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PreSonus Eris E8 XT Monitor Measurements & Conclusion

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 Eris outdoor testing.jpg

The PreSonus Eris E8 XT speaker was measured in free-air at a height of 7.5 feet at a 1-meter distance from the microphone, and the measurements were gated at an 11-millisecond delay. In this time window, some resolution is lost below 250 Hz and accuracy is completely lost below 110 Hz. Measurements have been smoothed at a 1/12 octave resolution.

Eris spin-o-rama.jpg 

The above graph shows the direct-axis frequency response and other curves that describe the speaker’s amplitude response in a number of ways. For more information about the meaning of these curves, please refer to our article Understanding Loudspeaker Measurements Part 1. Overall, this is a good showing, with a flat response that falls within a +/-2dB window up to a peak around 15 kHz. The peak in high treble isn’t likely to be an audible issue, as many people have trouble hearing that high and there is not much content that high anyway. The only thing that might color the sound is the wide but shallow dip centered around 7 kHz. That might slightly recess treble a bit, although I didn’t notice the treble to be at all recessed during my listening. We can see from the directivity indexes that directivity is pretty well-controlled until high treble frequencies. The blip around 700 Hz is likely just a port resonance and shouldn’t do much to color the sound.

Eris 3D waterfall graph.jpg

Eris 2D waterfall graph.jpg

The above graphs depict the speaker’s lateral responses out to 90 degrees in five-degree increments. More information about how to interpret these graphs can be read in this article: Understanding Loudspeaker Review Measurements Part II.

The Eris E8 XT should do well in its task of being a studio monitor as well as listening at home for enjoyment.

What are the most notable features that we can see from these graphs is just how well directivity is matched between the drivers and also how well the waveguide is working over the entirety of the forward direction of the speaker. The overall directivity control is excellent with a high correlation between the on-axis response and off-axis responses. That is abetted by the generally good linearity of the response at pretty much every angle. This speaker should have a tonally balanced sound over a wide angle of area, so you don’t need to be listening with the speakers facing you directly to get a good sound. Acoustic reflections should also have a similarly good tonality so that users will not need acoustic treatments to secure a good sound. It also allows for predictable equalization for those who want to adjust the sound character for something they may prefer more. A speaker with this flat of a response both on and off axis should do well in its task of being a studio monitor as well as listening at home for enjoyment. It largely sends out what is put in with not much deviation, and that is as one would hope for from a studio monitor.

Eris Polar Map.jpg 

The above polar map graphs show the same information that the preceding graphs do but depict it in a way that can offer new insight regarding these speakers’ behavior. Instead of using individual raised lines to illustrate amplitude, these polar maps use color to portray amplitude, and this allows the use of a purely angle/frequency axis perspective. The advantage of these graphs is they can let us see broader trends of the speaker’s behavior more easily. For more information about the meaning of these graphs, we again refer the reader to Understanding Loudspeaker Review Measurements Part II.

First of all, yes, I know what this graph resembles, so you can stop snickering. It’s just a plot of the acoustic performance of a loudspeaker, so stop being such a child about it. OK, look, I will admit, it is a little funny, but if we can grow up a bit and just assess the loudspeaker performance here, this does show the same excellent directivity control that was seen in the above graph. We can see very little drop-off in output all the way out to 50 degrees. Thanks to the waveguide, the treble doesn’t even begin to beam until it gets near 20 kHz. That gives these speakers a 100-degree angle of coverage over the forward direction with little change in loudness or sound character. This is terrific performance for monitoring or home audio applications.

Eris 3D waterfall graph vertical axis.jpg 

The above graph shows the E8 XT’s response behavior along its vertical axis where the zero degrees angle is directly in front of the tweeter, negative degree values are below the tweeter, and positive degree values are above the tweeter. Something a bit unusual can be seen here, and that is where the cancellation null begins below the on-axis angle. All two-way loudspeakers where the drivers are separated by any distance will exhibit a cancellation null at some point. Normally, loudspeaker makers try to keep that point as far away from the on-axis angle as possible, but in the Eris E8 XTs, the null begins at just 10-degrees below the on-axis angle. That is a bit of a problem, and the reason why that is a problem is that often monitors are mounted at a higher position than the listeners in a mixing console setting, so there is a chance that the sound engineer could be sitting in a spot below the on-axis angle, even though recommended industry practice is that near-field monitors be at ear level. That puts them in a position where there is a response hole centered at the crossover frequency.

