This high-end powered loudspeaker family delivers on both functionality and sound quality, writes Strother Bullins.
My favourite ‘workhorse’ portable PA line of the last few years would have to be the ZLX Series by Electro-Voice. At $349 street, the ZLX-12P powered two-way speaker is a true bargain that works incredibly well as a main, monitor or auxiliary speaker; especially handy is its two-channel built-in mixer and eighth-inch input for playback, making it ideal for singer-songwriter jobs.
The ETX is a marked step up from the ZLX in build, component and cabinetry materials, DSP functionality and more. Enclosures are relatively compact and made of 18mm, 13-ply birch plywood with eight mounting points, custom die-case aluminium pole cups, handles and hardware, all finished in EVCoat texturised paint. It borrows many traits from EV’s touring speakers and are built in the USA.
Features include a variety of proprietary EV technologies including FIR-Drive (Finite Impulse Response) filters and the Signal Synchronized Transducer (SST) waveguide design. A single-knob DSP control via a relatively large LCD screen provides EQ, limiter, input level controls/metering and master volume adjustments.
The ETX line offers 1.25in titanium compression HF drivers and power is provided via Class D amplification at 1,000W and 900W (continuous) for full-range and subwoofer enclosures, respectively. The entire ETX line is well matched maximum SPL-wise, with all specs falling between 134-136dB peak.
The ETX rig that Electro-Voice delivered for review included two ETX-10P full-range and one ETX-15SP subwoofer enclosures.
These solid cabinets are weighty; the ETX-10P is 44.8lbs and the handily castered ETX-15SP is 91.9lbs. A nice touch are EV’s canvas speaker bags for ETX, which slide over the top of each cabinet to keep them looking like new, complete with side pocket for storing XLR and IEC power cables, etc.
Full range enclosure I/O includes two XLR/TRS combo jacks and one XLR link output. This is one powerful, efficient, sonically sculpted portable PA rig with very useful DSP parameters. Build quality is top-notch and the cabinets are obviously serviceable, allowing years of pro-grade use and maintenance, if necessary.
Besides using the ETX-10P pair in a variety of simple ‘speaker on a stick’ applications and as some very powerful, great-sounding stage monitors, I employed the full three-piece ETX rig in an old local theatre for a classic R&B performance – three harmonising vocalists and rhythm section. Here, ETX’s well-conceived EQ presets were very useful in compensating for the venue’s lack of acoustic treatment (it was basically a large wooden box). After an hour of set-up and listening, the band members and I agreed that the ETX could be the most user-friendly, great-sounding PA we’d ever used together – and that’s covering a lot of products and locations. The ETX rig was especially impressive in vocal/midrange intelligibility – smooth with pinpoint-accurate details, all clean as a whistle.
ETX Series performance doesn’t come cheap, however. The smallest ETX, the ETX-10P, is $1,099 street, each; the ETX-15SP is $1,399. Naturally, a $3,500 portable PA isn’t for everyone. But if you’re a working musician, engineer or local/regional sound provider looking to make a value-holding investment in today’s most innovative portable PA system that can deliver professional results, the ETX should be a top consideration.