Dayton Audio B652-AIR vs. ELAC Debut Reference B6.2

Dayton Audio B652-AIR 6-1/2” Bookshelf Speakers ELAC Debut Reference B6.2 Bookshelf Speakers
$85 $700
Dimensions (H × W × D)
11.81” × 7.06” × 6.44”
300mm × 179mm × 164mm
14.13” × 8.18” × 10.82”
359mm × 208mm × 275mm
Power Type
Passive Passive
Frequency Response
70-20,000 Hz 44-35,000 Hz
ASR Score
1.5 n/a
ASR Score w/Subwoofer
4.6 n/a

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: In the realm of budget audiophile bookshelf speakers, the Dayton Audio B652-AIR presents a remarkable value with its AMT tweeter delivering airy treble, suitable for casual listeners seeking an affordable entry point. Contrastingly, the ELAC Debut Reference B6.2 steps up the game with a more refined soundstage, tighter bass response, and superior build quality, offering an engrossing listening experience for the discerning ear. While the Daytons impress with their cost-to-performance ratio, the ELACs justify their higher price tag through sonic sophistication and aural finesse that will delight audio enthusiasts willing to invest in their sonic landscape.

Speaker Comparison

When it comes to affordable hi-fi, the conversation often swings between the balance of cost and performance. In this audio tango, two pairs of bookshelf speakers stand out for their remarkable ability to deliver high fidelity sound at a price that doesn't send shivers down your spine. On one side of the ring, we have the Dayton Audio B652-AIR, a successor to the budget champion B652, equipped with an AMT tweeter to elevate the high-frequency response. On the other, the ELAC Debut Reference B6.2 steps in with a pedigree of design input from famed audio engineer Andrew Jones, promising a refined listening experience. Let's dive deep into the intricacies of their performances and see which set of speakers sings the sweetest serenade to the audiophile's ear.

The Sound of Value: Dayton Audio B652-AIR

The Dayton Audio B652-AIR comes out swinging with a surprising uppercut of clarity, thanks to the Air Motion Transformer (AMT) tweeter, which is a rarity in speakers at this price point. The AMT delivers a crisp and detailed performance, especially in the treble frequencies where traditional dome tweeters may struggle to keep up. The bass from the 6-1/2” woofer, while not earth-shattering, provides a decent foundation for the overall sound signature. This makes the B652-AIR an enticing option for those who want to step into the audiophile realm without thinning their wallets.

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

Refinement and Precision: ELAC Debut Reference B6.2

The ELAC Debut Reference B6.2, though demanding a higher investment, counters with a sonic sophistication that justifies its price. The engineering brilliance of Andrew Jones shines through in the speaker's ability to articulate nuances in music with precision and warmth. The 6-1/2” aramid-fiber woofer paired with a front-firing port delivers tighter, more controlled bass that melds seamlessly with the silk-dome tweeter's smooth highs. The B6.2 doesn't just play music; it invites you to explore the layers and textures of sound in a more immersive way.

Build Quality and Aesthetics

With the Dayton Audio B652-AIR, the build is functional and straightforward, devoid of any flashy embellishments—a reflection of its budget-conscious nature. The cabinets are modest, and the black vinyl finish is unassuming, which means these speakers will blend rather than stand out in most room setups. In contrast, the ELAC Debut Reference B6.2 exudes a more premium feel, with a thicker cabinet and a smoother, more attractive wood veneer finish. The build quality here feels more robust, which not only lends a hand to aesthetics but also to the acoustic performance of the speaker.

Comparatively, the B652-AIR's economical design extends to its binding posts, which are functional but basic. The ELAC steps it up with heftier binding posts that accommodate larger gauge wires and thus, promise a more secure and potentially better-quality connection. This is a small but telling detail that underscores the differences in the design philosophies of these two contenders.

Placement and Room Integration

In terms of placement, the Dayton B652-AIR is relatively forgiving. The speakers are not overly fussy about being placed at a particular distance from walls or about the room size. They disperse sound widely, thanks to the nature of the AMT tweeter, which can be a boon in less-than-ideal room conditions. However, the ELAC B6.2, with its front-firing port, offers an advantage in tighter spaces where rear-ported speakers might struggle with bass management. This thoughtful design consideration allows the ELAC to maintain its acoustic integrity in a wider range of listening environments.

Both speakers benefit from thoughtful placement and a little room treatment, but it's the ELACs that show a more pronounced improvement when given the attention they deserve. With the right positioning, the B6.2 speakers can deliver a soundstage that feels both expansive and accurately mapped in three-dimensional space, allowing each instrument to occupy its own distinct place.

After dissecting the offerings of the Dayton Audio B652-AIR and the ELAC Debut Reference B6.2, it's evident that both speakers hold their ground in their respective price brackets. The B652-AIR makes high-fidelity audio attainable for the masses, introducing the nuances of an AMT tweeter to an entry-level audience. The ELAC B6.2, on the other hand, invites the listener to step into a room of aural refinement, with a balance and finesse that speaks to a more discerning ear. Ultimately, the choice depends on the listener's priorities—whether it's the thrill of exceptional value or the allure of acoustic excellence. In the dance of affordability versus audio nirvana, both these speakers take the stage with their unique rhythms, ready to resonate with the beat of the audiophile's heart.

Check Current Prices:

Dayton Audio B652-AIR 6-1/2” Bookshelf Speakers
Dayton Audio B652-AIR 6-1/2” Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC Debut Reference B6.2 Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC Debut Reference B6.2 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.