We tested the EMP E55Ti speakers in a moderately sized, acoustically treated room. Associated test equipment included a Marantz SR6005 A/V receiver, LG BD 370 Blu-Ray disc player, Pioneer PL-61 Turntable with Ortofon OM-5E catridge, Bellari Phono Pre-Amp, HeadRoom Micro DAC and Kimber Kable speaker wire. To ensure proper break-in, we ran the speakers at low volume for 50 hours prior to our listening test.
For listening material, we used the SACD version of Steely Dan’s Gaucho and Toto’s Toto IV, the DVD-Audio version of Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly, and CD versions of Maceo Parker’s Roots and Grooves, Dire Straits’ Love Over Gold and Marcus Miller’s The Sun Don’t Lie.
The EMP E55Ti offer lovely high frequency detail and articulation. We do love our fabric dome tweeters and the E55Ti’s delivered a wonderfully balanced and engaging treble response that delighted the ears without ever fatiguing. Cymbals, brass overtones, strings and sibilant vocal sounds were carried out with veracity and style. We were also impressed at how well the E55Ti’s tweeter held together at extreme volumes. In the end, it took one of our brightest recordings played at a very high volume to get the high-end to break up and, even then, it was at the very top of the frequency response. In general, we were very impressed to hear such great high frequency response from a speaker in this price class.
Mid-range response was lush, dramatic and very much forward in the mix. While not starkly out of balance, the E55Ti’s midrange attributes do tend to jump out into the room and grab you. When listening to Love over Gold, Mark Knopfler’s vocal and guitar performances leapt away from the speakers and sat right in front of us. Though we wouldn’t characterize the E55Ti’s midrange attributes as cold or sterile they weren’t exactly warm and fuzzy, either. Let’s put it this way: If the E55Ti were your date for the night, you wouldn’t take her to a quiet, swank wine bar for some sweet romancing, you’d take her to the dance club for a night of partying and maybe a little night-cap later. The good news is, you’ll still respect her in the morning. She’s got class like that.
The E55Ti’s bottom end is ample, but not nearly as robust as we had expected. Glancing at the six 6.5” woofers in the room with us, we anticipated more from the lowest octave than we got. Changing the position of the speakers relative to adjacent walls reinforced the mid-bass a little, but didn’t make a dramatic difference in the lowest frequencies. Still, we were pleased that the bass response didn’t exhibit the polar opposite by sounding bloated or tubby. They offered just enough punch to be palpable and we certainly heard the tonality of the upper bass octaves clearly and without unwanted resonance; but on Marcus Miller’s demanding bass tracks we were left wanting some more authority in the deepest bass region. Here is where we felt bi-amp capability would have made sense. Were we able to provide separate amplification for the low frequency drivers, our bass experience may have been different. Instead, we decided to connect an 8” then 12” subwoofer to the system and brought them in at about 55hz. With a little assistance from a subwoofer, the E55Ti’s sounded that much more powerful and our overall experience was enhanced.
Aside from the lean bass response, our only other criticisms of the E55Ti include a slight lack of image extension and some unexpected bumps in the midrange band. When listening to the towers, we noticed that the image didn’t seem to extend much beyond the edges of the speakers so we were more easily able to place the source of the sound rather than have the speakers “disappear” in the room. Also, with some of our recordings, we noticed a bit of a bump in the midrange region that somewhat colored the sound of some instruments and vocals. That being said, these are pretty fine criticisms to be making of a speaker that costs about $800.00 a pair. That the E55Ti is able to stand fast amongst very tough competition in the sub $1K speaker department is a testament to the sound quality that emanates from these speakers.
EMP’s E55Ti provides a big, engaging sound with clean high frequency detail in an attractive, statuesque package. Those with a thirst for bass will want to add a sub but we think listeners will appreciate the E55Ti’s lively sound that stays clean even at loud volumes. At $800.00 a pair, the E55Ti floor-standing speaker is a solid value and, with free shipping, easily auditioned.
- Lush midrange reproduction
- Clean and articulate high frequencies
- Attractive, glossy finish
- Lacks deepest bass octave
- Taller than average cabinet
- Some unwanted cabinet resonance