Dayton Audio B652-AIR vs. ELAC ARB51 Navis

Dayton Audio B652-AIR 6-1/2” Bookshelf Speakers ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
$85 $2000
Dimensions (H × W × D)
11.81” × 7.06” × 6.44”
300mm × 179mm × 164mm
13.58” × 7.44” × 9.45”
345mm × 189mm × 240mm
Power Type
Passive Powered
Frequency Response
70-20,000 Hz 44-28,000 Hz
ASR Score
1.5 n/a
ASR Score w/Subwoofer
4.6 n/a

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: The Dayton Audio B652-AIR bookshelf speakers are budget-friendly, known for their AMT tweeter that delivers crisp highs. They offer a surprisingly comprehensive soundstage for their price point. On the other hand, the ELAC ARB51 Navis powered speakers are a premium offering with built-in amplification, designed by the acclaimed Andrew Jones. They boast a three-way design for detailed and nuanced audio reproduction. While the Daytons are a steal for the entry-level audiophile, the ELACs cater to the discerning listener seeking a high-fidelity experience without the need for external amplification.

Speaker Comparison

When considering an upgrade or a new acquisition for an audio setup, the choices can sometimes be overwhelming. However, two notable contenders that stand out in the bookshelf speaker segment are the Dayton Audio B652-AIR and the ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers. Both have their merits, but they cater to distinctly different audio aficionados. In this comparison, we'll dive deep into what sets these speakers apart, from their design philosophy to their sonic characteristics.

A Tale of Two Price Points

Right off the bat, the most glaring difference between the Dayton Audio B652-AIR and the ELAC ARB51 Navis is the price. The B652-AIR speakers are incredibly budget-friendly, targeting the entry-level market that craves quality audio without the hefty investment. On the other end of the spectrum, the ARB51 Navis speakers are a premium offering from ELAC. These are designed for serious listeners willing to invest in a higher-tier of sound quality and craftsmanship. For the casual listener, the B652-AIR may suffice, but audiophiles with discerning ears may lean towards the richer experience the ARB51 provides.

Dayton Audio B652-AIR 6-1/2” Bookshelf Speakers
Dayton Audio B652-AIR arrow (at

Understanding the Specs

The Dayton Audio B652-AIR comes equipped with a 6-1/2” woofer coupled with an AMT tweeter (Air Motion Transformer) which is a rarity at this price point. This results in a crisp and surprisingly detailed high end that punches above its weight. In contrast, the ELAC ARB51 Navis is a powered speaker with a three-way design, showcasing a 5-1/4” aluminum woofer, a 4” midrange driver, and ELAC’s renowned JET tweeter. The Navis's more sophisticated driver arrangement allows for a more nuanced and accurate sound reproduction across the frequency spectrum.

Design and Build Quality

The design philosophy between these two speakers is as contrasting as their price tags. The Dayton Audio B652-AIR sports a no-frills, utilitarian design. Its black vinyl finish is modest and functional, but it's not going to turn heads in a high-end audio setup. The ELAC ARB51 Navis, however, is crafted with luxury in mind. Its cabinet construction is robust, the finish is meticulously applied, and every detail screams premium. With the ARB51, you're not just paying for sound, but also for a piece of audio furniture that complements your living space.

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC ARB51 Navis arrow (at

Connectivity is another area where the Dayton B652-AIR and the ELAC ARB51 diverge. The former is a passive speaker, relying on an external amplifier or receiver for power. This means users can tailor their sound system with different components, but it also adds an extra layer of complexity and cost. The ELAC ARB51 is self-contained, with built-in amplification and a plethora of input options, including high-resolution wireless connectivity. This simplicity and the all-in-one approach can be quite appealing to those who prefer a streamlined setup.

Soundstage and Acoustic Performance

The magic of any speaker system is in its ability to convey a realistic and immersive soundstage. Despite its modest size and pricing, the Dayton Audio B652-AIR delivers a soundstage that is commendable, providing a good sense of space and dimensionality for its class. However, once you step up to the ELAC ARB51 Navis, you're treated to an entirely different league of spatial recreation. The soundstage is expansive, with pinpoint accuracy in imaging that allows each instrument and vocal to occupy its own distinct place in the acoustic landscape. The ARB51 invites you to close your eyes and get lost in the music.

In conclusion, while both the Dayton Audio B652-AIR and the ELAC ARB51 Navis offer compelling reasons to be part of your next audio setup, they ultimately serve different markets. The B652-AIR is an excellent entry point for those exploring high-fidelity audio, providing an affordable window into the world of enhanced sound. The ELAC ARB51, meanwhile, is a statement piece, both visually and sonically, for the enthusiast who seeks an all-encompassing, premium listening experience. Your choice between them should be guided by your budget, your aesthetic preferences, and most importantly, your ear for sound.

Check Current Prices:

Dayton Audio B652-AIR 6-1/2” Bookshelf Speakers
Dayton Audio B652-AIR 6-1/2” Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers

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Disclaimer: the speaker data listed on this website are correct to the best of our knowledge, but we do not guarantee the accuracy of the data. Please double-check any measurements with the manufacturer before making a final purchasing decision.