ELAC B6 Debut Series 6.5" Bookshelf Speakers by Andrew Jones (Pair)
- Custom Drivers.Height: 14.0 in / 356 mm,Width: 8.5 in / 216 mm,Depth: 10.0 in / 254 mm
- Woven Aramid-Fiber Woofer
- Deep-Spheroid Custom Waveguide
- Intricate Crossover
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From the manufacturer
The Experts Agree
“The demo pair (ELAC B5) produced jaw-dropping sound—and not just "for the money." It was naturally weighted with a smooth yet detailed top end, uncolored mids, surprisingly solid and extended lows, and superb imaging.” - Thomas J Norton, Stereophile, The Show Newport, 2015
The Show Newport 2015 coverage
Best Sound (for the money): The Andrew-Jones-designed ELAC Debut B5 ($229 per pair—that’s not a misprint) may not only be the greatest bargain at the Newport show, but may turn out to be the greatest bargain in the history of audio. This tiny econo-box was spectacularly, stunningly, amazingly great for the price. I can’t wait to hear the higher-end speakers Jones is developing for ELAC. – Robert Harley, The Absolute Sound, April 2015.
Superior Build Quality & Custom Designed Drivers Are Key In Delivering A True Audiophile Experience
Custom-Designed Woofer With Aramid-Fiber Cone
Aramid fiber is employed in the woofers of all ELAC Debut passive speaker systems. Aramid fiber offers a superior strength-to-weight ratio and improved damping characteristics over conventional paper or plastic drivers. This added strength means arriving at designs that achieve a broader bandwidth with smoother response.
Cabinet Engineered For Sound
Every ELAC enclosure is engineered for the long run with thick MDF outer walls and a luxurious textured vinyl finish.
Silk-Dome Tweeter With Deep-Spheroid Custom Waveguide
The waveguide surrounding the new ELAC high-frequency driver features a custom, deep spheroid profile to improve directivity control and shield the dome tweeter from cabinet diffraction modes inherent in traditional box enclosures.
It's All In The Details
Gold Plated 5-Way Binding Posts
5 - Way binding posts are utilized allowing for a wide variety of connection possibilities. Gold plating has been applied for improved connectivity.
Dual Flared Vent
All ELAC speakers employ a dual flared vent to greatly reduce air turbulence which can cause unwanted noise.
An intricate 8 - element crossover optimizes performance and blending between the drivers for superior accuracy.
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|Sold By||Available from these sellers||Amazon.com||Amazon.com||Amazon.com||Music Direct||Amazon.com|
|Item Dimensions||10 x 8.5 x 14 in||10.6 x 7.7 x 14.8 in||7.1 x 10.7 x 11.8 in||10.8 x 7.9 x 12.8 in||10 x 8.5 x 14 in||9.3 x 7.1 x 13.5 in|
|Item Weight||32.6 lbs||16.31 lbs||13.23 lbs||35.9 lbs||15.59 lbs||13.01 lbs|
|Speaker Type||Bookshelf||Bookshelf||Bookshelf||Bookshelf||Bookshelf||Bookshelf, Center Channel|
The Debut B6 takes the incredible B5 sound profile and adds an extra dollop of bass and dynamic range, making it a stand-out choice for multi-channel systems and critical music listeners seeking a superb bookshelf speaker that packs real performance and punch.
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To me, the stand-out, jaw-dropping feature is the quality of bass. Lots of bookshelf speakers with 5-7" drivers spec to -6 db at 40-44hz, but that's not the whole story. At all. On cheap (ish) bookshelf speakers, you tend to get sloppy, overhanging bass that's overwhelmingly loud at the port frequency. As a result, rather than getting musical notes, you get a single hammering frequency that falls out of step with the music. On the ELAC B6, the bass is incredibly tight and musical. Stunning. I simply can't believe the quality of the bass at this price point. To compare: I formerly owned a pair of $4200 2-way Devore Super 8s. The quality of bass on these Elac's is much, much better.
Now, a common question I see is "do I need a subwoofer with these?". Well, the specs are the specs. The bass is absolutely superb to 40hz, but falls off beyond that. I tested with a tone generator and got "audibly useful" bass to around 32hz. I heard some output as low as 26hz and nothing lower than that. If I did use a subwoofer (presently I am not), I would cutoff much lower than I normally do for bookshelves (I'd probably "hand-off" bass duties to the sub at 45hz or so. Normally I'd cut over at 60-80hz).
I actually also own the B&W 685 S2 speakers as well, so I could hear for myself everything that Steve Guttenberg mentioned in his CNET review. He's spot on regarding the mid-bass. The ELAC's bass is simply better. But, the 685 S2 is, indeed, more resolving. You can hear more overtone and ambient acoustic information with the 685 S2 (I should point out that the B&Ws resolve as good or better than any speakers I've ever heard. I think it has to do with the B&W's decoupled tweeter). So, there are trade offs between these two speakers. Guttenberg also mentioned that he could hear some sibilance in vocals on the ELAC B6 (specifically Jeff Tweedy on Jesus, etc). I've heard no sibilance whatsoever on anything (Tweedy sounded perfect on the ELACs as a matter of fact). I'm using a NAD D3020 (awesome combo, btw), and I suspect any sibilance is the fault of Guttenberg's electronics, not the B6 speakers.
