Budget-minded loudspeakers that can handle a variety of situations are few and far between. Often you need to fork out a lot of cash to get the features you want. In this review, we check out the Electro-Voice ZLX-12BT. A speaker that is both affordable and packed with features.
Electro-Voice may not be as well known as some other brands. But, it is building a reputation by releasing well-made speakers. Let’s see what the ZLX-12BT has to offer musicians and DJs.
The ZLX12BT offers some interesting options to the performing musician or DJ. Let’s check out the details to see what it has to offer.
As with most speakers, the part you should always be most concerned about is the sound quality. In this regard, the EV ZLX12BT is a solid performer.
The mids and highs are the highlights here. Crisp and well-balanced. Vocals are precise and not muddy which is perfect for singers. Mid tones come across smooth without too much color.
Where it is lacking is the low-end. The bass response isn’t as tight as the mids and highs. There are tuning options available that can help this to some degree. It can still give ample coverage for a small-sized venue. If you are looking for a meatier lower end I’d suggest you look at adding a subwoofer to your setup.
Affordable powered speakers often suffer in the build quality department. That is not the case with the EV ZLX-12BT. Rigid and firm plastic gives the speaker a sense of durability. Carting around your gear week in week out can place a lot of strain on your speakers. There is always the possibility of accidental knocks. It’s good to see that these are up to the task.
The ZLX-12BT offers a tough cabinet with good component quality.
There is a nice marriage of quality components throughout. Electro-Voice has incorporated the strengths from its pro-touring range into these speakers.
Conveniently placed carry handles are also well integrated and solid. This makes the speaker easy to transport and set up at gigs.
The Electro-Voice ZLX12BT sports a 12-inch woofer with a 1.5-inch titanium compression driver for high frequencies. It sits at 1000 Watts and employs the now standard Class-D amplifier.
Frequency response varies depending on the preset you are using. But, for reference, the default “Music” mode comes in at 50 Hz – 20 kHz at -10dB. This covers the frequency range well for good clarity and a defined representation of the source material.
The ZLX-12BT is a portable and lightweight 12-inch speaker.
The portable nature of the ZLX12BT is also on display when you factor in the weight. Coming in at 15.6kg (34.3lbs) it is easy to carry and set up. I’m glad to see the days of lugging around massive and heavy speakers are behind us!
At 126dB max SPL, it is very loud and can handle small venues with ease. Medium-sized venues will need a subwoofer. But depending on loudness requirements you may still be able to get by without one. Selecting the right speaker for your needs is difficult but these should handle most situations.
The Electro-Voice ZLX 12BT offers a range of tuning options. Considering the affordable price point it is a nice inclusion.
You control the onboard DSP via a knob on the back panel. This knob also doubles as the volume control. The small LCD screen is big enough for you to not have to squint when making changes.
There are four modes you can cycle through to help adjust the speaker to the playing conditions.
The default mode is “Music”. This is ideal for general listening and playback. The “Live” setting is for musicians playing live. “Speech” is for spoken word applications. Finally, there is “Club” that amps up the low-end and is best suited to electronic dance music.
I found that the “Live” setting was the flattest. I won’t get into the studio monitors vs speakers debate in this review. If you are after flat sound loudspeakers are not your best choice. You should look at buying dedicated studio monitors.
Each of these presets worked as expected and was well-tuned from the outset. You can adjust individual parameters if you do want to tweak things further. You can even store up to five of your favorite settings.
Other options include the ability to select “Location” which includes “Pole” “Monitor” and “Bracket”. The main changes are to the low-end to reduce low-frequency issues from placing the speaker on the floor or up against a wall.
Considering the price point of the EV ZLX-12BT it offers a lot in the tuning department. Everything is clearly labeled and easy to navigate so this area gets a big thumbs up from me.
Loudspeakers tend to be large and black. That is the case with the Electro-Voice ZLX-12BT. While design aesthetics tend to be minimal in powered speakers these do still offer some character.
The EV ZLX-12BT offers an industrial and practical design aesthetic.
The front grille utilizes a different pattern that gives it a more industrial feel. The angled edges are also a nice change from other flat-faced speakers. Rubberized feet on the bottom add extra stability if you are not mounting them. The EV logo is also small and well placed with a solitary power light underneath.
