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PreSonus E5 XT Active Speaker Review

amirm

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#1
This a review and detailed measurements of the PreSonus Eris E5 XT powered "studio monitor." I purchased it from Amazon back in January of this year. It currently costs US $150 (each) on Amazon including Prime shipping.

The look and feel of the E5 is quite nice despite its budget price:

Presonus Eris E5 XT Powered active monitor speakers Studio Review.jpg


A fully formed waveguide a very nice touch and should create a proper hand off to the woofer at crossover frequencies, resulting in similar off-axis and on-axis response (measurements to confirm). Amplification is quite anemic at 20/30 (?) watts but that is to be expected in this price range.

Lots of controls are provided which indicated it is using analog active crossover:

Presonus Eris E5 XT Powered active monitor speakers Studio Back Panel Inputs Controls Review.jpg


I tested the E5 as pictured. I rotated the gain settings until they clicked on the detente.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

Spinorama Audio Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker can be used. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws (ignore the absolute SPL level -- they are incorrect):

Presonus Eris E5 XT Powered active monitor speakers CEA-2034 Spinorama Audio Measurements.png


We have very good and very bad news. Good news is that the waveguide is doing its job resulting in very smooth early window directivity graph (dashed blue line at the bottom). So speaker should be very room friendly.

Bad news is obvious: we have two peaks at low and high frequencies with a wide dip overall, and two deeper ones within, with the worst case being the crossover region around 3 kHz. I don't mind the bass boost but like to see flat response otherwise until 10 kHz. We don't have this. The sound then will be bass and maybe high heavy with middle stuff lost.

Because the directivity is good, room reflections mimic the direct sound which in this case is not a good thing since they accentuate the problem:

Presonus Eris E5 XT Powered active monitor speakers CEA-2034 Spinorama Early Reflections Audio...png


The dip is deeper here. No surprise then that the predicted in-room response in a simulated listening room is anything but smooth:

Presonus Eris E5 XT Powered active monitor speakers CEA-2034 Spinorama Predicted In-room Frequ...png


When performing distortion tests, I could hear nasty distortions in low frequencies which showed up in a bad way in my reference 96 dB SPL @ 1 meter (room reflections filtered):

Presonus Eris E5 XT Powered active monitor speakers Distortion THD at 96 dB Audio Measurements.png


For best speakers, there should only be a a few peaks below a few hundred hertz. Here distortion spans far and wide. Zooming in with percentage distortion we see even a nastier presentation:

Presonus Eris E5 XT Powered active monitor speakers Distortion at 96 dB Audio Measurements.png


That woofer or its amplifier is really struggling to produce clean sound.

Reducing levels to 86 dB @ 1 meter cleans up the situation a lot:

Presonus Eris E5 XT Powered active monitor speakers Distortion THD at 86 dB Audio Measurements.png


Presonus Eris E5 XT Powered active monitor speakers Distortion at 86 dB Audio Measurements.png


Still, the woofer or its amp continue to be the weak link.

Horizontal directivity plot shows the smooth envelop that we like to see as we move off-axis but of course the level varies as we saw in the spinorama:

Presonus Eris E5 XT Powered active monitor speakers Horizontal Directivity Audio Measurements.png


We want that smooth envelop with similar colors so they are not separated from each other. Half the problem is solved but not the other.

Vertical is bad but it is in many designs:

Presonus Eris E5 XT Powered active monitor speakers Vertical Directivity Audio Measurements.png


Finally, here is our obligatory CSD/waterfall, again room compensated:

Presonus Eris E5 XT Powered active monitor speakers CSD Waterfall Audio Measurements.png



Speaker Listening Tests
Being a near-filed monitor, I decided to test it at my workstation. The E5 was placed on the left of my monitor with a 5 inch or so stand pointed up. First impression wasn't bad with noticeable amount of bass but then brightness come in and it wasn't so pleasant. By itself, I thought "this is not as bad sounding as the measurements indicate."

Then I turned on the JBL LSR305P on the right and compared one channel at a time, levels matched. Now the game was afoot! The LSR305P wiped the floor with the E5. While the female voices would get lost in the PresSonus, the LSR305 provided superb, clear reproduction. Even male vocals had clarity that simply was not there with the E5.

Now, the E5 has plenty of bass. Turn up the level though and you hear gurgling sound which seemed to be an amplifier overload condition rather than the driver bottoming out. Here is the problem: once you hear the drivers distorting, you can't unhear them when you lower the level! The bass while pronounced and at much higher levels than the 305P, it just doesn't sound clean.

