Elac UB-5 $500 Per Pair: Bookshelf Champ!
(12 3/4h, 7 7/8w, 10 3/4d)
Speaker designer Andrew Jones has made Elac a major factor in the market in only a few short years. What’s the secret? Design conspicuously better speakers than the other guys at a given price range.
Jones’ first models in the new family were the inexpensive Debut speakers. They have been followed by the Uni-Fi Models. The Uni-Fi models use a concentric mid/tweeter array. The Debut models use a traditional separate midrange and tweeter.
Uni-Fi’s bookshelf speaker, UB-5, has become arguably THE audiophile reference at the $500 per pair price point. Let’s see what makes it tick.
-It starts with a 4” Concentric Mid/Tweeter driver.
-The Mid element is Aluminum
-The Tweeter element is a soft silk dome
While the above alone would make a fine speaker for $500 per pair, Elac doesn’t stop there.
UB-5 also includes, IN ADDITION TO THE CONCENTRIC DRIVER, a 5 1/4” Aluminum Woofer! So yep, for $500 per pair in a modestly sized enclosure, you get a get 3-way loudspeaker with REAL BASS response!
Our industry is full of 5 and 6” two ways for $500 to $8000 per pair! There are some factors that make the real expensive guys real pricey.
-Fancy brand name
-Elegant cabinet finish
-Made in US or Europe
-Holy water doused
What makes UB-5 a great speaker is its performance at the price point. To achieve this price
point, the brand name is not haughty. The cabinet finish is utilitarian, not opulent. The drivers are definitely outstanding. The speakers are made in quantity off shore. Sorry, no holy water.
UB-5 has a mixture of smoothness at the top end- that mates very well with surprisingly deep bass response. To emphasize, UB-5 is warm on top, not the least bit bright. You’ll be shocked at the impact these boys throw around your room. The cabinets are heavy with internal bracing. The magnets on the drivers are so big that they barely fit into the chambers. There’s nothing up our sleeve here. UB-5 provides blood and guts at a shocking low price point.
There are many highly advertised towers selling for $1500-2k per pair, that are 5” 2-ways with
passive radiators. UB-5 has more hardware and better sound at a quarter to a third of the price!
The Absolute Sound: “How do you follow an act like the Elac Debut B5? The pint-size two way compact simply crushed it with its big, hearty sound and puny $229 price tag. It is a rare convergence of enthusiasms. It won the hearts of high enders and mainstreamers alike.
The UB5 is a stand mounted compact with a bass reflex design that uses a rear firing dual flared port. Just shy of 13” tall, it’s easily one of the smallest three ways ever made and its compact size is almost entirely owed to the concentric driver’s remarkable space saving properties.
Also specially designed for the Uni-Fi line is the 5” aluminum woofer. It’s in a sturdy MDF braced enclosure.
Jones says, ‘I chose to make the midrange enclosure part of the cabinet construction, rather than a tube on the back of the midrange, so that it could add bracing to the cabinet. In addition, I added an extra brace, all to help stiffen the cabinet.
Once I went to a three way system I was free to use a material that could be optimized specifically for bass reproduction. This includes having the correct mass and being able to get the required stiffness without having to worry about cone breakup messing with the midrange. The bass driver motor structure was then fully optimized to give me better bass performance than was possible with the B5. Likewise, the midrange could be optimized just as a midrange driver, and because the cone size and voice coil size I could get the breakup mode to be a high 8k.’
If you loved the B-5, and any self respecting audiophile should- you’re gonna love the UB-5 just a little more, and maybe a lot more. The UB-5 is the B-5 gone to finishing school. It boasts fewer box colorations and smoother, more accurate tonality, and is emboldened by the great output and dynamics that befit a dedicated three way design.
It’s still a little dry in the treble but nicely detailed without being offensive. Basically, its everything the B-5 already is plus all the extras Elac could stuff in while still graduating with a $500 sticker. In musical character, the UB-5’s voice will be familiar to all who have encountered the B-5 (you mean you don’t already own a few pairs?). They share a similar overall voice, one that is anchored by a balanced and dynamic midrange, a forward entry (no suckouts) and a persuasive lower midrange and upper bass.”