German manufacturer ELAC isn’t the most visible brand in the UK. We haven’t tested its stereo speakers since 2011.
But that’s less to do with quality than with the peculiarities of distribution. As it happens, the ELAC BS 142 standmounters are really rather good.
These speakers have a real sense of purpose, and that purpose is fun. If you’re looking for a thrilling performance, you’re in the right place.
It’s a lively presentation with boundless energy. Punchy dynamics certainly help, as does a keen sense of pace.
The grip on rhythm could be a little tighter, but an untucked-shirt vibe actually helps to cultivate a carefree demeanour and make the sound a little more likeable.
Tonally, it’s a balanced performance, with no emphasis on any part of the frequency range.
As a result, music feels that much more organic. We would point out that the bass could do with better articulation – as it is, lower notes feel a little unwieldy.
Not disastrously so, but enough to come across as a little soft.
To a lesser degree this applies to the top end, where there’s no trace of hardness.
Some may want more bite in this department but, equally, a softer treble can be easier on the ears.
The size of the sound is very impressive. It’s widely dispersed, resulting in a broad soundstage with ample height.
It’s an effortlessly encompassing sound too, and had no trouble filling one of our larger testing rooms.
Want a big sound without massive cabinets? These ELACs will see you right.
The only real issue here is one of subtlety. There’s a decent amount of detail, but the BS 142s are not the finest speakers for the money: the soundstage could be clearer and more focused.
We don’t find ourselves that bothered about this last part, though, because the BS 142s aren’t intended to be the analytical type.
Their lot is to entertain, and that they most certainly do.
To get the most out of these speakers, place them on heavy stands about 40cm from the wall, and a little toed in towards the listening position.
That will help to define the bass without letting it overwhelm proceedings.
Considering their outgoing nature, the 142s’ design is surprisingly subtle. We would expect some kind of bold statement, but what you get is rather elegant.
There’s only one finish: black ash vinyl wrap with a high-gloss baffle.
At the front of each speaker is a ribbon tweeter and a 13.5cm mid/bass driver with a layered cone design to improve damping and rigidity.
At the back is a fairly large reflex port. You get a set of foam bungs with a removable centre: block the port entirely or leave a small opening.
Build doesn’t exude quality as it does with some rivals (Monitor Audio, for instance) but neither does any part seem cheap; the single set of binding posts are plastic, but they feel perfectly solid.
The ELACs are really likeable speakers. They might not be the last word in subtlety or refinement, but they are plenty entertaining.
MORE: Best buys hi-fi speakers