The Elac UB5 and Discovery Ecosystem – CES 2016

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Having attended more than my fair share of audio shows I would like to think that I don’t get duped very easily. But on my approach to Andrew Jone’s Elac room (where he usually houses a cornucopia of budget-priced loudspeakers) I feel I got a bit hoodwinked by the new new Elac bookshelf that was on display.

AH CES 2016 BANNER-AH

The Deadmau5 demo track the Andrew was playing was booming, not in a overbaked way by any means, but in a more subtle where-is-the-sub kind of way. So I asked. “Where is the sub, Andrew?” To which he replied with a smile “There isn’t one”. The interaction is probably one of the most overdone audio room coverage cliches in the book, but I fell for it hook, line and sinker.

I got to hear the impressive F5 Floorstander ($279/each) from Elac’s Debut series [a few months back] and Andrew already had a new line set to go for CES. The new UB5 passive bookshelves ($500/pair) will be part of a new line of products called Uni-Fi that will hit a slightly higher price point, and Andrew even hinted that their might be more lines coming above the UB5 in the future.

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What started with a single pair of loudspeakers from a low key brand is quickly evolving into a monster collection of choices heavily laced with the promise of high performance for the cost. The new UB5 is now a 3-way design (compared to the Debut line’s B5/B6 2-way design) which Andrew tells me helps free up the drivers for better performance in both the lows and the highs. Musical waves pour out courtesy of a coaxial 1″ tweeter embedded in a 4″ aluminum driver for the mids and highs, and a 5.25″ aluminum cone in its own enclosure for the lows (hence the UB-“5). Cross over points for the three drivers happen at 300Hz and 3kHz. A Uni-Fi series UF5 floorstander ($1k/each) and center channel ($350) will also be available when the products launch in April.

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If all that wasn’t enough, ELAC is also taking a dip into the other end of audio chain by introducing a few connected devices of their own. The Discovery music server ($1k) pictured above comes with a lifetime subscription to Roon. It contains all the proper bits for digital output via optical or coaxial (to connect to your favorite DAC) and also two pairs of independent analog RCA’s should you want to go that route directly. Music sources are plentiful as well. In addition to the previously-mentioned Roon, you will also be able to connect to Tidal, Spotify and Airplay. File collectors can, of course, still attach an external hard drive to a USB connection located in the back.

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Most interesting is perhaps the connectivity to Elac’s own upcoming Discovery ecosystem which includes a DS-A101 integrated amplifier ($499) and power modules that can be fitted into any of Andrew Jones bookshelves. The new power modules take models like the B5 from passive to active and will wirelessly connect to their ecosystem individually or in pairs controlled by manual switches located on the back panel.

Christopher Walker is the gent who covers off on the electronic side of things for Elac and between him and Jones they seem to be poised and ready to hit the market with a large collection of well thought out audiophile-couscous products.

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The Discovery integrated amplifier covers off as both a digital endpoint (including Airplay & Bluetooth) and as full-featured under-the-TV solution. In addition to optical and coaxial inputs, the DSA101 is capable of DTS or Dolby digital decoding and includes a sub output. A corresponding app for your mobile phone or tablet even houses the capability to assign crossover points for said sub and room correction for the entire lot. Again, $500 for the device. Welcome to the Elac show.

Elac Debut F5 on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014GSEPY8/

More info: http://elac.us