Speakers: Elac B-6 $280 per pair
Elac America is a new branch of the venerable old German company, Elac, founded 1926. While all the speakers of this new line are outstanding, B-6 stands out to me.
B-6 is a moderately sized shelf speaker. It works great on stands or on shelves. Most importantly, its sound is groundbreaking for the price class.
Despite being introduced just before Christmas 2015, you can already find numerous apoplectic raves on these new Elacs. The main refrain is, “We can’t believe they’re this good for the money!”
Since you can read those reviews elsewhere, I’ll give you my feedback here.
First of all, B-6 isn’t bright. Why do I start there? Because literally all the inexpensive speakers out there have a high end that will give you a sunburn. Elac was made for music lovers who want music to sound natural, not aggressive. Anytime you audition a pile of speakers on a wall at Big Box, the one with the most tinny top end grabs your attention. It’s also the one that will wear you out when you get it home.
B-6 achieves this smooth top end, first, by using a silk dome tweeter. Designer Andrew Jones employs an interesting flare to produce wide dispersion. You don’t have to sit dead center to hear nice balance from Elac.
B-6 provides the best bass I’ve ever heard in this price class. It’s not close! B-6 uses a 6” woofer with an unusually lengthy voice coil (1.5”) for the price range.
When you remove the back plate off the speaker to take a peek inside, you can see the magnet on the back of this driver is RIDICULOUS. It is so big that… I don’t know how it even fits into the cabinet. The resulting impact and control of this driver is nothing short of impressive!
B-6 not only uses a thick, heavy cabinet. It features H-bracing within. Yep, for a mere $280 per pair you’re getting a much stronger cabinet design than many audiophile darlings that sell for $2k. This is no exaggeration, I promise.
Ultimately, the manufacturer has to decide how much money in raw parts, to put into its speaker, and how much money to charge. Some manufacturers want to charge you for “artisan” work. They think because their name is on the box, they can charge more.
Elac America is new. They want to WIN THE BUSINESS. Consequently they’ve put more thought, and hardware into B-6 than most speakers that sell for $1500pr. Call it being aggressive, or being hungry. Either way, YOU WIN!
Integrated Amp: NAD C-316BEE $380, 40×2
NAD has always been known as the company that makes the best, inexpensive integrated amps. C-316BEE is the entry level model and carries on that tradition proudly.
It’s as though NAD knew Elac was coming out with its new line- so synergistic is the interface between the products. They’re very much in synch.
C-316BEE sounds weighty in the bass and very neutral, to warm on top. Once again, NAD doesn’t want to zinggggg you out of the room with tinny sound. If you have a listen to other inexpensive electronics, you’ll find low damping factor where the amp simply can’t grip the speaker, so it runs away, sounding murky and uncontrolled. Why can NAD achieve this and the other guys can’t?
NAD starts with a toroidal transformer- which is virtually unheard of at anywhere near $500. NAD uses its patented Power Drive circuitry. It produces class breaking high current output which grips the speakers nicely. Peak power exceeds 100 w/ch. Most companies are lucky to even reach their power claims.
Simply put, the Elac B-6 is just too much speaker for flimsy amps. C-316BEE is the least expensive amp to do the B-6 justice! When you consider it runs only $380, don’t settle for less.
CD Player: NAD C516BEE $300
Don’t throw your CDs away! While we’re happy to endorse Sonos grabbing music off your computer and throwing it to your integrated amp for convenience, we’re even happier to have you playing your discs.
CDs sound better! They don’t hiccup and cough like any computer based system is want to do. Even the best of computer based systems will have you tearing your hair out on occasion. And by the way, it’s good for you to actually get up once in a while to toss in a CD!
C516BEE is a good tracker and has a mellow sound. NAD uses a Cirrus Logic DAC- something often found in CD players for $1000 up! It has a finely tuned analog stage featuring op amps chosen specifically for their audio character.
It fits right in with the Elac B-6 and NAD C316BEE integrated amp. All three of these products are designed to provide accurate, neutral music reproduction. They don’t sound as big and loud as products we offer for a lot more money. But if you don’t need bigger and louder… $1k never bought you better sound!
Kimber Speaker Kable
Round your system out with a little Kimber Kable and away you go. For about a grand you’ve got a wonderful music system your high end buddies will be shocked at! You might not be able to play loud enough to fill up Miller Park, but I’m thinking… you can live without that ability.