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-   -   Enya EA-X4 Review: Some Pros but Be Aware. (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=604888)

Paul-ColumbiaMD 01-24-2021 09:33 AM

Enya EA-X4 Review: Some Pros but Be Aware.
 
Pros:
• Inexpensive (sub $1k)
• Great appearance
• Very Good Sound Quality (with AcousticPlus on) and plugged in
• Very Good playability (with correct setup)

Cons:
• Poor Setup and pre-ship quality control
• Lack of viable technical support
• No parts supply chain
• Questionable production cycle
• Difficult to access battery
• No documentation
• Over-stated Global and US Presence
• Weak customer service response
• No telephone contact number (toll free, direct, international, etc.)


Purchase, receipt and unboxing: This past December I sprung $900.00 for an Enya EA-X4 AcousticPlus Carbon Fiber (CF) guitar from a nearby vendor selling through Reverb.com. CF guitars are invaluable here in Maryland with our mop-humid hot summers and powder-dry cold winters. The guitar arrived in a pretty good hard case, and once tuned, sounded okay through my "new guitar high." As the high wore off, however, I began to detect some issues in pitch and intonation. Initial observations/concerns brought to the forefront that the EA-X4 ships with absolutely NO documentation or technical info regarding setup, strings, battery access/replacement preamp section ... nothing. There is no downloadable documentation on the Enya web site. There is some information accompanying the EA-X4 specs in the product display at www.enya-music.com, including that the strings are allegedly Elixir 16502s.

Battery and Preamp: I'd read forum recommendations from other owners to replace the supplied, cheap 3.7-volt 18650 rechargeable battery with a better model. Unlike the SYSTEM70 Trans Acoustic Preamp in Yamaha guitars, with two AA batteries in the tail stem of the guitar (it just pops out), Enya incorporates a single 18650 battery on the preamp itself, mounted on the underside, angled out of view of the naked eye. It must be accessed and removed by feel. Removal of the original battery was wrist-breaking and difficult at best. I have medium size hands, and found that the edges of the sound hole dug into my wrist to the point of pain. The battery mounts into retention clips and, at the given angle. is difficult to grasp with one's finger tips. My wife, with smaller hands, helped but we both came out of the experience with bruises around our wrists. I ordered a replacement battery, a Samsung-brand model, rated at 3500 milli-amps per hour (ma/H) (up from the 2600 ma/H original battery). The higher the ma/H rating up to 3500 ma/H, the longer the battery life. Without documentation, one has no way of knowing that the supplied battery is a 'button top" version, not a "flat-top." Alas, the replacement battery re-inserts much easier than removal of the former, but this is where we discovered the button-top requirement and had to reorder the correct form factor (again, documentation would have helped get it right the first time).

Setup/Intonation issues: The EA-X4 shipped without any factory or vendor set up. Out of the box, the guitar was intonating 1/8 step sharp at the third fret and more than a 1/4 step at the 12th. This required retuning the guitar, depending on what section of the fret board one is playing. Shortly after break-in, a pronounced buzz developed on the 2d (B) string. Again, with no documented checklist of inspection points, the first issue I discovered was that the tuning machines (hex nuts and rear screws) were all loose. More relevant and shocking, I discovered that the two (upper and lower) allen bolts inside the body that secure the neck to the guitar were both loose … but more, so loose that I could have completely removed both by hand. After tightening to firm, the intonation and buzz issues largely corrected.

