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Emotiva ER Setup and Listening


ER_D_back.JPGIf you don't have wires run to the back of your room and if you have an attic, Clint and I made a video about it that might help. The Emotiva bookshelf ERM-1s can be used standing up as you would expect but also on their side with no further adjustment to the speaker or crossover. You just lie is down and you're good to go. Based on Emotiva's recommendations, I set the ERM tweeters on the outside of the woofers from my listening position and the center channel's tweeter at the top of the baffle. I was actually surprised at this configuration (not the center) because most of the manufacturers I've dealt with have always suggested putting the tweeter on the inside. This is because the woofers and tweeters are all run in phase. There is no dedicated left and right speaker so one speaker's terminals and switches will be upside down - not a problem unless you like to adjust those switches in the dark.

The entire system was wired with Blue Jeans Cable's Canare 4S11 terminated with banana plugs for the front three channels and Belden 5000 series for the rear channels using a bare wire connection. The speakers were driven by a Denon 2307CI and paired with an Axiom EP500 subwoofer. In the interests of full disclosure, I recalibrated the system fully using the Velodyne SMS-1 Subwoofer Parametric EQ System. Generally I wouldn't do that except that I had moved the furniture and some of the absorptive panels around a bit and felt it might have changed the room acoustics. When I was done, I ended up with a flatter response than I had ever experienced before.

There were no provided feet of any kind with the ERM-1 speakers which I feel should be remedied before the speakers are shipped to normal customers. While I didn't need them on the main channels because the Studio Tech Ultra US-30 stands have rubber pads on the top but the center really needed something. Some sort of rubber pad that can be added to the bottom or sticky feet would help in isolating it from the shelf. As it was, I placed the center in the Diamond Case TT-400 component cabinet. It fit but the height of the bookshelf on its side was taller than most center channels and the width was a bit shorter. According to Emotiva, the side orientation shouldn't affect the sound quality. Since there was definite boundary reinforcement going on, I switched on the Boundary Reinforcement for the center channel only.

ER_D_Plate1.JPGIn an unusual move for me, I actually mounted ERD-1 speakers. I have a lot of reasons for doing this but mostly because I wanted to see how well the brackets worked. The ERDs have four screws already installed on the back of the speakers. The large bracket has keyhole slots for each to slide in to. There is a cutout at the bottom for the wires to run through. Otherwise it is just one large, rectangular piece of metal with six holes for securing to the wall (three running down each side). There was no included hardware for mounting the plate (which isn't really a problem in my eyes) but let me say, unequivocally, I LOVE this mounting system. LOVE IT. Why? The plate is just a bit smaller than the actual speaker and completely outlines it. When you place it up on the wall, you are getting a very good approximation of what you speaker will look like up there. It not only mounts the speaker but gives you an easy way to make know exactly how much wall space the speaker will take up. If you are working with tight tolerances, this is a big headache saver. Not to mention that it is its own template. You just hold it up there, level it, and mark your holes.

ER_D_Plate2.JPGThe best way to go is to place the speaker face down and install the mount on the back. Tighten the screws down until they are very snug and then back them off a half turn. You want the screws to be tight enough so that when you mount the speaker it is held tight but not so tight that you fall off the ladder trying to get it in. If it is too loose, you run the risk of the speaker vibrating in the mount. Be careful to not knock the grill off while you mount the speaker. You could mount it without the grills and place them on later but I felt like I needed any protection I could just in case the speaker slipped and I needed to catch it. I cringe at the idea of accidentally sticking my finger through the tweeter. As I mentioned, the binding post holes barely accept 12 gauge so make sure you prep your wires thoroughly before you get up there with speaker in hand.

Listening Evaluation

ER_D_Mounted.JPGAs is my custom, the first thing I wanted to do was to get an idea of how the ERM speakers sounded in comparison to my reference RBH TK-5CTs. Generally, I would use the Emotiva RSP-1/RPA-1 combo to do this comparison but the ERM-1 speakers are designed along the lines of THX guidelines with a fairly steep drop off below 80Hz. In a face to face comparison, the added bass from the TK's side-firing 8" woofer and larger enclosure would have seriously hampered my ability to compare the two fairly. Instead, I used my Denon 2307CI for the comparison without the Axiom EP500 sub. Both sets of speakers were crossed over at 80Hz. This ensured that I was only comparing the usable range of the ERM-1 speakers. This may have given a slight advantage to the RBHs near the 80Hz point but that couldn't be helped.

I generally notice the most about a new set of speakers within the first few moment of listening to them and during direct A/B comparisons. Sometimes those initial impressions are born out through the A/B testing and sometimes they aren't. In this case, the latter was definitely true. As soon as I hooked up the ERM-1s I knew I had a special sounding speaker on my hands. Detailed and articulate, even HDTV viewing sounded great. The speakers struck me as very responsive and "quick". It was if there were more quiet passages during the music than I was used to hearing.

