There are all kinds of studio monitors – but when it comes to high-quality yet small options, the field narrows. John Pickford plugs in Eve’s bijou offerings…
Price £385 pair
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SC203 key features:
- Dimensions (WHD) 116x190x134mm
- Frequency response 62Hz–21kHz
- Bespoke 30w PWM amplifiers
- DSP engine
- Passive radiator
- Subwoofer output
- High- and low-frequency filters
Studio monitors come in a wide range of sizes. In professional studios, it’s common to find ‘main’ speakers with huge 12″ or 15″ bass drivers, used in conjunction with much smaller nearfield designs. In more recent times, the midfield design has proved popular, often as the ‘main’ speakers in smaller project studios.
The idea of desktop monitors is newer still and many offer mediocre sound quality at best. Eve’s diminutive SC203 has been designed to offer superior sound in locations where space is limited. With its 3″ woofer, the SC203 stands a little over 7″ tall, small enough to fit into a rucksack along with a laptop for a truly portable studio.
The SC203 is an active design, however, all the electronics are contained in one enclosure, making this a master/slave system. A pair of RCA (phono) connectors is provided for analogue input, along with an RCA output to connect a subwoofer (not supplied), while optical digital and USB inputs are also catered for.
Max input level can be set via a DIP switch on the rear. A front-panel control on the master monitor allows for volume and balance adjustment, along with high and low-frequency shelving filters to alter the system’s tonal balance, while a pair of funky orange FlexiPads is supplied to decouple the monitors from the desktop; these can be configured in several ways to optimise the projection angle.
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On first listen, it was immediately obvious these monitors have a seriously pro sound. No one would describe them as sounding small or tinny, as their size might suggest. Rather, they exhibit a full-bodied sound with a surprisingly revealing and detailed presentation.
Of course, you don’t get proper, grown-up bass as you would with a larger speaker; however, what is there is clean and in good proportion, if not capable of plumbing subterranean depths; that’s what the subwoofer output is for. Rather than utilising a reflex port, the SC203 employs a rear passive radiator to augment bass output, which reaches down to 62Hz.
These monitors excel in the mid and upper frequencies, which are clear, crisp and detailed. They were completely convincing when reproducing speech; Yamaha’s NS10Ms were far more coloured.
At the very top end, the SC203s were able to convey much of the air and space present in music, even though the tweeter doesn’t reach up as far as many ribbon designs commonly found in monitors these days. The treble is smooth, however, with none of the nasty spikes or ringing sometimes heard from budget dome tweeters – Eve’s reworking of its AMT tweeter has been most successful here.
While the SC203s won’t raise the roof volume-wise, the quoted maximum SPL (94dB @ 1m) is ample for the environments they’ve been designed for, the 30-watt amplifiers dedicated to each speaker delivering ample distortion-free sound.
It’s clear these compact monitors have benefitted from trickle-down technology developed for Eve’s larger monitoring systems. Used as a writing tool or on the move, the SC203s offer pro-quality sound in a compact, portable package. Perfect for tweaking mixes outside of the studio, these deliver high-quality sound far bigger – and louder – than their size suggests.
8010A £205 each
High-quality desktop monitors are a rarity; however, Genelec’s 8010A models are similarly sized and priced and boast XLR inputs. Our reviewer Huw Price found them to “provide a pro-quality reference at medium listening levels.”
iLoud Micro £279
These provide some serious wallop considering their size. Andy Jones said “We approached this review almost wanting to knock them because of that ‘smallest studio monitor’ claim, but we really can’t. They’re great, simple as!”