ELAC Uni-fi UB5 Bookshelf Speaker (Black, Pair) Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐:halfstar:



To Buy Or Not Summary

:star::star::star::star::halfstar: by 62 customers
4.7 out of 5
  • Amazon Customer Reviews
    :star::star::star::star::halfstar: by 61 customers
    4.7 out of 5
  • Best Buy Customer Reviews
    :star::star::star::star::star: by 1 customers
    5.0 out of 5


  • Custom-designed concentric driver
  • Balanced three-way design
  • Robust cabinets
  • High quality base and feet
  • Sophisticated crossover and aluminum woofer
  • Buy
  • Don’t buy

0 voters


Amazon Review by Michael M. :star::star::star::star::star:

37 people found the following review helpful

Superb speakers in the right conditions; far superior to the entry level Elacs

If you're looking to purchase these speakers based on the many good reviews, or if you're undecided because of the so-so reviews, you'll need to consider your requirements, your gear, your room, and tastes. These are true audiophile speakers and will not necessarily be crowd-pleasers or party animals. My first impression out of the box was good, but not great, showing reasonable improvement over the Debut B5, which I also own, but not up to the fawning reviews that at times can sound like hype or groupthink. However, my opinion of the UB5 improved significantly when I set them up in a different room with different gear.

In my experience, what has been noted in several other reviews about getting the best sound from these speakers has proven to be true. First, these speakers have some pretty firm placement requirements. As many other reviewers have noted, you’ll need at least a foot (more is better) from the back wall, and probably the same from the side walls, otherwise the sound is going to be a bit underwhelming. To me, the biggest surprise about placement was how the speakers balanced out, resulting in a much more spacious sound stage and significantly improved highs. Sound dynamics can be a funny thing, and the UB5 if nothing else will make for a fascinating home experiment. Second, and again as other reviewers have noted, these speakers do much better when driven by a more powerful amp. My first set up with the UB5 was with a NAD d-3020, and I felt like I really had to crank it up to get the sound I was looking for. When I moved them to a different room, connected to my pre-amp/power amp separates (at 200 watts per channel), it was like hearing a different set of speakers. I cannot tell you which made the biggest difference, the amp or the room, but the change was significant and very positive. I’ll leave it to people with greater technical knowledge of impedance and the like to explain why this matters. I would recommend 14 gauge speaker wire (or even 12 if you can manage it). Also, for the first time in my life, I could tell a difference between having the covers on and off of a set of speakers. On the UB5, the plastic grill underneath the black mesh is fairly dense in both mass and “weave” pattern, and seems to interfere a bit on what are fairly refined, even delicate, highs.

In terms of what I can tell you about the sound, I can say that the fawning reviews are not hype or groupthink, but pretty accurate. Under the right conditions, these are far and away the best speakers I’ve ever listened to, no less owned. They have a very stripped-down sound compared to other brands, with no exaggeration or “sizzle” that, in other listening circumstances, can be pleasing or fun. They are very well balanced, with remarkable detail and almost unbelievable imaging and soundstage. Over the past couple of days, I’ve re-listened to classical recordings that I’d heard many, many times before, only to hear subtleties and dimensions to the recording that were never before apparent with lesser (but more expensive) speakers. Like the Debut series, the lows on the UB5 are astoundingly good. What these speakers reveal with their highly-detailed imaging and sound-stage can cut the other way, however, especially with heavily-mixed pop and rock music. I am now able to hear aspects of a studio mix that for most listeners are probably best smoothed over with a polished sound. For me, this is great stuff and really enjoyable, but I can appreciate that this is not going to float everyone’s boat. The review of the UB5 on Cnet is really pretty good on this aspect of the speakers. The authors make a comparison between UB5s and a pair of Klipsch, saying the Klipsch are more forward and “rocked” better – undoubtedly hearing what I’ve heard. In my own experience, my wife immediately said she liked the Dali Zensor 1s much more than the UB5s because of their excellent imaging and crystal-clear, forward sound, and good looks. (The Dalis are both crowd pleasers and great, versatile budget audiophile speakers that I can fully recommend if you’re looking for a lively sound. But that’s for a different review…)

To conclude, if you are looking for an audiophile experience, trying to get as close to the studio recording as you can, and you have the right set up and amp, then the UB5 truly does represent an extraordinary value and are worth the extra cost over the Debut series. However, I’ve never experienced speakers that have performance that can vary so much due to conditions and pairing with other gear. I can understand why not everyone is happy, as they are not for everyone. For me, though, they’re keepers.

Amazon.com - Customer Reviews: ELAC Uni-fi UB5 Bookshelf Speaker (Black, Pair)