When comparing the RBH TK-5CTs to the ERM-1s, the differences were minor. I've noted in the past that the TKs have a very detailed high end and the ERMs had no problem keeping up. As I switched between the two, I might say that at times the ERM-1s seemed a little less punctuated. The overall tone of the ERMs struck me as very rich and full while the RBH's seemed very articulate and expansive. The differences? Minor. If I had to pick the largest difference between the two, I'd say that the responsiveness of the ERMs sometimes made it seems as if the RBHs were a little noisy. Of course, had I factored in a full range signal, the RBH's would have destroyed the ERMs overall.

CD: Bang & Olufsen Vol. XIII – The Sound of Perfection
ER_D_frong.JPGI've used this album on a number of reviews and it’s a shame that I don't know where to tell you to buy it (I suppose you could contact B&O and see if you can get a copy). In all honesty only about 5 songs are worth a damn on the album but those five songs give me more information about a stereo set of speakers than any 5 albums I own combined. It just has a little of everything. The first thing I wanted to test was imaging. I was surprised to find that the ERM-1 speakers presented a very wide and deep soundstage regardless of toe-in. I've only experienced this phenomenon once before when I was at Clint's house listening to the Atlantic Technology 4200e speaker system. The off-axis response of these speakers seemed remarkable. The ability to place the speakers facing out instead of having to toe them in also had an aesthetic value that my wife appreciated. I enjoyed  the wide sweet spot that this sort of off-axis response affords. Since these speakers were designed by Vance Dickason who is a famous loudspeaker designer and who has done design work for Atlantic Technology, Artison, M&K, Snell, Niles, coNEXTion, Microsoft, Samsung and others this isn't all that surprising of a finding.

ER_M_back.JPGThe Tweeter adjustment switch was actually more useful than I thought. As someone with experience with a lot of different speakers, I can only come to one conclusion - people have different tastes when it comes to speakers. The Tweeter adjustment lets you play around with some of the ways different speakers sound. I noticed that then I put the speaker in the +2dB configuration, it sounded a lot like all those brighter speakers I've tested and with the -2dB like the more laid back speakers. I personally prefer the flat tweeter setting. You'll need to test this out for yourself. If you have an overly bright room, the -2dB setting might be for you. If you prefer a brighter speaker (or if you have some hearing degradation in that range), the +2 might be for you. Listening for yourself is the only way to be sure.


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Recent Forum Posts:

tomd51 posts on November 27, 2008 20:38
The new grills do look much better and the slight accent the ‘e’ logo adds is a nice touch as well.

I think you're right, most places would charge extra for the new grills, but I'm not surprised Emotiva didn't, doesn't seem their style.

Just something else that makes me pleased with my decision to go with the ERDs… -TD
majorloser posts on November 27, 2008 19:49
New Speaker Grill Design

Emotiva just started sending out new speaker grills for all owners of ERD-1's and ERM-1's. FREE

Not that there was anything wrong with the old grills. They just weren't happy with them. The new grills have a little darker black appearance and don't have the slight sheen of the older grills. They also include a new circular chrome company emblem with the “E”.

I received mine last week. They make a great speaker even better.

Most companies would just add a new item to new sales and call it an “upgrade”.
But they went through the expense of shipping them to all owner.
tomd51 posts on November 27, 2008 14:55
Slight resurrection from the dead of this thead ("No more rhymes now I mean it!" ). Just wanted to weigh in a little with my take of the ERD-1 surrounds.

Initially, I thought they were very good surrounds for the money, this was back when they dropped the price from $350 to $315. Now that they are selling at $250 a pair, I'd have to say these are an outstanding deal.

My first objective was to compare them to the performance of the Axiom QS8s that I'd previously owned. While they didn't quite seem to measure up to them at the time, I'd have to say after having them for a couple of months now, they more than hold their own for movies and I'd have to say outperform the QS8s with music. I thought the QS8s would be be impossible to best at their price, but the ERDs hold their own and then some. When you see/hear how well the ERDs perform, you'll be amazed at how tremendous a value they really are… -TD
majorloser posts on August 15, 2008 10:31
Emotiva's new sub packages should be pretty awesome. They are supposed to have either a single 12“ sub or dual 12” packages available before the end of the year. Might want to visit their forum for more info. They've been keeping the info “Top Secret” for over a year now while they finalize the GUI and control systems.

Davemcc posts on August 15, 2008 09:58
babs, post: 444899
Though I'd certainly never expect the ERM's to hang with B&W 805's at $2k+,

The ERM-1 display many of the qualities I prefer in speakers at any price point. I found them to be clear and detailed without being bright, neutral and without the resonant midrange that I find in a lot of speakers. I think it's an outstanding speaker for the list price, but free is even better. Combined with a good sub, they will be hard to beat (at least to my ears).
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