Dayton Audio B652-AIR vs. ELAC Uni-fi UB5
|Dayton Audio B652-AIR 6-1/2” Bookshelf Speakers
|ELAC Uni-fi UB5 Bookshelf Speakers
|Dimensions (H × W × D)
11.81” × 7.06” × 6.44”
300mm × 179mm × 164mm
12.81” × 7.94” × 12.19”
325mm × 202mm × 310mm
|ASR Score w/Subwoofer
TLDR Summary: In the realm of budget-friendly audiophile bookshelf speakers, the Dayton Audio B652-AIR and ELAC Uni-fi UB5 stand out. The B652-AIR, with its Air Motion Transformer tweeter, delivers a sparkly high-end uncommon at its price point, and offers surprisingly decent bass for such a modest-sized cabinet. Meanwhile, the UB5 steps up the game with a concentric driver design that ensures a coherently integrated soundstage, and its 3-way configuration yields a more nuanced midrange and deeper bass extension. The ELAC's superior build and sound quality do come at an increased cost, making the Dayton speakers an incredible value proposition for the entry-level audiophile.
Affordable, yet high-performing bookshelf speakers are a cornerstone for any audiophile's setup, especially when space and budget are tight. In the realm of budget-friendly speakers, two models often come to the forefront: the Dayton Audio B652-AIR and the ELAC Uni-fi UB5. On one hand, we have the undeniably cost-effective Dayton Audio B652-AIR, a speaker that has long been the darling of the budget-conscious listener. On the other, the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 represents a step-up option for those willing to invest a bit more into their sonic landscape. Both sets of speakers aim to punch above their weight class, but they do so in markedly different ways.
Design and Build Quality
The Dayton Audio B652-AIR features a no-frills design that's functional and straightforward. The black ebony pica vinyl cabinet finish is relatively unassuming, and while it won't win any design awards, it's unobtrusive and blends well into most rooms. In contrast, the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 boasts a more sophisticated look with its custom-designed concentric driver and a textured vinyl finish. The build quality of the UB5 is a step up, reflecting its higher price point, with a heft and solidity to the cabinet that suggests a more serious approach to sound reproduction.
Sound Quality and Performance
When it comes to sound, the B652-AIR is something of a marvel for its price. Featuring a 6-1/2" woofer and an AMT tweeter (Air Motion Transformer), it delivers a lively sound that's surprisingly balanced with a decent bass response for its size. The highs are crisp, thanks to the AMT tweeter, which provides a level of detail that is uncommon in this price range. However, the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 steps into the arena with a three-way design boasting a 5-1/4" aluminum woofer, a 4" midrange driver, and a 1" soft-dome tweeter nestled in the center of the midrange. This configuration allows for a more nuanced and precise soundstage, with tighter bass and a midrange that reveals the textures and layers of music that the B652-AIR can't quite extract.
The UB5's concentric driver technology is a game-changer, offering a coherence and integration of sound that is typically reserved for speakers with a much steeper price tag. This allows the UB5 to render vocals with stunning realism and instruments with palpable presence. Its sound is more refined, with a balance and maturity that belies its compact size. On the flip side, while the B652-AIR impresses with its sheer value and enjoyable sound, it cannot compete with the level of detail and precision that the UB5 brings to the table.
The Dayton Audio B652-AIR is an undeniable value champion. For those just dipping their toes into the audiophile world or looking for a secondary set of speakers that won't break the bank, these are a compelling choice. They offer a level of performance that exceeds their modest price, making them an excellent option for budget systems. The ELAC Uni-fi UB5, meanwhile, is priced higher, but still offers an excellent value for those looking to step up their audio game without venturing into the realm of high-end, wallet-thinning territory.
Compare to similar speakers
Ultimately, the B652-AIR and the UB5 serve different segments of the market. The B652-AIR is the go-to for a frugal buyer who still wants an enjoyable listening experience. The UB5, on the other hand, appeals to the listener who’s ready to invest a bit more for a significant jump in audio quality. The ELAC speakers are for those who seek an entry into more serious listening, aspiring to the clarity and depth that draw us closer to the music.
Deciding between the Dayton Audio B652-AIR and the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 comes down to personal priorities. If you are strictly budget-oriented and crave decent performance, the B652-AIR is a no-brainer. If, however, you are willing to increase your investment for a more immersive and detailed listening experience, the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 should be at the top of your list. Each set of speakers offers a compelling reason to be chosen, and neither disappoints within their respective contexts. It's a matter of aligning your expectations with your budget, and either way, the music's the winner.
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