When you turn up the volume on the LSR 305, a nice limited simply stops it from playing too loud and distorted. This seems to be a better approach than letting the speaker beat its brains out as the E5 XT does.

Overall, I stopped listening to the PreSonus E5 XT and continued playing the LSR 305P!

Conclusions
PreSonus nails the look and feel of the E5 XT. It has a higher end feel than many budget speakers. The waveguide is effective in providing even response side to side which is nice. The boosted lows and highs though seems to have been aimed at selling the speaker in a showroom. It does impress at first. And especially so if you don't compare it to another speaker, level matched. When you do that though, the shortcomings of the E5 XT come to surface with uneven tonality and tons of distortion from its bass driver.

The JBL LSR305P is going for just US $109 which is $50 cheaper than the E5 XT. It sounds hi-fi in the way that E5 XT simply doesn't. It lacks a bit of bass but I think you could boost its response there and maybe get the same thing as E5 has.

Overall, despite the online buzz that PreSonus E5 XT has, I cannot recommend it. I am here to guide you to proper sound and that calls for flat or flattish frequency response. You are not going to get that E5.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

I am thinking every time I review a product that doesn't perform, I should get hazard pay. How do you all feel about 2X of the normal compensation? If you agree, please up your donations using : https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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Blumlein 88

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#3
Well that is just about how they sounded when I've heard them. Hump at both ends and a dip in between.
 

napilopez

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#4
How'd they get the directivity so right but then mess up the on-axis like that? They recommend full toe in too, so that's not the issue.

They only provide a single on-axis graph with unfortunate scaling and smoothing. You can see the elevated treble and a bit of the elevated bass, though there's much less of a 3K dip in theirs:
Screenshot_20200516-190524.png


On the plus side, you should be able to largely address the treble and bass with the built-in controls, and you could EQ the 3K dip. It's just a shame most users won't know it.
 
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617

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#5
I think I was the one who badgered you into testing these. I was primarily interested them due to their small size and low cost as a computer speaker. They may perform well for some people but the performance here doesn't really establish a reason to buy them instead of the JBL, although I think the presonus products look nicer.

The presonus lineup of monitors and audio interfaces (and software - they sell a DAW now) is very appealing due to the design and simplicity, but I was concerned nthe performance wasn't there. They also sell some coaxial monitors which use a horn in a woofer, reminiscent of Urei monitors, but after seeing this review I see no reason to believe they are anything special.

It is a shame personus doesn't publish any measurements (or provide them on request) but perhaps now we know why.

Having said that the FR is not that bad, but the limited output dissapoints me. The 305 is not bad in this respect but there are limits to what can be done with a small speaker.
 

MZKM

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#6
How'd they get the directivity so right but on-axis so wrong?? They recommend full toe in too, so that's not the issue.

They only provide a single on-axis graph with unfortunate scaling and smoothing. You can see the elevated treble and a bit of the elevated bass, though there's much less of a 3K dip in theirs:
View attachment 63870

On the plus side, you should be able to largely address the treble and bass with the built-in controls, and you could EQ the 3K dip. It's just a shame most users won't know it.
If you listen with less toe-in and/or above the tweeter, it tames the treble without altering much. It looks like 20 or 30 degrees off-axis horizontally is best, and it looks like 10 degrees is better.
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #7
If you listen with less toe-in and/or above the tweeter, it tames the treble without altering much. It looks like 20 or 30 degrees off-axis horizontally is best, and it looks like 10 degrees is better.
That's what I had to do after the initial listening.
 

napilopez

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#8
If you listen with less toe-in and/or above the tweeter, it tames the treble without altering much. It looks like 20 or 30 degrees off-axis horizontally is best, and it looks like 10 degrees is better.
For sure. It looks like it could easily go from a good speaker to a great speaker with a little tweaking, but evaluated as it's meant to be used (manual says to toe it in all the way, typical studio monitor placement), it's not as good as it should be.

That said, it seems clear to me that this was purposeful tuning - you don't implement that good of a waveguide and then have that kind of on-axis response unless it's on purpose. I wonder what their logic was. Unless there's no DSP?
 

