Elac Navis ARB51 - big thumbs up 👍

Pedro2

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2010
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18,570
It’s now a few weeks since the Elac actives arrived so I thought I’d share my impressions.

First and foremost, I’ll start with what they are not - they are neither ‘in your face’, strident, boomy, forensically detailed, or clinical. They do not throw music at the listener or immediately grab you hard by the ears. They are not attention seekers.

In contrast, I can only describe a ‘character’ that is a wonderful mix of both passive and active qualities. As one reviewer states, they are not completely neutral - there is an undoubted hint of warmth (just enough to make you smile rather than sleep).

I played them for a day a two on their own and was impressed. Their soundstage is big and instruments are layered. Bass was ample and well controlled; I could easily live with them in this format. However, as I also own a sub, how would they sound when paired up? First, it is worth mentioning that they have a high pass filter switch on the back with 3 possible settings (off, 60hz and 80hz).

The facility to high-pass a main speaker by using a switch on the speaker itself (and not from an AV amp or DSP processor) is both rare and brilliantly simple. Hooked up to my JL Audio sub and with either 60 or 80hz in use (I currently prefer the former but it’s a close call), the sound is marvellous, with an extra effortless bass octave available. The match with the sub is also seamless.

This is a system that can be listened to for hours without fatigue. It’s detailed but not to the point of distraction. I’m not a fan of the term, but these speakers are ‘musical’. Do they contain fairy dust? I’m not sure, but Andrew Jones certainly came up trumps when he designed them (3 drivers, with tweeter mounted coax inside the mid, amps a mix of Bash and AB).

If you’re considering actives, put these on your list. If you’ve never heard actives in a home set up, try and bag a listen (Richer Sounds got a demo pair in for me) as you might get a very pleasant surprise! I’ll finish with Darko’s one word description - ‘lovely’.

Footnotes -
there is a floor stand version (ARF51) that is reputed to have the same sound signature - just designed to fill larger rooms.
Price - £1799 (ARB51 Sept 22)
Online reviews - numerous, but worth checking out Darko or Steve Guttenburg both YouTube.
EISA 2019/20 Award - best active speaker
 

RoA

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2021
594
341
1,270
Interesting, thank you.

My experience with class D actives so far has been dissappointing. So much so that, contrary to often quoted opinions ... I felt that at any price level similarly priced separates were outperforming these. On a couple of occasion substantially cheaper combinations did too.

It's complex, I haven't heard every active speaker, rooms as well as personal preferences play a role too so my opinions are hardly gospel.

The Elac reads interesting and Jones knows his speakers even though I sometimes think he has slightly narcissistic tendencies :)
 
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Pedro2

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2010
68
27
18,570
Jones is adamant that none of the amplifiers in the Navis are type D, although the definition of Bash amps are interesting (I’m not technical so will take his word for it). The tweeter is driven by a 40w AB with 160w BASH for woofer and 100w BASH for the mid range.
I went active 5 years ago when the Acoustic Energy AE1a was released. I found these better than the passive ATC Scm11s. I then bought a pair of Hedd Type 05 mk2s but one recently failed, hence the purchase of the Elacs. The AE1as were type AB throughout and the Hedds were type Ds.
I prefer the Elac Navis to both although there is a cost difference with the AEs.
I’ve shared my thoughts on these speakers as I think they might be something special and not what many might expect from typical actives.

Edit
Here’s the Steve Guttenburg review. He’s also not a lover of actives …….. but he really likes the Navis

View: https://youtu.be/x2Ct5gGXKkc
 
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