The Company - Behind the Curtain: Enya headquarters is collocated with manufacturing in Guangdong, China. Their 'About' web site page touts Enya as, "Global," and "among the largest and most successful stringed instrument companies." Really? They described themselves as being global with US Offices in Houston, TX." Checking, there is one address for Enya Music at 6132 Westline Dr, Houston, TX 77036. I ran this location in Google Maps. The location is in Houston's China Town district in a light industry office park. Google's street cam allows one to pan around for any door plate reflecting Enya Music. Nothing seen, not meaning there isn't someone there, but it is certainly not reflective of the US extension of the "global" presence of "one of the largest and most successful stringed instrument companies." US Toll-Free number? No. On exploration of their web site storefront, one sees that Enya is focused primarily on Ukuleles, not guitars. Guitars appear to be their second line and I see Enya Carbon Fiber X3-series and EA-X4 have been out of stock since November 2020 (like production has ceased?) and there is no pre-order option. Enya's line of wood guitars appears available (albeit they are not the "most successful stringed instrument" models). I also learned that Enya's Houston TX address is shared with another entity, "PopuBand," aka, "PopuMusic," aka "Populele." What do they do? They manufacture ukuleles. Of course, Popu-whatever doesn't have a phone number either.

Customer Service/Tech Support: Correspondence with Enya-USA customer service and tech support (whether through my vendor or direct) netted nearly nothing. Available only by email, the person with whom I dealt was named, "Mike" at the '[email protected]' email address. I figure 'Mike' is a pseudonym. When I asked about documentation for the EA-X4, he said that it was in edit "with management," (even though the EA-X4 has only been on the market since 2019), its specs haven't changed, and if there is to be new documentation, how 'bout the old documentation? There is no downloadable documentation on the Enya web site. Further, when I asked Mike questions, he would only parrot back / confirm to me observations I'd already determined and reported to him. I knew more than he, and he urged me to report more discoveries so he could communicate them back to the factory (weird). He offered no new data, insight or tips. I was curious about how I might replace or get service for the "DoubleŽ" preamp unit if it should ever fail. No answer. There is no online reference to "DoubleŽ" as a manufacturer of preamps. It is probably a proprietary unit made in China. I'm left to believe that the Houston TX office is possibly nothing more than a leased boiler room that facilitates sales orders from the factory in China to resellers in the US, such as those that work through Reverb.com and Amazon. The customer support is about as functional as a Pyongyang Traffic Lady.

Conclusion: Don't avoid Enya, but be aware of the potential frustrations impacting playability, support and service life. As long as it remains set up and working, The Enya EA-X4 is a fairly good kick-about acoustic-electric guitar and the built-in effects are okay. The reason one should buy it is for a comparatively inexpensive, entry-level carbon fiber guitar for use in extremely dry or humid environments. For the price, my jury remains out on the bang for the buck. I do not feel this guitar will follow any serious player into their memorable archives. Beware of setup: The customer must be prepared to check everything, including action and tighten parts and joints upon receipt. The scale length is 66cm (25.98"), and bears rechecking when adjusting action and tightening the neck bolts. Forum members report that on receipt the action is set too high, but this could also indicate loose neck bolts. 30-day return policy doesn't allow a lot of time to evaluate guitar through experience. The preamp design and placement are dumb in relation to the 18650 battery. Also, while Enya supplies a USB-1/4" jack cable that charges the battery, out of the box, one cannot charge and play (with effects) at the same time. There may be a splitter cable option out there for such purposes. Enya is one of what I would describe as the three Chinese 'wizz-bang' carbon fiber, campfire, just-this-side-of-toy-guitars, along with Lava and Klos. The toy reference is mainly in the companies' fire-and-forget sales and support structure, with a lot of multi-media advert bling, but none having much post-sale support. Ultimately, I'll probably climb the mountain to a Rainsong, McPherson or Emerald.

jdinaz 01-24-2021 09:51 AM

A very good and honest review, I hope it works for you for many years. Never too late to climb that mountain. :D

steelvibe 01-24-2021 11:29 AM

Thank you for the in-depth review, and no shame with being honest. There have been plenty of criticisms of every brand on the CF subforum, even those brands of which much is expected. It is what drives the good companies to get better.

Aspiring 01-24-2021 04:27 PM

I'm curious how this one would compare to the Journey RT660 I recently picked up. I paid just a touch more for a bstock model so they are close in price range potentially

It also had some setup / qc things I had to work through. including a nut that didn't have the mounting slot in the neck cut properly and which has broken free of its glue. Although it is also bstock.

