ELAC Vela

We have some introducing to do. 

In the weeks before Christmas, Rapallo saw a small flood of new products that landed in the Rapallo showroom. We already talked about the new Sony projectors in a previous blog and we also mentioned the wireless playground that is the Yamaha MusicCast system with the new Yamaha MusicCast VINYL 500 wireless turntable (I know!) as well as the MusicCast 50 and 20 wireless speakers and also the new MusicCast BAR 400 soundbar (All are on demo). The Klipschorns are living in the Rapallo upstairs demo room too. As far as speaker icons go, these are IT. 

But… the new ELAC Vela speakers kind went under the radar a little bit. I don't know what it is with European brands (UK brands being the exception), but they are rather complacent when it comes to marketing. Being outstanding products, there seems to be some assumption that quality will sell itself. The result is that on this side of the world at the very least, these very same high-quality products remain unnoticed. And that should absolutely not be the case.

Time to change this, we say. 

 

The new ELAC Vela’s replace the previous ELAC 400 Speaker Series, which the guys at Rapallo (but Bart in particular) were a big fan of. As a matter of fact, the ELAC 407’s live in his home cinema and that says it all. Unlike the Debuts, the Uni-Fi’s and the Adantes, the  new Vela’s are not designed by Andrew Jones (ELAC USA). No, the Vela’s have European creators and the speakers sit in the upper end of the mid-range budget. 

With roots that track back as far as 1948, German brand ELAC goes way back to the infancy of home audio. ELAC was always about innovation and improvement. Known as one of three most highly regarded manufacturers of turntables in the 70’s and 80’s, ELAC reinvented itself after vinyl died a slow dead and their famous JET tweeters saw the light of day. 

ELAC Jet ribbon tweetersThe JET folded-ribbon tweeters are also the cause of Bart’s excitement today. With an expanded frequency response up to 35 kHz, the JET tweeter proved that a driver whose response goes beyond the limits of human hearing, actually sounds better over its entire range. They really do!  Over time, the JET has been refined on a continuous basis and is highly regarded today in audiophile home applications.

It’s these exact hand-folded JET tweeters that are the show-pony of the new Vela speakers, but it definitely doesn’t stop there. The old ELAC 400 series speakers were quite something, the new Vela’s take it to the next level. 

A complex design of fancy angled high-class cabinets in combination with the revamped drivers as well as the new wave-guide of the JET tweeter (avoiding undesirable reflection) make for a showstopper of a speaker series. ELAC has created a die-cast plinth that integrates a downward firing port with a V-shaped opening for its bookshelfs; it looks great, allows greater flexibility of placement than a standard rear-firing port. The same plinth is incorporated into the two floorstanders in the Vela range, but in those models there is a base plate beneath that extends the footprint and provides for spike fixing. Nominal impedance is four Ohms, so the Vela’s are going to need a bit of power for best results. 

The Vela’s come in a larger 3-way (Vela FS409.2) and more modest 2 and ½ way floorstander (Vela FS407.2), a bookshelf speaker (Vela BS403.2) and a centre speaker (Vela CC401.2). 

 

ELAC VelaSpecs aside, we asked our own Deano to pen down a few of his findings when auditioning the Vela FS407.2 in our showroom. We hooked them up alternatingly with either the Perreaux Prisma 750 monoblocks or the PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium HP Power Amplifier and got them to do their thing. 

“Some call them elegant, some find them just beautiful. The look of the Vela FS 407 is a different approach to the normal Elac design or the average speaker for that matter. I will let you decide on whether you love them or not.The curved lines are covered by a high gloss finish that is decidedly high-end. But looks aside, the most important thing is the acoustical experience.So how do they sound?’

So…Deano retreated to the Rapallo demo room on a quiet afternoon, found the perfect listening position and closed his eyes. 

 

‘First thing I noticed was the bass impact, these speakers are exceptional in bass transmission, not boomy or lossy but tight and accurate, hearing these and the previous FS 407's I’m still amazed how Elac manages to produce this bass response from a cabinet size that is in general the same size as other manufacturers but other companies fail to reach this level of output.

Playing my usual test album from Dire Straits - The best of, and starting with the track on every street, rarely have I enjoyed Mark Knopfler's guitar sound this realistic, and the drums of Manu Katche who is the guest drummer on this track, his drumming is precise and the imaging is accurate and extremely engaging there is no smearing or blurriness of overlay, every strike of the drumstick is separated and has excellent timbre and decay, the snares sound tight and just right.Soundstage is pin point accurate with amazing three dimensional staggering, 

Switching to ‘Private Investigations’, the guitar plucks are spot on with correct tension and resonance, and Mark's growl is pleasantly there in all its glory. I could go on and on about what these speakers do right, is there anything they do wrong – maybe…but nothing I could hear gave me that impression. 

If you are looking for a dynamic, engaging speaker that brings you into the music then the Elac Vela FS 407.2 are for you. But be warned if you risk listening to them, you’ll take them home with you; no doubt“

 

So, please do pop into the Rapallo store for a listen.