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PreSonus R80 V2 Powered Studio Monitor Measurements & Conclusion



R80 outdoor testing

The PreSonus R80 V2 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 1/24 octave resolution.

R80 Spinorama

The above graph shows the direct-axis frequency response and other curves that describe the R80 V2’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. The measured response above is a bit ragged. However, it generally holds to a baseline response, and the listening window does fall within an industry standard of +/-3dB over its operating range. A lot of little peaks and dips don’t result in audible effects, so small undulations in the response can be ignored. The most significant feature in this graph that results in coloration of the sound is the recession centered at 500 Hz followed by the elevation in the response centered around 2kHz. That does give the speaker a bit more of a forward character. To be sure, this is not a huge deviation that makes the speaker sound badly unnatural, but compared to a speaker with a more neutral response, like the PreSonus Eris E8 XT, it has a more brash quality. It accentuates a region where much of the harmonics of human voices and musical instruments dwell, so it does have a more detailed sound, but it does so at the expense of accuracy. The smoothness of the directivity indexes indicates that this speaker could be equalized with predictability. Overall, we have a response that is good enough to enjoy music and movies, although I was hoping for something a bit less frayed from a studio monitor.

R80 waterfall response 3D 

 R80 waterfall response 2D

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. One interesting feature that can be seen is that while the on-axis response is a bit craggy, its shape generally holds at off-axis angles, hence the smooth directivity indexes in our ‘Spin-O-Rama graph of the R80 V2. That means that the in-room acoustic reflections of this speaker will not deviate from the direct response, so any changes made to the speaker’s tonality be the same everywhere. That is particularly helpful to equalization systems like Audyssey and YPAO. The exception occurs at around 2kHz where the off-axis response dips a bit compared to the on-axis response. This is occurring because the woofer is starting to tighten its dispersion in this range, but the tweeter hasn’t yet kicked in full yet. The response widens at the handover to the tweeter. I had a feeling that the specified 2.6kHz crossover frequency was going to end up with an imperfect directivity match between the tweeter and an 8” woofer, and while we do see that here, it is not severe.

R80 Polar Map

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.

Aside from the waist-banding at around 2kHz, the R80 V2 holds a good dispersion pattern. We can see that the 2kHz directivity mismatch doesn’t really set in until around the 40-degree angle, so if it manifests itself at all, it will be as an acoustic reflection since few listeners will be seated outside that angle. We do see the tweeter start to tighten its dispersion at around 10kHz, but it is still broader in that region than the vast majority of dome tweeters would be. The response above 10kHz isn’t terribly consequential since there isn’t much content that high, and many listeners’ hearing degrades above that point as well. Overall, while the performance portrait shown here isn’t perfect, it is not bad, and I didn’t detect any midrange deficits from the 2kHz waist banding at all in my listening.

R80 waterfall 3D vertical

The above graph shows the R80 V2’s response behavior along its vertical axis where zero degrees is directly in front of the tweeter, negative degree values are below the tweeter, and positive degree values are above the tweeter. One important feature that we can see here is that the crossover null emerges very quickly at angles below the tweeter. Any speaker where drivers are separated by a distance greater than half a wavelength at the crossover frequency (meaning almost any speaker that isn’t using coaxial drivers or a single full-range driver) will suffer a null at some angles where the difference in distance causes a phase mismatch between the drivers in a shared frequency range at the crossover. Typically, it starts to set in outside of a 15-degree angle above and below the on-axis angle, but in the R80 V2s, it is becoming acute at 10 degrees below the tweeter. That means that this speaker should be listened to at or somewhat above the tweeter height, but not below the tweeter. The vertical response does stay strong out to 25 degrees above the tweeter, so that does give the user a good margin in which to aim the R80 V2 for the best sound. This is a trait we also saw in our review of PreSonus’s Eris E8 XT speaker.

R80 bass response2

The above graph show the R80 V2’s low-frequency responses that I captured using groundplane measurements (where the speaker and microphone are on the ground in a wide-open area). With the high-pass filter set to ‘flat,’ we do see a slight rise in bass below 90Hz. That could give the sound a bit more weight than a totally flat response, although it might lead to a bit too much bass in a small room. Should that be the case, users can set the R80 V2’s ‘Acoustic Space’ switch to -4dB which should alleviate some excess bass. One nice feature is the ability to high-pass the response at 80Hz and 100Hz, and that allows for subwoofer integration without the need for an external processor. In its ‘flat’ setting, the R80 V2 holds a steady response down into the upper 40Hz range which is good for a non-tower speaker. The roll-off below 45Hz is very steep which indicates that it is being electronically high-pass filtered. That means the R80 V2 won’t see much room gain below 40Hz, but 40Hz is enough bass extension to reproduce almost all acoustic music (with the exception of some pipe organs), and most other kinds of music. That does explain why the R80 V2s weren’t quite catching the lowest notes of some electronic bass music, but even most electronic bass music doesn’t dig below 40Hz.