I really quite like the playability and tone on the rt660 now though. It is very warm and seems a lot deeper and more normal guitar like than the OF660 I played a year or two ago.

The only thing that could be better is the overall volume / projection. It's a bit on the quiet side.

Their customer support in the us was quite good as well.

I will put up a separate review thread on that one.

Paul-ColumbiaMD 01-24-2021 06:01 PM

Dear 'Aspiring':

Right now I'd say if you have no problems with intonation and consistency with your Journey, stick with it! Ultimately, I'll probably nail the bugs out of the Enya EA-X4, but I just finished a virtual open mic where the instrument's performance just sort o' 'melted down' as I played it. It seems there requires some precision balance between the action (set to specs), the scale length (effected by the neck position) and maybe the strings (I am experimenting with Elixir 16502 cust lights). None of my other guitars present the frustrations of this Enya.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Aspiring (Post 6613967)
I'm curious how this one would compare to the Journey RT660 I recently picked up. I paid just a touch more for a bstock model so they are close in price range potentially

It also had some setup / qc things I had to work through. including a nut that didn't have the mounting slot in the neck cut properly and which has broken free of its glue. Although it is also bstock.

I really quite like the playability and tone on the rt660 now though. It is very warm and seems a lot deeper and more normal guitar like than the OF660 I played a year or two ago.

The only thing that could be better is the overall volume / projection. It's a bit on the quiet side.

Their customer support in the us was quite good as well.

I will put up a separate review thread on that one.


Aspiring 01-25-2021 09:46 PM

Good to know. The Journey is definitely meeting the niche that I was trying to fill.
The TransAcoustic system or similar night be a worthy addition at some point though.

Sorry to hear about your misadventures with the Enya though.

Paul-ColumbiaMD 03-30-2021 10:23 AM

Update - Not Recommended - Avoid.
 
Quote:

Conclusion: Don't avoid Enya, but be aware of the potential frustrations impacting playability, support and service life. As long as it remains set up and working, The Enya EA-X4 is a fairly good kick-about acoustic-electric guitar and the built-in effects are okay. The reason one should buy it is for a comparatively inexpensive, entry-level carbon fiber guitar for use in extremely dry or humid environments. For the price, my jury remains out on the bang for the buck. I do not feel this guitar will follow any serious player into their memorable archives. Beware of setup: The customer must be prepared to check everything, including action and tighten parts and joints upon receipt. The scale length is 66cm (25.98"), and bears rechecking when adjusting action and tightening the neck bolts. Forum members report that on receipt the action is set too high, but this could also indicate loose neck bolts. 30-day return policy doesn't allow a lot of time to evaluate guitar through experience. The preamp design and placement are dumb in relation to the 18650 battery. Also, while Enya supplies a USB-1/4" jack cable that charges the battery, out of the box, one cannot charge and play (with effects) at the same time. There may be a splitter cable option out there for such purposes. Enya is one of what I would describe as the three Chinese 'wizz-bang' carbon fiber, campfire, just-this-side-of-toy-guitars, along with Lava and Klos. The toy reference is mainly in the companies' fire-and-forget sales and support structure, with a lot of multi-media advert bling, but none having much post-sale support. Ultimately, I'll probably climb the mountain to a Rainsong, McPherson or Emerald.
Enya Music has not listed any of their CF Guitars (X3, X3C or EA-X4) as 'in stock' on their web site since at least November 2020. Beginning December, 2020, setup and QC issues with the EA-X4 I purchased resulted in Enya representatives telling me that they were going to halt production of (at least) the EA-X4, pending working out QC issues and producing credible documentation to go along with the instrument.

In the meantime, HPL does appear to continue distribution of their HPL guitar line, calling them among the "finest musical instruments," which confounds their [lack of] popularity in the market. It appears as well that Enya is focusing more on ukulele production.

This company is definitely in the 'buyer beware' category in my opinion, unless you're looking for a uke, and there is a vast and credible field of KNOWN uke manufacturers for enthusiasts to check out ... just sayin'.


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