Electro-Voice EV-Six (EV-6)
The EV-Six in situ
Holy Airy Batman!
A friend of mine picked up a pair of Electro-Voice EV-six speakers from a little old lady in Western Massachusetts about six months ago. He's a tube amp freak, and loves the vintage gear. When I came over to have a listen, I didn't know what to expect.
They're big pieces of furniture, using two klipschorns for tweets and mids, an 8" low-mid in its own enclosure, and a 18-INCH STYROFOAM WOOFER with paper surround. They really do sound airy in the highs - pretty nice compared to a Klipsch Heresy, a little thin compared to a paradigm studio monitor, but with presence and high-end air like I've never heard. You're hearing saliva in Soprano's mouth, lips opening and closing, and fingers pressing guitar strings. I swear I could hear the keys slapping the board on Stevie Wonder's Hammond, and the Mezzanine in Boston Symphony Hall.
Since the mid and tweeter drivers are sealed in horns, and the front of the EV-Six doesn't come off, we couldn't see the condition of the cones, except for the 8-inch and 18-inch cones, which had paper surrounds in perfect condition. My friend HAD re-wired the crossover and all leads within the cabinet with new- high-quality copper wire. And he HAD hooked up his EV-Sixes to a great custom-made 6L6-based tube amp - designed and built by an Army signal operator in the 1940s. The perfect match for the ultra-efficient EV-Six.
Once he turned up the tunes, I was flabbergasted. I have listened to a lot of speakers, and I try to stay away from hyperbole and superlatives. Every speaker has it's own personality, and I tire of those who like to say "outperforms speakers costing ten times as much!". I have owned - or currently own - flagship speakers from Klipsch, Snell, Paradigm, Bose, CSW, Celestion, B&W, McIntosh, and EV. My favorites are the paradigm Studio Monitor ($4,500 for a pair at the time), but that doesn't mean I don't LOVE my little original Snell K's ($400 when new, now worth far more)!
So: the EV-sixes produce a soundstage that's impressive. It's easy to hear a vocalist moving toward and away from her microphone - not just because her voice gets louder and softer, either! I mean REAL imaging here. The other thing that stood out was the airy-ness of the high end. The EV-Sixes really shined on reproducing breathing, room acoustics and natural reverberations, and even the sound of kick-drum pedals being pressed.
I found the sound to not be harsh at all, even though if one looks at the response curve of the EV-six, one would see a bumpier line than on the audiophile speakers of today. But bumps are character, right? If every speaker had the same curve, then I wouldn't need to keep listening to new ones, now would I? :)
If I were to compare them to any speaker, it would have to be the Klipschorn or Klipsch Heresy. No other speakers I've heard dole out the sweetest mellowest, 3-D high-frequencies. Somehow, the EV-six accomplishes incredibly rich highs that soar, but are balanced, never harsh, and detailed. Wow.
But you probably will never see an EV-Six in real life: they're far too rare, too big to ship, and most people I know who own a set (that would be three people, total), won't part with them. If you do find a pair for less than $1,700 US, jump on 'em!
How do they work? Read on!
Inside the EV-Six
Link to the EV-Six Engineering Report
Styrofoam and paper?
Some people on the audio forums make bones about the EV-six's styrofoam woofer. At 18-inches across, 1.5 inches thick, and surrounded by a paper ring (the same ring found on Klipsch speakers of the day), this woofer is built to last, and the styrofoam provides superior rigidity and ultra-light weight. So why doesn't anybody use styrofoam anymore? nobody makes 18-inch woofers any more! If one did, one might use this material that's perfect for low-frequency reproduction.
And that paper surround? I LOVE it! So many times with vintage gear, the foam or rubber surrounds rot away. Not so with the paper ring :) I have had the great pleasure of listening to (and restoring) several Klipsch speakers of the era, and have always been thankful when I open the cabinet to find paper rings.
Powering the EV-Six
My verdict: if you are going to be using warm, sweet tube power, these monstrous cabinets will sing for you! And they're quite efficient for a speaker that provides full-response levels down to 40 Hz (the dB at 30 Hz is minus 5; at 20Hz, minus 10). For the price (between $1k and $2k on the vintage market), you can get yourself into the same club as those legendary Klipsch cabinets: the Klipschorn and La Scala.
The EV-Six is rated for 35 watts continuous, 70 watts peak power. that means a pair of Dynaco ST-70s - each running in mono and making 70 watts - would be the perfect match. These things are designed for tubes. And if you hook up the tubes you are going to find a match made in heaven.
Should you choose to quad-amp your EV-Sixes (and why not, really? these speakers are a prime candidate for such madness, given how big and simple they are on the insides), you are in for an easy ride. See my article on poly-amping speakers for an intro into the amazing benefits of this setup. So Ride on! I know I will.
Worth the price?
It's hard to put a value on something as rare as the EV-Six. Since the EV-Six doesn't come up for sale often (neither does the Ferrari GTO or the original Countach), it can be hard to price. But since it's similar in design to the Klipsch Heresy, but bigger and with more drivers (and, dare I say, better sound? Definitely a fuller-range and warmer sound than the Heresy), I would put the price for a well-maintained or restored pair at 125% of a new Klipsch Heresy, or around $1,700.
But when you add in the fact that the EV-Six is made of solid mahogany or walnut, and is far, far, FAR more rare than the Heresy, and sounds significantly better than the Heresy (the sound is akin to a full-size Klipschorn), and looks awesome, I think that the EV-Six deserves a bump up to $2,000.
Links to my other hubs, blog, and website
- my website wicked hi-fi
- Wicked Hi-Fi Blog
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