While the response below the on-axis angle is a bit worse than usual, the response above the on-axis angle is better than normal. The E8 XT monitor holds a flat response out to a 20-degree high angle. This means that the lobe where the drivers’ sound integrates is tilted upwards a bit more relative to typical speakers. If you have these mounted above the listening position, make sure they are angled downward so that the tweeter is aimed at or just below the listener’s ears. So long as you are listening on-axis or within 20-degrees above, you will be met with a very neutral sound. If you are setting them up for home use, try using a somewhat smaller bookshelf speaker stand that puts your ears slightly above the tweeter to get an optimal sound. Once the E8 XT’s lobe is understood, it can actually be leveraged to give these speakers better placement flexibility than normal speakers.

Eris Low-Frequency Response.jpg 

The above graphs show the Eris E8 XT’s low-frequency responses that I captured using groundplane measurements (where the speaker and microphone are on the ground in a wide-open area). This is another terrific showing, a superbly neutral response that is flat down to 50 Hz with a strong response down to below 40 Hz. This is the type of response one would hope for given that these are studio monitors. If the response was exaggerated or ‘hot’ in bass regions, content creators would be mixing in less bass than they think which would result in an inadvertently thin-sound in the end product. Port tuning looks to be maybe 37 or 38 Hz. PreSonus claims a 35 Hz extension, but they didn’t specify a window for that frequency, and looking at our measurements, that looks to be a -10dB point. So the E8 XT’s have very good extension but not quite flat-to-35 Hz extension, which isn’t very plausible given this speaker’s design anyway. However, room gain can shore up the low-frequencies so it should be fairly common to get a flat response down to 40 Hz in-room, especially in medium to smaller rooms.

 Eris High Frequency Trim differences.jpg

Eris Acoustic Space differences.jpg

Eris Mid Range Trim differences.jpg

The above graphs exhibit a few of the changes that can be made to the response using some of the controls on the amp plate. There are a lot of different ways to alter the response, and these are just a handful of some of those altered responses. The default settings seem to result in the flattest response anechoically, except for the “acoustic space” switch, where the ‘-2dB’ setting seems to be more in line with the rest of the range. Low frequencies, which are very subject to in-room acoustic effects, are better changed through room measurements along with a capable equalizer, although if these speakers are going to be placed near a boundary such as a wall or especially a corner, users should probably set the “acoustic space” switch to ‘-4dB.’

For monitoring purposes, the “Mid Frequency” knob and the “High Frequency” knob should be left at the 12 o’clock position where they provide the most neutral response. The ‘Mid Frequency’ knob may seem like a strange way to be able to adjust the response since changes from the 12 o’clock position could only result in a bad sound, but PreSonus explained to me that is basically the point of that control; it is for recording engineers to check how their mix translates to cheap speakers that can often have a peakish midrange response like clock radio speakers or older car speakers. The “High Frequency” knob is useful for those who want either a more mellow sound or a slightly more aggressive sound for recreational listening, but it shouldn’t be used for monitoring at anything other than the 12 o’clock position.

Conclusion

Let’s qEris single2.jpguickly go over some of the pluses and minuses of the PreSonus Eris E8 XT before wrapping this review up. As usual, I will start with the minuses since I am the kind of guy who wants the bad news out of the way first. The good news about the bad news for the E8 XTs is that there is not much bad news about these speakers. My only complaint is that the usual cancellation null that occurs between the woofer and tweeter in a two-way speaker occurs a bit higher in angle than is ideal in this speaker. That means users should not be listening to them at an angle lower than the tweeter axis. This may be something that is easily fixed by PreSonus by making a small timing change to one of the drivers to bring down that vertical lobe. 

One thing that isn’t a complaint but simply a suggestion for improvement is I think it would be nice to see this speaker available in white. The industrial design shape for this monitor is quite good, and I think it would be a shame for it to be relegated to studio settings when it is nice enough to have a presence in home audio if it only came in a less drab color. Come on, PreSonus, the Eris speakers would look a lot less boring in some more pleasant colors!

Moving on to the positives about the Eris E8 XT first and foremost is their performance, which is very good as an accurate sound reproducer. We get a nicely flat response with great off-axis correlation. If you are creating content, youEris emblem3.jpg can be confident that what you are hearing from the monitors is what your mix sounds like with little coloration from the speakers (so long as you are listening at or somewhat above the on-axis angle). For the most neutral response, I do recommend the “acoustic space” switch be set to -2dB, but the room acoustics will do far more distortion to the low-end response than any onboard setting that a speaker could use to fix it, but that is a problem that isn’t within any loudspeaker’s power to solve. For those who prefer a different sound in their listening, there are a host of changes that can be made to the sound character of the E8 XTs, so their sound can be easily tailored to taste.

