The PreSonus Eris E range has proven to be one of the most popular and affordable studio monitor lines over the last decade. But as the range is now nearly a decade old, it was time to refresh the series. In this review, we check out the new 5-inch E5 XT to see what it has to offer.
PreSonus Eris E5 XT
The new XT range brings some notable updates to what was already a winning formula. Below are the quick hits, but further down, you’ll find a detailed breakdown of these impressive 5 inch monitors.
PreSonus has made several notable changes with the XT line, pushing this series of monitors in a slightly new direction. Let’s get into the details.
We’ll kick it off with the most crucial aspect. The original Eris E5 has a solid reputation for relatively neutral delivery in an affordable package. And while the updated E5 XT maintains a good level of detail, it has drifted a bit further towards a hi-fi-esque sound profile.
The lows have seen a considerable bump in output. The original E5 offered a decent bass response but presented on the leaner and more neutral side. With the E5 XT, the substantial amount of warmth and punch initially took me by surprise. It’s rich, full, and undoubtedly assisted by the updated front bass port.
The highs have also seen a noticeable increase. Thankfully these don’t stray into overly bright territory, but they are noticeably crisper than their predecessors. Some might consider them top-heavy, but I didn’t find them too sharp for my sensitive ears.
This combination of increased emphasis on both the highs and lows does come with a catch. The result is recessed mids that don’t match the rest of the output. That’s not to say the mids sound bad. They are more than serviceable. They just don’t have the same level of presence as the rest of the range.
Taking a holistic view into account, these monitors sound satisfying, but I feel the accuracy level isn’t quite where some may want it to be. For basic studio work, you’ll be able to make appropriate decisions. But you’ll need to play with the tuning settings for more analytical listening to smooth everything out. Thankfully the E5 XT does offer a solid range of tuning options, but more on that later.
The E5 XT is off to a great start with a satisfying sound profile, and it follows up with an impressive level of build quality for a monitor at this price point. Entry-level monitors can suffer from poor craftsmanship, but that is not the case here.
The Eris E5 XT is a well-constructed studio monitor.
The medium-density fiberboard is robust and solid and adds just the right amount of heft to the monitor. It’s not bulky and heavy but equally not hollow feeling. The vinyl wrapping is well executed, and I can’t see it peeling or warping unless placed under extreme temperatures.
Connection points at the rear are secure and high-quality. The knobs and switches are equally fantastic. No complaints in this area. It’s a clean and well-executed studio monitor that manages to hide its low price superbly, and you’d be correct to think these should be more expensive than they are.
Diving into the technical details, the PreSonus Eris E5 XT offers a 48Hz-20kHz frequency response. Manufacturers can sometimes overstate numbers here, but it’s clear that the E5 XT hits deep in the low end and has enough sizzle in the top end.
Much like the previous E5, the Eris E5 XT features a 5.25-inch woven composite woofer and a 1-inch silk dome tweeter.
The Eris E5 XT delivers good performance for a cheap studio monitor.
Consistency and neutrality along the curve are a little hit-and-miss, and there are some notable bumps and dips. The bump in the lows and highs is evident in the sound profile, but it seems to be a conscious decision to make the monitor sound livelier compared to more flat and neutral options.
Under the hood is an 80W Class AB amplification system. The split between the two is 45W for the low-frequency driver and 35W for the high-frequency driver. It’s an efficient and effective system that manages to strike a great balance between high-fidelity and amplification.
Max SPL is 102dB at 1m, but this number can often be misleading. While it can reach that level, the performance takes a noticeable hit. Everything runs smoothly until the 85dB mark, but some distortion is present as you creep into the 90s. In most day-to-day scenarios in the studio, you won’t want to run these that loud anyway, but it is worth highlighting if you tend to crank your monitors up occasionally.
Irrespective of how good a monitor sounds out of the box, you’ll always want a set of tuning controls up your sleeve to adapt to your studio space. Plus, depending on your intentions, you can customize the output to suit your preference when options are available.
The PreSonus Eris E5 XT gives you a comfortable and easy-to-use suite of choices. At the back of the unit, you’ll have access to a primary gain knob with a clear indent in the unity position. Excellent for calibrating your monitors.
You’ll also have two additional knobs. One for mid-frequency and one for high-frequency adjustments. Both offer flexibility to adjust the output from -6dB to +6dB; honestly, without these, the E5 XT would score much lower in my books.
The Eris E5 XT offers good versatility to adjust the output.
I’ve already mentioned the underwhelming mids in an earlier section. This is where you can refine and adjust output to balance out the profile. While I always prefer things to be smooth out of the box, the E5 XT gives you the tools to fix issues. For my taste, a slight bump in the mids and fine shaving of the highs worked best for my studio space.
Complimenting this flexibility is a Low Cutoff for subwoofer connections. The E5 XT already offers good bass, but if you require rumble, PreSonus does offer affordable subwoofers that pair perfectly with the E5 XT.
Finally, an Acoustic Space switch gives you access to 0db, -2db, and -4dB to further control the output. Ideal for smaller studios and wall placement where reflections and bass build-up can be problematic.
There is one other tidbit I want to share. PreSonus does an outstanding job of placing the power in your hands. Included in the manual are detailed instructions on calibrating your monitor and a wealth of information on placement best practices. It’s a small touch, but for beginners, it’s an essential resource and something I appreciate PreSonus including in the manual.
