EGG100 Review by George Walker Petit - Producer, Engineer, Composer & Musician

Designed by Andy Munro and manufactured in the UK, the MunroSonic EGG100 near-field studio monitors are just knocking me out.  As my ‘main alternative’ speakers, they are making my work easier, and my product better.

Over the years, I’ve remained on the lookout for that ‘perfect’ set of alternative monitors for my work.  I’ve tried many options; all the expected, ‘normal’ names we all know.

And with the understanding that there are so many options out there now, many engineers will choose alt monitors just on a point of personal preference or brand recognition, rather than spend the time auditioning.

I wanted to try to get away from that thinking. I find that there is much common ground with the high end brands, but not a lot of ‘differences’.  There are a few that stand out, and far too many that just sound...well...not so great.  Even at my chosen price point of around $2k there are some pretty shabby sounding speakers out there!  I’ve never been 100% pleased with what I’ve tried in a small near-field.  And I like to go for 110%.

 

“[Andy Munro] is a wizard, with extensive experience and an impeccable reputation, plain and simple.”

 

The creation of Andy Munro, a legendary engineer and acoustician having worked extensively with Shure, Air Studios, The Rolling Stones, The BBC, Led Zeppelin and other household names, the EGGS are a unique set of monitors.  Especially if you were to go for the Red ones! Andy really doesn’t need more of an introduction from me here; he’s a wizard with extensive experience and an impeccable reputation, plain and simple.  But I will say that his having co-founded Dynaudio Acoustics in 1990 had something to do with my decision to try the EGGS.  To be clear, I have been a Dyn user for about 18 years.  I currently own the BM15a, BM12a and BM6a models, each of which I will put up on the desk, depending on the program material being engineered or mixed.  I love the Dynaudio sound and assumed that Andy’s design with the EGGs would measure up.  But as I said, this time I wanted something different, completely different sonically. Shape, size, low end response the design of the amplifier and control unit...even the color.  Different.

 

“Even the packaging screams: Quality.”

 

I’d read about the EGG150’s a few years back and remembered the favorable reviews and reactions of trusted colleagues.  I remained curious about the shape, design and concept.  So when I decided to buy this time, I reached out to a good friend in the business, Josh Thomas of Rupert Neve Designs, for the EGG100s and arranged for a tryout.  I had the option of sending them back after an audition and some work, and the guys were interested to know my opinions.  Good deal – please send!

They arrived very well packed – the actual design and care taken with the shipping materials tells you something, and it’s form-fit all around; no room for banging around or damage.  Even the packaging screams: Quality.  

Ease of setup?  Well, it really couldn’t have been be easier.  Plug and play, basically, depending on what you are using as a monitor switcher – my preference is the SPL 2Control in tandem with the SPL Phonitor2.  I put the speakers up on their own sturdy rubber stands which are fantastic for adjusting speaker alignment, in the vertical and horizontal plane, not to mention isolating them pretty well.  These stands are well made and very useful as I was able to further refine and adjust my listening sweet-spot by slightly angling the speakers ‘up’ to hit me exactly where I needed with a great stereo image and a tight, phase coherent bass response.  I love that they call them EGG ‘nests’ as well!  Next, I set the EGG’s control unit in a rack next to me, set the volume to match the level coming from my Dyn BM12a’s as they were the current Dyn’s ‘up’.  And off I went...I was up and running in about 20 minutes.

 

“I went for the Red ones, another smart move as they make me smile when I see them in the morning...”

 

First impressions?  A raised eyebrow immediately.  The lovely Red speakers (yes, I went for the Red ones, another smart move as they make me smile when I see them in the morning) are lightweight in comparison to any powered monitor of their size.  Why?  Well, simple – the amplifier is not a ‘limpet’ on the back of the speaker.  I just love this.  It allows the speaker to be positioned easily, the speaker does not serve as a heat generator in my studio and it allows the design of the speaker to focus, quite obviously, on sound.  Oh gosh, what a concept.

 

“the EGG monocoque shell design is designed to minimize diffraction, internal cabinet standing waves and unwanted reflections, all of which reduce issues with phase, stereo imaging and therefore, mix accuracy.”

 

A word on that quickly... Cabinet design plays a huge part in the sound and response of a speaker.  Near-field monitors are generally meant to be used on flat surfaces or meter bridges.  Sonic issues are always expected and ever-present.  But the EGG monocoque shell design is designed to minimize diffraction, internal cabinet standing waves, and unwanted reflections all of which reduce issues with phase, stereo imaging and therefore, mix accuracy.

In the words of the folks at MunroSonic, “Near-field monitors should, by definition, remain unaffected by room size and acoustic conditions but this is rarely the case. Typically, small, rectangular cabinets and a horizontal focus plane create diffraction and reflections that interfere with both frequency and phase, both of which adversely affect stereo imaging and mix accuracy. The EGG100 has a variable tilt base that allows perfect adjustment of the upward angle of the listening axis, so avoiding interfering reflections from the mixing console or desk surface.”  If you want to get deeper into the tech on this, google H.F. Olson’s paper to AES in the late 1960’s.  There’s a very strong case presented there for an ovoid enclosure design.  Listening to these over the last month or so, I really have to agree.  I don’t think the jury is out – I’ve heard the verdict.

