Larger studio spaces need larger monitors. But with so much variety available it can be a tricky task to select the right monitor for your needs. In this review, we check out the Sceptre S8 from PreSonus. A unique monitor with some excellent features.
PreSonus Sceptre S8
The PreSonus Sceptre S8 offers a coaxial design that is uncommon in modern speakers. But this reinvention of an old design delivers on all fronts. Here are the highlights before we dive into the details.
The PreSonus Sceptre S8 aims to redefine what a coaxial speaker is capable of. In this regard, PreSonus has hit it out of the park. A fantastic speaker with a solid range of features. Let’s get to the details.
The Sceptre S8 is an excellent sounding monitor. Despite sitting in the mid-priced range for studio monitors it easily competes with more expensive monitors.
Once you adjust these monitors to your space there is very little to fault. The highs are exceptionally clear. No distortion or high notes that attack your ears. The mids are equally on point. Vocals and instrumentals occupy the soundstage perfectly. A little forward but never overbearing. Excellent definition. The low’s also impressed. No boominess and plenty of refined depth and warmth. Some 8-inch woofers can come across a little boomy. But the Sceptre S8 keeps everything in check to deliver a punchy and satisfying bass response.
The coaxial design delivers an excellent depth of field.
The S8 is also very flat. Accurate control is on full display. Details are precise and no frequency takes the limelight. For the working professional, these are up to the task. An excellent choice for analytical listening and pinpointing errors in your mix.
But the S8 doesn’t stop at just sounding good. The depth of field and soundstage are also more than you’d expect. The coaxial design offers an even and generous sweet spot. Some monitors are great for smaller spaces but quickly lose their charm in larger environments. The Sceptre S8 gives you flexibility in where you sit in the studio without compromising your listening experience.
An impressive monitor that packs a punch without compromising audio quality. It’s hard not to love these.
PreSonus has not skimped on quality. This monitor is a little expensive but you can tell that thought and care went into the design.
The cabinet comprises a medium-density fiberboard with a vinyl laminate coating. I’m not normally a fan of vinyl laminates but the execution here is solid. The cabinet feels robust and is not prone to scratches or early wear and tear.
The PreSonus Sceptre S8 features high-quality components.
The drivers are also high quality. The 8-inch glass-reinforced paper low-frequency driver is solid and dependable. The mounted 1” diaphragm compression driver integrates with the woofer seamlessly.
Around the back, the quality continues. Illuminated tuning options offer instant clarity. The small buttons for adjustments don’t feel cheap.
The PreSonus Sceptre S8 is a solid monitor that will serve you well for years to come.
The Sceptre S8 frequency response is 46 Hz – 20 kHz at (-3dB) and 38 Hz – 23 kHz at (-10dB). As expected from a monitor in the price point accurate delivery is present. The precision across the entire range is fantastic. Crossover is clean between high and low frequencies as well.
The PreSonus Sceptre S8 is loud and clear.
A max SPL of 116dB is more than enough for most studio spaces. Plenty of headroom up your sleeve. Even at -10dB, you’ll still have plenty of power up your sleeve.
The Sceptre S8 also offers a range of inbuilt protections. RF Interference protection helps eliminate unwanted interference from other devices. I see this thrown around a lot as a feature in other monitors. And to be honest, sometimes it is more marketing speak than a dependable feature. With the S8 there was no interference present and the protection does its job. Over-current, voltage and temperature protection is also present.
The PreSonus Sceptre S8 also offers a simple and refined set of tuning options.
Up first is the Acoustic Space setting. This allows you to customize the low-end response based on monitor placement. This prevents unwanted build-up and boosting of the low end. A common problem when your monitors are too close to walls or corners.
The tuning options are effective and easy to use.
Next, you’ll have access to HF Driver control. Linear sounds great and in the vast majority of cases will be the preferred setting. But, if you are experiencing a little harshness in the top end you can adjust down 1dB or 4dB. Alternatively, you can go up 1dB if you’d prefer a brighter response.
Finally, HP Filter opens up further control of the low-end. This allows you to set the crossover frequency to match your subwoofer. The roll-off is clean and effective. If you are not using a subwoofer the linear setting is ideal.
While the PreSonus Sceptre doesn’t offer intense granular control the options on offer are effective and easy to use.
The Sceptre S8 offers a unique and engaging appearance. The all-black finish is subtle and professional. The only splash of color comes from the PreSonus logo that illuminates. It’s a simple black box but the coaxial drivers catch the eye.
The PreSonus Sceptre S8 offers a clean and minimalist appearance.