Along with the nice on and off-axis responses, the E8 XT has a good dynamic range and can get loud without any problems. Furthermore, the background noise that is present to some extent in most powered speakers is very mild in the E8 XTs and isn’t very audible even in near-field listening. The bass extension is very good with a strong response all the way down to 40 Hz, and the E8 XTs make it easy to incorporate a subwoofer into a system without any bass management since these monitors have high-pass filters that can be set to 80 or 100 Hz. Not only is the overall performance quite good, they look nice for studio monitors as well, but, as I said before, they could look much nicer in a less drab color.

Eris pair4.jpgI didn’t know quite what to expect from the Eris E8 XT when I asked PreSonus for a review sample. I had not seen any real data for it and had only heard some glowing reviews from some Youtube reviewers, but effusive praise from Youtube reviewers for anything isn’t exactly a rarity. I knew that the Eris monitor series are hot sellers from studio gear retailers, but just because something sells well does not guarantee an actual good product. So I was pleasantly surprised when they turned out to be such well-engineered products. These monitors could easily be used for home audio as well as studio applications.They would be great for a 2-channel bedroom or family room system and would work very well in home theater too. If you have the desktop space for such large speakers, they could work well as PC speakers for gaming or other computer uses. They are powerful, accurate loudspeakers that are very competitive in their price and monitor class. I wish there were some similarly-priced passive home audio loudspeakers that had the sound quality and dynamic range of the Eris E8 XT monitors, but these are very usable as home audio speakers, and anyone looking for simply good sounding speakers ought to give these guys serious consideration.  

 

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Build QualityStarStarStar
AppearanceStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
ImagingStarStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStarStar
ValueStarStarStarStarStar

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About the author:

James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

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Recent Forum Posts:

User5910 posts on September 18, 2020 15:29
shadyJ, post: 1416759, member: 20472
… What determines near-field use is the proximity from the speaker where the sound from the drivers integrate.
Genelec publishes a table showing the minimum distance for the sound from their multiple-driver speakers to sum correctly. The smaller conventional (3“ and 4” woofer) and medium-size coaxial (non-round drivers) speakers sum down to 0.5m (1.6'). The largest (15" woofer) sum down to 1.5m (5'). Reference: Monitor Setup Guide PDF linked from Genelec's Catalogues & Guides page.
shadyJ posts on September 07, 2020 18:18
KEW, post: 1416754, member: 41838
Good to see you are now reviewing pro audio speakers.

I believe they represent significant value over the normal street prices (that does not include thr 50%+ discounts we have seen on DCM, JBL, Infinity, etc) for most name-brand home audio speakers … at least off-setting the cost of the included amplification, which (among competent companies) is sure to be optimized specifically for each driver!

Two arguments I have heard against pro-audio monitors are:
1) They are designed for near-field and will not sound good in a normal HT.
2) They sound too “clinical”.

Either I don't understand what they are really saying, or it is BS; but please emphasize it if you come across deficiencies that reveal either of these issues! Aside from something like a mini-monitor with 4" speakers that falls short at volume from 12' away, I have not seen a monitor that falls short as mid or far-field.
A loudspeaker designed for near-field use can still sound fine for far-field use. What determines near-field use is the proximity from the speaker where the sound from the drivers integrate. But when they do integrate, they stay integrated at all further distances. So long as the speaker has the dynamic range to overcome the attenuation in SPL of far-field listening, it will be just as good as in the near-field.

As for the word ‘clinical,’ that is audiophile gibberish. It's almost another word for ‘accurate’ in the way that audiophiles use it. If your speakers reveal problems in the quality of your recordings, the problem is the recordings, not the speaker.
KEW posts on September 07, 2020 17:48
Good to see you are now reviewing pro audio speakers.

I believe they represent significant value over the normal street prices (that does not include thr 50%+ discounts we have seen on DCM, JBL, Infinity, etc) for most name-brand home audio speakers … at least off-setting the cost of the included amplification, which (among competent companies) is sure to be optimized specifically for each driver!

Two arguments I have heard against pro-audio monitors are:
1) They are designed for near-field and will not sound good in a normal HT.
2) They sound too “clinical”.

Either I don't understand what they are really saying, or it is BS; but please emphasize it if you come across deficiencies that reveal either of these issues! Aside from something like a mini-monitor with 4" speakers that falls short at volume from 12' away, I have not seen a monitor that falls short as mid or far-field.
ryanosaur posts on September 07, 2020 16:15
shadyJ, post: 1416743, member: 20472
Review now live. But yes, we do like to play mind tricks on the forum regulars.
https://i.gifer.com/9fll.gif
shadyJ posts on September 07, 2020 16:05
Review now live. But yes, we do like to play mind tricks on the forum regulars.
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