Are you looking for a neat, good-sounding but affordable hi-fi system? If so, Elac’s Debut ConneX DCB41 might just be perfect for you. It is a powered set-up where one speaker contains all the electronics, including the 2 x 50 watts of amplification, while the other is a conventional passive design.
Build & features
The two speakers are linked with a standard, supplied speaker cable. Unlike with pricer alternatives such as Triangle’s AIO Twin or the KEF LSX II, there aren’t any network streaming smarts included here, so you need to supply the source. This can be an aptX Bluetooth signal from your phone, or anything digital that directly connects through the USB (Type B), optical or HDMI inputs. That addition of HDMI ARC is a smart touch and opens up the ConneX to be used with TVs.
Analogue users haven’t been ignored either. There’s a single set of stereo RCAs that can be switched between being a line-level or a moving magnet phono input. In an ideal world, we would have liked a coax (digital) and maybe another analogue line-level input, but it is fair to say that Elac has covered most bases well.
Speaker type Powered speakers
Amplifier Power 2 x 50 watts
Tweeter 19mm soft dome
Woofer 10cm Polypropylene
Inputs HDMI (ARC), USB (24-bit/96kHz), line/phono (switchable), optical, Bluetooth aptX
Subwoofer output? Yes
Dimensions (hwd) 25 x 14 x 20cm
Finishes Black Ash, Royal Blue, Walnut
We have a few complaints, though. The volume knob, which toggles through the inputs when pressed, is awkwardly positioned on the back panel. You could just use the supplied remote of course, but that’s not always conveniently to hand. Elsewhere, it would be nice to have some indication of volume level. At the moment there isn’t anything, which could lead to unpleasant surprises when swapping sources.
The Debut Connex DCB41 doesn’t take up much space. The individual units stand around a hand-span high, fitting into most places with ease. Build quality is pleasing, good and solid. These speakers would be right at home on a desktop, but can also work in a decently-sized room provided you don’t require party levels.
As befits a product of this type, the ConneX speakers don’t prove overly fussy about placement, though they do work best when given a little space to breathe and situated on a solid, low resonance support. Proper speaker stands would be ideal, of course, but we understand that such supports aren’t a practical solution for some.
These Elac are equipped with a small 10cm mid/bass unit and a 19mm soft dome tweeter. The low frequencies are tuned by a rear-firing slot reflex port, and stay pretty controlled even when placed relatively close to a rear wall and, just as commendably, when we boost the bass by using the XBass setting from the remote. This setting adds a welcome dose of weight to the sound, but can easily sound a little too obvious, so we end up leaving it off.
If you want to hear this system at its best use the digital inputs. Used this way it is a clear, balanced and insightful performer. There’s a good level of detail here and the ability to organise that information into a cohesive and musical whole. As we listen to a range of music from Sorrows Away by folk group The Unthanks to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, it becomes clear that this is a surprisingly capable performer.
The overall presentation is controlled and even-handed in the manner of Elac’s award-winning Debut 2.0 series of passive speakers. It isn’t the most thrilling of presentations – Triangle’s more expensive AIO Twin is a more energetic performer – but the understated way this system goes about its job is eminently likeable. This is a product that fades into the background, leaving the music to take the limelight.
This can only be done if there are no obvious areas of weakness, and that’s the case here. Nothing jars or distracts from the music being played. The Elacs’ presentation is nicely judged in the sense that it’s a little rounded to keep the system unfussy about recording quality, but not so much that better signals suffer. We happily switch between Bluetooth and the other digital inputs without issue, despite it being clear that the wireless link is the most limited sonically.
Try the line-level analogue input and there is a small loss in transparency and openness, but the Elacs’ strengths are preserved. It remains informative and enjoyable. It is only when we come to the phono stage that we’re left a little disappointed. This phono stage is fine for occasional use, but sounds a little too opaque and lacking in dynamic expression to keep our interest for long. If vinyl replay is a priority, we would suggest budgeting for an outboard phono stage such as the Rega Fono Mini A2D.
We’re big fans of systems such as this. They’re neat, well-featured and the best of the breed represents excellent value. Given the Elac Debut ConneX DCB41’s aggressive pricing (£529 / $595 / AU$900), it earns a rich recommendation from us.
- Sound 5
- Build 4
- Features 4
Read our review of the Triangle AIO Twin
Also consider the KEF LSX II
Read our Denon D-M41DAB review
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