ELAC ARB51 Navis vs. Pioneer SP-BS22-LR

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Bookshelf Speakers
$2000 $160
Dimensions (H × W × D)
13.58” × 7.44” × 9.45”
345mm × 189mm × 240mm
12.56” × 7.13” × 8.44”
319mm × 181mm × 214mm
Power Type
Powered Passive
Frequency Response
44-28,000 Hz 55-20,000 Hz
ASR Score
n/a 5.0
ASR Score w/Subwoofer
n/a 7.5

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: In the realm of high-fidelity sound, the ELAC ARB51 Navis presents itself as an audiophile's delight—a powered bookshelf speaker that marries custom-designed drivers with robust built-in amplification. With its sleek, no-compromise design, it delivers a precise, room-filling performance. Contrastingly, the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR, crafted by renowned designer Andrew Jones, offers remarkable value, bringing commendable clarity and balance to the budget-conscious listener. While the ELAC caters to the discerning ear with its higher price reflecting its premium stature, the Pioneer serves as a gateway to high-quality audio for the masses, exemplifying performance that belies its modest cost.

Speaker Comparison

When discussing the realm of audiophile-grade bookshelf speakers, the conversation often drifts towards a comparison of innovative design against time-honored performance. Two particular models that are frequently juxtaposed are the ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers and the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Bookshelf Speakers. These two speakers are emblematic of divergent philosophies in the audio world — the ELAC ARB51 represents a modern, self-contained solution, while the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR reflects a traditional approach that requires external amplification.

Design and Build Quality

The ELAC ARB51 Navis features a sleek, sophisticated design, boasting a custom-designed concentric driver that encapsulates both the tweeter and the midrange driver. This arrangement allows for a coherent and time-aligned audio dispersion, providing a seamless integration of frequencies. The build quality is also exceptional, with a robust cabinet construction that minimizes resonance. In contrast, the Pioneers, designed by the legendary Andrew Jones, have a more utilitarian look but still maintain a sense of elegance. The SP-BS22-LR’s curved cabinet design is not just for aesthetics; it also serves to reduce standing waves inside the cabinet, although the overall build feels more modest compared to the heft and finish of the ELACs.

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

Sound Performance

Where the ELAC ARB51 shines is in its sound performance. With an onboard BASH amplification, delivering 300 watts of total power, the ARB51s provide a level of control and dynamic range that is hard to match. The bass is tight and precise, thanks to the dedicated 160-watt amplifier for the low-frequency driver. Midrange is luscious and well-defined, while the highs are crisp without being harsh. The Pioneer SP-BS22-LR, on the other hand, relies on passive amplification and often on the synergy with the amplifier it's paired with. The sound is warm and inviting, with a well-balanced tone that excels in delivering natural vocals and acoustic instruments. However, they might not reach the same peaks in clarity and power handling as the ELACs.

Functionality and Connectivity

The ELAC ARB51 is a fully active speaker system, meaning it has built-in amplification and a variety of inputs including XLR, RCA, and Bluetooth with aptX for high-quality streaming. This level of functionality allows the ARB51 to serve as the centerpiece of a minimalist audio setup without the need for external amplification. Conversely, the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR’s passive design necessitates an external amplifier or receiver, which does allow for more customization in the audiophile’s setup but also requires additional investment and space for the components.

Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Bookshelf Speakers
Pioneer SP-BS22-LR arrow (at Amazon.com)

Usage scenarios for these two speakers can greatly influence a buyer's choice. The ELACs, being self-powered, are ideal for someone looking for a plug-and-play option that requires minimal additional equipment. They’re also favorable for smaller spaces where a separate amp would be intrusive. The Pioneers, on the other hand, are perfect for enthusiasts who already own an amplifier and enjoy tweaking their system to achieve the perfect sound signature.

Value for Money

Value is a subjective measure, especially in the audiophile world. The ELAC ARB51 Navis, with its advanced features, built-in amplification, and superior sonic performance, commands a higher price point. However, it represents a complete package with fewer requirements for additional equipment. The Pioneer SP-BS22-LR is significantly more affordable, offering an exceptional performance-to-price ratio. For those on a budget or those building a system piece by piece, the Pioneer speakers are an excellent starting point.

In conclusion, the choice between the ELAC ARB51 Navis and the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR bookshelf speakers is largely dependent on personal preferences, desired usage, and budget. The ELACs offer a high-end, all-in-one solution that is hard to fault in terms of performance and design. The Pioneers, though lacking the same level of power and advanced design, provide a warm and rich sound that punches above its weight class. Ultimately, both sets of speakers have much to offer to the discerning audiophile and can provide countless hours of listening pleasure.

Check Current Prices:

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Bookshelf Speakers
Pioneer SP-BS22-LR 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.