ACTIVE FIELD MONITOR EPIC 5
FROM REPRODUCER AUDIO LABS
The unpacking of test equipment has for me, even after all the decades of monthly routine still something of Christmas or birthday surprise - in this test in particular, because in the suitcase in expectant carbon optics, after opening two very compact speakers with exceptional geometry and optics along with accessories, could just as well have been a microscope or a rare Sextant hidden. The high-quality, precision-engineered filigree exterior of the speakers excites me directly and also makes the listener's expectations soar. But before that, a few steps are needed to get the Epic 5 up and running. To do this, use directly from the case and carefully screw three metal spikes onto the bottom of the case so that the passive membrane arranged on the underside of the case is protected and at the same time gets the correct distance to the standing surface. To protect the footprint, you can put attached rubber feet over the spikes, which gives the speaker additional secure stand. But slowly and in turn, we are not that far yet ...
Behind the newly emerging reProducer Audio Labs is a certain Attila Czirjak, who may have run into some of the scene's connoisseurs as owner and developer of United Minorities, for example as the originator of the very compact Ginko full-range speakers with matching subwoofer, Seismo or other special developments in the professional audio field in the speaker, microphone or electronics discipline. The reason for establishing a second brand alongside United Minorities is a clear distinction between special developments and series production. The reProducer products are developed in Germany by Attila Czirjak, but completely made in China. Czirjak himself was in China for a long time to define strict quality control criteria to ensure a level of quality that could meet their own needs. All components, housings, amplifiers, switches, analogue adaption filters, the loudspeaker chassis and the passive diaphragm, yes, even the spikes are completely self-developed with the ambitious goal of having to make no compromises in a series product. Original quote Attila Czirjak: "The Epic 5 is probably the worst-margin near-field monitor in the world".
I have to rave a little at the beginning. The high-quality appearance of this speaker, its feel, the dynamic, extraordinary design, the high quality workmanship, all this makes the Epic 5 a real gem, even before you have heard it. Of course this carries a certain risk, because the expectations are correspondingly high. Whether these can be fulfilled, I would like to reveal yet. First let's look at the case and its exotic shape. No object designer has been commissioned here to design a particularly attractive geometry, but actually arises directly out of acoustic considerations. From the side of the case looks like it's just full throttle. Front and back plate tilt backwards. The side walls have a kink and the front plate tapers upwards, just like the entire housing. The basis for this design dates back to the 90s, because this design by Attila Czirjak was already realized in one of his special developments. The tilt of the front panel towards the rear is actually the sound time correction between high and low / midrange. Accordingly, there is a clear indication in the manual that the listening axis is not suspected where the front of the speaker seems to point. The tapering of the housing from bottom to top fulfills several tasks simultaneously. The kink in the side walls serves to stabilize the surface without inner, space-consuming struts and ensures a considerable lack of resonance. At the same time standing by the non-parallel structure standing waves are avoided. The trapezoidal shape of the speaker front, which is made of aluminum, partly serves to adapt the radiation resistance between the woofer and woofer. The 6 mm aluminum front is complemented at the back by a metal plate with the amplifier and switch electronics.
The intermediate housing is made of veneered HDF, which perfects the metal look of the brushed aluminum speaker. The front panel is bolted eight times to the rear and thus very stable or vibration-resistant mounted.