The PreSonus Eris E5 XT doesn’t stray too far from the previous edition. The overall appearance retains that simple yet sleek look. The matte finish is fantastic and blends comfortably into any studio space. The blue-tinged woofer gives the unit some character. Beveled edges and a small PreSonus logo complete the look. It’s not flashy but equally not gaudy.
Looking past looks, two key design decisions separate the Eris E5 XT from the original. The first is the new waveguide and a substantial departure from the Eris E5. The high-frequency driver sits within the EBM waveguide and does a superb job at providing a consistent response.
Professional appearance with a splash of color.
The result is a sweet spot that is broad and generous at 100 degrees horizontally and 60 degrees vertically. Near-field monitors can be fussy when it comes to correct placement. But this new waveguide gives you ample flexibility to position and locate the sweet spot.
The other notable change is the front bass port. It’s bigger than the previous edition and helps deliver robust bass response without port noise. It also sits noticeably lower than the previous E5. In some ways, it looks a little odd in placement and throws out some of the symmetry of the monitor, but the results speak for themselves, as the bass response is fantastic.
The PreSonus Eris E5 XT offers an excellent intermediary point between smaller 3-inch monitors that often feature underwhelming bass and larger 8-inch monitors that can be difficult to find space for.
The Eris E5 XT is a moderately sized studio monitor.
It’s close enough in dimension to the original, making it an easy swap-out if you want to upgrade to this new version. At 11 lbs. (5kg), it is only slightly heavier than the original Eris E5.
The PreSonus Eris E5 XT offers a refined set of connection options making it a versatile studio monitor.
You’ll have access to three input options. Two balanced options for TRS or XLR ensure you can comfortably run balanced signals through your choice of cable. Supporting these connections is an unbalanced RCA input option. Not all monitors offer this option, so I appreciate the flexibility, especially for a cheap monitor.
The Eris E5 XT offers a solid selection of input options.
There are many built-in protections as well, including RF interference shielding, which is essential when using unbalanced connections.
These three options are all you’ll ever need for a studio setting. But from a more consumer-friendly standpoint, it is missing a few extra features. There is no headphone port or Bluetooth connectivity. If you need these features, you’ll need to explore other options.
This is one area where the PreSonus Eris E5 XT scores top marks. This exceptionally cheap monitor serves as an ideal starting point for the budget-conscious buyer setting up their first studio. Even as a secondary set of monitors for A/B testing, it is a viable and cheap option that performs well.
Balancing price with performance and combining it with a clean aesthetic is something to be celebrated. PreSonus already has a superb reputation for budget-focused products, and the Eris E5 XT continues this tradition.
Much like several other PreSonus products, the Eris E5 XT has received substantial positive reviews. Well priced and with a satisfying sound profile, it is no surprise it is a hit. Multiple four and five-star reviews along with praise from most critics.
Bass Reflex Systems
The PreSonus Eris E5 XT utilizes a bass reflex system to deliver a rich, meaty low-end response. But you may be wondering how this system works.
Front-facing ports are great for smaller studios.
Bass reflex systems will all feature a port for air to escape from the cabinet. This port could be at the front or the rear of the monitor. As the woofer moves, air will be sucked in or pushed out of this port. This relieves pressure on the woofer and allows it to move more freely, resulting in better low-end performance.
The port’s shape, design, and positioning will vary from monitor to monitor. They must be carefully engineered for optimal performance and work in harmony with the rest of the monitor’s design. This is why sticking to trusted brands like PreSonus is essential. Years of industry knowledge ensure they know how to tune and design an effective bass reflex system.
The entry-level studio monitor marketplace presents a staggering amount of choices. Competition leads to innovation, and as a result, several appealing options exist. Below are three alternatives to the Eris E5 XT worth exploring.
Kali Audio LP-6 V2 Review
Relative newcomer Kali Audio has rapidly become one of the go-to choices for new producers. Superb sound quality and flexible features make it a candidate you need to take seriously.
- A balanced and neutral sound profile makes it ideal for serious studio work.
- An extensive array of tuning options to tweak the output to suit your studio space.
- The dip switches for tuning are a little fiddly.
Kali Audio LP-6 V2
Pioneer DM-40 Review
If neutrality is of little concern to you, the DM-40 from Pioneer is worth considering. Ultra-affordable, these little powerhouse monitors pack a serious punch.
- A meaty and rich low-end response that is ideal for bass lovers.
- The front headphone port adds flexibility that the Eris E5 XT doesn’t have.
- No tuning options and bass-heavy profile make it a poor choice for studio work.
Alesis Elevate 5 MKII Review
If you want to stretch your budget, the Alesis Elevate 5 MKII is a super cheap option. While not as refined as the Eris E5 XT, they still perform much better than other budget choices.
- For monitors this cheap, they deliver an impressively neutral response.
- No tuning options exist, but they provide a bass boost switch for extra oomph.
- At higher volume levels, there is a substantial drop in performance.
Alesis Elevate 5 MKII
Should You Buy?
Once again, PreSonus has proven why they are among the most popular brands in the monitor space. From their high-end professional series to the entry-level Eris range, they deliver consistent and dependable products.
The PreSonus Eris E5 XT is a thoughtful update on a popular monitor. The sound profile is warm and inviting, which will appeal to casual listeners. But the flexibility to adjust output makes these a good choice for studio work too. When you also factor in the low price point, there is little to fault. A fantastic entry-level monitor.
PreSonus Eris E5 XT