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event opal review

TL;DR:

Event Opal Review. Australian born Event Electronics present their pro audio flagship nearfield Opal monitor speakers. These high end active monitor speakers are powerful and offer both brilliant sound quality and performance for music production applications.


Review Preface:

In 2009, deep in the heart of Australia, ‘Event Electronics’ released their flagship monitor speaker design formally known as the ‘Opal’. Now having been around for a good five years, the Opal monitor speaker still continues to hold a ground of its own, where scores of industry professionals choose to rely upon the day-to-day performance of this powerhouse legend.


Large in size and epic in resolution, the Opals stand tall with a formidable presence and, having summoned a pair to our bunker for analysis, we can tell you now that these monitors are clearly akin to their black mineral origin… Simply stunning.


Unboxing and Contents:

Right from the start Event have put together an excellent package. Arriving in two large 25kg boxes (21.2kg without packaging) you will need to get some help from friend to hoike out the beast nuggets inside to make sure that you don’t pull a muscle or two (mainly in your back). Once the outer has been removed you will come to your single Opal, which is physically strapped to an high density polystyrene top and bottom to protect them during transit along with a region specific kettle lead and a nice square rubber Opal stand which help to eliminate acoustic transference between the driver housing and the worktop. Finally after removing the straps and the rest of the packaging you will notice that your Opal has been lovingly wrapped in an Event branded high-quality velvet bag. This velvet bag is actually a very useful addition.


If you have ever had monitor speakers, or any speaker for that matter, you will know that they have a habit of picking up airborne dust overnight and depositing them on the drivers and cabinet. It makes for a good routine if, at the end of the day, you just cover up the monitors with this bag as it helps to not only guard against dust, but other potential rock n’ roll mishaps following a hard day in the studio. As Event have provided a bag that looks great and feels very hard wearing it would be hard to see why you wouldn’t want to do this. The only slight issue I can notice with this practice is that Event has chosen to site their Logo facing up to the drawstring. Realistically your monitors will be standing atop of your desk and you won’t want to have a bag making them look untidy at the bottom so if Event simply switched the orientation of their logo the user could place the bag on the top and have the logo face the same way.


Features, and Build Quality:

Having said how heavy the Opals are it is important to understand why these monitors are no featherweights. The first reason is that Event has used pressure injected aluminium casting to build the shell, or driver housing, of the Opals. It is our estimation that the use of this method has been employed to create a highly predictable environment that still requires a great deal of skill to produce, but eliminates variables and produces a robust [potentially] ‘cost effective’ cabinet for mass production. By no means is this a mark against their name, in fact the cabinet is excellent in execution for both style and form.


If we now turn our attention to the rear of the cabinet you will undoubtedly notice the blue and black passive heat sink, which dissipates heat from the discreet (100watt max) high-frequency driver amplifier and the (720watt max) discreet low frequency driver amplifier. During use they are doing an excellent job and, when in use, they seem to rarely reach an uncomfortable temperature for the inner circuitry because you can have the Opals on, and operational, for many, many hours (we have only tested for twelve hours) without needing to power down or being forced to by the monitors internal protection systems. At the beginning of the day I would actually recommend turning the Opals on for a minimum of half an hour before use to warm up. However, sonically this is something that we shall touch upon later in the ‘Performance and Sound Quality’ section.


On the rear of the unit, below the heat sink there is a physical on and off button. Although rare with other brands, it would have been nice if this small component could have been seated on the front of the driver housing as it can be difficult to reach around and turn it on due its positioning underneath a substantial heat sink which runs ¾ of the length of the back panel. Near to this switch is the monitor input. In terms of connectivity, Event have allowed the Opals to be flexible with the inclusion of an high quality Neutrik branded combination Male XLR/TRS Jack socket and this is a nice touch.


If we now turn our attention to open format front, we first notice a backlit ‘Event’ logo, alongside a combined faceplate which features a separate 1inch diameter (100w) ferrite core driven anodised aluminium alloy tweeter with a large 7.1inch diameter (720w) neodymium core driver that features a sub-carbon fibre structure and glass fibre coated cone. Both of these drivers paired together, with a crossover at 1600Hz, bring a very respectable frequency response of 35Hz to 22kHz. Coming back to the tweeter, Event has protected this fragile device against the element with a ridged 0.5mm black mesh. With this small inclusion accidental damage is limited, likewise the Opals can be used in more testing, potentially unstable, environments. Unfortunately there is no factory protection for the low frequency driver apart from the included protection case, yet still I cannot see this being a massive issue.


