The compact active PA speaker market has seen some significant advancements in power and sound quality in recent years. Nearly all the major manufacturers now offer units with considerable performance, delivering a detailed and crisp picture. This is the first time EM Acoustics have tried to compete in this area, and their new ESP Series looks to bring a couple of surprise elements.
EM Acoustics ESP Series
EM Acoustics have made serious headway into the live, install and touring sound reinforcement markets, with successes such as an install at The Royal Albert Hall. This is their first foray into compact active PA boxes. Given their strong reputation in larger scale solutions, we assume these can deliver prove some impressive results. But will the name be enough to hold up in this very competitive market?
There are two elements to the ESP range which stand out for me. Firstly, we can’t ignore the 1200W of power, which to the best of my knowledge makes these some of the most powerful compact units available – especially for an 8″. Secondly, these units use a coaxial driver arrangement which is very unusual to see in any PA system today. The advantages of this driver arrangement for me are a very compact enclosure footprint and that they can claim these are ‘true point source’.
Interestingly, EM Acoustics have avoided heavy use of any DSP throughout their other designs. They even claim in a statement that their systems “obviate the need for expensive and potentially unreliable DSP processing”. However, with the ESP Series, they are using DSP technology for the management of crossover, time alignment, and drive unit protection. The DSP also includes application-specific presets for stand-alone use, use with a subwoofer, stage monitoring, or front fill applications. This makes perfect sense, of course, but perhaps marks a new addition to EM Acoustics’ technology.
There are only three models currently in the ESP range. There are two top-boxes, an 8″ and a 12″, and a 15″ subwoofer. These should fit alongside other reputable brands well, but it might be nice to see a 15″ top box and an 18″ subwoofer at some point in the future. The current subwoofer only drops as low as 45Hz, which although is plenty for most applications, leaves scope for more bandwidth.
I haven’t been able to find any prices for this new ESP Series, which I think may highlight an issue for their potential success. EM Acoustics carry an image of ‘a specialist British speaker brand’, retailing through specialist distributors. Besides the obvious concern these might be expensive, these units meet such a variety of applications they ought to be available through all the usual channels.
For more information, visit the ESP Series webpage.