ELAC Debut B6: The New Hotness
In the seminal classic Men in Black II, Agent J as played by Will Smith, describes his new suit and ride as the "New Hotness". Forever entrenching this wonderful phrase into world wide pop culture.
Currently, The Urban Dictionary defines "New Hotness" as:
Something that is young and fresh, usually dealing with the physical makeup of a human being. The opposite of old and busted.
If there was an Urban Audiophile Dictionary it might look something like this.
And it would still be true.
The ELAC Debut's have made a large splash over audio forums the last couple months and for very good reason. For $280 a pair, you get a really nice speaker, that looks about as good as a black box can get, and one well deserving of your consideration for both stereo and home theater uses.
Before any talk on performance, I have to comment on the grills. These things suck. They must have been a necessary evil form higher ups at ELAC, as Andrew Jones has stated that he voices his speakers without grills. Unless you absolutely need the grills on or love the way they look, I would remove all of them, tweeter grill included as it pops right off.
SEE HERE For complete break down of the speakers and drivers
The fact that the ELAC's have two grills means that there are a few extra potential usage combos and how those combinations measure is something we will get to.
But first the basics: Close mic measurements.
The large mid range plays smooth enough and quickly drops off past the xover point and shows a little bit of break up after 5khz.
The Tweeter is a touch on the mellow side and it is reasonably flat. It rolls off slightly after 10khz. This is not an in your face speaker, but a smooth and full sounding one that does a lot of things very good. But once again, the design is slightly hampered by the grills forced upon the drivers.
Close Mic Measurements with 1m overlayed
Overlaying the outdoor 1m measurements reveals a quiet reasonably flat output. Not all that different from Andrew Jones' previous Pioneer speakers. A little bit elevated in the midrange with helps with a smooth warm sound.
There is a bit of a wrinkle at 2.5khz to 3.5khz. I would take a guess that it maybe do to some of the cone break up.
Similar to the Pioneer BS22's,overall the treble is a bit down from the midrange. And the grills cause issues lower in the frequency response than I have seen in any other speaker I've measured. All the way down to about 1.8khz, there is at least measurable effect.
The difference between both grills removed, and both grills on remains apparent in the tweeters output. Without the grills on, there is a significant peak at about 14khz, that's pretty high in the range and probably not going to make an audible difference to anyone though. I'm not sure why that peak shows up in 1m measurements, but not close mic measurements, but I suspect it's due to the pretty deep horn loading of the tweeter driver.
Overall these are really nice speakers. They are too large for any serious near field or desktop listening, and you have them that close to the wall the bass can be pretty overwhelming and a bit bloated.
As a non near-field 2.x or surround sound set up I think these B6's would perform great. They do a lot of things right. They are smooth and reach deep for their size, but if you are like me and tend to like something with just a little more sizzle you might have better luck with something like the KEF q100.
Later we will see how well they do off axis. SPOILERS...they they are great at it.
How do all these grills effect output?
ELAC Debut B6 @1m: Both grills removed vs Both grills on
The 2 grills over the tweeter and the potential combinations that presents will be seen in the next few graphs.
All grills removed is the control measurement, as Andrew Jones has stated that he voices his speakers to be used without girls
ELAC Debut B6 @1m: Both grills removed vs Main grill removed, tweeter grill on
As you can see here, the tweeter grills alone doesn't effect the output all that much on axis.
The main grills does effect the output a bit more. Down to the mid-range level. And produces a weird, probably inaudible spike at 15khz.
IMO the grills should be removed if at all possible.
Off Axis Measurements: Surprise Surprise!!!
I was not expecting the results I got when I started my off axis measurements. The ELAC's are very impressive here. More so than just about any speaker other than the KEF q100 that I have tested.
ELAC Debut B6 @1m: Horizontal Axis. Grills off
There have been a few reviews of the new Debut B5 and B6's but none have really talked about their off axis response.
I was very pleasantly surprised by both the horizontal and vertical responses.
There is some excess energy coming out at 2.5khz that never dissipates, but the general roll off is very smooth out to 30 degrees.
ELAC Debut B6 @1m: Positive Vertical Axis. Grills off
It's the vertical axis response that really impressed me. With my testing set up since the speaker is already 7 feet off the ground, I wasn't able to get the mic get higher than +10 degrees in relation to the tweeter. But I've seen many other speakers develop deep nulls at the cross over point at near the same point. The ELAC B6 showed none of that.
ELAC Debut B6 @1m: Negative Vertical Axis. Grills off
The negative degree measurements were equally as impressive.
The ELAC B6 seems to lend itself to a variety of placement options without suffering very much acoustically.
I'm very impressed with it's performance.
ELAC B6 comparisons: KEF q100, Infinity r152, Pioneer BS22
I wanted to show some basic 1m comparisons between some of my resent speakers that are in similar price points and Andrew Jones's much loved Pioneers.
ELAC Debut B6 vs KEF q100 @1m. No grills
Comparing the ELAC B6 to beloved KEF q100. Shows that the KEF is going to be brighter speaker for sure. With a good bit more extended highs.
I am I very big fan of the KEFs, but it is understandable that others may prefer something less in your face.
The ELAC's also do a great job keeping up with the off axis response of the KEF's co-axial drivers.
And the KEF's do a solid job of keeping up with the ELAC's bass response despite a much smaller woofer cone area.
ELAC Debut B6 vs Infinity r152 @1m. No grills
The new Infinity Reference line has been my new absolute favorite mass market speaker. (though it looks like it might already be on the discontinued list.) And if I was going to redo my home theater this would be on the very short list of options.
I didn't get a chance to AB test between the 2, but both are great performers. In the end it's not all that different in the Pioneer BS22 vs Infinity Primus p153 comparison. I think it would come down to what sound signature you prefer.
While I wasn't able to do any AB testings between the two speakers. I still wanted to see how they both measure up against each other at 1m. I also got lazy and didn't impart any gating here, but in the end they would just look even more similar if I did.
I was a bit surprised that the Pioneers appear to be a bit flatter playing speaker in some respects. This is also an excellent time to remember that on axis measurements tell just a very small part of the story.
Overall, it looks like Andrew Jones was aiming for a similar experience between the two speakers.
I'm not sure what the TL;DR should be really. The ELAC B6's are a really nice speaker. If you are in the market for the new hotness, then I think they are excellent performers. It's pretty hard to say they don't do everything at least pretty good. While I don't think they are the end all be all at the price point, similar to the Pioneer BS22's if you like that slightly smoother warmer sound signature (maybe on the darker side) that is completely unoffensive then these maybe another great choice.
You can't go wrong with these, but if you can, listen to things like the KEF q100 to see what you prefer before you make you choice.