These coaxial drivers are the primary design focus of the S8. Regular monitors place the High-Frequency driver above the woofer. This can alter the soundstage and requires precision placement. Having both the low and high frequencies originating from a central point delivers a rich soundstage. Plus a more generous sweet spot. It’s a design that is uncommon for modern monitors but looks and sounds great in the S8.
My initial thoughts led me to believe that these monitors may end up a little shorter than other options. The combination of drivers in theory opens up a lot of space. But maintaining the sonic integrity of the cabinet is also paramount. As a result, the S8 is similar in size to other 8-inch studio monitors.
The PreSonus Sceptre S8 is similar in size to other 8-inch studio monitors.
At 24.25 lbs. (11kg) it is a heavy monitor but not that dissimilar to other options in the market. It’s solid and robust but not a good choice for bookshelves.
On the connection front, PreSonus keeps things simple. A solitary XLR or ¼-inch TRS input is on offer. The focus here is on studios so I don’t expect to see too many alternative connection options. But if you do need an RCA connection you’ll need to look elsewhere or use adapters.
The PreSonus Sceptre offers just two connection options.
There are no other bells and whistles in the connection department. No Bluetooth or AUX connectivity. It is a narrow range of options but understandable. These are high-quality monitors for a studio. Not a jack-of-all-trades set of speakers for general use.
The PreSonus Sceptre S8 sits in the mid-tier price category of studio monitors. There are several cheaper options available from quality brands. But in this range, it is hard to find comparable monitors. Most monitors in this price range don’t perform as well as the S8. The Sceptre S8 punches way above its price point and even gives top-tier monitors a run for their money. In this way, the S8 is excellent value for money. But if these are beyond your budget there are alternatives out there that still sound great.
Across the board, people are very happy with their Sceptre S8’s. People applaud the excellent sound quality. The high level of accuracy and detail is among the top features mentioned. There is also a lot of love for the imaging and soundstage. With dozens of 5-star reviews and nothing lower, it is no wonder the S8 is a top recommendation for accurate mixing.
What Are Coaxial Speakers?
The PreSonus Sceptre S8 features a coaxial speaker design. This type of design places both drivers on top of each other. This results in a single source point for sound delivery.
These types of speakers are not often found in the studio monitor space. For years the main source for coaxial speakers were home entertainment Hi-Fi systems and car audio speakers. The smaller footprint proved to be an excellent advantage in the automotive industry.
Coaxial speaker designs are a popular choice for car stereo systems.
There is one major con for coaxial speakers. If they are not tuned correctly it can result in high frequencies hitting your ears earlier than the lower frequencies. This is more common with car audio speakers compared to hi-fi systems and monitors.
When it comes to a studio environment coaxial speakers present a few key benefits. Mainly a balanced and single-source sound stage. This is especially useful in large studios that have a larger work area.
But are they better than traditional speakers? That comes down to opinion and conjecture. Everyone experiences audio slightly differently than everyone else. Neither design is superior but both have their pros and cons.
If you are looking for large studio monitors there are plenty of choices available. Here is a small selection of alternatives to the PreSonus Sceptre S8.
KRK Rokit 8 G4 Review
The iconic black and yellow design of the KRK Rokit series is a mainstay of many studios. The newest generation offers great sound quality along with innovative features.
- High build quality with Kevlar drivers.
- Advanced granular tuning options.
- Some find the audio quality a little muddy.
Read our full KRK Rokit 8 G4 review for more detailed information.
KRK Rokit 8 G4
Yamaha HS8 Review
Yamaha is another trusted brand in the studio monitor space. Their entry-level HS series is both affordable and high quality. A great choice if the S8 is beyond your budget.
- A super flat response which is great for analytical listening.
- Excellent component quality in a robust cabinet.
- The low-end is not as refined as the S8. Works best with a subwoofer.
Read our full Yamaha HS8 review for more detailed information.
Focal Audio Alpha 80 Review
The Focal Audio Alpha 80 is another mid-tier priced 8-inch monitor that delivers on the sound front. Designed and developed in France these monitors are very popular.
- Excellent audio quality at all volume levels.
- Balanced frequency response for accurate mixing.
- Much like the S8, these are not very budget-friendly.
Read our full Focal Audio Alpha 80 review for more detailed information.
Focal Audio ALPHA 80
Should You Buy?
PreSonus is on a bit of a streak lately of developing excellent audio equipment. From their entry-level Eris range to the S8 they consistently deliver great products. The S8 is a standout. Rich audio quality across the full range. Loud enough to give you ample headroom. Plus the coaxial design delivers a satisfying and roomy soundscape. While they are a little expensive the quality is next-level. If you are looking for a premium 8-inch studio monitor the PreSonus Sceptre S8 is a fantastic choice.
PreSonus Sceptre S8