PreSonus is one of the names coming out of the home recording boom that’s become synonymous with quality. Some manufacturers have their hits and misses, but PreSonus always seems to bring something to the plate with every release.
With the PreSonus Eris E4.5 Studio Monitor pair, you get a very presentable and affordable self-powered monitor system. At its price point the Eris E4.5 is probably a top performer in its price class.
However, to me, this is a rare weak pitch from PreSonus. There’s an impression that the E4.5 version of the Eris line is an afterthought. The problem started on PreSonus’ web page for the E4.5. Someone dropped a ball someplace. There’s no “Front-firing acoustic port,” such as the E5 sports. The E4.5 has a conventional round port on the back. The Overview boasts 50 watts bi-amped, but the specs show 25 watts, not bi-amped. Since the E4.5 has the amp built into the left speaker and a single pair of connectors to the right speaker using regular speaker wire, there’s no way the right speaker could be bi-amped. The E5 version is 80 watts and bi-amped. There are two different design philosophies at work here. By combining these in a single product line, there’s a rise in expectations for the E4.5 that might be unfair — the E5 is pretty much twice the price — but PreSonus may be a victim of their own success here.
The Eris E4.5 does have a role to play. These could be the translation check monitors, a second set to confirm the validity of mixes on different speakers. Entry level home studios could do worse than the E4.5. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad pair. It just doesn’t put my whelm over, if you can dig it.
The Eris E4.5 comes in a paired system. Most connections happen on the Left speaker since the amplification for both speakers is inside it. The back of the Right speaker has a standard speaker wire connector and an acoustic port, nothing else. The left side has ¼-inch balanced TRS connectors for both left and right signal, as well as unbalanced RCA left and right for consumer equipment. Speaker wire output to the right side is here, and of course there’s the power connector. Around the front, there’s the on/off switch, volume control and two ⅛-inch jacks. One provides a headphone connection and the other an auxiliary audio input. There’s reasonable flexibility for inputs and outputs.
Also on the back of the left side are two knobs and two switches. The knobs fine-tune midrange and high frequency response, while one switch adjusts low frequency cutoff, handy for use with a subwoofer. The second switch alters the output of the pair based on how the speakers are located when in use.
If the arrangement strikes you as more high-end computer speakers and less low-end home studio, it’s not that uncommon an arrangement, but it does, definitely, earmark the Eris E4.5 at the low-end spectrum.
The speakers do sound pretty good for what they are. I haven’t had the chance to use the larger speakers in the Eris product line. The wide and narrow front firing acoustic port intrigues me, but the Eris E4.5 doesn’t offer it. The round, rear-mounted plenum on the back isn’t uncommon. JBL uses the same design for some of its powered monitors, with mixed success.
The problem with a small woofer and a rear-firing port has to do with bass support. Placement becomes so critical to the overall sound of the speaker that it’s difficult to recommend a small monitor system without hearing it in place. Certainly, I got a decent sound with the E4.5 in a tight nearfield configuration. The mixing location was away from the wall, so I left the Acoustic Space switch at 0 dB and the Low Cutoff at the Flat position. Acoustic music and light classics sounded quite good, open and airy. Sometimes the tweeters in desktops can get harsh. That wasn’t the case here. Low frequencies reproduced better than I expected and, for music that isn’t particularly bass heavy, the Eris E4.5 does PreSonus proud.
There’s a lot of music that is bass heavy, and there, the E4.5 shows its shortcomings. By Presonus’ own questionable data on the E4.5, frequency response at the low end bottoms out at 70 Hz. The rear port makes that seem even higher, since the low frequency content of audio out the rear port has room and time to spread out. It’s a gentle bottom end, one definitely not suited to dance music, and one that’s not particularly convincing for harder rock in some cases either.
I can’t diss the build of the Eris E4.5 much. It’s tricky, with the amp in one speaker and not the other, to match the output of both. I didn’t get the sense that one side was different than the other. PreSonus has done an admirable job of protecting the E4.5, provided of course that all protections listed on the web page are indeed integrated in the build. There is indeed a mains fuse. Other features listed include radio interference protection, current limiting on the output to the right speaker, thermal protection against overheating, transient limiting and a subsonic filter to remove audio values below those the speakers can reproduce. In short, it’s not likely you can blow up a set of Eris E4.5s without explosives.
There are a lot of user reviews for the Eris E4.5 and a big subset of those say good things about the model. It’s important to keep in mind that speaker sound is extremely subjective. It’s possible you’ll listen to the E4.5 and think I’m crazy. You may not even be wrong there. Many people think these are just fine.
There are some recurring complaints in the negative reviews about buzzing, noise and other “this just ain’t right” stuff. Enough to warrant mention here. As with many situations, I didn’t experience the same problems as the users, but I had the speakers for a matter of hours, while users have them for much longer. If you’re not ready to submit to kismet, research your purchase. Check the speakers thoroughly when they arrive. Use the manufacturer’s advice to make connections and use the monitors as intended. Ultimately, if you’re happy with your monitors, nothing anyone else says matters.
For under $200, this is a competent set of monitors for an entry level studio, or as an auxiliary set for checking mix translation. For best results, keep the Eris E4.5 monitors close. Play with the tuning options on the back of the speaker to address any deficiencies you perceive. You may well add your name to the list of happy E4.5 owners.
If you’re after booty-shaking beats, all is not lost, as the E4.5 will likely pair with the subwoofer of your choice, one way or another. While it’s probably not the best bet for EDM, if you’re not making music at the moment, and you can spring for the E4.5 to get your studio in gear tomorrow, do it and get grooving. The PreSonus Eris E4.5 Studio Monitors won’t likely make the bottom of anyone’s active monitor list either.