Fit & finish: really good for the price, but nothing stunning. The look is clean and modern, but simple. These are, after all, just black boxes. Materials are nice enough and tolerances are good. But don't be expect to be wowed by the material quality or workmanship. I will say, I'm glad the vinyl wrap isn't pretending to be wood. Faux wood is just awful. These look vaguely Bau-hausian. Nice, clean, utilitarian. The MDF is thin, but given the relatively small size of the speakers, I don't think box-resonance is a big deal (I certainly can't hear the tell-tale "chestiness" of box resonance).
All-in-all: an easy 5 stars.
Note: I bought these straight from ELAC, not Amazon.
First off, a few things really stood out to me:
1) These are spec'd as being 87 dB at 2.83 v/1m. Don't let that fool you! These are capable of getting VERY loud without any magical, high dollar amplification. I heard very little distortion, even at high volume, and the box resonance other reviewers mentioned was missing. I am sure that even my room filled with a dozen people for a dinner party or something, that these would/could be easily heard anywhere in the room.
2) Sound staging and stereo separation is great! I didn't mess around with "careful placement" or with measurements (it was just too late at night), but all of my favorite test tracks were well represented, with individual sounds (and artists) being easy to pin point in the air in front of me. I'm sure that precise placement would really let these gel as at least a 9/10 for imaging.
3) I picked these because I wanted to know what sort of bass could be accomplished with such a small speaker (no subwoofer!) and these were highly touted as being a stellar candidate for such an application. While these DO produce a good deal of bass, these still left a lot of meat on the bones and depending on what genres of music you might prefer, a subwoofer (or some floor standing towers) may be needed.
I won't say these are "good for the price"... these are SUPERB for the SIZE, especially if you don't plan to match it to a suitable sub. Yes, I know, other bookshelves like the SVS Ultra can be had (at over three times the price) that might bring slightly more bass to the show but really physics are physics and as they say, "there is no replacement for displacement". A bookshelf speaker, even if you weave woofer cones out of angle hair and hand mold tweeters out of star dust, is still only capable of so much.
Some tracks that really stood out:
There are a handful of tracks that I have found are notoriously difficult for many speakers to play cleanly, especially at higher volume. The B6 passed all of them with flying colors:
1) Elton John - "Mad Man Across The Water", from album of same name. This song has a "noisy bit" that reoccurs during listening, where there is just so much going on at once that at high volume many woofers just distort into an ugly mess. The B6 remained composed and hardly sounded phased at all.
2) dZihan & Kamien - "Ay Ay Ay", from Hi-Fidelity Dub Sessions Vol.2. This song was simply mastered and produced to torment audiophiles. I've never bothered to run it through a spectrum analyzer to tell what is really going here but this one has made pretty much every system I've heard it on (sans subwoofer) weak in the knees... and distort. The B6 was no different in these regards. That it played this track back with more control and less distortion than many much larger (and much more expensive) speakers that I've heard impressed me.
3) Steely Dan "Rikki Don't Lose That Number", from the album "Pretzel Logic" is another one like #2. Not the entire song! Just that marimba or whatever that percussion instrument is, in the intro to the song. Turn that up loud and wonder why your speakers are broken? Nah, it's just this song. Here, the veil over part of the mid bass region (I think) in the B6 actually made this trouble part smooth and... almost normal sounding!
There were a ton of other songs I tried, everything from Vivaldi and Bach to Charles Mingus, Sting, Dianna Krall, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Sphongle, Pink Floyd, and Diablo Swing Orchestra. In my opinion these speakers play better with small ensemble tracks where too much isn't going on at the same time. VERY nice with acoustic guitar, violin, and piano. Large orchestral pieces did quite well too although I thought some of the percussion, including timpani and kettles, were rather subdued. They were present; they just didn't have the presence I am used to hearing on larger speakers.
Vocals, both male and female, seemed quite forward and perhaps a little "shouty". Not ideal but considering that there are only two drivers here, in a relatively small box, the B6 is still very good.
Upright bass and even electric four string bass was shoved to the background. This isn't horrible, if you are used to it, but if you listen to specific tracks just for the bass presentation, you may be a bit disappointed. Get used to it or buy some floor standers and/or a subwoofer. The B6 does do bass, and quite well, but rather that letting it out as an equal partner in the musical marriage, bookshelf speakers in general will have a habit of relegating bass tracks to the underlying foundation of the composition; in honesty, probably right where most artists intended it to be in the first place.
"Good for the price"? That depends on what you want to do with them. These would be hard to beat at any *justifiably* higher price, in this size range, and if you have the budget and the room you are better off with quality floor standers anyway. If you can live without the deepest end of the musical frequency spectrum being portrayed realistically, these may suffice even without a subwoofer.
Photo is the B6's on stands in front of the homemade two way open baffles that were specifically tuned to reproduce Charles Mingus on his bass.
So, I decided on a simple 2.0 system powered by a basic Yamaha AV receiver (RX-V381 which was recently discontinued and available at a very reasonable price), and searched for reasonably-priced bookshelf speakers with a reputation for decent full range sound, including decent low end.
These speakers provide that. In fact, the low end output during a viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy streaming from Amazon Prime was shocking. It actually sounded like there was a small sub hidden in the room somewhere!
Don't misunderstand. They are not Earth-shaking, by any means. But, they do put out a balanced, rich, full-range of sound, unlike any other single-6in-based bookshelf speaker I have ever heard. The mids and highs are quite smooth, with zero harshness (once broken in), as well.
The price is just gravy on the cake.
Edit: The Distortion seem to have disappeared after a couple weeks. I think I just needed a break in period. I’m very happy with these speakers.