I hate being predictable. My lack of habit is one of the things I tend to pride myself on, actually (much to my wife’s chagrin, but that’s another story). So, when I came ’round to the ELAC room here at RMAF, I had fully prepared myself to nod politely, make some cheerful noises about how good the sound was — “for the money” — and wander on my way, with never a second thought about this room. I mean, c’mon. How good could it really be? At that price?
Pshaw! Pshaw, I say!
And then I was told that the $279 (each) F5 floor standing speakers would “knock my socks off”. I scoffed and was forced to show off my nifty Dr Seuss-like Nice Laundry socks, saying, these are not leaving my delightfully attractive feet. I’m might also have pooh-poohed, or perhaps offered something dismissive like, “Mmm … is that so?”
I will offer, in my defense, that wild enthusiasm never seems supported by actual experience, and that whenever “a lot of people” tell me that a room is “fantastic”, I take this as pretty reliable indicator of ho-hum.
I will offer, also in my defense, that I’ve heard a lot of stuff. Wild claims and expensive gear, alike. So, color me a little natively suspicious.
But … I should know better. Pride goeth and all that.
Yeah. Well, it turns out that these new speakers are all that and a bag of chips. So much for my unpredictability and my preconceptions. Turns out, “they” knew what the heck they were talking about. Color me embarrassed. Apologies are due! I mean, they’re not actually going to be forthcoming, but they’re due. Heh.
Run here with some very swish gear from Audio Alchemy, the soon-to-ship F5 is my new reference for affordable awesomeness, replacing a pair of speakers from Pioneer. The savvy among you know what speakers I’m referring to, and also note that the common denominator in that equation is Andrew Jones.
The F5 is a 3-way, 6Ω, 85dB loudspeaker that weighs less than 40lbs each. Frequency response is rated to 42Hz, and that’s a very credible number based on what I heard in that room. This speaker nails speed, tone and reach — and at this price, this is a no-brainer. Jones led us through what became an eye-popping demo, and at the end, I was waving my wallet at him, yelling “Take my money!” An easier approach, however, will be to just spend your $558 over at Amazon and have done.
I didn’t get a chance to hear the little bookshelf speakers, but the B5 ($229/pair) was the big news at Munich this year. The slightly-larger B6 ($279/pair) is the one I’m looking at. It features a larger woofer (6.5″ vs 5.25″), and like all of the speakers in this series, it features (the non-tweeter) drivers made from
Kevlar Woven-Aramid Fiber and a 1″ cloth dome tweeter, which is embedded in a “custom deep-spheroid waveguide”. Cabinets are a “brushed-black vinyl”, made from MDF. The look is “finished”, but there’s definitely a step (or ten) that many of the speakers at this show have taken that are all “up” from this level — but again, none of them are at this price point, either.
We should expect a whole host of offerings from this particular collaboration, too — including a center-channel, Atmos satellites, and a massive sub. Yeah, I’m thinking “home theater”, too. Oh, and just a tease, but CES will showcase another suite of speakers from ELAC and Jones, one level up from this “Debut” series. Expected prices will be in the $1000-$1500 range.
So, while I eagerly await what extras a larger budget will bring, this particular budget-friendly offering was my first Best-In-Show contender. Regardless of price.
So much for expectations!