Review: Event Opal Studio Monitors

Apr 6, 2009 6:28 PM, By George Petersen

Gems From Down Under


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Watch a video on the Opals

photo of Event Opal monitor

Opal’s curved enclosures have no parallel surfaces.

Named for the national gemstone of Australia, are Opals, the new studio monitors from Event Electronics. Despite their relatively compact 11.6x17.7x10.8-inch enclosures, Opals were intended to create a two-way system that delivers the power, accuracy and fidelity of large three-way systems.

This was no easy task. From day one, designer Marcelo Vercelli took a completely new look at the process, with the intent of creating a no-compromise monitor with world-class performance. There’s no off-the-shelf stuff here. All the components were built from the ground up, combining new and traditional technologies.

Discovering Opals
The 8-inch woofer has a neodymium motor and a low mass, composite long-strand carbon fiber/paper cone that’s stiff enough to provide midrange out to 10 kHz, yet delivers 35Hz bass with remarkable 30mm-plus excursion. The woofer’s dual X-Coil™ design combines an active and a parallel, second voice coil for improved transient response, even under extreme workouts.

The tweeter has a 1-inch beryllium/copper alloy dome mated to a neodymium magnet structure and mounted on an asymmetrical elliptical waveguide for dispersion control in the horizontal and vertical planes. The entire HF unit and illuminated Event logo are rotatable for using Opals on their sides.

A 1,600 Hz center-point, 8th-order (48dB/octave) active network handles crossover duties. The onboard bi-amplification provides 600 LF/140 HF watts of peak power via linear Class-AB amps. Looking inside, components are top-grade, while heavy toroidal transformers and massive rear-panel heat sinks contribute much to Opal’s 47-pound heft, so be wary of meter bridge placement. Full power THD specs for the amps are in the 0.004 percent range. Neutrik Combo XLR/TRS jacks handle balanced or unbalanced inputs; a 15-pin D-sub connector is provided for a planned digital input module.

Finished in black powercoat, the molded aluminum enclosures have no parallel surfaces, and all sides are radiused to minimize diffraction effects. Heavy interior ribs both add strength to create a solid, non-resonant enclosure as well as break up any possibility of standing waves within the cabinet. Along the rear panel, threaded inserts (M8 Omnimount pattern) allow for various secure wall-mount possibilities, which should be appreciated in 5.1/7.1 installations, particularly for hanging rear surround channels.

In rear-ported designs, LF energy exiting the back of the enclosure can create unpredictable acoustical results. Opal’s front ports use a patent-pending variable impedance approach that combines slotted vents along either side of the drivers with flared airways that substantially reduce air distortion artifacts.

Ready, Set, Opal
The Opals arrived well packed—each is protected by an outer box, two large Styrofoam inserts, a cardboard liner, velvet drawstring bag and two reusable straps for removing the speakers from the shipping materials without putting a thumb through a driver. No grilles are provided—or optional—but a handle on the top of each monitor simplifies moving these beasts around.

Opals self-mute during power-up, so there are no nasty whumps. Beneath a removable cover on the front baffle are knobs for tweaking Opals to personal taste or acoustical considerations. Besides a brightness switch for the illuminated Event logo, controls include level (±6dB input sensitivity), quarter/half/full-space (LF compensation for wall or corner placement) and LF/HF shelving filters. I liked the latter—these are gentle, extremely wide-Q filters offering subtle ±1.5dB tweaks, just enough for a little fine touching.

The semiparametric, cut-only LF filter with a sweepable frequency control (40 to 280 Hz) and two six-position switches for adjusting Q (narrow to wide) and cut depth (0 to -20 dB) was highly useful. This let me selectively notch a problematic room mode with surgical precision, without destroying adjacent frequencies. After this minor tweak, I was ready to go. There was no adjustment period where I felt I had to get “used to” the monitors. These sound great right out of the box.

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