Blumlein 88

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#9
Maybe if you bump the high frequency control down 6db, and the midrange control up 6 db it might even out better.
 

thewas_

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#10
I also find it very weird they engineered a nice waveguide and directivity and chose such a "smilie" voicing.
Anyway, due to its smooth directivity EQing the LW makes also the PIR nicer and smoother, I offset the curves with EQ for -10 dB for better visibility:

1589673568908.png
 

hyperplanar

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#11
Was curious to see how this newest waveguided iteration would do, a bit disappointing to see the FR but at least it can be helped with EQ thanks to these precise measurements and the great directivity... I auditioned a bunch of monitors at Guitar Center with my roommate back in college when he was looking for one, and I remember the Eris sounding weirdly sucked out in the upper mids with too much upper treble sizzle. So if even that old (non waveguide) version had a similar FR, maybe it's a sound signature thing for Presonus. Can't say I'm a fan of their products after trying out a few, they've always been disappointing and their spec sheets are misleading as well.

As an aside, this experience was right when the LSR305 first came out. We were a bit disappointed with all the monitors available to audition, until the sales guy was like "well, we just got this new JBL in, would you like to hear it?" And we were simply blown away by how good the LSR305 sounded! That's the one my roommate brought home. This was at least a year before the hype for the LSR305s started. I really wonder if even today the LSR305 can't be beat for the price.
 

Xulonn

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#12
Well that is just about how they sounded when I've heard them. Hump at both ends and a dip in between.
Is one of those speakers that years ago some called "Boom-Tweets"?
 

BYRTT

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#13
How'd they get the directivity so right but then mess up the on-axis like that? They recommend full toe in too, so that's not the issue.....

.....On the plus side, you should be able to largely address the treble and bass with the built-in controls, and you could EQ the 3K dip. It's just a shame most users won't know it.
If you listen with less toe-in and/or above the tweeter, it tames the treble without altering much. It looks like 20 or 30 degrees off-axis horizontally is best, and it looks like 10 degrees is better.
That's what I had to do after the initial listening.

With that directivity index it screams for some EQ, if Amir has interest and a convolution engine in his player i can share that correction as IR wav-file and into various sample rates for listening test and many thanks another great acoustic review here at site.
1_1000mS.gif



EDIT: Thanks request and :cool: some like to try out the anechoic correction filter seen above so lets attach some convolution filters to this post :).

Think any users shall remember its based on anechoic response of Amir's sample so it would probably be good make some measurement before and after to document we on track using other samples, also it would be nice if we can get some objective and subjective feedback here in thread how filter perform on paper and feels on sound.

There is two zip-folders attached for above correction that transform acoustic listening window into a smooth bandpass 7th order Butterworth @57Hz to 20kHz 2nd order Butterworth, one is ordinary 24bit PCM wav-files and the other is 64bit IEEE wav-files that work well in for example 64bit version of JRiver Media player, and as can be seen below there is support for sample rates at 44,1/48/88,2/96/176,4/192kHz:

3.png

4.png




For users that want to combine with sub woofer i also made below version using 4th order Linkwitz Riley slope at 100Hz instead of the above 7th order Butterworth at @57Hz because theoretical Linkwitz filters sum smooth where Butterworth often have some ripple:
1_500mS.gif

There is two zip-folders attached for sub woofer correction that transform acoustic listening window into a smooth bandpass 4th order Linkwitz Riley @100Hz to 20kHz 2nd order Butterworth, one is ordinary 24bit PCM wav-files and the other is 64bit IEEE wav-files that work well in for example 64bit version of JRiver Media player, and as can be seen below there is support for sample rates at 44,1/48/88,2/96/176,4/192kHz:

5.png

6.png



EDIT: Looks Amir tested with below settings on back of enclosure so that combination should be dialed in when one use the correction filters attached here.
7.png
 

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milosz

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#18
Seems the reviews based on these measurements assume "in room" listening, farfield listening as it were. However, many monitor speakers are placed a fair distance from any room boundaries and quite close to the listener, so are used nearfield. The reflections would be less important to the listener in such a scenario.

When I think of "monitor speakers" I think of up-close nearfield monitors for a mixing console in a room with significant wall treatment to minimize reflection, not domestic HiFi speakers for my living room.

These speakers won't sound good in either case.
 

napilopez

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#19
I have a pair of these monitors for desktop usage. I hope the measurements do not in any way impede how I enjoy the monitors. :facepalm:
It seems like you have well-engineered monitors that just have some with the questionable(but fixable) tuning =] The directivity is about as good as any non-coaxials we've seen, and it seems like you could fix the treble and bass by just using the built in controls.
 
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