Few products had as much buzz at the show as the new budget Elac loudspeakers did. A couple weeks before RMAF we did a video montage at a Schiit Audio show. If you check out imbed below you will see that people were talking up the new Elac bookshelves (and now at RMAF, floorstanders) far before the ink was even dry on the press release.
With a renewed sense of purpose for [budget audio at RMAF], press and causal conversations alike tended to swarm around potentially great bargains on the scene. If there was an IT girl for the show, it was the new Elac products. I had a chance to catch up with the designer of the new “leading ladies” on the scene, Andrew Jones. Andrew has a long history in audio, touching bases at companies like KEF, Infinity, TAD, and most recently Pioneer. Having designed loudspeakers at both the very high end (TAD) and budget (Pioneer) gives him major street cred when it comes to value-driven propositions. After our conversation in the 2nd floor hallway at the Marriott, there is no doubt in my mind that his intent is to bring as much of the high end experience down into >$500 and >$1k price points as possible.
Lets start with the aforementioned bookshelves. The 5.25″ B5 will set you back a mere $230 a pair. The aesthetic design is straightforward enough. Nothing too overtly fanciful, just a good ‘ol pair of box bookshelves without all the crazy bluetooth shapes or colors. Although I think most will be inclined to step up to the 6.5″ B6’s ($280) for $50 more, that is a great price to start at and the size is quite manageable for a large desk or living room end table situation.
The product line is rounded out by a swarm of matching home theater extensions including a 5.25″ center ($180), power subwoofers ($250/$500/$700) and even a 4″ reflective Dolby Atmos module ($230/pair).
The F5 floor stander at the heart of Elac room at RMAF is priced at $560 a pair and serves up sonics via a three way design utilizing three 5.25″ woofers and a 1″ cloth dome tweeter. Andrew made it very easy to say that his loudspeakers sounded exceptional for the price at the show. Its didn’t hurt that the system was backed by a large scale assault of high end components. However unrealistic it might be to push a pair of budget speakers with gear that totals the tens of thousands, it don’t blame the team for making the floor standers on display “sound their very best”. They did, in fact sound pretty “best”. Best pair of $500 speakers I can ever recall hearing actually, although the sad truth is that $500 floor standers don’t come around these parts that often. The presentation at RMAF was a blessing on both fronts. The idea churns strange imagery in my mind’s eye of hungry audiophiles lined up at a long table as far as the eye can see, all pounding their remotes on the table chanting “More, More, More!” Feel free to sign me up as well. I would love to see how far down the rabbit hole Andrew can take us.