You might imagine even world-renowned audio specialists have had to endure an unexpected lull in production during these unprecedented times. Not a bit of it – at least, not where German speaker designer ELAC is concerned. The company has been busy indeed, launching a limited-edition finish for its two-time What Hi-Fi? Award-winning Debut B5.2 standmount proposition (an accolade which this affordable model recently defended for 2020), an all-new Vela 408 floorstander and a next-generation Uni-Fi speaker range.
All of the new ELAC speakers have been designed by vice president of engineering at ELAC, Andrew Jones, whose extensive CV includes creations at KEF, Infinity and Pioneer. Many audio enthusiasts cite his premium TAD Reference One design as one of the greatest speakers in existence.
When it comes to ELAC's Debut B5.2 standmount proposition, regular readers will need no further fanfare from us. For the uninitiated, though, some history: under intense review in 2019, What Hi-Fi? praised these budget-friendly speakers' "detailed and organised sound, solid build and unfussy nature", leaving no option but to hand the model a What Hi-Fi? Award for the best stereo speakers priced £200-£400. Despite tough competition, the B5.2s remain unbeatable at the level – 12 months later they have just won that same award for 2020.
How is ELAC celebrating the repeat win? Well, if you're lucky enough to reside in the UK, they are now available in a special, limited-edition walnut finish in addition to the classic black ash vinyl colourway. The Debut B5.2's sibling B6.2 (pictured above) – also in receipt of a glowing five-star review from this publication – is available in the same special issue finish too.
On to an all-new product, and ELAC makes no secret of its excitement regarding the Vela FS 408 floorstander – you see, the era of ELAC loudspeakers with monikers ending in '8' began almost 20 years ago. What do all of these loudspeakers have in common? The configuration, namely two 180 mm woofers and a single tweeter. Vela FS 408 marries this classic concept with ELAC's latest driver technology and elegant Vela series styling.
The new Vela FS 408 sits between the FS 407 2.5-way and FS 409 3.5-way floorstanders in the range, also joining the Vela BS 403 standmounts and CC 401 centre channel to complete the series.
The specially crafted trapezoid, larger radii cabinets are tilted slightly rearwards, with high-gloss paint finishes and decorative aluminium elements. Two woofers incorporating ELAC's AS-XR technology plus the company's proprietary JET5 tweeter are responsible for converting signals to sound, finished off with high-quality crossover components and Van den Hul cables within the cabinets.
Building on from the critically acclaimed compact and affordable Uni-Fi series, ELAC’s new Uni-Fi 2.0 incorporates numerous changes that promise to elevate the performance beyond that of the inaugural range – drivers, crossovers and cabinets have all been reworked under Andrew Jones' care.
The Uni-Fi 2.0 range comprises the UB52 'bookshelf' three-way standmount speaker (above), a UC52 three-way centre channel and UF52 floorstander.
The UB52 standmount solution, like the rest of the Uni-Fi 2.0 range, features all-new drivers, including a wide-surround 1in soft dome concentrically mounted tweeter, an entirely redesigned 4in aluminum cone midrange driver with larger diameter voice coil, a new single piece 5.25in dished cone woofer, fresh low-profile surround and an all-new neodymium magnet assembly. The brand new three-way crossover promises a true 6-ohm nominal impedance for compatibility with virtually all AV receivers, too.
The bass ports on the bookshelf and centre speakers have also been relocated to the front, thus allowing for greater freedom of placement, even in cosy rooms where the only viable place for your speakers is very close to a wall.
Every Uni-Fi 2.0 enclosure is engineered with thick MDF outer walls and the company's signature black ash vinyl finish. Specially located internal bracing adds stiffness and strength to the cabinet’s external walls, thus minimising cabinet vibration that can cause unwanted colouration.
The Uni-Fi 2.0 UC52 centre channel (above, arguably the most critical component in any surround-sound system) features two of the series' 5.25in aluminium cone woofers, while the new UF52 floorstander features three of them, offering a multiple bass-driver configuration for larger environments or when you simply want greater bass dynamics – all within a footprint that's only 7.3in wide and just under 11in deep.
The new Uni-Fi 2.0 range is also available now.