ELAC ARB51 Navis vs. Klipsch Reference R-41M

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers Klipsch Reference R-41M Bookshelf Speakers
$2000 $150
Dimensions (H × W × D)
13.58” × 7.44” × 9.45”
345mm × 189mm × 240mm
11.30” × 5.75” × 7.90”
287mm × 146mm × 201mm
Power Type
Powered Passive
Frequency Response
44-28,000 Hz 68-21,000 Hz
ASR Score
n/a 2.8
ASR Score w/Subwoofer
n/a 5.7

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: In the arena of bookshelf speakers, the ELAC ARB51 Navis and Klipsch Reference R-41M present a study in contrasts. The ARB51, with its audiophile-grade craftsmanship, harbors a trinity of amplifiers in a sophisticated active design, granting a lush, detailed soundstage that appeals to purists. Conversely, the R-41M, rooted in Klipsch's horn-loaded heritage, delivers a dynamic, punchy performance at a fraction of the ARB51's cost. While the ELAC caters to discerning listeners craving plug-and-play convenience with high-res capabilities, the Klipsch offers a compelling, budget-friendly option for those seeking the excitement of a live concert experience.

Speaker Comparison

When discussing the ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers versus the Klipsch Reference R-41M Bookshelf Speakers, we're venturing into a tale of two cities in the realm of audio fidelity. On one hand, we have the ARB51, a powered speaker that caters to a discerning audiophile with a penchant for nuanced sound and a versatile listening experience. On the other, we have the R-41M, a passive speaker that bears the torch for the heritage brand's commitment to energetic and dynamic sound that Klipsch is renowned for. Both sets of speakers have their merits and can transform living spaces into concert venues, but they cater to very different audiences.

Design Philosophy & Aesthetics

ELAC's ARB51 speaks volumes about its design philosophy with a no-nonsense, minimalist aesthetic. The speakers feature a sophisticated three-way design, including a 4-inch aluminum midrange driver and a 1-inch soft dome tweeter, which are coupled with a 5.25-inch aluminum woofer. The ARB51's trilateral build ensures a precise sound stage, and its powered nature means a separate amplifier isn’t needed, simplifying the setup. In contrast, Klipsch's R-41M, with its iconic copper spun IMG woofers and a 1-inch aluminum LTS tweeter mated to a 90x90 square Tractrix Horn, exudes a more traditional and assertive look, paying homage to Klipsch's storied history.

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

Sound Quality & Performance

When it comes to the sonic qualities, the ELAC ARB51 is a clear standout for its clarity and balance. With an onboard amplifier tailored specifically for each driver, these speakers provide a level of detail and coherence that is exceptional. The bass is tight and controlled, midranges sing with purity, and the highs are crisp without being sibilant. The Klipsch R-41M, being passive, requires careful pairing with an amplifier, but once dialed in, it delivers the impactful and lively sound that Klipsch fans adore. Its high-efficiency design translates to an easily driven experience, but the sound can be colored by the partnering equipment, which may not appeal to those seeking a more neutral sonic signature.

Usage Scenarios & Connectivity

The ELAC ARB51 comes into its own in a setup where convenience and simplicity are paramount. The inclusion of a built-in amplifier and the absence of speaker cables streamline the setup process, making it ideal for those who prefer a cleaner look or have space constraints. Additionally, the ARB51's advanced Bluetooth with aptX HD ensures high-fidelity streaming from compatible devices. Conversely, the passive nature of the Klipsch R-41M offers flexibility in amplifier selection and the potential for upgrade paths, making it a solid choice for traditionalists and tinkerers who enjoy experimenting with different components in their audio chain.

Klipsch Reference R-41M Bookshelf Speakers
Klipsch Reference R-41M arrow (at Amazon.com)

In terms of connectivity, the ARB51's powered design might seem limited to some, as it dictates the use of its internal amps. However, for a listener who wants an all-in-one solution, this limitation is actually a boon, reducing clutter and complexity. The R-41M's passive design requires external amplification, which means more cables and potentially more equipment, but also allows for a higher degree of customization and the ability to tailor the sound to one's preferences with different amps and source components.

Value Proposition

Value is a subjective measure in the world of high-fidelity audio, and it largely depends on the listener's priorities. The ELAC ARB51, with its higher price point, offers a refined and cohesive package that appeals to those who value simplicity and excellence in sound without the need for additional components. The Klipsch R-41M, more modestly priced, provides a dynamic listening experience and the joy of component selection, which can be a rewarding endeavor for the hobbyist. It's superb for someone entering the realm of high-fidelity sound on a budget and looking to grow their system over time.

Ultimately, choosing between the ELAC ARB51 and Klipsch R-41M bookshelf speakers comes down to personal preference and intended use. The ARB51 is the go-to for listeners who prize convenience, minimalism, and nuanced sound. In contrast, the R-41M suits those who appreciate the hands-on aspect of hi-fi, the thrill of customization, and the bolder sound that Klipsch is famous for. Both have their place in the pantheon of bookshelf speakers, and either can provide countless hours of listening pleasure to the right owner.

Check Current Prices:

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
Klipsch Reference R-41M Bookshelf Speakers
Klipsch Reference R-41M 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.