To hear Andrew Jones recount the starting of Elac’s American operation and foray into affordable speakers, it’s like listening to the character Quint from the movie Jaws (1975) tell us all about his battle scars.
The Debut series started out as Andrew Jones’ project to continue doing what he had done for Pioneer, but now under the Elac label. After some time, and great success, it was time to revise the Debut series ever so slightly to 2.0 status, and add twenty dollars to the MSRP. Done. But the looks remained, if it’s safe now to admit, pretty drab.
Both of those previous iterations were seen as “best sound you can get for the money” type products. But here we are, just even a few more years later, and it’s time for a much bigger leap with the Debut series as it dons the Reference label.
For the first time in my opinion, and the shared opinion of Andrew jones himself, the new Debut Reference speaker looks as good as it sounds. Not to get all Yogi Berra on you, but the refined aesthetics of the new Debut Reference series speakers is quite evident just by looking at them. The sound however, I am happy to report, has also seen equal attention to its refinement.
Available Debut Reference finishes are Satin White Baffle with Stripped Oak vinyl wrapped cabinet, or Satin Black Baffle with Dark Walnut vinyl wrapped cabinet. Along with what looks like tweed cloth grilles that are held in place by magnets as opposed to knob-n-hole attachment.
The front exiting port of the new Debut Reference has gone for a flared slot-port design that could almost go unnoticed if one wasn’t looking for it. Cabinet construction is all new, and given equal priority as the speaker drivers and crossover network. A first for the Debut series as Andrew admits, that cabinet was always third, never tied for first with the previous iterations.
Drivers also see upgrading as the tweeter receives a new waveguide and fresh looking grille. While the mid-bass driver receives an all-new cast aluminum basket to help quell “thonk” sounds and keep the magnet motor system under more control. Crossover also gets a few upgrades, but not in the arena of choosing higher quality components, but a more complex and distinctly Andrew Jones crossover design.
In the RMAF 2019 system, the new Debut Reference speakers were powered, not by $4,500 worth of high-end electronics, but now Elac’s own EA Series EA101EQ-G affordable Class-A/B (BASH) integrated amplifier with built-in DAC, room correction DSP (though not engaged for the demo), and dedicated sub-woofer out. Amplifier power output is 40-Watts per channel stereo (8-Ohms), but we barely used much of it as the new Debut Reference speakers aren’t too demanding.
The DSP room correction on the Elac integrated uses a simple phone app and on-board phone microphone to set-up room correction algorithms and by Andrew’s explaining, it all seems pretty intuitive and simple. Luddites like myself should fear not. Sub-woofer blending is also controlled by the DSP unit, as it can blend sub-woofer output with the speakers and amplifier through your phones built-in microphone.
Enough with the ringmaster’s pitch, Andrew fired up a few songs from artists like Bjork and indie-group Civil Wars and the listening party was started.
Overall, the sound of the new Debut Reference lives up to it’s new “Reference” name. Driver integration and hand-off between frequencies is smoother and more linear. The balance across all frequencies seems to be tighter and more balanced. Tuning of the bass is nearly to die for in this price range, and merits purchasing all by itself. The treble of this iteration does seem more extended than before, but not harsh in the least. Just more airy and delicate with edges and decay.
There’s a whole lot to be excited about in the new Debut Reference series upgrades. Including what challenges this brings to competition around (and further up) in price points. Shipping is estimated to begin in November 2019 (just in time for the holidays) and the street price of the monitors is estimated to be $499 pr USD (barring tariffs).
You’ve done it again Andrew. Cheers!
by Eric Franklin Shook