Surround Sound Speaker Systems

Emotiva ERT-8.3 Tower Speakers, ERM-6.3 Monitor, and ERD-1 Surround Speakers



The Emotiva five-speaker system consisted of a pair of the Emotiva ERT-8.3 tower speakers for the main channels, one Emotiva ERM-6.3 monitor for the center channel and a pair of the Emotiva ERD-1’s for the surrounds. I used my Hsu Research subs for multi-channel music and movies. For these sessions, I crossed over the speakers at 60 Hz for the mains, 80 Hz for the center channel and 100 Hz for the surrounds. I also auditioned the ERT-8.3’s as a stereo pair, running them full-range.

Emotiva ERT-8.3 Tower Speakers

The speakers all share 1” silk dome tweeters while the other drivers have tri-fiber composite cones that appeared to be very rigid. In the case of the ERT-8.3 towers, there is one tweeter and 2~5.25” midrange drivers in a nested array. The ERT-8.3’s also sport 2~8” woofers in a sealed, isolated chamber. These towers are big, heavy and stately in appearance. In my room, the bass response matched the mid range response down to about 45 Hz where it rolled off by 7 dB to a plateau that was essentially flat to about 20 Hz at which point they rolled off rapidly.

It is obvious that a lot of effort went into the design of these speakers. The crossover network features phase compensation and coils that Emotiva claims will preserve as much of your amp’s damping factor as possible. The speakers also include several touches that one would normally expect only in high-end products, but are unexpected at the Emotivas’ decidedly pedestrian prices. Two examples of this include cast aluminum speaker baskets and magnetic grilles.

These speakers were designed in consultation with Vance Dickason who is a well-respected loudspeaker design professional. I could write page after page on the topic of the speakers’ design and technological innovations. Instead, I will tell you that there is a wealth of information regarding these speakers that you can read on the Emotiva website. I suggest that anybody interested in exploring the design and technology of these speakers should visit their site and read all there is to read.

Emotiva ERT-8.3 Tower Speakers

The Emotiva speakers are rated at 4 ohms nominal impedance. I was concerned that my surround sound receiver may have trouble delivering enough current to do real justice to the Emotivas. So the good folks from Emotiva were kind enough to send along one of their XPA-5 5-channel amps. This 80-pound beast of an amp retails for $799. It is stable into 4-ohm loads and into this load; it is actually rated at a very robust 440 watts per channel with all channels driven at 1 kHz and 0.04% THD. There is a lot of value in this well made product and this amp provided a smooth, powerful and seductive presentation throughout the audition.

Getting back to the ERT-8.3 speakers, I must say that they have a decidedly utilitarian look and imbue their status as purpose-built transducers by their very heft and solidity. That is not to say that they aren’t handsome, just that they aren’t likely to win any awards for their artistic styling. Their finish is ideal for a darkened theater, by the way. Their sealed cabinets are constructed of ¾” MDF on all sides except for the front baffle which is 1” MDF. The baffles also have 6 mm brushed aluminum fasciae. The cabinets are internally braced, finished in a satin epoxy coating and emit a seriously damped thud when subjected to the old knuckle-rap test. The towers also come with four coned feat and aluminum “outriggers” so you don’t need to invest in stands. The cones are not pointed, but they have felt-covered discs. They are good for any type of floor, really.