As seen in Professional Sound Magazine | By Mark Desloges
I’ve heard and used a lot of speakers over the years. I’ve mixed on some of the large-format line arrays produced by EAW in my career and have never been disappointed. They have made quite the name for themselves; however, to my embarrassment, I have had very little experience with their smaller-format boxes. When I was asked if I would be interested in trying out the new RL12 – part of the Redline two-way powered loudspeaker series – it was hard to say no. In addition to the 12-in. RL12, the Redline series also includes the 15-in. RL15 and 18-in. RL18S subwoofer. So let’s see what the smallest member of EAW’s new family has to offer.
I’ve done a lot of speaker reviews, and the first step is always to take them out of the box and get a gut reaction. What do these speakers look like? How do they feel when you pick them up? This sounds trivial, though I promise you, many people pass judgment on equipment that they’ve never set-up or mixed on. So, the two things that made an impression on me during the first five minutes of having cut them out of the factory plastic: first, the speaker is incredibly light considering its output. The RL12 offers a 1,250 W amplifier, yet weighs in at just 42 lbs. The second thing I noticed was that the sharp red lines that run vertically parallel to the grille are magnetic and removable. I know, this too seems trivial, but as the brochure mentions, these speakers have great potential for corporate events, and it’s nice to have them all blacked out.
The next step is to set them up, put on familiar test music, and see how they sound right out of the box. Sure, I can throw on an RTA system and processors with EQS and time alignment, but what I really want to know is what they are going to sound like when the average user fires them up. I must say, I was pretty happy with the out-of-the-box sound. Like every speaker, they have a certain colour and could benefit from a little EQ, though it was nice to just throw them up on some stands in my living room and not have to do acoustic surgery just to make them sound good. The three user-defined voicing options certainly contribute to that, and the bass reproduction was particularly impressive, thanks in part to the four-aperture ports.
The last part of the review involves practical application of the product in the field. This was the part that I enjoyed the most. I had the opportunity to supply a sound system for a private party in a basement bar, so I brought the Redline along. I had it loaded in and tuned for the space in no time and couldn’t be happier with the results. I got great sound, put in minimal effort, and was able to load in and out by myself in minutes. That’s very valuable to me and many modern consumers of small-format speakers; it seems we’re all after a simple, affordable, and acoustically pleasing solution for a variety of needs, which in this case could be rental and staging and installation customers in addition to musicians looking for a great sounding, higher-end PA.
At the core, what we’re talking about with the RL12 is a point-and-shoot trapezoidal box that offers 1,250 W bi-amped and outputs over 130dB from 55 Hz to 19 kHz. It has a 90-degree horizontal spread and 60-degree vertical spread and offers consistent directivity via beamwidth-matched crossovers. Designed for use as either a main on speaker stands or a monitor on deck, the RL12 is a lightweight, versatile, and impressively powerful workhorse. Though there are many brands that offer similar products in this range, EAW proves here that they are not going to be left out of the action, and have rightfully earned a reputation among the elite players.
Despite initially being unfamiliar with what EAW has to offer in this field, I was quickly made a fan. It’s easy to enjoy listening to a good-sounding speaker, but it’s even better when it is easy to handle and doesn’t require a lot of processing to become a good-sounding speaker. I’ve travelled with a lot of speakers and have my heavy and expensive favourites, though as I grow older, I’m trying to work smarter, not harder. I’m happy to see a manufacturer building a product that appeals to a wide user base in terms of accessibility and ease of use, yet produces a professional grade sound without destroying your budget.