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Event Electronics 20/20, February 1997

Oct 21, 2004 2:19 PM, By Barry Cleveland

BI-AMPLIFIED AND DIRECT FIELD STUDIO MONITORS

If Event Electronics is a name that is not familiar to you now, it soon will be. The company was founded by three former Alesis principals, including Frank Kelly, one of the main designers of the popular Alesis Monitor One and Monitor Two. Event distributes RØDE Microphones in the United States, but its first products under the Event name are the 20/20bas (Bi-Amplified System) and the unamplified 20/20 Direct Field Monitors. My tests focused mainly on the Bi-Amplified System, but I’ll also look at the unpowered 20/20s.

Given all of the near-field speakers currently available, one might reasonably ask why any company would wish to create more. In the case of the 20/20 Series monitors, the answer is simple: At around a grand for the 20/20bas and $399 for the direct fields, nothing in the price range can touch them.

The 20/20 Series monitors are two-way systems that combine a 1-inch ferrofluid-cooled silk-dome tweeter with an extended-range 8-inch woofer.

The cabinets are made from 5/8-inch vinyl-laminated MDF and measure 10.75x14.75x11.75 inches, a modest size considering their extended range and large acoustic signature. They have a circular “low air restriction” bass port on the front, which is connected to a long tube on the inside. A small green LED on the speaker ring indicates when power is on and flashes when the input is overloaded. All of the components are of high quality, and 16-gauge wire is used throughout. This last detail is important, as far too many manufacturers use wire that is of lower quality than that used to connect the speakers to the mixer or amplifier, creating a weak link at a crucial point in the audio chain. There is no physical or acoustic distinction between the right and left monitors, and they work equally well in a horizontal or vertical position.

On the rear of the cabinet is a substantial metal panel with three trim pots, jacks for input and AC connections, circuit breaker, AC power switch and graphics illustrating signal flow, boost/cut frequencies, and how to wire XLR and TRS plugs for balanced operation. Because the plate serves as a combination mounting board and heat sink, it can get rather warm during operation. However, I used the monitors for up to seven hours at a time and at no point did the plate get so hot as to actually burn when lightly touched. Still, you may want to think twice before picking them up immediately after a long session.

The input connector has gold-plated terminals and accepts balanced and unbalanced 1/4-inch or XLR plugs. There is an input level trim pot that dials in up to 20 dB of padding for hot signals, though normally this control is set at maximum, where a 1.1V RMS input produces full amplifier output. There are also trims for high frequencies (±3 dB above 2.6 kHz) and low frequencies (±3 dB at 100 Hz, ±2 dB at 400 Hz). All three trim pots are recessed and require a small flathead screwdriver (or the screwdriver-like tool that is included) to turn. The high and low trims are only to be used to make critical adjustments when the speakers are used in a configuration other than the standard behind-the-console “equal-distance triangle” arrangement.

For example, wall mounting may require cutting low frequencies, while pedestal mounting may require boosting them. Once the adjustments are made for a particular listening environment, it should be unnecessary—and undesirable—to change them; hence, the recessed trim pots. I experimented with all three trims, but when I went to return them to their original positions, I realized that the only way to reset them was visually. Center detents for the high/low trims and incremental notches for the input level trim would be a big improvement.

I first used the 20/20bas to listen to mixes made using familiar monitors. Then I used them to solo individual instruments and create new mixes, which I listened to on a variety of reference monitors and other types of speakers. In both cases, they performed extraordinarily well. The stereo imaging remained well defined, and there was no apparent coloration of any frequencies, even at very high and very low listening levels. Very, very impressive.

Next, I listened to a stack of CDs ranging from orchestral works to acoustic jazz to heavy metal. I chose recent state-of-the-art digital recordings, “restored” recordings from the ’20s and ’30s, and examples of just about everything in between. The 20/20bas was ruthless in its honesty, masking no imperfection or subtle detail. Great recordings sounded great, and not-so-great recordings sounded…well, not so great. That’s about the best endorsement that a monitoring system, at any price, can get.

Speaking of price, I should probably mention that one set of “familiar monitors” I used for my tests were Meyer HD-1s, and that the 20/20bas compared favorably in many ways. This is no mean feat, considering that the HD-1s retail for four times as much.

The 20/20bas has ample power to handle just about any close-in monitoring situation. The low-frequency and high-frequency amplifiers are rated at 130 watts and 70 watts continuous, respectively. The active fourth-order crossover is at 2.6 kHz. Frequency response is listed as 45 to 20k Hz (±2 dB, ref 500 Hz), which may, in fact, be the case, even though that is a lot of bottom end for an 8-inch woofer, no matter how efficient the system.

I can say for sure that whatever the lowest frequencies reproduced are, they are remarkably tight and well-damped.

Last, but by no means least, I was able to listen to both sets of monitors for many hours at a time without experiencing any ear fatigue, even at fairly high playback levels.

The unpowered 20/20s are identical in size and driver complement to the powered versions, except that they have slightly less low end (50 to 20k Hz) and they have a second-order crossover at 2.2 kHz. They are rated at 150 watts program/200 watts peak into 4 ohms. Connections are made to standard five-way binding posts. At 22 pounds, they are six pounds lighter than the amplified versions.

Although I preferred the sound of the powered monitors, the 20/20s weren’t far behind. Most of the clarity and definition was there, and what was missing may have had more to do with their compatibility with my power amplifier than anything intrinsic to the speakers. The bottom line is that these speakers deliver awesome fidelity, and at $399 a pair, they are quite a bargain.

Both the 20/20bas and the 20/20 Direct Field monitors set new standards for reference monitors in their respective price ranges. Their accuracy makes them suitable for use in professional studio applications, while their cost makes them accessible to those on more modest budgets. Anyone seeking a solid studio reference monitor should give these a listen.

Event Electronics, www.event1.com.

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