ELAC ARB51 Navis vs. ELAC Uni-fi UB5

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers ELAC Uni-fi UB5 Bookshelf Speakers
$2000 $500
Dimensions (H × W × D)
13.58” × 7.44” × 9.45”
345mm × 189mm × 240mm
12.81” × 7.94” × 12.19”
325mm × 202mm × 310mm
Power Type
Powered Passive
Frequency Response
44-28,000 Hz 46-25,000 Hz

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: In the world of high-fidelity sound, the ELAC ARB51 Navis is a tour de force with its built-in amplification and sophisticated driver array, offering a seamless blend of power and finesse. Meanwhile, the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 stands as a beacon of value, delivering audiophile-grade performance with its concentric driver design at a more accessible price point. The ARB51 excels in convenience and raw performance, whereas the UB5 requires external amplification but potentially rewards with customization. Both speakers bear the ELAC hallmark of quality, but cater to different listener priorities—ease of use and integration versus affordability and expandability.

Speaker Comparison

In the realm of high-fidelity audio, the ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers and the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 Bookshelf Speakers present two different approaches to achieving audiophile-grade sound. The Navis ARB51 steps into the ring armed with a built-in amplification system, designed to offer a seamless and integrated listening experience. On the other hand, the Uni-fi UB5 is a passive speaker, relying on external amplification to drive its performance. The contrast between these two models is not merely technical; it's a fundamental difference in philosophy that caters to diverse listener preferences and setups.

Design Philosophy and Build Quality

Delving into the design philosophy and build quality of these speakers, both carry the ELAC signature of robust construction. The Navis ARB51 exudes a more modern and sleek appearance, with its compact form factor and no need for additional components cluttering the space. The Uni-fi UB5, while maintaining a handsome build, requires a bit more consideration for amplification components, which can affect the overall aesthetic and spatial footprint in one's listening environment.

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC ARB51 Navis arrow (at Amazon.com)

Sound Signature and Performance

When it comes to sound signature, the ARB51 and UB5 diverge in ways that are both subtle and significant. The ARB51's tri-amplified design, with each driver receiving its own dedicated amplifier, produces a level of clarity and control that is hard to replicate in passive systems. The Uni-fi UB5, with its concentric driver design and robust crossover, offers an excellent soundstage and tonal balance that punches well above its weight class. However, the UB5's ultimate performance ceiling is inherently tied to the quality of the external amplifier used, creating a reliance on additional gear to realize its full potential.

Listeners who crave the convenience of an all-in-one solution will find the ELAC ARB51 Navis remarkably satisfying. The intricacies of matching an amplifier to speakers are rendered moot as the ARB51's internal amplification is custom-tailored to its drivers. This ensures a harmonious relationship between components, often translating to a more cohesive sound profile. In contrast, the Uni-fi UB5 requires a more hands-on approach, inviting users to experiment with different amplifiers to find their preferred sound signature.

ELAC Uni-fi UB5 Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC Uni-fi UB5 arrow (at Amazon.com)

Dynamics and Power Handling

When assessing dynamics and power handling, the ARB51's active design provides it with a distinct advantage. The direct connection between the amplifier and drivers allows for a more immediate and dynamic response, giving life to music in a way that can feel more engaging. The UB5, while no slouch in this department, is at the mercy of the external amplifier's dynamic capabilities. A high-quality amp can elevate the UB5's performance significantly, but at the risk of increased total cost and complexity.

The ELAC Uni-fi UB5's passive nature does offer more flexibility for audiophiles who already possess high-grade amplification equipment and are looking to fine-tune their system's sound. The pursuit of the perfect match between speaker and amplifier can be a rewarding journey for the enthusiast willing to invest the time and resources. Conversely, the ARB51 is a godsend for those who seek top-tier sound without the additional fuss, as it bypasses the need for such pairings altogether.

In conclusion, the ELAC ARB51 Navis and ELAC Uni-fi UB5 bookshelf speakers cater to different preferences within the audiophile community. The ARB51 appeals to the listener who values a streamlined, potent, and self-contained audio solution. Meanwhile, the UB5 beckons the traditionalist who enjoys the process of component selection and the satisfaction of building a custom system. Regardless of one's preference, both models uphold ELAC's reputation for delivering superb audio performance and build quality, ensuring that any choice between the two is a choice for exceptional sound.

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ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC Uni-fi UB5 Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC Uni-fi UB5 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.