The ETX line from Electro-Voice is a premium series with an excellent range of speakers and subwoofers. In this review, I explore what the biggest subwoofer in the series, the powerful 18-inch ETX-18SP, has to offer.
The Electro-Voice ETX-18SP deserves its spot at the top of the Electro-Voice ecosystem thanks to a wonderful combination of punchy sound, premium build quality, and extensive features that make it highly adaptable.
As a DJ who plays electronic music, I pay extra attention to PA subwoofers. I’ve had the chance to test various options, and the ETX-18SP is among my favorites. Below, I give a complete rundown of why it earned that spot on my favorites list.
The Electro-Voice ETX-18SP is a true monster when it comes to sound. It packs a serious punch that will get the floor rumbling with deliciously rich and dynamic bass. I’ve tested the 15-inch ETX, and while it was excellent, the 18SP is a true step up with a noticeable difference in punch.
The bass is warm and voluminous without distortion or muddiness that can often plague lower-quality 18-inch PA subwoofers. The stats back this up with impressive reach down to 33Hz at -3dB and 28Hz at -10dB.
The 18-inch woofer delivers powerful bass.
After testing the unit in my studio, I was ready to move on and see how it performed in a larger setting. I opted to bring a pair of these and a set of matching ETX-15P loudspeakers to a local hall that I can access for testing systems.
After some quick setup, I got these blasting, and the system had no trouble filling the space with rich, lush sound. I can comfortably foresee this setup handling 100 people with ease.
I would potentially even consider it a little overkill for some events like weddings. But I’m always happy to have excess headroom up my sleeve. It’s nice to dial these back while having the reach and depth for when you want to rock a party.
The final test came in an outdoor setting. Once again, I experienced superb sound with good coverage. For larger events, I’d certainly opt for a couple more subs and tops to cover the space entirely, but for smaller gatherings, there is more than enough volume and punch to satisfy a crowd.
I’m a DJ, so I couldn’t test this subwoofer in a band setup, but I have friends who have used these as part of their performances. The reports were all glowing, so I have no doubt this subwoofer will be a fine addition to any live band setup.
I’ll admit I’m a bass head. As a result, I’m rather particular about what I want from a PA subwoofer, and the Electro-Voice ETX-18SP satisfies every condition I expect. It’s loud and offers ample punch, and the bass is rich and dynamic with excellent tonality.
The Electro-Voice ETX range also features superb build quality across all options in the lineup. The ETX-18SP sports a tough 13-ply 18mm Birch plywood cabinet that is seriously tough and more than up to the rigors of frequent use and transportation.
The EV coat adds additional durability, and it is relatively scratch-resistant. As with any wooden cabinet, there is the potential for wear and tear, so you’ll still need to handle it carefully, but this box holds up exceptionally well.
Ultra tough PA subwoofer.
The front of the unit features the 18 AWG steel grille that is ultra-tough and won’t ding easily. EV has a superb reputation for quality, and the ETX line is a shining example of why.
Beyond the cabinet and grille, the ETX-18SP also features premium-quality components. The DSP at the rear of the unit is superb. It’s bright, clear, and offers extensive options. The volume/navigation knob is also excellent, as are the connection points.
Handle integration makes transportation a bit easier, but the star of the show is the excellent caster wheels. These wheels offer excellent glide, and considering how heavy the unit is, they are a must-have inclusion.
From head to toe, the ETX-18SP exhibits everything I expect from a high-quality bit of kit. Top marks in this category.
The Electro-Voice ETX-18SP features the same power configuration as its smaller sibling, with 1800 W up its sleeve to power the 18-inch woofer. The woofer is a DVX3180A, a premium quality cone that can deliver some mighty performance.
I’ve already touched on the frequency response of 33Hz-150Hz at -3dB and an impressive reach of 38Hz-180Hz at -10dB. This is noticeably lower than its smaller sibling, and it shows. All this combines to deliver a Max SPL of 135dB, ample headroom for most gig types.
Ample power and good headroom.
You’ll also have access to an adjustable low pass crossover frequency point that includes 80Hz, 100Hz, 120Hz, and 150Hz. Having access to multiple options ensures easy integration with a range of tops.
The power and output are impressive, but depending on the size of your gig, I would still recommend you have a minimum of two to ensure maximum coverage. Remember that a large crowd can rapidly overcome a solo sub, so plan accordingly. It is always better to have more headroom than not enough.
The Electro-Voice ETX-18SP also offers an excellent selection of tuning options to help get the most out of the unit. The DSP control unit on the unit’s rear features a bright and clear LCD screen.
Diving into the menus opens up the flexibility to choose a MODE preset that includes Music, Live, and Club. I found that the Live setting was a good choice for outdoor applications, even if you are playing pre-recorded music. I expected the Club mode to introduce too much boominess, but the bass retained good clarity.
Easy to use DSP controls.
The LOCATION menu opens up the option to set the unit to Cardioid mode. It is an excellent addition if you use multiple subwoofers and want one to help mitigate stage output. At a 35dB reduction, it’s beneficial for loud gigs.
