Working for Mobile Beat has given me the opportunity to experience some the best equipment the industry has to offer and some of the worst. Every now and then a product that I am not really expecting too much from really surprises me. This is the case with the latest speaker from Gemini, the ES-15BLU.
Upon opening the box for the ES-15BLU the first thing I noticed is the solid construction. The ES-15BLU is made from ABS nylon fiber. This provides for a very light-weight but sturdy cabinet that should last for many years. The cabinet provides handles on the top and side to enable multiple carrying angles. The unit also sports a standard mounting point for stand mounting, with a tightening screw to keep it secured to the stand. The speaker also has a uniquely stylish design, as you can see from the photos. According to Gemini, the recesses next to the wide-dipersion horn are “forward firing bass reflex ports.”
The back panel of the ES-15BLU features balanced XLR and 1/4″ microphone inputs, XLR line input, and 1/8″ stereo and RCA stereo inputs with separate gain for each bank of two inputs. The low and high for the output can be adjusted by the built-in knobs for each. There is also a mix output via XLR.
Bass from the unit was not muddy but adjustments on the EQ were needed to boost the bass at higher volumes. High frequencies were crystal clear with no harshness. The speaker can be driven to very high volumes before hitting the limiter. Amplification of the ES-15BLU comes from 200W RMS Class AB amplifier. I found that the speaker’s power is best suited to smaller venues.
BUILT-IN SOUND SOURCE
MP3s can be played directly through the speaker from an SD card, flash drive or portable hard drive, using the built-in MP3 player. Media must be formatted to FAT 32 in order to be used with the built-in MP3 player. Songs can be browsed using a screen above the MP3 player controls. The MP3 player provides another form of back-up for your rig if something catastrophic should happen.
I found the ES-15BLU’s Bluetooth functionality to be the speaker’s coolest feature—although it is a feature I thought I would never use. Well, I tried out the speaker’s ability to play music from a Bluetooth enabled device…and realized all the cool stuff I can do with it. For example, it can be used to play music during the cocktail hour at a wedding, with no external playback gear needed. This allows you to walk around and talk to guests, all the while controlling the playback and volume of the songs from your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or tablet.
Pairing to ES-15BLU is a snap. Just press the Bluetooth button on the rear of the cabinet and wait for it to show up on your portable device. Once paired, just set the device’s audio output to the ES-15BLU. One drawback is that you cannot pair to two of the ES-15BLUs at the same time. This is not a limitation of the ES-15BLU but of the Bluetooth standard of not allowing more than one audio device at a time. To get around this just pair to one speaker then run an XLR cable from the output on the one that is paired to the XLR input on the other.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at how great of a speaker the ES-15BLU actually is. With the manufactures’ suggested retail price of $369 and street price of less than $250 the ES-15BLU is good sounding, feature packed and an all around great value speaker that should last for many years.
Filed Under: Issue #152, Sound
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