When developing the chassis, a 1-inch tweeter with an extremely light-weight camel and a 5.25-inch woofer, the main aim was to achieve a homogeneous time response, in simple terms, that both, through the
analogue turnout at 2 kHz with 24 dB per octave separate frequency ranges equally fast, moving, that is to say, having identical time behavior. As we have seen in the past, loudspeakers with a 'pleasurable' timing behavior were also consistent if these design criteria were met. Based on this consideration, all chassis were equipped with aluminum diaphragms, including the passive diaphragm. The woofer is actually almost a full-range speaker, which theoretically can transmit up to more than 10 kHz. The tweeter has a relatively large resonance chamber, so it works far down, from about 1.5 kHz up to about 40 kHz. With these features, the customization between both chassis was pretty easy to implement. Here again it should be mentioned that the chassis are not only complete in-house developments, but also specially adapted to the housing size. In loudspeaker development, we know three design models: closed housing, passive membrane and bass reflex. A closed housing would not have been able to meet the requirements of a standard studio listening volume with the size of the Epic 5. A bass reflex design was also out of the question, because the case is too small to accommodate a bass reflex tube of the required length and cross section, without the risk of flow and flutter noises. So the passive membrane remained the only conceivable variant. The Epic 5 down firing, timed 7-inch passive membrane needs a stable footprint as possible to work optimally. The passive membrane in the Epic 5 has been provided with a special coating that ensures an even distribution of mass so that the membrane does not tumble or is partially sound-permeable, meaning that medium and high frequencies can not be effectively filtered. A small trick is the firmly calculated distance between passive membrane and footprint, automatically determined correctly by the supplied metal spikes. High and mid / woofers are powered by two Class D power amps, each with 75 watts RMS power. Input signals can be balanced (+4 dBu) via XLR or unbalanced via RCA / Cinch (-10 dBV). The input sensitivity control is located on the front panel. The built-in, purely analogue flavor or adjustment filters have a +/- 5dB adjustment range in 1dB steps and work as a tilt filter above 2.5kHz and below 250Hz. Such a compact Epic 5 from the local audio jewelery store brings at least eight kilograms on the scales, but is still not too heavy as a travel set in a suitcase.
Now it's time to get down to business. I put the Epic 5 in my direction on my Verdade monitors, so that I could hear alternately sitting (house system) and standing (Epic 5) in direct comparison and the same base width. The first time I switched to the Epic 5, it was clear that this would be a lengthy, fun-filled session because the imaging accuracy was straightforward. Clear demarcated positions on the stereo stage with deep audibility and spaciousness. All details on the silver platter, no recognizable inherent color, so you can make immediate safe decisions. The low-frequency range is well lit, strikingly powerful and very linear up to 500 Hz, but reaches its limit at around 50 Hz. But with a bit of listening experience, you still know exactly what you're doing because of these characteristics. However, one wishes with such a strong appearance then a register underneath, what the manufacturer already works. I can give you a few more details. That sounds almost like a complaint, but it is not meant that way. It is astounding for such a compact case, how clean and well demarcated the depth range is represented in all positions and how homogenously the entire hearing spectrum is reproduced. No resonant effects, no annoyance in the middle and a very clean sloping height picture that sounds very natural and relaxed. You somehow feel like the tweeter can go faster than it needs to. Particularly impressive is the replacement of the stereo stage from the speaker positions. The music is free in the room and still lacks nothing in image precision. Similarly, the phantom center is record-breaking, sharp and narrow, just as any other position in the stereo image can be identified with equal accuracy. A truly exceptional listening experience at the time and frequency levels, equally accurate, neutral and transparent.
shape will still be compact and flat. In principle, this subwoofer is designed for a multiple arrangement, in order to be able to address room acoustics problems, for example. With the Epic 55, another product was introduced at this year's NAMM Show, which can be thought of as the double-sized Epic 5 with two 5-inch D'Appolito woofers. The delivery of this product should even be possible in the autumn of this year.
Attila Czirjak gave me a small preview of upcoming products of the reProducer series in a telephone interview. It is, as already indicated, already worked on a subwoofer, which will reach a register deeper than the Epic 5 and is already almost finished. It is expected that two 6.5-inch woofers will be used, also with passive membrane equipment. The transmission range will break just below the 30 Hz.
Since I know Attila Czirjak for a very long time and appreciate his work very much, I was of course positively biased in the listening test. Nevertheless, I think I can evaluate the Epic 5 from a neutral point of view. We are dealing here with a transparent listening tool in the best understood sense: neutral on the frequency plane with linear depths, discoloration-free mids and lofty heights, precise on the time plane, with fast transients and deep impulses, transparent spatiality and a stereo stage with clearly demarcated positions. The whole thing is packed in an exotic design with great feel and high-quality workmanship. The unit price of € 799 including value added tax is exceptionally competitive, considering that you are dealing with a series product that bears the characteristics of a special development. Incidentally, Audiologistik, headquartered in Brietlingen in northern Germany, is the exclusive distribution partner in this country, which, for example, also represents the products of Metric Halo. The developer has always set high quality standards for his work and the user can fully benefit from it. A great development achievement, which can expect further products from the reProducer series with pleasure.