Studio EQ and Polishing the Opals:

As we mentioned previously, along with the shipment of two Opals we received a separate package known as the ‘Studio EQ’ calibration system. This is a welcome addition that empowers a user to understand their critical listening environment by measuring pink noise frequency responses and equalising out the most common room issue; excessive bass reverberation. This process requires you to take off the elongated rubber stopper on the lower faceplate of both opals and set up the software accordingly. Removal of this aesthetic tidy reveals a series of interesting dials labelled; ‘Level’, ‘Space’, ‘Q’, ‘Freq’, ‘Depth’, ‘LF Shelf’, ‘HF Shelf’, and ‘Dim’. Before proceeding it is important to highlight that the ‘Dim’ dial controls the brightness of the orange backlit ‘Event’ badge on the front and does, in no way, effect the performance of the monitors. I personally have never seen this feature incorporated into a monitor speakers control panel, however it is useful depending on the environment that you are working in. Of course personal taste comes into the equation and the user can select to have the logo in six positions, including off.


Inside the ‘Studio EQ’ box it contains your software serial number card required to download the software from the Event website, an shotgun style dynamic microphone with a five meter chord, an nice short pile velvet bag, and finally an USB 1.0 and 2.0 compliant pen style input/output sound card. Having registered your email address and downloaded the software, all you need to do is plug the USB sound card into a spare USB port, plug the microphone into the input and within your computers audio settings increase the gain, and then use a spare 3.5mm stereo jack to ¼” TRS to plug from the soundcard and into each left and right speaker appropriately. Following this the final stage is to open the software. After progressing the first steps and reset all the dials to their neutral position, you will come to the final measuring stage. At this point please make sure that in your computer audio device settings that you have increased the input/output volume for the USB sound card, place the microphone at exactly the height and centre level of the listening point, and then you can hit ‘Measure’. You can measure both speakers together or each separately, we recommend that you measure separately so that you can have an accurate measurement; you never know where the sound is bouncing from. Measuring takes about thirty seconds and at the end it will reveal a frequency response graph. Unfortunately the software is unable to help you select which dials need to be modified, instead you have an ‘how to use the software’ instruction booklet. After some head wrangling, and a few re-tests, you would have appropriately equalised the bass response issue within your room. This process is not perfect, but it does noticeably help and, once set up, you will never have to change these settings unless you move rooms. I think that the biggest issue with adjusting these settings is that the buttons are not continuous meaning that you are limited to the predefined parameters. This is not such a bad thing because it means that both monitors are not sounding completely different, although it would have been easier if there were more predetermined parameters to control.


Sound Quality:

Definitely the Opals are an incredible, if not legendary, sounding pair of monitors that are worthy of a place in the finest mastering, or record production, facility. Their frequency response is best described as flat, charming, and transparent, which leads to an awesome replication of sound that does not flatter the sound any more than how it was initially recorded. Certainly I would go as far as to say that the Opals are an excellent platform to work with. This comment is mainly substantiated upon their ability to produce a mix or master that transfers well between system, but this comment is also drawn on their deep and open soundstage. Continuing on this point further, the first time I paired the Opals with my Lynx Hilo D2A and a lossless Alicia Keys live album, I was absolutely taken a back with an incredible airiness and strong sense of depth that led to, perhaps, the most realistic live performance. Closing my eyes after a mere thirty seconds with the Opals I could almost taste, feel, and smell that I was on the very same stage as the artist was. The sheer resolution… Just unbelievable, incredible.


Now let us turn our attention to a deconstructed descriptive of each frequency band performance. First of all, the Opals exhibit absolutely no low-end or high-end distortion and nor do they appear to be trying hard at the top end of 20kHz. Their overall sonic characteristics feel effortless and precise. In the low end there is a great deal of articulation and punch that is often over pronounced with some other monitors, not with the Opals, their method of attack is possibly perfect. The bass is certainly there and it goes down low, very low, which, on the whole, progresses into the low mid-rage with a velvety creaminess. If anything I would say that the true mids, going slightly into the upper mids, are just a touch relaxed which makes a nice rich and balanced tone to work with without appearing boxy. Moving up into the upper mids they feel un compromised and flattering with a nice polished edge to allow for universal definition across complex instrumentation. As you reach the trebles you are greeted with the same creamy like quality as exhibited with the bass frequency transmission. Hi-hats and cymbals come across with a sheen that isn’t overly sharp or piercing, it feels just right. On the whole the top is not too over the top and certainly, for extended periods of critical listening, will not lead to premature ear fatigue. I feel that the treble is balanced and luscious with a great deal of depth and precision.


Conclusion:

The Opals are a resounding success for Event and I cannot think of a better monitor speaker for the price. In terms of build quality, and package contents, they are right up there, and likewise their sonic performance is outstanding... Mind-blowing. I have no concerns over the Opals competence, but I would have liked to have seen more settings on the front EQ panel and a relocated physical on/off switch, those two things would have got the cat the cream. The Pro Audio Web Blog awards the Event Opal monitor speakers with a four and a half stars, and finally our Outstanding badge.


Edd Harris

Event Opal Monitor Speaker Review

Edd Harris - 26th March 2014

US RRP: $2998.00 | UK RRP: £2095.00

Editors Rating:

Four and a Half Star Award
Event Electronics Opal
4.5/5 stars
Event Opal Review. Australian born Event Electronics present their pro audio flagship nearfield Opal monitor speakers. These high end active monitor speakers are powerful and offer both brilliant sound quality and performance for music production applications.