R80 Acoustic Space switch

R80 treble adjust effects R80 mid adjust effects

 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. For the most anechoically neutral response, I would set the ‘Acoustic Space’ switch to -2dB, the ‘Mid Frequency’ adjust knob to 0dB, and the ‘High Frequency’ trim knob to 0dB. Of course, for a warmer sound, the user can knock down the ‘High Frequency’ adjust knob, or they can boost it for a hotter and more aggressive sound. The ‘Mid Frequency’ adjust knob appears on other PreSonus speakers and has always been a bit weird to me. PreSonus’s rationale for it is to emulate cheap speakers, but cheap speakers can go awry in many more ways than too much or too little frequency bandwidth around 1kHz, so I don’t think that one is very useful. The ‘High Frequency’ trim knob and ‘Acoustic Space’ switch, on the other hand, would be useful for those who want to tune these speakers for their taste. However, those buying these speakers for the most accurate playback should leave all the knobs at 0dB. The bass response is so heavily affected by the room, so that is more up to the user to determine what sounds natural, but I think most circumstances would call for an ‘Acoustic Space’ setting of -2dB or -4dB if the ‘Low Cutoff’ switch is set to ‘Flat’ since the ‘Flat’ setting gives elevation to lower bass. 


R80 hero4Before bringing this review to a close, I will briefly go over the strengths and weaknesses of the product under evaluation, and, as usual, I will start with the weaknesses. While I enjoyed the R80 V2, it is not without its flaws. The chief misstep of this speaker is that it does depart a bit from a neutral sound character, and that is not an ideal attribute for a studio monitor. To be sure, the speaker does not sound bad, and its departure from neutrality is not severe. In fact, I did not notice it to be particularly unbalanced in my own listening, except perhaps for some more articulation in treble sounds, and it was only in doing an A/B comparison with a more neutral loudspeaker did its tonality become evident. If you are using this speaker for sound mixing and monitoring, you could be inadvertently mixing the sound to have a recessed sound on other playback systems, because its forward sound character is artificially lifting upper mids and lower treble, especially relative to upper bass frequencies. So what sounds right on the R80 V2s could sound somewhat soft on other systems that don’t share that response attribute. 

So the R80 V2 speakers have a tonality that isn’t fully even; what is the purpose of this kind of voicing? This type of response does emphasize the range where much of the harmonics of human vocals and musical instruments inhabit, and in that sense, it puts those sounds under a magnifying glass, so users who are after a more detailed sound do have it here, at least in its default settings, but it does so at the expense of neutrality. It is what some would call a ‘revealing’ speaker; the heightened upper mids and treble do expose all the ticks and pops more than something with a flat response. The problem is that the same effect could just be achieved by EQ’ing the response of any speaker to boost upper mids and treble ranges. It could be argued that the R80 V2s could also simply be EQ’d to have a neutral response, but the problem is that its natural response is so jagged that the compensation curve would be fairly complex to devise.

In my view, the tonality of the R80 V2 with respect to monitoring is its only significant flaw. There are other measured imperfections with the performance, but they are largely academic with regard to audible consequences so are not something that would have any real-world effects. This brings us to its strengths, of which there are many. To start with, while they might not be the most accurate monitor out there, I did enjoy their sound and never disliked what they brought to movies and music. They bring forward a crisp sound character, but it was never obnoxiously hot or fatiguing. The sound was detailed without being shouty or overly sibilant. I think that most users would be pretty happy with the way they sound. They had good bass extension to below 50Hz, so the addition of a subwoofer is not an absolute must depending on the application.

Speaking of subwoofers, one feature I really like is the high-pass filter switch which cuts off bass below 80Hz or 100Hz so that the inclusion of a subwoofer into a simple setup can be very easy. With the popularity of subs even in simple bedroom studios, all monitors in this class should have this feature, but only some do, and they aren’t often implemented as well as the R80 V2s. Likewise, the tonal adjustments available on the R80 V2s make it easy to tailor the sound to the user’s taste. While user taste shouldn’t be a factor in actual monitoring applications, it does help the speakers to have more flexibility in recreational listening. On the subject of recreational listening, the tonal character of the R80 V2s have an advantage for those who struggle to understand dialogue; the response elevates the upper harmonics of human vocal ranges which can enhance speech sound. In other words, these speakers make it easier to understand what people are saying.

R80 pair

The R80 V2s have a good dynamic range which is not surprising with an 8” woofer with an AMT tweeter and 140 watts of amplification, so anyone looking for speakers that can take on typical living room listening distances of a few meters without compressing or distorting heavily, these can do that. They would make a great alternative to a soundbar for a larger domestic space, especially for someone who struggles with speech intelligibility with typical soundbars. In addition to their dynamic range, the R80 V2’s imaging ability was very good, and they had no trouble keeping resolving complex soundstages in recordings.

To sum all of this up, as a speaker for recreational listening, I think the R80 V2s are a good choice. However, as a monitor, they are somewhat flawed, although not fatally so. For monitoring purposes, I think that their similar but less expensive PreSonus sibling, the Eris E8 XT, is a better choice since it is a more tonally balanced loudspeaker, although they are a tad larger. This isn’t a knock on the R80 V2s as much as praise for the Eris E8 XTs; in fact, I liked the Eris E8 XTs so much that they are the only product that I have purchased after reviewing to this date. Some people may prefer the increased high-frequency articulation of the R80 V2s for content creation, but they should understand the drawback that carries its spectral balance. I do think the R80 V2s could be used to create good mixes, although they aren’t what I would use to make a high-fidelity mix such as highly realistic recordings of acoustic instruments unless the user understood how it would be affecting the sound in a more neutral scenario. While they are marketed as a studio monitor, I do think they should also be considered for movies, music, and gaming purposes, and those who decide to get a pair will likely be delighted with the results.

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
Build QualityStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStar
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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