What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Sat, 9 May 2009, 9:00am

EB Acoustics EB1

Tested at £470
100100
5

These could well be the finest £500 speakers you’ve never heard of

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For

  • Detailed, dynamic and expressive sound
  • classy cabinet construction
  • discreet in situ

Against

  • Can’t be heard before you buy (but can be returned no-questions-asked)
  • limited availability - you may have to wait to hear them

We know sometimes it can be difficult to buy a product from a company you've never heard of.

When it's a company that sells strictly online and has (by design, admittedly) no presence on the high street, it can be even trickier.

In the case of EB Acoustics and its startlingly good EB1 standmounter, though, take our word for it and rest assured – you've nothing to fear and everything to gain by taking the plunge.

They may appear the definition of 'unassuming' in the photograph, but the EB1s are hiding a fearsome array of talents inside their anonymous black cabinets.

Something special at the price
In fact, it's the cabinet that gives the first hint that the EB1s may be something special at this price-point: it's a particleboard/plywood/bitumen confection covered with a real-wood veneer and featuring rounded cabinet edges more common at the next price-point up.

A run through Leonard Cohen's Heart With No Companion is enough to confirm the EB1s as speakers to be reckoned with. The soundstage they establish is broad and convincing, its focus unswerving.

Expressive and fluent, the EB1s can almost the listener with the amount of detail they retrieve and deliver – but this torrent of information is never at the expense of the broad overall strokes of the music.

Cohen's brilliantly lugubrious vocal sounds authentically shattered, the EB1s leaving you in no doubt as to his condition.

Every tune is easy to follow
Tonally uncoloured and sonically uncluttered, these speakers make even the densest recordings (like Mercury Rev's Car Wash Hair, for example) extremely simple to follow.

They're rapid and attacking, all right, but there's a dextrous subtlety to the EB1s too which, combined with their vaulting dynamic ability and smoothly lucid midrange, makes for an effortless listening experience across every musical genre.

So there may not be a showroom in which you can hear the EB1s for yourself, but the company is offering a 30-day money-back guarantee from its website (www.ebacoustics.com) and that's good enough for us.

Time and again, we found we'd stopped listening critically to the EB1s and were just enjoying the sound they make – and recommendations don't come less equivocal than that.