ESI Aktiv 05 review

Kat Orphanides
3 Dec 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

Sensibly sized studio monitors that sound brilliant for their price


The ESI Aktiv 05 studio reference monitors are a little larger than a typical pair of bookcase speakers and quite a bit heavier at 4.5kg each. They're also extremely well built, which is appropriate to the typical length of service and indelicate treatment your average studio speaker can expect. It's worth noting, though, that there's no grille at the front to protect the speakers' delicate cones, which can make them prone to damage if you store them at floor level.

ESI Aktiv 05

Unlike most hi-fi speakers, studio monitors of this sort aren’t designed to produce a room-filling sound with a broad sweet spot. What they’re really built for is accurate near-field listening when producing music. ESI has aimed to create a flat frequency response, particularly in the low- and mid-range. This means that the speakers are designed to output the sounds coming through them as accurately as possible without adding audio characteristics of their own.

At the back of the monitors, below a chunky bass port, is one level control. Those who've used large monitors will notice the difference between this and the banks of room size adjustment switches that you'll find on larger speakers to help optimise their sound for different listening environments. This is because these 5in monitors are designed for use in a relatively small space with fixed positioning. There's a single input, too, which can take either a balanced XLR input or an unbalanced 1.4in jack input.

ESI Aktiv 05

Although EST provides configuration guidance on using the Aktiv 05 speakers as part of 2.1, 5.1 and 7.1 monitoring systems, these are rare and most users will, like us, set up the speakers in a stereo configuration, which requires them to be equidistant both from each other and from the listener.

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