Reviews

Strother Bullins Reviews Electro-Voice EKX Series Powered Loudspeakers

Mid-level portable PA offers powerful yet efficient performance 1/05/2016 8:00 AM Eastern

I’ve relied upon an Electro-Voice portable PA (PPA) for the past few years as my “workhorse” system—two E-V ZLX-12P powered cabinets serving as main monitors, stage wedges, and all purposes in between. To me, E-V has proven itself as a reliable source of sound reinforcement for a wide variety of pro-grade applications. The EKX Series, E-V’s mid-level PPA, offers powerful yet efficient performance, unique and valuable DSP features, as well as road-worthy construction at an amazingly good value.

For this review, I received a pair of EKX-15P 15in. two-way powered loudspeakers and a pair of EXK-18SP 18in. powered subwoofers, comprising a flexible PPA rig capable of handling everything between a small club environment and many outdoors live sound and EDM events, not to mention uses within installed settings—houses of worship, theaters, and various municipal venue environments.

Like all EKX Series components, this E-V review rig features QuickSmartDSP functionality, accessed via a one-knob interface and accompanying LCD screen for easy setup. I must stress that E-V’s range-wide PPA systems make setup incredibly easy and flexible for near-novice and needy professional users alike; the EKX Series resides comfortably price-wise where it can serve most any user or application within this range incredibly well.

The EKX-15P features a 1500W Class D power amp providing 134dB maximum SPL. Meanwhile, the well-matched EKX-18SP features a 1300W Class D power amp providing 134dB maximum SPL; EKX sub notably provide Cardioid Control Technology, which steers its delivery to the audience with a 35dB reduction on stage with multiple subs (as in at least a pair) deployed (see more about this E-V technology on the company website). Together, this rig creates what can best be described as a sculpted, waste-free sonic impact in use; the EKX Series is a modern tool in that it is efficient and seems to require less corrective EQ before input. The EKX-15P works incredibly well as a powerful stage monitor, serving its application along the lines of a world-class touring stage wedge; its dimensions are well conceived for the perfect coverage angle when positioned on its side, which (surprisingly) isn’t always the case with competing @1000W powered two-way competitors. For installed applications, this EKX rig will shine; the full-range cabinet is easily outfitted with eyebolts for flying; simple replace its M10 screws from its suspension points and fly.

For those that have used previous E-V powered PPA products, the EKX’s DSP features are largely the same in application, thus easy to use; E-V newbies should be able to intuitively dial in the best settings for most applications easily, too. Input-wise, the EKX is rather comprehensive, providing two Mic/Line XLR/TRS combo inputs each with input level control and an XLR output with a mix of both input signals. Channel 1 also features stereo unbalanced RCA inputs, summed mono, which can be used simultaneously with Channel 1’s XLR/TRS input. I must note, I really appreciate the ZLX Series’ 1/8in. TRS aux input, but the EKX’s RCA inputs largely serve the same needs, just in a more “pro” form factor, as coffee-shop or DIY bands needing to, for example, play prerecorded music in breaks or play along with MI-based prerecorded audio would lean toward the lighter, easier-to-transport ZLX Series anyway.

DSP features abound in the EKX-15P, especially useful in four crossover presets for use with subwoofers, with even custom settings for use specifically with both EKX subwoofers and the E-V ELX118P subwoofer, too. Music, Live, Speech and Club Modes plus Tripod, Monitor, Wall, and Suspend settings under the Location menu create distinct frequency response curves that truly serve their intended applications.

If it seems I can’t say much along derogatory lines about the EKX Series, it’s because this rig is exactly the kind of PPA rig I prefer to use: built like road gear, simple to use like MI/consumer gear, and it sounds fantastic, seeming to color source material in the most flattering way possible. That said, the cabinets are relatively heavy—53.9lbs. and 72.4lbs. for the EKX-15P and EKX-18SP, respectively; these are generally not tools for the one-person sound reinforcement business, but pro-worthy and worth the heft if weight isn’t a consideration. Unlike the ZLX’s partially composite enclosure, the EKX’s 15mm wood enclosures simply aren’t lightweight. However, I’ve found, especially in PPA, that both weight and cabinet thickness translate to power and overall more predictable frequency and overall sonic performance. In other words, the more you’re willing to schlep, the more you’ll get sonically at the gig.

I would enthusiastically recommend the EKX Series to anyone shopping for a medium-to-large club powered PA as well as to houses of worship, theaters, and other multi-user environments. Electro-Voice has proven itself as a top player in the portable PA marketplace, and the EKX gives a pro-grade performance that should please audiences and raise eyebrows of its users. Most importantly, I’ve found E-V to be ultimately reliable, abuse-resistant, and ready for most every sound reinforcement job.

Strother Bullins is Technology Editor for NewBay Media’s AV/Pro Audio Group, active musician, recordist, and small-venue sound reinforcement wrangler. sbullins@nbmedia.com

PRODUCT SUMMARY

COMPANY: Electro-Voice | www.electrovoice.com
PROS: Notably-well built; outfitted with premium E-V components; well-voiced and designed cabinets; well-chosen, great-sounding DSP settings
CONS: Perhaps too heavy for one person to transport easily; more expensive than some comparable PPA options
PRICES (STREET, EACH): $799 and $899, EKX-15P and EKX-18SP, respectively

SPECIFICATIONS

EKX-15P

● Frequency Response (-3dB): 55Hz–18kHz
● Maximum SPL: 134dB peak
● Coverage (H x V): 90°x60°
● Power Rating: 1500W
● LF Transducer: EVS-15M 15in. driver
● HF Transducer: DH-1M 1in. titanium compression driver
● Crossover Frequency: 1.7kHz
● Connectors: 1 stereo RCA input, 2 XLR/TRS combo jacks, 1 XLR output
● Enclosure: 15mm plywood with EVCoat paint
● Grille: 18 AWG steel with powder coat paint
● Suspension: 8 M10 threaded mounting points
● Dimensions: 27”x17”x17” (H x W x D)
● Net Weight: 53.9lbs.

EKX-18SP

● Frequency Response (-3dB): 40Hz–150Hz
● Maximum SPL: 134dB peak • Power Rating: 1300W
● LF Transducer: EVS-18C 18in. driver
● Low-Pass Frequency: 80Hz, 100Hz, 120Hz, 150Hz adjustable
● Connectors: 2 XLR/TRS combo jacks with 2 XLR outputs
● Enclosure: 15mm plywood with EVCoat paint
● Grille: 18 AWG steel with powder coat paint
● Dimensions: 20”x24”x24” (H x W x D)
● Weight: 72.4lbs.

Want to read more stories like this?
Get our Free Newsletter Here!
Past Issues
October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017