The ZLX-12BT is a large speaker but still manageable in terms of size and weight.
The Electro-Voice ZLX-12BT is similar in size to other 12-inch speakers.
At 34.3 lbs. (15.6kg) the ZLX-12BT is easy to transport and set up. It also offers 3 handles to make transporting easier.
Connection wise the Electro-Voice ZLX-12BT offers two line-in options. Both are combo jacks that support TRS or XLR connections. Each of these channels has a knob for the mic/line-in balance.
The ZLX12BT doesn’t support RCA but does offer a TRS input for media devices.
An XLR output is also present for daisy-chaining speakers together.
One extra TRS input is also available for connecting media devices. This is a nice addition rarely found on performance speakers. It gives you an easy way to use them as straight playback outputs for recorded music. The ZLX-12BT also offers Bluetooth connectivity. Pairing is quick and easy. The ability to stream backing tracks or a warm-up list of tracks is a great feature, especially for a budget DJ speaker.
The Electro-Voice ZLX12BT is competitively priced. While not the cheapest on the market it does offer a large number of options. Many features like the extra TRS input and the LCD screen are rarely found at this price point.
The sound quality is also great. Budget speakers can be a bit hit or miss. It’s good to see an affordable option able to tick so many boxes. If you are a bargain hunter and want “good bang for your buck” you’ll be happy with the ZLX-12BT.
What Others Have To Say
There are plenty of EV ZLX12BT reviews. Many people love the sound quality of the ZLX-12BT. With the consideration of the price point, the value for money is also a big positive point.
What Are Stage Monitors
Many beginner musicians looking to get into performing live ask the question “What are stage monitors?’. Before diving into the review it’s worth covering this important topic.
When you think of performing you’ll be thinking about what the crowd will be hearing. Your buying decisions around loudspeakers will focus on this primary need. But, don’t forget about yourself. Stage monitors are speakers that will face you.
You can set up stage monitors for a variety of purposes. They are set up at the base of the stage looking up towards you. For smaller venues, one speaker may be all you need, especially if you are a solo performer. For a band, you may need each person to have a stage monitor.
Why You Need Stage Monitors
Now that you know what stage monitors are you may be wondering why you need them. Stage monitors play a vital role in your ability to control your performance.
Stage monitors allow you to hear yourself without sound delay.
Many venues will have a large front-of-house sound system for the audience. As a performer, it’s also important for you to be able to hear yourself and your band. You want to be able to play in time with your fellow musicians. If you are relying on the main sound system there can be a delay for that sound to reach you which can cause you to lose that timing.
A good set of stage monitors will keep the sound clean and crisp for you to adjust your performance as needed. In this review, we check out a loudspeaker that you use in two ways. It can be a speaker that is facing the audience and it can also be a speaker you use as a stage monitor.
The loudspeaker space offers plenty of options. Some are better than others. Here are some good alternatives to the EV ZLX 12BT.
Bose F1 Review
The Bose F1 is a premium option if you do have extra money to spend. It offers a range of innovative features. It also has flexible options to handle different sound environments.
- Exclusive flexible array speaker design.
- Stunning sound quality from a trusted brand.
- Not very budget-friendly.
Read our full Bose F1 review for more detailed information.
JBL EON 610 Review
At a similar price point to the Electro-Voice is the EON 610. The sound quality is fantastic on this powered speaker but it is on the quieter side. Bluetooth is also a nice addition.
- Excellent sound quality.
- Bluetooth connectivity for control over volume and EQ.
- Quieter than other speakers on the market.
Read our full JBL EON 610 review for more detailed information.
JBL EON 610
Mackie Thump 12A Review
If you are on a tight budget the Mackie Thump 12A is a good option. Packing a powerful punch at a very affordable price.
- Affordable powered speaker for those on a budget.
- Lightweight and portable
- Not the best build quality.
Read our full Mackie Thump 12A review for more detailed information.
Mackie Thump 12A
Should You Buy?
If you are on the hunt for a loudspeaker the Electro-Voice ZLX-12BT is a contender that should be on your list. It is attractively priced while still offering a great range of features. The rugged and durable design is perfect for the performing musician or DJ. The sound quality is great as well. If you do have a larger budget there are some better choices. But, based on the pure dollar to quality ratio it’s hard not to recommend the ZLX-12BT.