What We Like
- A simple, attractive design that is unassuming with great build quality.
- A huge amount of flexibility in terms of inputs, mixing, and control.
- Capable of outputting more volume than you’d expect from the size.
What We Don’t Like
- Bass is a little underwhelming at times.
Founded in 1995 by Jim Odom in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, PreSonus has carved out a niche based on a deep understanding of the need for high quality, affordable audio equipment that comes from their background as working musicians.
The outward design of the E5s is, it would be fair to say, largely very conventional. There isn’t a whole lot going on besides the standard, two way, front ported cabinet which houses the two drivers. A suitably attractive vinyl finish is employed to provide an added feel of quality to the MDF of these internally braced cabinets.
Other than a very subtle PreSonus logo (which lights up slightly when the speakers are switched on), there is not a huge amount of detailing of note. But, in the case of the E5s, this is not a bad thing. Whereas some studio monitors in this price range tend to disguise a somewhat bland base design with flashy extras, the essential build quality and aesthetic of the E5s already provides a strong basis from which to continue. All in all, it’s a practical, functional, and visually pleasing design which ticks all of the relevant boxes by looking good without drawing unnecessary attention to itself.
In terms of inputs, you have a decent variety of options on offer. You have a choice of balanced XLR, a balanced ¼ inch TRS jack, or an unbalanced RCA phono socket. The back panel on which all of these inputs are situated is actually a really nice design. It has the appearance of something that is aimed more at professionals than consumers–a no nonsense array of inputs and dials without a whole lot of labelling– but it is simple enough to come to terms with.
A red switch allows you to choose the appropriate mains voltage for your set up. You also have the standard gain control with a slight variation. Whereas most studio monitors allow you to select the output gain (or ‘volume’, if you prefer), the E5s allow you to control the input gain. This is a subtle difference, but means that you have a greater level of control over the source audio as it comes into the speakers rather than just boosting or reducing the signal as it goes out. In theory, this should help you to be able to attenuate any noise that may be on the line, and ultimately reduce interference.
Overall, we found that the listening experience offered by the E5s was good, although there were times during which the mids and highs felt a little overpowering relative to the bass. This is a fairly standard complaint to have about stucdio monitors, particularly those on the smaller side, as there is a real, physical cap on the potential presence of the bass response as a result of a small resonating space in the cabinet and a small driver.
There is a good amount of control available with which you can alter the mix, and we found that the best performance and blend of the various dynamic ranges became apparent as we boosted the total gain and then mixed from there. While the bass response is never going to trick you into thinking you’re listening to much larger speakers, the overall volume which these speakers are capable of outputting may be enough to take your mind off the occasional lack of punch in the low range. It is by no means a deal breaker.
The E5s are an extremely solid offering, and a solid reflection of PreSonus’s combined space in the market as producers of consumer audio equipment that comes from a place of professional use. A strong choice for hobbyist and pro alike.