It was time to update my living room stereo. My old system, a small Yamaha bookshelf stereo, did provide decent sound, but I wanted a step up without breaking the bank.
To set expectations, what you’re getting here is the opinion of a person who listens to a lot of music, who spends a bit more on headphones than he probably should, and who has a decent ear, but not a person who takes out a second mortgage to buy better gear or who runs a test lab in his basement.
The first site I recommend checking when looking to purchase pretty much anything to do with electronics is The Wirecutter, and sure enough, they had a comprehensive review of bookshelf speakers, including a link to a frothing review of the new offering from ELAC on CNET. Which were a hundred dollars less than their own top pick.
So after a bout of audiophile forum skimming I purchased a pair of ELAC B6 from Amazon.
After listening to them for a few weeks, I’m impressed! They have a huge soundstage and are very clear and defined, especially in the treble and midrange. The adjective that springs to mind is crisp.
That being said, you will not run a rave off of these things. They are bookshelf speakers and the laws of physics are what they are. But they will fill a decent-sized room. Hard to beat for the price ($280 as of this writing).
If you like a bit more presence in your music, I highly recommend mating them with a subwoofer. The one I personally use is out of production, but ELAC also makes a woofer which should sound great paired with the B6s. The B6s go deep enough you can set the crossover at 80Hz, which is impressive.
UPDATE Jan. 7, 2017: My old subwoofer broke down, so I swung by Best Buy and picked up a Pioneer SW-8MK2 made by the ELAC B6 designer, Andrew Jones, before he went to work for ELAC. The difference is insane. I thought my previous woofer was fine, but this thing blends with the speakers to where I can’t tell where the speakers stop and the subwoofer starts. It’s like the speakers just magically have all the bass I need. Recommended if you want to save more than a $100 over the ELAC woofers—which I’m sure sound even better and have twice the power to fill more space. /UPDATE.
NOTE: The Amazon links are affiliate links—if you purchase through them I get a tiny kickback. It doesn’t cost you anything. Thanks!
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