Within this DSP, you can set the crossover in the LOW PASS section. You’ll also have access to further controls for the screen brightness and front LED light. Overall, it’s a comprehensive set of features that highlight that this is a modern unit ready to tackle any challenge.
The ETX series is an attractive offering with crisp industrial design in a sleek and modern package. The front grille offers a unique pattern, and the angular lines of the unit give it some additional character.
The EV logo is minimal, and the cabinet’s finish is superb. A professional-looking subwoofer that will comfortably blend into any environment.
Excellent combination of technical and aesthetic design.
Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the ETX-18SP also has a range of functional design inclusions worth highlighting. The first is the removable casters; these are easy to attach and make the unit more manageable to set up.
There is also a pole mount spot for easy integration with tops and dedicated indents that will allow you to stack multiple units without sliding about. Each side features a carry handle. However, it is worth noting that the ETX-18SP doesn’t feature any fly points for flight installation.
The Electro-Voice ETX-18SP is a big 18-inch subwoofer. The unit takes up a lot of space, so if you have a small vehicle, you might have trouble loading up all your gear.
The ETX-18SP is a large and heavy PA subwoofer.
Likewise, the unit is cumbersome due to the wooden cabinet. At 114.2 lbs. (51.8 kg), this is not a unit I would recommend you move about yourself. Trust me, after years of carting gig gear around, your back takes a beating, so get someone to give you a hand.
The EV ETX-18SP features a basic set of connection options. You’ll have access to two inputs supporting XLR and TRS via a combo jack. There are also two XLR output options for multi-unit setups.
Combo jacks support TRS and XLR.
The connection points match the high quality of the rest of the unit, so all you’ll need is some high-quality cables, and you’ll be ready to rock any venue.
Electro-Voice offers an extensive lineup of products, from entry-level choices to pro-installation options. The ETX line sits at the top of its portable powered loudspeaker lineup, and with that comes a rather hefty price tag.
I’ll be the first to admit that when you are starting, it can be daunting when you start adding up the cost of all the gear you want to buy. But while you can get away with cheaper options, the ETX series is a worthwhile investment if you have the available cash.
While there is nothing wrong with starting with budget gear and slowly working your way up to better equipment, it is a process that, in the long run, tends to end up costing you more. Looking beyond pure cost, the ETX-18SP does balance performance and price well. This premium quality subwoofer is worthy of the price tag it sports.
Diving into the reviews for the ETX-18SP showcases how much people love this powerful PA subwoofer. From people setting up an at-home DJ setup to church installations, everyone is happy with the sound and build quality.
Inside Vs. Outside
In outdoor spaces, the sound produced by loudspeakers and PA subwoofers behaves differently than inside areas.
In outdoor environments, there are no walls or ceilings to contain the sound waves, resulting in less reflection and absorption. As a result, sound tends to disperse more easily, decreasing overall loudness and clarity.
Sound behaves differently at an outdoor event.
The lack of boundaries in outdoor spaces also allows sound waves to travel further distances before dissipating. Also, outdoor elements such as wind and other background noises can interfere with the sound, further impacting its quality and intelligibility.
If you intend to play outdoor gigs often, you’ll want to invest in multiple speakers and subwoofers to ensure you can compensate for the drop in loudness, clarity, and quality.
I’ll admit that the high price tag of the ETX-18SP might be too much for some people. Below, I look at some alternative options that are more affordable while still offering decent quality.
EV EKX-18SP Review
Stepping down in the Electro-Voice ecosystem is the EKX series. This 18-inch subwoofer is much lighter than the ETX and noticeably cheaper, but has some drawbacks.
- Excellent reach in the low-end with ample tonality.
- Rugged construction and flexible tuning options.
- The limiter is aggressive, so you can’t push this one as loud as the ETX-18SP.
JBL PRX918XLF Review
The JBL PRX918XLF is another impressive PA subwoofer with a lower price than the ETX-18SP. It also offers a clean and modern design.
- Good clarity and punch with a high Max SPL.
- Remote operation via the JBL Pro Connect app.
- The bass response is not as refined as what the ETX-18SP offers.
Yamaha DXS15XLF Review
Legendary audio gear manufacturer Yamaha also offers an impressive lineup of loudspeakers and subwoofers. The DXS15XLF is a fantastic choice if you don’t need an 18-inch subwoofer.
- 15-inch woofer delivers impressive bass performance.
- Excellent onboard controls and solid build quality.
- There is not as much rumble compared to an 18-inch subwoofer.
Should You Buy?
The Electro-Voice EXT-18SP sits at the pinnacle of Electro-Voice’s offerings. After having the chance to test it out in multiple different scenarios, there is no doubt it is among the best choices available today.
Superb bass extension with plenty of tonality and rumble to put a smile on the face of even the most discerning bass lovers (myself included!). If you want premium quality and are willing to invest in top-of-the-line gear, the ETX-18SP is an excellent choice.