World Premiere Review!
This narrative begins as an evaluation of the new ELAC Uni-Fi UB2 speakers. However, you could not tell the ELAC story without first introducing Mr. Andrew Jones. He is an extraordinary designer who, through his expertise, revitalized the ELAC brand in America. The ELAC company is an old and well-established German loudspeaker manufacturer. As a matter of record, ELAC was founded in 1926 as 'Electroacustic GmbH'. Mr. Andrew Jones was hired in 2015 as part of the creation of ELAC Americas Inc in Cypress, CA.
Andrew Jones' official title is VP of Engineering. This was in part based on his remarkable career designing speakers for KEF, Infinity, and Pioneer/TAD. His talents were evident in his design for the $29,800 Tad Evolution One and others. At the opposite end of the spectrum is his design of the $129.99 Pioneer SP-BS22-LR. Subsequently, it was with renewed confidence the Kiel-based German company established a new design center in the USA at Cypress, California.
Time Marches On
The DBR Lineup is current and is the Debut Reference, (Step up from the Debut 2.0 Line) which sits right below the new Uni-Fi Reference line a step up from the Uni-Fi 2.0 line. The company refers to their stand mount lineup as, "Book Shelf" speakers. The reference UBR62-BK/W speaker under evaluation could be used at the rear of an all ELAC audio video surround system. Physically the speaker looks similar to the older $599.98 ELAC DBR62, but in every other respect, it is a completely new design. The $999.98 reference UBR62-BK/W is a radically upgraded three-way speaker.
The entire Uni-Fi reference line implements full perimeter cabinet bracing, that significantly reduces cabinet vibration and coloration. The new Book Shelf UBR62-BK/W frequency extension is given as 41Hz up to 35kHz. But in every respect, the list of specifications is almost identical to the much larger floor standing five-driver UFR52. The frequency extension of the larger UFR52 is rated at 35kHz and down to 40Hz. So why choose the smaller speaker; when the rated frequency specifications of both speakers are almost identical. However, the UBR62-BK/W smaller enclosure has an advantage; it will better approximate a point source.
The Uni-Fi reference line implements full perimeter bracing, significantly reducing cabinet vibration and cabinet coloration. Improvements include a one-inch soft-dome coaxial /compound tweeter matched with a four-inch aluminum midrange speaker. Both occupy the same speaker opening and are housed together as one driver.
Additionally, both drivers share a single voice coil. This is an expensive way to time-align two drivers. The newly developed 6.5" woofer has an aluminum cone and is a new modified bass driver. It features a cast chassis and a single-piece compound curvature aluminum cone. It has a large rear vented magnet delivering improved linearity and better low-frequency response than any previous Uni-Fi bookshelf speaker. At the rear of the speaker, there are two pairs of speaker binding posts joined together by a gold-plated metal bar.
The UBR62 speaker cabinets can be ordered in two styles. You may choose a satin simulated Oak body with a white front face or a satin Walnut laminate body with a black face. Both of these speakers come with a very nice gray fabric grill cover. Lastly, the nominal amplifier impedance rating is given as 6 Ohms.
I placed the speakers on the designer's recommended 24" high stands where they were not near any room boundaries. Using my Rives Audio CD, Testing for the Home Environment. I heard very useful bass down to track six at 31.5Hz. That frequency is subjectively 10 cycles lower than the manufacturer's bass specification. The treble output at the high end of the Rives CD goes out to 20kHz, far beyond my hearing ability.
The second absolute requirement is pinpoint detailing that lets you open the door to see into an alternate reality. This can't be more evident than on the track, Your Latest Trick. As you listen, you can hear multiple tracks layered behind the center voice track. The first track on Brothers In Arms is "So Far Away". There is a very distinctive repeating percussive quality. It is a raw metallic (splash) effect produced by the drum kit. While listening to this recording, I found myself turning up the volume once or twice to try and get more dynamic contrasts. I did get the driving energy I wanted, but at a louder level than my usual listening. My conclusion is the 6.5" Bass driver, while it is perfectly integrated it takes on some of the work from the lower mid-range, and therefore to some extent it does double duty.
My third requirement is verity when it is applied to timbral accuracy. With precise timber, you should be able to hear the tonal difference between a Steinway Piano and a Bosendorfer piano. With my Diana Krall CD Stepping Out [Just, 50-2] is a rare three-dollar flea market find. It is an intimate and pure recording of a three-person jazz trio comprised of Diana Krall, John Clayton, and Jeff Hamilton.
With this jazz CD, the spontaneity of the band's improvisations is captured with exceptional detail. On 42nd Street you can hear Hamilton's sizzling crisp metallic brushes massaging the drum head while guiding the tempo. At the same time, John Clayton's bass fiddle reverberates with resonating wood overtones. The bass reproduction is slightly warm, but it is beneficial to the timber and tone of this small ensemble jazz trio. This tonal profile is perfect for listening to jazz. It sounds very much like Diana Krall is in the room with me.
Let's listen to something with even more micro detailing that makes it harder to win all the marbles. I have a $5 black disk, again a flea market acquisition. The recording is by Sting titled The Dream Of The Blue Turtles [A&M SP-3750]. The very first cut is"If You Love Someone Set Them Free". From the very first uttered phrase, there is something people call the "jump factor," and that is apparent beyond any doubt. This is the least compressed recording that I own.
From somewhere deep in the center stage, the backup voices chant, "Free, free set them free". This reverberates off the rear wall. The air is charged with exciting dynamic energy. The sound has a subtle and yet familiar quality and, you have heard it somewhere before, and then it dawns on you. The sound is clean and clear with a midrange similar to a reel-to-reel tape recording.
What Andrew Jones has designed is an affordable and excellent way to bring music into your life, highly recommended.
Remember to Enjoy The Music and from me, Semper Hi-Fi.
ELAC Americas Inc.