BY GEORGE PETERSEN
If there’s any phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of audio engineers, it’s “new and improved.” By themselves, each word actually represents something good, but when combined, they usually equate to “rush job,” “cheapened out” and “not really as good as the original.” And if this wasn’t at least partly true, there would be no market for pre-CBS Strats, blackface Twin Reverbs, Neve 1073 preamp modules and Neumann U47 tube microphones.
Now, some 15 years after the debut of the original, Event Electronics announces a new (and improved) version of its 20/20 BAS studio monitors, with a street pricing of $449/each. As a long-term 20/20 user—and fan—I approached these newcomers with more than a small degree of skepticism and was anxious to check these out.
From the outside, there are a lot of similarities. At 14.8×10.2×11.8 inches (HxWxD), these new pups are almost the identical size of the original and share a mostly similar look, with a 1-inch Ferrofluid–filled silk dome tweeter set above the 7.1-inch polypropylene cone woofer. Like the originals, the new 20/20BAS v3s are also front ported and non-mirror imaged, so your left and right speakers are identical in layout.
Many of the appreciated touches in the 20/20 BAS v3s are adapted from Event’s high-end flagship Opal monitors, such as the cabinets’ shaped, radiused front baffles, the separate all-discrete Class-AB amplifiers driving the woofer and tweeter, the acoustic filters and even the Event logo that lights up to remind you when the speakers are powered up.
Under the hood, extensive cabinet bracing locks the enclosure into a solid block with no unwanted resonances, with adequate damping to insure tight bass response. The cabinets weigh in at a substantial (and rather serious) 37.5 pounds each. The rear panel features balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA inputs, a continuously variable pot for setting input gain (+/- 12 dB) and +/- 3 dB shelving filters at 100 Hz and 10k Hz for tweaking the response to acoustical needs or personal taste.
IN THE STUDIO
The monitors ship with a mostly useless quick start guide, with a promise of a more detailed manual available online—which by the way—is not available. But fortunately, these are pretty much plug and go. After connecting the system and powering them up, the first thing I noted was an absolute lack of noise. No hum. No hiss at all, yet the onboard 160 watts of total biamplification (80 WRMS x2) is capable of driving the 2020BAS v3s to impressive peaks of 108dB, which is VERY LOUD for the near-field use which these are designed. I normally monitor in the range of 70 to 85 dB range, so these have plenty of headroom for handling very dynamic material. And the system’s superb transient response really shows this off.
I began with the shelving filters in the “0″ position, and found the 20/20 BAS v3s to sound extremely natural with an excellent balance of highs and mids and the bass response was spot-on, both in overall level but also in terms of providing tight, controlled reproduction that was never flabby or boomy. What surprised me more was the volume of bass, which made the 20/20 BAS v3s seem like a much larger system.
The response at the system’s critical 2.3 kHz crossover point was transparent, and virtually impossible to detect. This is a weak link in many systems, but not exhibited here at all—even on playbacks of solo piano tracks. In fact, the monitor’s system response—out of the box, without the need for any acoustic fiddling or tweaking the shelving filters—was spot-on.
More impressive, perhaps was listening to playbacks of mixes made on the 20/20 BAS v3s. These exhibited a high degree of consistency with accurate translation on a variety of systems ranging from automotive, boom boxes and both moderate and high-end home systems. Also worthy of note is that the 2020 BAS v3′s overall frequency response stays consistent at nearly every listening level.
THE BOTTOM LINE
With the new 20/20 BAS v3s, it seems Event Electronics has done the impossible. They’ve resurrected a classic design and actually even improved on the original. This is no easy feat, but in any case, I’m glad the 20/20 BAS v3s are back and anyone looking for an accurate, un-hyped, mid-priced monitoring solution should check these out. Yeah!