Russell Webb is bowled over by Electrovoice's brilliant, but not cheap, three-way speaker system
Along the way, a musician comes across many methods of hearing what s/he has been producing from her/his instrument. Namely: acoustically; through studio monitors; in the imagination; or through an on stage sound system. The on stage system can be merely the PA monitors that come hired in, or it can be something that the player has put together personally, focussing knowledge and money into what turns out to be the best system available under the circumstances.
Here we come to the purpose of this article — the EV 1503. A three way speaker system housed in one cabinet. A 15" bottom driver (hence the 15 of 1503), a strange looking 5" middle range driver and an EV horn for the top end. This is the 1503. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, in retrospect, not 3x15" drivers. Ah well.
I'd like to start now with a subjective, outrageous statement. In test the EV1503 was really jolly good. I'll go further — it is earthshattering. Brilliant.
It's made from weirdo wood (not a trade mark) or rather Road Wood (a trade mark), which the makers claim to be "selectively oriented hardwood strands". I'm not quite sure what that means but the woodwork was indeed very strong while being also very light. It is covered in black hairy stuff. Or even "abuse resistant black carpeting." If you fell into it during a gig, you'd probably get a nasty burn. Ho ho! It has solid carrying handles, solid rubber feet and an even more solid sound.
There's nothing better than turning up the top on your preamp and hearing top bollocking out of your speakers. The same thing goes for all the frequencies below. Ah, it's good when you have a speaker cabinet that tells you what you're doing. The EV 1503 does.
Now, the agents for EV told me that the unit was to be used mainly with keyboards, as an on stage monitor, with electronic percussion, and if you were really hard up, with bass. Being a bit of a bass player and a bit of a pompous ass, I thought I'd go backwards into this so plugged my bass in. That compact little thing was roasting my poor ears off, not to mention shaking hell out of the building as well. It's here that 200 watts mean very little in terms of power handling capacity, but a hell of a lot more in terms of sound reinforcement. And its claimed frequency response of 62-16000 Hz means it can handle a lot more than most basses would normally put out anyway. Slaps, twangs, thumps, bumps and grinds were all faithfully catered for and we haven't even started on guts. Still, as a reviewer lumbered with an unknown quantity like this, I was prepared to test hard for that very thing in as many ways I could. Guts. I've got to say it, it was GUTSY.
I'd tested it with my bass, now I tested it with a keyboard. Out came the Prophet 5. I selected a varying degree of bass sounds, organ sounds, lead sounds (read dog lead not lead pipe) and the results were very very powerful indeed. I felt that I could have done with a little bit of high frequency padding via a rotary pot but then again you could just as easily vary the signal from your amp or graphic anyway. The crossover frequencies are 600 Hz and 4000 Hz, which in effect means that the 15" driver works up to around 600Hz; a good region for a 15" speaker to be working. The middle driver works from 600 to 4000 Hz which helps the apparent poke that this little box has, and the horn doesn't really come into the picture until around 4000 Hz which is the really high mid, and also a very safe frequency to operate this horn from. Since top frequencies add up to about six percent of the total sound produced in a three way system and the horn is rated at about nine Watts, then it is well protected from any ghastly things blowing it to bits.
Next came the electronic percussion, a Roland Drumatix. Not really that much to say about that other than great. Loads of bass drum, snare, hi hat and toms really slapping you in the face. And that was at a low volume. Something inside me was just begging me to turn it up, so I did. I nearly blew my head off so I turned it back down again. This little box was a lot braver than I was as it turned out. I'm eternally grateful.
Naughtiness overtook me though for one last test on a full range speaker cabinet. I was in a rehearsal studio with an eight track recording studio built into it. I just had to put a mono mix of what I had engineered through this box — just to see/hear the result. I was fairly intimate with what was on tape and I don't mind telling you that as a studio monitor the 1503 would take some beating. Now I know that it wasn't designed for this purpose, but in that case neither were a lot of the things used in recording studios up and down the country. Once again the 1503 showed what was put into it in the best possible light. With a pair of these speakers in your studio you could get a true, full range representation of what was going on during the recording of any number of instruments.
Size wise the box takes up very little room indeed: 28.7 inches high; 13.8 inches deep; 24.4 inches wide. For a session player it's a very practical choice, since you can fit it and a few other things into the boot of a small car. It's also surprisingly light at 105lbs.
In fact you could say it's a dream come true. A little, strong powerful box that sounds like a million dollars, yen, pounds, lire. In fact it doesn't matter where you come from, this speaker cabinet radiates. And sounds the same the world over... great. Now I'm either easy to please or EV make great speakers and cabinets, maybe both things are true. In any case, the bottom line is this: studios, PA companies, keyboard players, electronic drum players, even bass players (perhaps even the odd guitarist) buy one of these full range cabinets. It's a great deal no matter where you hear it from.
Electrovoice EV1503 - RRP: £953
Review by Russell Webb
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