While being something of a relative newcomer to the studio monitor market, ESI have been building up a reputation for building speakers for project and bedroom studios that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Active monitors are often a very pricy addition to a studio, and while they cut out the need to buy amplification, sometimes they can be more expensive than buying the speakers and amplifiers separately.
Of course, the big advantage of active speaker systems is the fact that the amplifiers, crossovers and speakers have all been matched to give the best response, as well as power to provide the best sound, and just as importantly, they are a lot harder to damage by over-driving them with a mismatched amplifier and speaker combination.
When it comes to buying speakers for studios, it is possible to spend eye-watering sums of money that could often buy a property to live in outright rather than just a pair of speakers, so it is important to be realistic about the budget and the amount of use the monitors are going to get. While it is important to try and get a decent set of monitors, often it makes more sense to buy a more modest set and buy time in a studio to mix down productions when the need arises.
The latest range of speakers from ESI is the AKTIV range, which comes in two flavours: the smaller AKTIV05 and the larger and only slightly more expensive AKTIV08 model. This new range of speakers are the successors to the popular nEar eXperience range of monitors that brought ESI to the attention of the studio world a few years ago. The new AKTIV range benefit from a new design from ESI’s tuning team in Germany, with higher quality silk dome tweeters and brand-new crossover circuitry designed from the ground up especially for the AKTIV range.
Both the AKTIV05 and AKTIV08 speakers are entry-level monitors that are designed to give a flat and neutral frequency response that is ideal for production and mixing duties at a very reasonable price.
The AKTIV08 monitors are two-way active speakers with a rear bass port and an eight-inch Kevlar curved woofer with a one-inch silk dome tweeter. Their output power is 90 watts, with 30 watts dedicated to the tweeter and the other 60 watts driving the woofer. The input connections have both XLR as well as jack options via a combo input socket and there is also a volume control knob.
Switches on the back allow for the bass roll-off to be set at 100hz, 80hz, 65hz and 50hz. A further switch that sits next to the bass roll-off gives control over the high frequency attenuation, with the option of using +1db, 0db, -1db and -2db.
The smaller and cheaper AKTIV05 monitors are also two-way active speakers, this time with a five-inch Kevlar curved cone woofer and a one-inch silk dome tweeter with a total output power of 60 watts, with 30 watts of power given to both the tweeter and the woofer. The only control on the back of the AKTIV05 is the volume control knob and both XLR and jack inputs are catered for via a dual-purpose combo connector.
When it comes to buying speakers, it’s all about different strokes for different folks. What might be right for some may not be right for you, so make sure to do the homework and have a good listen to a variety of monitors in the price range.
|Ease of use||8.0|
|Value for money||7.0|
The AKTIV08 monitors lack a decent bass punch and both the AKTIV05 and AKTIV08 monitors have hyped top-ends that can sound quite harsh.
Aktiv05 £109 each