ELAC ARB51 Navis vs. Klipsch Reference R-820F

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers Klipsch Reference R-820F Tower Speakers
$2000 $1000
Dimensions (H × W × D)
13.58” × 7.44” × 9.45”
345mm × 189mm × 240mm
43.00” × 10.94” × 17.50”
1092mm × 278mm × 444mm
Power Type
Powered Passive
Frequency Response
44-28,000 Hz 35-21,000 Hz

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: In the realm of high-fidelity sound, the ELAC ARB51 Navis offers a pristine, self-driven audio experience with its three-way design, pushing the envelope for bookshelf speakers. The bespoke drivers and built-in amplification ensure a seamless, articulate soundscape. Conversely, the Klipsch Reference R-820F towers command the space with authoritative presence. Utilizing dual 8-inch woofers and the signature Tractrix horn-loaded tweeter, they deliver dynamic, room-filling sound with that characteristic Klipsch punch. While the Navis is about refined precision, the R-820F stands for sheer power and scale, making both contenders cater to distinctly different audiophile preferences.

Speaker Comparison

When we delve into the world of high-fidelity audio, the confrontation between the ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers and the Klipsch Reference R-820F Tower Speakers becomes a fascinating study in design philosophy and listener preferences. While both manufacturers have a storied reputation in the audiophile community, their approaches to sound reproduction could not be more divergent. The ELAC ARB51 is a compact, self-powered speaker with a modern pedigree, designed for the discerning listener who values precision and convenience. The Klipsch R-820F, on the other hand, stands tall as a traditional passive tower speaker that draws upon the company's longstanding horn-loaded legacy to deliver dynamic, room-filling sound.

The Essence of ELAC ARB51 Navis

At first glance, the ELAC ARB51 Navis Bookshelf Speakers exude simplicity and modernism. As an active speaker design, each unit houses its own trio of amplifiers dedicated to the woofer, midrange, and tweeter, ensuring a clean and balanced power delivery that is meticulously tailored to each driver. This active design philosophy eliminates the need for an external amplifier, simplifying the signal path and ostensibly providing a purer audio experience. The ARB51, with its custom-designed drivers and built-in 300 watts of total power, offers a level of integration and performance that is quite challenging to replicate in passive systems without a significant investment in external amplification.

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

Klipsch Reference R-820F Tower Speakers: A Testament to Power

Meanwhile, the Klipsch Reference R-820F speakers are a towering testament to the brand's commitment to power and presence. These speakers require an external amplifier or receiver but reward listeners with a highly efficient design that can deliver high volumes with less power. The signature tractrix horn technology paired with dual 8-inch woofers on each speaker ensures that the R-820F can deliver a wide soundstage and remarkable dynamics, creating an immersive listening experience that is hard to match. With a sensitivity of 98dB at 2.83V/1m, these speakers can sing with even modestly powered amplifiers, a feature that has long endeared Klipsch to its fans.

Sound Signature and Room Integration

The sound signature of the ELAC ARB51 Navis is refined and precise. These speakers render details with a clinical accuracy that can reveal the nuances in a mix or mastering that might be lost on less revealing systems. They excel in producing a broad soundstage with excellent imaging, making them ideal for small to medium-sized rooms where space is at a premium, and the listening position is relatively fixed. However, their bass response, while tight and accurate, may not satisfy those seeking the visceral impact of larger drivers or a dedicated subwoofer.

Klipsch Reference R-820F Tower Speakers
Klipsch Reference R-820F arrow (at Amazon.com)

In contrast, the Klipsch R-820F's sound signature is bold and energetic. The horn-loaded tweeter imparts a unique character to the highs that is immediately identifiable as Klipsch's own. The dual woofers ensure that bass is not just heard but felt, even in larger rooms. These tower speakers can rock a party just as well as they can reproduce the subtleties of a symphony, making them versatile performers for a wide array of genres and settings. Nonetheless, their larger footprint and need for breathing room can pose a challenge in more compact listening environments.

Conclusion: A Matter of Taste and Space

The choice between the ELAC ARB51 Navis and the Klipsch R-820F depends largely on personal taste and available space. For the listener who values a clean aesthetic, appreciates the simplicity of an all-in-one system, and has a smaller space, the ELAC ARB51 may be the perfect companion. Its nuanced sound and compact form factor are inviting and unobtrusive, yet capable of audiophile-grade performance.

Conversely, for those who have the room to accommodate them and crave the dynamic, live-concert feel, the Klipsch R-820F towers are a compelling option. They offer a traditional, high-impact listening experience that is difficult to match. Whether paired with a vintage tube amp for warmth or a modern solid-state for precision, they will deliver a sound that is as large and life-like as their physical presence.

Check Current Prices:

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
Klipsch Reference R-820F Tower Speakers
Klipsch Reference R-820F Tower 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.