Amazon Review by Heather Hanley
134 people found the following review helpful
These are stunningly good for the price
These are stunningly good for the price. They've sounded simply wonderful with every genre of music I've put through them, from small-scale jazz and vocals to large-scale orchestral and solo piano.
To me, the stand-out, jaw-dropping feature is the quality of bass. Lots of bookshelf speakers with 5-7" drivers spec to -6 db at 40-44hz, but that’s not the whole story. At all. On cheap (ish) bookshelf speakers, you tend to get sloppy, overhanging bass that’s overwhelmingly loud at the port frequency. As a result, rather than getting musical notes, you get a single hammering frequency that falls out of step with the music. On the ELAC B6, the bass is incredibly tight and musical. Stunning. I simply can’t believe the quality of the bass at this price point. To compare: I formerly owned a pair of $4200 2-way Devore Super 8s. The quality of bass on these Elac’s is much, much better.
Now, a common question I see is “do I need a subwoofer with these?”. Well, the specs are the specs. The bass is absolutely superb to 40hz, but falls off beyond that. I tested with a tone generator and got “audibly useful” bass to around 32hz. I heard some output as low as 26hz and nothing lower than that. If I did use a subwoofer (presently I am not), I would cutoff much lower than I normally do for bookshelves (I’d probably “hand-off” bass duties to the sub at 45hz or so. Normally I’d cut over at 60-80hz).
I actually also own the B&W 685 S2 speakers as well, so I could hear for myself everything that Steve Guttenberg mentioned in his CNET review. He’s spot on regarding the mid-bass. The ELAC’s bass is simply better. But, the 685 S2 is, indeed, more resolving. You can hear more overtone and ambient acoustic information with the 685 S2 (I should point out that the B&Ws resolve as good or better than any speakers I’ve ever heard. I think it has to do with the B&W’s decoupled tweeter). So, there are trade offs between these two speakers. Guttenberg also mentioned that he could hear some sibilance in vocals on the ELAC B6 (specifically Jeff Tweedy on Jesus, etc). I’ve heard no sibilance whatsoever on anything (Tweedy sounded perfect on the ELACs as a matter of fact). I’m using a NAD D3020 (awesome combo, btw), and I suspect any sibilance is the fault of Guttenberg’s electronics, not the B6 speakers.
Fit & finish: really good for the price, but nothing stunning. The look is clean and modern, but simple. These are, after all, just black boxes. Materials are nice enough and tolerances are good. But don’t be expect to be wowed by the material quality or workmanship. I will say, I’m glad the vinyl wrap isn’t pretending to be wood. Faux wood is just awful. These look vaguely Bau-hausian. Nice, clean, utilitarian. The MDF is thin, but given the relatively small size of the speakers, I don’t think box-resonance is a big deal (I certainly can’t hear the tell-tale “chestiness” of box resonance).
All-in-all: an easy 5 stars.
Note: I bought these straight from ELAC, not Amazon.