It used to be that the idea of desktop monitors conjured up images of small consumer grade multimedia speakers plugged into your computer to play back RealAudio, MP3s or CDs; by brands like Logitech or Sony, which were usually found for under a hundred dollars. With the proliferation of home studios, desktop monitoring has come of age. Unlike the multimedia monitors of yesteryear, designed to boost and colour the frequency response to flatter the audio played through them, modern desktop studio monitors are designed to reproduce sound as flat as possible with a consistent response across the spectrum.
Conventional wisdom has traditionally been that larger form near-field monitors are necessary for “real” mixing, and smaller tabletop models are useful mainly as an alternate playback reference. EVE Audio aims to set a new bar for desktop monitoring with their powered SC203 speakers. I’ve used many small form desktop speakers over the years, but these are the first desktop speakers I’ve heard, with this form factor, that have a broad enough frequency spectrum and high enough fidelity suitable for mixing fully on their own.
The main problem with mixing on small form monitors is usually the bass response. The SC203 goes down to 62Hz, which on its own, is relatively unremarkable. What allows the low end to shine on this model is the passive radiator technology on the back of the chassis, instead of a bass port. Passive radiators are also what EVE Audio uses on their subwoofer.
Passive Radiator Technology
This technology separates the passive woofer from the active driver, which does most of the work. Therefore, the internal air pressure generated by the active driver is used to move the passive radiator to reproduce lower frequencies than standard speakers with similar dimensions.
By eliminating the need to use a standard bass reflex tube, and replacing it with a passive suspended woofer, all audible noise coming from air turbulence within the tubes disappears. Multiple resonances often occurring as a side effect of a two-sided pipe opening are also eliminated.
The passive radiators suspension design also helps reduce excursions in the subsonic range. Although this is largely inaudible, the result is reduced intermodulation distortion in the frequencies we can hear. All this allows for a lower cutoff frequency in a small cabinet - thus we get clean and focused low end not usually found in a monitor with a 3-inch woofer!
As in most monitors of this size, the woofer acts as a full range speaker. In the SC203, the cutoff frequency is 4,800 Hz. Eve Audio’s 1” µAMT (micro air motion transformer) tweeter takes over at this point. The tweeter used in this model incorporates a folded membrane, making the surface size less than half the size of the RS1 tweeter EVE Audio uses in their larger models. A common problem in desktop speakers is the dispersion field can be very narrow, which makes the sweep spot small enough so that moving your head a few inches left or right results in a dramatic change in the sound. The SC203 has a built-in waveguide that optimizes the dispersion. The sweep spot is, therefore, broader and more forgiving of the vagaries of desktop placement.
DSP and More
As with all other EVE Audio models, the built-in DSP is easy and flexible to use. Controlled from their front panel multi-function push knob, low, high, and shelf filters are adjustable in .5db increments to optimize the response in relation to walls, ceilings, control surfaces, and other objects in your environment.
The SC203 setup is configured as a 2-way master-slave system with four power amplifiers. Each woofer and tweeter gets its own dedicated 30W PWM amplifier with separate filter section for precise control. Connections are via RCA cables, digital optical, or USB. The last is particularly noteworthy. When connected directly to your computer, it is recognized as a USB output device, therefore eliminating the D/A conversion stage.
There is an optional connection for a subwoofer (either the EVE Audio TS107 or TS108). When configured with a subwoofer, a back panel dip switch is used to adjust the internal crossover to have the pair work either from 80Hz upwards or as full range units.
The SC203 speakers also ship with a pair of V-notch shaped orange rubberized pads, used to decouple the speakers from their base, and angle them upwards at either 0 or 15-degree angles, without these FlexiPads the speakers are on 7.5-degree angles. An optional mounting adaptor is available for mounting on any microphone or speaker stands with a 3/8” thread. They are also wall mountable, using EVE Audio’s wall mount adaptors.
A fringe benefit with speakers this size is their portability. They are ideal for when you need to work away from home. EVE Audio has an optional soft case for just this purpose.
What We Think Of The Eve Audio SC 2013 Desktop Monitors
I’ve had a pair of SC203 speakers here for a few weeks now. Checking mixes done on my larger SC 207 speakers, I find they translate accurately and play back with a consistent, and pleasing smoothness. Listening to YouTube and other multimedia audio also translates very nicely. I would have no hesitation using these as my primary monitors if it were necessary to work in a smaller environment. The size of my current studio is a perfect fit for my larger SC 207 monitors. I would also not hesitate to buy these for mobile work, either recording or mixing. Big monitors are big monitors. But if size is a factor, you would be hard pressed to find as friendly and easy to use a system with this degree of fidelity and connectivity.