Mr. Andrew Jones, for those of you not familiar with the world of speakers, is currently one of the most influential designers plying his trade. This is a man who has worked some of the largest speaker manufacturers in the world. Including; KEF, Technical Audio Devices, Infinity, and Pioneer.
Mr. Andrew Jones is also considered by many audio enthusiasts to have designed the greatest speaker ever made. The mighty TAD Reference One. A rather nice speaker for the price of a small house.
Mr. Andrew Jones is now the VP of engineering at Elac America and is responsible for the design of the ELAC Uni-Fi UB5. With a reputation for creating incredible high-end sound out of very affordable speakers, his latest creation is anticipated to deliver much of the same.
Mr. Andrew Jones, are you truly the messiah of the audio world?
Let’s get this ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 Review underway and find out…
Features & Specifications
Elac offers a three years warranty to their speakers from the date of purchase.
The speakers measure 10.8” x 7.9” x 12.8”. They’re classified as bookshelf speakers, though they are small enough to be used as desktop speakers. They’re suitable for home music or movies, but as they’re passive speakers, they will require a receiver to work.
However, these speakers are not light, 16.5lbs each, make sure your bookshelf is nice and sturdy.
The ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 has an unusual three-way speaker set-up. A lot has been made of this somewhat unusual configuration, so let take a closer look and see if the reality lives up to the hype.
The UB5 has a 4” midrange aluminum cone driver with the 1” soft dome tweeter in the middle.
The interesting part of these speakers is the unconventional approach of mounting the tweeter in the center of the mid-range driver. This concentric driver arrangement helps to prevent any interference between drivers and plays an important part in the ELAC Uni-Fi UB5’s delivery of such quality sound.
The 1” tweeter is actually housed and neatly hidden behind a grill in a soft dome that’s placed inside of the midrange 4” aluminum cone. The 5.25” woofer sits below the two concentric drivers and is also manufactured from aluminum.
Traditionally aluminum is a driver material that can lead to some unwanted nasty cone breakup. However, the three-way speaker crossover system, thanks to a clever crossover board design, allows the woofer to perform at frequencies it was ultimately designed for. This, therefore, eliminates cone break up as the woofer’s crossover point is never reached.
For the geeks amongst you out there, the nominal impedance is 4 Ω, and the minimum is 3.4Ω. And the recommended amplifier power is between 40 to 140 watts per channel.
Build Quality & Design
The speakers we’re reviewing are the black non-slimline version. These are also available in a slimline unit in either black or white. If you want to save yourself just under an inch in width, 7” instead of 7.9”, go take a look at those.
However, the speakers themselves are not going to win any beauty competition or design awards. They have the signature rings around them, giving them their Elac look, but otherwise, it’s all pretty standard fare here. The speaker cabinet themselves are constructed from MDF. They’re reasonably well built, and the bracing on the inside is superior to some of Elac’s previous models, but still, nothing to get us excited.
The cabinets are wrapped in a black-brushed vinyl wrap. This looks fine, but it is prone to lifting at the corners. In time, and possibly after being moved around multiple times, it could become an issue. The front of the speakers has a black removable grill, which again is, yes, fine.
The fact is that the bulk of money on the ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 has been spent on their sound and performance. Therefore, their look could be best described as functional.
Love the looks or hate them; you can’t argue much with the quality on the inside.
Let’s take a look at that, should we?
Power & Performance
There’s no doubt that the quality of any passive speaker is going to be very heavily reliant on the power and quality of the receiver you use. The UB5 is no exception to this. Though we‘re not going to give specifics of every receiver used, what we can say is that these do take a lot of driving, more so than a lot of other speakers out there, such as the Klipsch RP-600M.
The ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 has an impedance of 4 ohms compared to the Klipsch RP-600M, which has an impedance of 8 ohms. In broad terms, this means that the lower impedance rating of the UB5 will require twice as much power to drive it.
Indeed, the UB5 is a power thief, and it can make the power from your receiver vanish into thin air. Consequently, when you pick an amplifier to match with the ELAC Uni-Fi UB5, make sure it has at least a 6 ohms or 8 ohms power rating.
You’ll be rewarded with some amazing sound. However, if you don’t, then you’re likely to get a sound that’s, well just OK and possibly a little dull quite frankly. Be aware that although some speakers will just take any old power and receiver to drive them, the Elac is a fussy eater.
The other side of this is that whatever quality you do throw its way, it will happily take on board and reward you with increasing levels of sound performance.
Well, the concentric driver in the ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 really does a superb job of both imaging and separation. Even when compared to much higher-end speakers, it’s easy to hear instruments separately. The soundstage with these speakers is excellent. The level of detail and clarity is also impressive, with the tweeter producing a precise sound at the higher end that is neither too bright or in any way harsh.
What’s more, the mid-range driver helps to deliver some lovely smooth mids which particularly shine through when listening to vocals.
With the woofer being set free from its mid-range duties, to focus on the lower end. These speakers can hit some serious low lows. Listening across a broad range of music, you’re unlikely to have the need for a subwoofer. However, if you’re listening and watching a lot of movies, a subwoofer is something you might want to consider.
There’s no doubt about it; the ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 provides a much deeper bass level than we were expecting from such a relatively compact speaker.
The overall quality of the sound is both warm and forgiving and suitable across a broad range of musical genres.
We like it.
ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 Pros & Cons
- Excellent soundstage.
- Good separation between lows, mids, and highs.
- Low bass response.
- Clear, precise sound.
- The speakers need a lot of driving from the receiver.
- Cabinet build-quality is not the best in its class.
We clearly love these Elac’s, and you probably will too, but in terms of fairness, it is worth considering some other options as well. It’s therefore well worth checking out our reviews of the Best Bookshelf Speakers under 1000 dollars, the Best Powered Speakers, the Best Bookshelf Speakers, the Best Speakers for Vinyl, and the Best High End Home Theater Speakers currently available.
You may also be interested in our Klipsch RB 61 ii review, our Klipsch R 120SW review, and our Klipsch R 15M review.
Mr. Andrew Jones may not be able to walk on water or turn water into wine. However, he is able to design an affordable and small-sized speaker with a quality sound.
The ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 is the latest proof.
One of the best speakers we’ve seen in a long time. If you take care when pairing this with the right amplifier. Then it’s sure to produce true hi-fi sounds and quality far above its size and price.