ELAC Uni-fi UB5 Bookshelf Speakers Review


MSRP $500
(H × W × D)
12.81” × 7.94” × 12.19”
325mm × 202mm × 310mm
Power Type Passive
Frequency Response 46-25,000 Hz
ELAC Uni-fi UB5 Bookshelf Speakers

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: **ELAC Uni-fi UB5 Review** The ELAC Uni-fi UB5 bookshelf speakers punch far above their weight class, delivering a sonically rich experience with a 3-way design rare at this price point. The concentric mid/high driver arrangement yields a cohesive soundstage with pristine detail. However, the speakers crave ample power to shine, so pairing with a robust amp is crucial. While their bulkier build may challenge smaller spaces, the UB5's performance is a triumph of budget audiophilia.

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ELAC Uni-fi UB5: Our Take

The ELAC Uni-fi UB5 Bookshelf Speakers have been a notable contender in the realm of audio equipment, offering an appealing blend of performance and value for audiophiles and casual listeners alike. One of the unique features of the UB5 is its concentric driver design, where a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter is positioned at the center of a 4-inch aluminum midrange cone. This configuration aims to improve timing and coherence, as the sound from both tweeter and midrange drivers originates from the same point in space.

Another impressive aspect of the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 is its three-way speaker design. Unlike typical two-way bookshelf speakers, the UB5 incorporates a separate woofer for low frequencies. This design allows each driver to focus on a more limited frequency range, potentially leading to clearer and more accurate sound reproduction across the lows, mids, and highs. The custom-designed 5.25-inch aluminum woofer dedicated to bass further enhances this effect.

When it comes to build quality, the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 speakers do not disappoint. They feature a robust MDF cabinet that helps to minimize resonance and distortion, contributing to a purer sound. The speakers are also attractively designed, with a sleek, modern aesthetic that can blend seamlessly into a variety of home decor styles. However, some users might find them relatively bulky compared to other bookshelf speakers, which could be a consideration for those with limited space.

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Performance and Sound Quality

The performance of the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 speakers is widely acclaimed for their price range. Users often report a detailed and balanced sound that can compete with more expensive models. The low-end response is particularly praised, providing a depth and richness that is not always found in bookshelf speakers without an accompanying subwoofer. However, some critics note that while the bass is substantial for their size, those seeking a room-shaking experience may still need to pair them with a dedicated subwoofer.

High-frequency reproduction in the UB5s is also a strong point due to the aforementioned concentric tweeter design, which delivers a smooth and extended treble without being overly bright or fatiguing. This makes them suitable for long listening sessions and a variety of music genres. Nevertheless, some listeners may find the high frequencies less pronounced than in other speakers, which could be either a pro or con depending on individual taste and preference.

Midrange performance is crucial for vocal clarity and instrumental accuracy, and the Uni-fi UB5 speakers handle this well. The midrange is reported to be natural and revealing, making these speakers particularly good for acoustic music and vocals. However, in complex musical passages or at higher volumes, some users have reported that the midrange can become slightly muddled, although this is often only noticeable when compared directly to more expensive high-end speakers.

Comparison with Similar Products

In comparison to similar products like the KEF Q150 or Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary Edition, the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 holds its own in terms of sound quality and unique design features. The KEF Q150 also employs a concentric driver design but at a different price point and with its own sound signature. The Bowers & Wilkins model offers a renowned brand's take on high-quality bookshelf speakers but may come at a higher cost.

Another competitor worth mentioning is the Klipsch RP-600M, which boasts high efficiency and dynamic sound, driven by its Tractrix horn-loaded tweeter. While some users might prefer the dynamic punch of the Klipsch speakers, others will favor the more nuanced soundstage that the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 offers. Ultimately, the choice between these models will come down to personal preference, listening environment, and budget considerations.

Prospective buyers should weigh the pros and cons of the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 alongside their personal audio preferences and requirements. While they offer excellent value and performance within their price range, some aspects such as size, design, and individual sonic characteristics could lead buyers to consider alternative options. A thorough comparison and ideally an in-person audition will help ensure satisfaction with whichever bookshelf speakers one ultimately chooses to bring into their home audio setup.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do the concentric drivers of the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 affect sound imaging and staging?

The ELAC Uni-fi UB5's concentric driver design is one of its standout features, particularly when it comes to sound imaging and staging. By aligning the tweeter within the midrange cone, these speakers offer a point-source effect. This design choice significantly enhances imaging precision, granting listeners a more accurate placement of instruments and voices within a three-dimensional soundstage. This means that when set up correctly in your listening room, the UB5s are capable of delivering a convincingly realistic spatial experience, with sound seeming to emanate from a specific point in space rather than a diffuse area.

Listeners often report that the Uni-fi UB5 speakers provide a seamless integration of frequencies, thanks to the unique concentric design. This integration allows for a uniform sound dispersion throughout the room, which, in turn, contributes to a more cohesive and immersive listening experience. For aficionados seeking a bookshelf speaker that offers an outstanding soundstage without the exorbitant price tag, the Uni-fi UB5 is a noteworthy contender.

How does the cabinet design of the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 contribute to its acoustic performance?

The cabinet construction of the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 plays a pivotal role in its acoustic performance. The cabinets are meticulously engineered to minimize internal standing waves and undesired resonances, which can color the sound and detract from the speaker's clarity. ELAC has incorporated a robust MDF build with internal bracing that serves to reinforce the cabinet's rigidity. This design choice ensures that the drivers have a solid, vibration-free platform from which to operate, resulting in a cleaner, more precise audio output.

Moreover, the UB5's cabinets feature a three-way bass reflex design with a rear-firing port. This configuration enhances the low-frequency response, allowing the speakers to deliver deeper bass than one might expect from their relatively compact size. However, it's worth noting that the rear port means these speakers will perform best when given some space away from walls to avoid overly boomy bass. The attention to such details in cabinet construction is indicative of ELAC's commitment to optimal sonic performance, a hallmark valued by discerning audiophiles.

What are the power requirements for driving the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 effectively?

Driving the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 effectively is a question that surfaces quite often, given its reputation for being a somewhat demanding speaker in terms of amplification. While exact numbers should be checked against the latest specifications, it is well understood that the UB5's benefit from a robust amplifier with adequate power to unlock their full potential. It's not just about the wattage, though; the quality of the amplifier's power delivery and its current capabilities are also significant. A clean and stable power source will prevent the speakers from sounding strained at higher volumes and ensure a more dynamic sound quality throughout the listening levels.

Given the speakers' nominal impedance and sensitivity, which are somewhat lower and less efficient than many other bookshelf speakers, it is recommended to pair them with an amplifier that can deliver a little more power than what might be required for a more typical speaker. The result of the right pairing is a more engaging and expansive listening experience. Potential users should consider an amplifier that can deliver power comfortably above the speakers' minimum rating without distortion, keeping in mind that room size and listening habits will also influence the ideal power requirements.

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ELAC Uni-fi UB5

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