I began by listening to a few completed projects of my own with which I had great familiarity, and then a number of high resolution audio files and CD’s across many genres.  I should be clear here – I don’t mix Hip-Hop or Techno music...so I can’t really speak to those styles.  Apologies.  I spent about 90 minutes just having an overall listen, feeling instinctively that these monitors would really open up after a break-in period.  Nevertheless, I recognized their quality and potential straight out of the box.  It made me a bit anxious to get them opened up, really, so I just let them go on a random iTunes playlist for the next 40 hours at moderate volume levels.

Circling back after this burn-in period, I read about the HF/LF trim controls in the User Manual – and decided to fiddle with those a bit.  They offer options to tweak highs and lows at 10Khz and 63Hz.  Helpful for sure; boundary proximity, room reactions...they’ll help dial things in.

 

“I was immediately struck by the fantastic stereo image – the sound stage, the depth of field and, good heavens, the focus and clarity of the EGGs."

 

I used the EGGS editing a project first. And I was pleased to have waited through the burn-in. They certainly had opened up.  I wanted to work with them for a couple of weeks before getting into mixing so that I could become accustomed to their sound and know not only what to expect but where the differences and similarities were with my Dyns. Hearing the same thing or very similar things on both sets of monitors would obviously be pretty useless. But even editing and not concentrating on the ‘sound’ too much, I was immediately struck by the fantastic stereo image – the sound stage, the depth of field and , good heavens, the focus and clarity of the EGGs.  Revealing...HONEST sounding monitors. We certainly don’t want a monitor that is ‘favorable’ to the music – nothing hyped in the lows or highs – and nothing that sounds compressed like a few major brands I won’t mention.

The highs were smooth and present without being harsh or overstated. The lows were punchier and tighter than I had anticipated from a speaker of this size – that must be due to the down-firing bass port on the front of the speaker cabinet, which also has a positive impact on transient response. Well done, guys!

A word on what I do - my focus is on re-creating realism with the support of technology in a mix, in the service of the music and in the hope of achieving the Artists intention and goals. I don’t like people to say “Wow, what a great mix” unless it’s a colleague! I’d rather the general listening audience just hear the music, clean and honest.  In most cases nowadays. I am hired to engineer tracking sessions in large commercial studios and mix the recordings in my own room. My mix studio is now fully ITB (In The Box, all digital). I am fortunate to have a well designed and tight listening environment and super great tools to get the job done right. Music that is well recorded with great players and the right gear to capture the sound deserves a top quality monitoring system in a responsive yet neutral environment for the mix.

 

“the EGG100s never fatigued me. In fact, the speakers became invisible."

 

I spent the next month on numerous projects. The first three come to mind. First, a quintet acoustic jazz project – tracked in Clubhouse Studios in Rhinebeck NY on a Neve desk, in great sounding spaces with all the’ right’ mics and pres.  And great players.  The line up was drums, acoustic and electric bass, Steinway piano, Wurli and Rhodes and nylon string acoustic guitar.  Next was another jazz trio, tracked this time in Turkey. This project had more ‘forward’ sounding music, with a 6 string electric bass, a less traditional sounding jazz drum kit and a Fazioli acoustic piano. The writing was also more ‘fusion’ in nature.  And lastly, my own double album project – everything from solo acoustic guitar to multi-track approaches with rock/blues sounds and horn sections or vocals. On all three projects, with all the hours needed to get the mixes where I wanted them, the EGG100s never fatigued me.  In fact, the speakers became invisible.  When I invariable A/B’d with my Dynaudios, I was thrilled to hear that the work not only translated well but, as I had hoped, having a great set of alternative monitors for perspective and detail work improved my product to the ‘N’th degree. I’ve been using alts for decades – but never with as good results.

After all of this...do I have any reservations in suggesting discerning engineers audition these monitors?  Nope.  Would I request any improvements on the EGG100’s?  Yes.  Two.  One – perhaps a bit more power if possible.  But that is no deal breaker.  And two...can you send me another set I can put in a closet...just in case??

MunroSonic call them “a natural development of the revolutionary, curved, infinite baffle design concept of its big brother, the EGG150...”, but the 100s are a better choice for me for two reasons. One, I have a space issue and want a set of monitors to fit right next to my DYNs and, two, I want a different overall approach to design and, hopefully, sound.

 

by George Walker Petit - Petitjazz.com, New York, USA

 

About George Walker Petit:

George Walker Petit is an awarded producer/engineer based in New York City at his own private facility, PetitJazz Studios. Active in the industry for 35 years, his over 100 released projects have included work by Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs, Will Lee, Vinnie Colaiuta, and a ‘who’s who’ of Jazz artists worldwide. Petit teaches Master Classes in what it means to be a producer/engineer, client liaison and studio etiquette, internationally. He also tours Jazz festivals with his own quintet, composing and performing on guitar.