Best monitors you'll find for the price
(this is a review of the PreSonus Eris E3.5 model)
By T. Eddy on March 8, 2018
- Sound is neutral
- Very accurate sound stage
- The 'acoustic tuning' it's called allows you to adjust for environment
- aux in on front
- professional look that isn't flashy and full of leds trying to call attention to itself.
- Cables you get are pretty mediocre
- Cabinet build quality feels cheap
A quick background. While I'm no audio engineer and I wouldn't classify myself as an audiophile I do have several headphones in the $100-$300 range and a headphone amp and dac. I was looking to upgrade my 15 year old set of pc speakers that work but I knew I could get better.
Sound wise these are called "Multimedia Studio Monitors" and by that definition these are really accurate. I also primarily have headphones with a flat response curve so these very much sound like headphones in that regard. They do have bass but it's not going to rock the place. I'm going to skip getting in to details on audio since other reviewers have done a great job already and I agree with all of them. But if you are looking for accurate speakers for a computer just get these and you’ll be happy. I would not recommend them for a television or something where you are trying to fill an entire room with sound.
The rest of this review is for people that do buy them and it’s their first pair of “studio monitors”.
First off while they seemed to use excellent components for the monitors the cables they give you are pretty mediocre. I included a picture of what's included (power cable is already plugged in and not pictured). The speaker wire that goes between the two speakers is about 6 feet and almost look like 18 AWG wire. I ended up buying 14 AWG wire but knowing what I know now I'd have just got 16 AWG and it would be a little easier to work with. I then connected them to pc using an 1/8" to RCA jacks. The cable they give you is around 5 feet and my computer was further away so had to buy a new cable for that. Any of the 1/8" to RCA should work fine. The power cable is a standard IEC7 non polarized connector and was maybe around 6 feet.
Some setup tips. First off the full manual is not included but can be obtained from presonus.com and searching for eris e3.5 and going to downloads. This explains far more about placement and adjustment than the quick start that's included or even what I say here. The manual explains the details but the volume on the monitor should be around the 11 o'clock to 12 o'clock position in most situations. Once you set that don't touch the volume control on monitor, adjust the audio from the source. With the monitors set to 11 o’clock the signal coming from the computer was too hot (too loud). I would have only been able to turn the volume up to 10% and it was really loud. RCA attentuators will reduce the volume by a certain amount just before entering monitors. Oddly amazon doesn't have them, or they were really overpriced. Search online for "Harrison Labs 12 dB RCA Line Level Attenuator" and it should be in the $30-$40 range as of March 2018. This allowed me to have a greater working range on volume. I now typically listen at around 40% level on computer but occasionally turn it up or lower it. One last thing I bought were [[ASIN:B01KLVUQ38 Wellcn 26 Pcs Ferrite Cores - EMI RFI Noise Filter Clip for 3mm/ 5mm/ 7mm/ 9mm/ 13mm Diameter-Black]]. Place those on the power and RCA cables a couple inches before they connect to monitor. I got some occasional crackling sounds and those removed it. I also put one on the aux cable I use to connect my work laptop to these when working from home. It's not needed on the speaker cable going between the monitors but also won't really hurt anything. **See update below on how I've changed this**
From where you are normally positioned there should be an equilateral triangle between you, the two monitors, and the space between the monitors. Meaning if you're head is 3 feet from front of monitor they should also be 3 feet apart and then be turned to face you. If done right you won't see the sides of monitors. You want your ear to be lined up with the small tweeters. Because mine are mounted on a wall a little high I have them tilted down and also on their side, which these monitors support. If you do this make sure to mirror the monitors. Meaning have the tweeters on the outside to get a larger sound stage. Once this is all setup don't touch the equalizer or "acoustic tuning" as they call it. Just listen to music for a few days to get used to them. There also may be a little bit of break in needed. Only after a few days should you make small adjustments to the acoustic tuning options. It's preferable to turn down a setting than boost it. If you’ve edited photos you may have noticed trying to boost the brightness on a dark image looks worse than darkening a bright image. Same idea here. So if it sounds to tinny or harsh you want to turn down the highs slightly. This reduces the highs and thus the lows will be more prominent. Initially it sounded tinny but after a couple days it either went away or I got used to it I haven't had to touch mine.
One last thing I'd recommend. Since these are fairly portable, but all my wires are routed around desk I don't want to undo them if I decide to take monitors with me somewhere. I bought me an extra power cable and then use the 1/8" to rca cable and speaker cable they give you and put in a small ziplock bag. Now all I have to do is disconnect everything from monitors, grab my ziplock bag of stuff and I'm ready to go.
I know that was a lot of information but I hope you found this information helpful and enjoy these.
(update: December 2018)
So far these have been holding up well and have had no issues. In fact considering buying a second pair to have over by my workbench. Since writing above I changed my setup so now I have a Maker Hart Loop Mixer < https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M68UK38 > that I connect my computers and to and then audio goes from there to PreSonus. It lets me adjust levels and I still have some inputs open so I've done things like be on a conference call but also have music playing while I'm waiting for them to start. I also got rid of the RCA Line Level Attentuators. May buy more but only -3 or -6db as the loop mixer doesn't get as loud.