ESI nEar05 (Classic)

near 05 image
  • Low-cost, no-frills speakers
  • Pack punch when you least expect
  • Lack bass
  • Loose build

I am not going to attempt a professional review of nEar05. You can see some graphs and figures in this review.

If you're into bottom-heavy music, forget the ESI nEar 05s. Bookshelf form factor, for near-field listening, they used to be the first version of M-Audio's SP5B. They are comfortably heavy and come as a pair. I had to replace my first set immediately since the left speaker made a buzzing sound. I'd say their build is not too tight. The bass reflex port is at the rear, means they require some more room (you shouldn't place speakers near the wall anyway).

They also make a fairly disappointing, but not too disappointing sound (especially given their size). When driven within reason they actually sound OK (I chose "OK" carefully). They lack lows, dip around 5kHz, and are by no means precise. They also dip in the low mids around 200 Hz which is actually dangerous to a mix. They are self-powered (have a not-too-common TDA-chip-based amp each) and I was very pleasantly surprised to hear a tight sound with no noticeable distortion when I gave them some heat.

Overall, I think of the ESIs the same way I'd think about a pair of NS-10s. The ESIs make a nice cheap B-pair of final check monitors, or tracklay surrounds if you're strapped for cash. And most likely if it sounds good on the ESIs (with their weakness in mind!) it will sound better on other better systems. The trick is knowing how they sound - do watch those low mids. I am all for mixing on imperfect systems. I tracked "Enveloped" on a pair of ridiculous speakers (and noisy amp). All speakers take some getting used to.

As for the ESI's, mine still buzz (even after replaced). I have since replaced them with more adequate speakers.