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On the EVE of something special

EVE Audio is making a name for itself and it’s not even been in business a year. PSNEurope spent a morning and afternoon there...

Let’s get the name out of the way first.
It’s a bold strategy, calling yourself EVE Audio, when the founder is the ex-CEO of Berlin’s ADAM Audio. “The name is important, but maybe not so…” says Roland Stenz (pictured), the ex-CEO in question. The company was nearly called Level Audio – but that just partially hides the connection.

“If we were to have a completely different name, and then the speakers were using similar technology to ADAM, I would have to have a discussion about that all the time. ADAM is my history, and I was an important part of it, so why should I not recognise it? The name makes it loud and clear where we come from…”
EVE – created from ADAM. The eve of a new beginning. A rebirth, perhaps: like the Eve robot in Wall-E. There’s lots of ways of interpreting the name.
Stenz began his professional as an electronic engineer building devices for the broadcast industry. But an underlying passion for loudspeaker technology brought him to the attention of Klaus Heinz and, in short, the two formed ADAM Audio in 1999.

The partnership has made an impression in a crowded studio monitor market – ADAM monitors are to be found in studios worldwide. But a split with Heinz in 2010 led Stenz to reassess his options. “It was clear I should start my own business,” he reflects.

He immersed himself in R&D work for 18 months, emerging at Frankfurt PL+S this year with partner Kerstin Mischke in tow (also ex-ADAM) and a range of monitor speakers under the EVE Audio brand.

The EVE team has now set up operation in a ‘media city’ in the south-east of Berlin. The HQ was quite a find: the office’s previous occupier went out of business and left in something of a hurry, leaving furniture, decor and triple-glazed windows intact. A conference/meeting space makes an ideal product demo room. Transport links are good too.

But the ‘deal-closer’ has to be the adjacent space which has become the EVE assembly and testing area. It was formerly a workshop for creating hand-painted theatre and cinema posters before and after German Reunification.

The ceiling must be three storeys high – and the industrial lifts, which painters would use to access the huge canvasses, are intact too. Splatterings of colour, long since dried on the walls, give the place a personality rarely found in a factory building.

EVE speakers use the Air Motion Transformer (ribbon driver) to be found can in ADAM speakers and others (for instance, Elac, Unity Audio) As Mischke puts it: “Just because Roland left ADAM he didn’t change his opinion as to what was the best technology to drive the high frequencies. To look for a way to improve it is logical, but not to abandon it completely.”
Stenz says he has taken the design and improved it, making it more precise with less distortion, as well as being easier to factory-produce. But being an electronics man, Stenz had ideas about user interface and integrated DSP too.

Hence, all EVE SC – for SilverCone – speakers feature a front-panel knob set in a horseshoe of tiny LEDs: this combination gives the user access to desk filter, EQ and shelving filter adjustments, as well as metering levels. The LED ring warns if you are overloading the speaker’s Burr-Brown A-D converter, for instance.

Manufacturing takes place in China, under the supervision of an EVE representative. But – importantly – every product is QC tested in Berlin. “Every speaker is unpacked, tested in every function under 115V/60Hz and 230V/50Hz, adjusted for frequency response… so in the end, EVE is responsible for the final quality.” The monitors are powered, with a Class D amplifier made and tested to EVE’s specification. Products in the catalogue range from the baby SC204 (2-way, 4” active nearfield) to the substantial SC408 (4-way, 8” active nearfield). The TS – for ThunderStorm – subwoofer portfolio covers four models from the TS107 7” active sub to the TS112 12”. There are plans to look at bigger models in both ranges, but, lest we forget, EVE is still a young company. The Frankfurt launch in April was quite the revelation for EVE’s Stenz and Mischke. After all, before the PL+S debut, all about EVE had been going on behind closed doors.
“It was way better than we expected,” they say. “We launched a complete line and we got amazing interest from all over the world. We had 85 seriously interested distribution companies talking to us. It was a huge challenge to pick the right ones.”

At the time of writing, EVE is taking on more staff members, while there are 40 distributors signed up in globally, including representation in Belgium/Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, Japan, France, China, Australia, Italy, Korea, South Africa and – most recently – in US and Canada.

Phil Skins’ Nova Distribution is the point-man in the UK. Skins tells PSNEurope: “Listeners are impressed with the balance and transparency, the low end, the build quality, the range available, the user interface… the entire EVE package is a match.”
EVE has now shipped a significant number of speakers, while the distribution network continues to grow. “People understand EVE to be a huge opportunity,” says Stenz.
From genesis to revelation, then.

Story: Dave Robinson