Review: Electro-Voice ETX-35P

Three-Way Powered Loudspeaker System
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Electro-Voice’s powered ETX-35P is the sole three-way model in the company’s ETX series. Featuring a 15" low-frequency driver, a 6.5" midrange driver, and a 1.25" titanium compression driver, the ETX-35P is powered with 2,000 watts of Class D amplification. Its roadworthy cabinet is built with 18mm, 13-ply birch; all told, the cabinet weighs in at a hefty 85 lbs. Suitable for use in a variety of live sound applications, the ETX-35P is rated to generate SPLs up to 136 dB, and as we’ll soon see, there is beauty inside this beast.

One look at the exterior cabinet and it’s clear that the ETX-35P means business. The EVCoat finish echoes that of pro-grade touring boxes, while the handles and pole cups are made from aluminum. Hidden behind the heavy perforated grille are the drivers, configured using EV’s patented Signal Synchronized Transducers (SST) waveguide design. SST’s benefits include enhanced transducer time-alignment (minimizing the need for DSP correction of driver latency), and smooth coverage transition between drivers. Also hidden to the naked eye is the onboard DSP, which we’ll get to in a moment.

The ETX-35P’s rear control panel provides two XLR/TRS combo inputs with individual gain control covering a range from mic to line level. In a pinch you could use the ETX-35P without a mixer for a two-input coffee-house gig, though phantom power is not available from these jacks. An XLR jack carries the “mix” output, letting you daisy-chain multiple ETX-35Ps or feed a subwoofer.

At the top of the control panel are an LCD and a single encoder for navigating the DSP, which includes EQ Function and Location curves, 3-band parametric EQ, and Delay for time-alignment to a set of mains up to 1,125 feet (343 meters). The encoder defaults to controlling Master Volume on start-up. The Subwoofer menu provides generic highpass settings as well as curves optimized for EV’s companion ETX-15SP or ETX -18SP powered subwoofers. Other options include front-panel light on/off/limit, LCD auto dimming, and a menu lock to keep out curious cats. The ETX-35P is protected from thermal failure as well as excessive input.

It was a pleasant surprise to find that two ETX-35Ps fit into my car (with the seats folded down) along with mic stands, cables, and a Mackie DL32R mixer (reviewed in the April 2015 issue). I was able to manage the boxes by myself but I’d recommend two people move an ETX-35P.

Fig. 2. The rear panel includes the DSP Control Monitor, a pair of input combo jacks with level controls, and the Mixed Output jack. First up was a church gig with choir and acoustic piano. Setup was easy; the onboard amplification and DSP eliminate the need to carry power amps, speaker cables, or processing racks. The ETX-35Ps were set on the floor at either side of the altar, pointing toward the congregation. EV suggests setting the Location menu to Tripod for floor-standing operation, and using the parametric EQ for fine tuning. I found that a 3 to 4dB cut in the vicinity of 200 Hz helped minimize the effect of reflections from the floor which otherwise made the lower mids sound thick and boxy. I had a bit of difficulty accessing the control panel when the cabinets were set on the floor, but not when they were mounted on tripods. Given the speakers’ weight, I’d suggest you verify that your stands are up to the task of supporting the ETX-35Ps.

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I really liked the way the ETX-35Ps reinforced the piano and choir: The musicians sounded louder but did not sound like they were being amplified —thus the P.A. was transparent to the congregation. If I pushed the ETX-35Ps louder, I certainly could make it sound like the music was being amplified, but that wasn’t the point.

On a club gig for a local rock band, we placed the ETX-35Ps on either end of the stage floor and used the parametric EQ in a manner similar to that of the church gig. When I cranked up the boxes, vocals were crisp and clear, drums were tight and punchy, and there was plenty of impact from kick and bass. When I revved the boxes up to SPLs near 104 dB (C-weighted, measured from 20 feet away) the ETX-35Ps didn’t seem to mind (though I was ready to run for the hills). Since I had the Front Light menu set to Limit I could see the LEDs blink occasionally to indicate that limiting was taking place, though it did not become audible until the LEDs were lighting steadily; at that point, we did actually loosen a bit of plaster from the ceiling.

STAND AND DELIVER

The ETX-35P is a serious live-sound loudspeaker, a pair of which would serve many bands or DJs through all but the largest clubs or dance venues. And, if you need to increase the low-frequency and/or SPL capabilities, the onboard processing makes it a breeze to expand the system using EV’s subwoofers.

The design successfully walks the line between ease-of-use and advanced operation, and the cabinets are built like tanks. Given the integrated M10 suspension hardware, an array of ETX- 35Ps per side would make a great P.A. system for theaters or larger clubs.

STRENGTHS
Easy to use even in complex systems. Excellent sound quality. Extensive onboard DSP.

LIMITATIONS
Heavy. Control panel is difficult to access when cabinet is placed on the floor.

Electro-Voice ETX-35P $2,698; $1,499 street
electrovoice.com

Steve La Cerra is an independent audio engineer based in N.Y. In addition to being an Electronic Musician contributor, he mixes front-of-house for Blue Öyster Cult and teaches audio at Mercy College Dobbs Ferry campus.