellent choice.
Compared to more expensive speakers, the main difference is the “character” of the highs; Eris doesn’t have the sort of airiness I associate with, for example, ribbon tweeters. But accuracy is paramount in the studio, because transportability is crucial—and the E8 scores high in that regard.

Conclusions Like mic pres, speakers have reached a pretty consistent level of quality for a given price point. PreSonus’s “special sauce” is the set of controls, but listen carefully to the E8: The sound is even, projects well, and lets you reference accurate mixes at a reasonable price. Like I said—a Volkspeaker.

STRENGTHS: Cost-effective. E8 in particular promotes accurate mixes. Extensive rear-panel control set. Thermal and overload protection.

LIMITATIONS: E5 bass response is fine for listening, but less so for mixing. For both models, highs aren’t as airy as more expensive speakers.

E5: $199.95 MSRP,
$149.95 street
E8: $399.95 MSRP,
$249.95 street