You are probably unaware of Emotiva Pro, a new name in the pro audio market. Those behind the Franklin, TN-based firm have spent many years in the consumer audiophile market (as simply Emotiva Audio Corporation) making a full line of speakers, amplifiers and hi-fi equipment.
Emotiva also uses a direct purchase/delivery marketing and sales style; instead of products being shipped to local stores or dealers, the customer purchases directly from its website with free shipping and a 30-day return policy. Continuing their model of eliminating middle men and keeping the prices lower for the customer, Emotiva has jumped into the professional market with its new airmotiv Professional Powered Studio Monitor series, with 4-, 5- and 6-inch woofer versions. Here, I review the airmotiv 5, designed for small- to medium-sized control rooms but also useful anywhere a powered midsize speaker fits the bill.
It’s all about the drivers: airmotiv 5 uses an extended-range folded ribbon tweeter and a trademarked 5.25-inch Curv polypropylene composite woofer. Powering each of those drivers is a 50W amp, sourced from a multi-pole, phase-compensated active crossover, centered at 2,700 Hz. Controls include basic high- and low-frequency EQ tilt controls, with high EQ cornered at 4 kHz and the low EQ tilt point at 150 Hz, with steps in +/-2 dB increments.
The amps utilize toroidal transformers, with large electrolytic power capacitors and stacked metal film resistors. On the input side, the airmotiv 5 includes an unbalanced RCA connector and a balanced XLR. The cabinet is ported utilizing a single, rear-facing linear taper design. Also included on the bottom of the speaker are mounting points for an optional bracket for added mounting options. The airmotiv 5 weighs in at a portly 26.5 lbs.
During my airmotiv 5 evaluation period, I was able to monitor via several musical styles in mixdown while A/B-ing with other speakers. Most notably, I should say that the airmotiv 5 really delivers an impressively powerful sound for its size; it’s more than plenty if you’re mixing in a small- to mid-sized room (for me, tracking requires bigger speakers). I found the airmotiv 5’s low-end extension to be impressive and well dampened for a 5.25-inch woofer. It often made me forget which speaker I was listening to: the 5.25-inch airmotiv or my normal 8-inch woofer. The crossover sounded really smooth to my ears.
Sometimes it takes a while to find where that crossover point might show up — for instance, as a small bump in frequency response or phase shift — but I didn’t notice any anomalies. The airmotiv 5’s ribbon tweeter was different for me, as I’m a daily driver of metal dome tweeters. The ribbon tweet is a little softer-sounding overall, with good extended top end and stereo imaging.
In comparison with the my daily mix monitor — the Mackie HR 824 — and with all EQ controls set flat, the airmotiv 5 provided more low end than the HR 824. This is most likely due to the airmotiv 5 being rear-ported and about 18 inches from the wall. I adjusted the low EQ on the airmotiv 5s to -2 dB and -4 dB (with the best result being -2 dB), but it still left a low-end bump at around 250 Hz, as the EQ’s low-end tilt frequency is a little low at 150 Hz. I really liked the all important midrange response of these monitors with its slight emphasis in the 1-2 kHz range. It helped to get the vocals sitting right in the mix, and it kept me from overcompensating for the Mackie’s crossover bump, around 2.5 kHz. Imaging was also good. I didn’t quite feel it matched the HR 824, but I haven’t found any speaker that can for less than “3k a pair.”
Emotiva Pro’s airmotiv 5 is an exceptional first effort for the professional studio monitor arena. The quality and sound of these speakers at its price point is nothing short of a steal; the volume they produce and even frequency response at different volumes was impressive for a monitor in this price range. I quickly became comfortable with the airmotiv 5, which allowed me to make really great mixes fast. And really, what more can you ask from a nearfield monitor?
Price: $599 (per pair, direct)
Contact: Emotiva Professional | emotivapro.com
Randy Poole is a Nashville-based engineer/mixer and regular contributor to Pro Audio Review.