ELAC ARB51 Navis vs. NHT SuperZero 2.1

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers NHT SuperZero 2.1 Mini-Monitor Speaker
$2000 $300
Dimensions (H × W × D)
13.58” × 7.44” × 9.45”
345mm × 189mm × 240mm
9.00” × 5.50” × 5.00”
229mm × 140mm × 127mm
Power Type
Powered Passive
Frequency Response
44-28,000 Hz 85-20,000 Hz
ASR Score
n/a 3.4
ASR Score w/Subwoofer
n/a 6.7

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: In the realm of high-fidelity sound, the ELAC ARB51 Navis offers an enticing blend of audiophile-grade refinement with self-contained amplification, delivering a rich, room-filling soundstage with precise imaging. Contrastingly, the NHT SuperZero 2.1 Mini-Monitor is a minimalist's dream, providing an uncolored and clear sonic footprint that belies its compact dimensions, albeit requiring an external amplifier to shine. The ELACs cater to convenience and acoustic performance, while the NHTs appeal to purists willing to tinker with separate components for a tailor-fit audio experience. Each speaker appeals to different sensibilities within the audiophile community.

Speaker Comparison

When it comes to choosing speakers, audiophiles are often faced with a conundrum of options, especially when delving into the realms of powered bookshelf speakers versus passive mini-monitors. The ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers and the NHT SuperZero 2.1 Mini-Monitor Speaker are two contrasting contenders that cater to different listener preferences and setups. While the ELAC ARB51 offers an all-in-one solution with its built-in amplification, the NHT SuperZero 2.1 remains true to the purist approach of passive speakers that require an external amplifier.

The Power of Integration

The ELAC ARB51 is a testament to the convenience and sophistication that comes with self-powered speakers. Each speaker is equipped with a trio of dedicated amplifiers for the tweeter, midrange, and woofer, ensuring a well-balanced and controlled audio performance. As a result, these speakers deliver a detailed and dynamic soundstage that is both coherent and immersive. In contrast, the SuperZero 2.1's passive design necessitates a separate amplifier, which can be an advantage for enthusiasts who prefer to fine-tune their audio experience with different amplification components. However, this setup requires additional investment and space.

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

Sound Signature and Performance

ELAC's ARB51's sound character is rich and detailed, supported by its custom-designed midrange drivers and aluminum tweeters that are carefully integrated with the onboard amplification. The sound is immediate and engaging, with a surprising depth that belies the speakers' bookshelf size. The bass response is respectable for speakers of this stature, though it may not satisfy those craving a truly full-range experience. This is where the NHT SuperZero 2.1, despite its diminutive size, surprises many. Its acoustic suspension design yields a tight and articulate bass, and while it won't shake the rafters, it is impressively accurate and well-defined for its class.

Design and Build Quality

The craftsmanship of the ELAC ARB51 is evident in its sleek, modern aesthetic and the high-quality finishes available. They are built to blend seamlessly into a contemporary living space while making a subtle statement of elegance. On the other hand, the NHT SuperZero 2.1 maintains a more understated appearance, with a no-frills, functional design that places its emphasis squarely on its acoustic capabilities. The SuperZero's build is solid, reflecting NHT's commitment to quality even at a lower price point. Its compact size makes it incredibly versatile for placement in a variety of room sizes and configurations.

NHT SuperZero 2.1 Mini-Monitor Speaker
NHT SuperZero 2.1 arrow (at Amazon.com)

One cannot discuss the ARB51 and the SuperZero 2.1 without addressing the price point. The ELAC ARB51 speakers come with a higher price tag, but this reflects the advanced technology, built-in amplifiers, and the premium finish of the product. The SuperZero 2.1, however, is an attractive proposition for the budget-conscious audiophile. It delivers excellent performance for its price, making it a leading option for those just starting in high-fidelity audio or for setting up a secondary system.

Connectivity is another area where the ELAC ARB51 shines. With multiple input options, including balanced XLR, these speakers can accommodate a wide range of source equipment. The NHT SuperZero 2.1, being a passive speaker, has standard binding posts that provide a reliable and straightforward connection to an external amplifier. While the SuperZero doesn't offer the plug-and-play simplicity of the ELAC, it does present an opportunity for users to experiment with different amplifiers and discover what best suits their listening preferences.

In conclusion, the ELAC ARB51 and NHT SuperZero 2.1 occupy distinct positions in the speaker market. The ELAC represents the pinnacle of convenience and modern speaker technology, perfect for the audiophile who values a high level of performance without the need for additional components. The NHT, on the other hand, is a classic example of a high-performance passive speaker that provides an entry point into high-end audio. Both speakers excel in their respective domains, and the choice between them ultimately depends on the user's priorities, space constraints, and sonic tastes.

Check Current Prices:

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
NHT SuperZero 2.1 Mini-Monitor Speaker
NHT SuperZero 2.1 Mini-Monitor Speaker

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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.