PreSonus Eris E5 XT by Diogo C
Introduction: Over the past two decades we saw something that can definitely be described as a boon when it comes to affordable studio monitors, with excellent offerings from many manufacturers that are constantly stepping up their game to bring us more quality for less money. The competition nowadays is quite stiff, and classic brands such as Yamaha, JBL, Genelec, Dynaudio, Mackie and others are constantly dwelling for market share with many other companies of all sizes and backgrounds - names such as Eve Audio, Fluid, HEDD and Kali Audio comes to mind. As one of the most active and prolific companies right now, it’s only natural that PreSonus also has a say on the matter with their Eris Series, which was first launched seven years ago back in January 2013 and has been recently updated with the introduction of the Eris XT line in July 2019. This upgrade brings an improved cabinet housing a new waveguide for the tweeter and a bigger port below the woofer. PreSonus also took the opportunity to do a subtle facelift on the visuals and to my eyes they look better now than before, but mostly important, their sound is super impressive and a few notches above than the previous iteration.
Sound quality: Simply put, these are amazing sounding monitors for their size and I’m not even putting the money on the equation just yet. Speaking in absolute terms, this is a remarkable product and one of the very best 5-inch monitors I've ever heard, and I've heard plenty of those - in this price bracket I've probably heard or worked on nearly all of them, having owned quite a few myself. PreSonus did a stellar job on this XT update and it is head and shoulders above the previous Eris line. It's more detailed and it's hard to believe the quality of the lows that are coming out of them, which is quite remarkable. Speaking of the low end, there are no port noise issues, which is quite common on some front-ported monitors on this price range. The top end and mids are also very detailed and non-fatiguing, so I'd put them on the "smooth" side of the spectrum - as a measure of reference I'd put the Yamaha HS5 on the bright (and borderline harsh) side when compared to the Eris E5 XT. The high frequency response sort of reminds me of my dear Dynaudio DBM 50, and this is likely due to the fact that both are equipped with soft-dome tweeters, something that I really appreciate. The new waveguide also makes their sweet spot rather large, and I think they're even better than my beloved Danish speakers in this particular aspect. Another impressive aspect of the E5 XT is their self-noise, which is virtually non-existent, and I had to get my ear basically within an 1-inch of the tweeters to hear some hiss as at the listening position I couldn't hear any.
Ease of use: Plenty of connections with balanced TRS or XLR and unbalanced RCA, decent EQ options with mid range (around 1kHz) and high frequency (past 10kHz) adjustments from -6 to +6dB, acoustic space option that enables a low shelf cut at 800Hz (0, -2 or -4dB) that can help on taming wild rooms or dealing with placement restrictions such as putting the monitors at corners. To wrap it up there's a high-pass filter (80Hz or 100Hz) for using them with a subwoofer and a gain knob with a handy indicator for unity gain at the middle position. Little to say here other than it never hurts to have three connection types because this is a somewhat portable monitor that can be carried around without hurting your back, so you never know what's coming, and the acoustic space EQ was quite helpful as I had to deal with an odd placement on an untreated room. I should also note that the manual states that these monitors are meant to be used vertically due to the waveguide, which makes perfect sense, so placing them horizontally is definitely not the way to go.
Features: Absolutely nothing to complain here. As stated above, it has all the connections one might ever need, some useful EQ options and overall it is a well-built, nicely polished product that feels professional. It also comes with eight thin adhesive rubber pads that can be attached to the bottom of the speakers so it won't scratch the surface or the monitors when placing or moving them, which is a nice touch. Documentation is also very good, not only providing the basics but also going quite deep on placement and calibration, with some good information on those subject that should be more than enough to educate even those who are entirely new to the game.
Bang for buck: The E5 XT is a serious contender in this crowded "under $300 studio monitors" category. Despite the fact that each one of us have their own preferences when it comes to gear, I'd thoroughly recommend everyone to check them out before opening their wallets for anything else because they're really that good. As I've mentioned earlier, I think they're more on the "pleasant" side of the spectrum and some might prefer their monitors to be a bit more edgy or "exciting", but I think the E5 XT's accuracy quite literally speaks for itself and ultimately that's what we want from a studio monitor.
Recommended for: anyone looking for a compact and/or affordable monitor for music production, mixing or anything that asks for critical listening.
• Excellent sounding, with a non-fatiguing character that is great for extended working periods.
• Impressive low frequency response for its size.
• Extraordinarily wide sweet spot.
• Super affordable at $299 (MSRP) for the pair.
• Hardly any, but despite doing a stellar job for a monitor of its size, ultimately it is a 5-inch woofer so don’t expect it to cover that bottom octave. PreSonus offers two affordable subwoofers with Temblor T8 and Temblor T10, so depending on the task it might be a good idea to get one of those to go along with the Eris 5XT.