ELAC Adante AF-61 Floorstanding Speakers at LA Audio Show 2017

At CES last January, ELAC introduced its newest speaker line, dubbed Adante. Designed by speaker guru Andrew Jones, the line includes a stand-mounted model (AS-61, $2500/pair), a center channel (AC-61, $2000 each), a floorstander (AF-61, $5000/pair), and a subwoofer (AS-W121, $2500 each). The AS-61 was demonstrated at CES, and it sounded wonderful, so I was eager to hear the new line at the Los Angeles Audio Show last weekend. This time, I heard the ELAC Adante AF-61 in its first US demo, and I was more than a little impressed.

As with most of Jones’ designs, the entire Adante line includes a concentric tweeter/midrange driver that includes a 5.25″ aluminum-cone midrange with a 2″ voice coil that allows higher output level and sensitivity. The long voice coil also provides more room for a newly designed 1″ soft-dome tweeter at the center of the cone with a wide surround that improves low-treble output with lower resonant and crossover frequencies. The entire assembly is mechanically isolated from the cabinet to prevent vibrations from being transmitted throughout the speaker.

The bass driver is unique in my experience. It starts with a 6.5″ aluminum-cone active driver mounted in a double chamber within the cabinet’s interior, invisible to the eye. An 8″ passive radiator mounted on the front surface of the cabinet conveys the driver’s sound to the outside world. According to Jones, the passive radiator acts as an acoustic low-pass filter at around 200 Hz, filtering out distortion components and noise from the ports between the two chambers.

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The 6.5″ bass driver is mounted within a double chamber. The two chambers are ported between them, but they are sealed to the outside.

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In the floorstanding AF-61, three bass drivers are mounted in separate, carefully designed double chambers.

The demo system at the LA Audio Show included two AF-61 floorstanders (no sub), each powered by an Audio Alchemy DPA-1M monoblock power amp ($1999 each). The source was a DMP-1 digital-audio server ($1799) feeding a DDP-1 DAC/preamp ($1999) with a PS-5 power supply ($599). Total system price: $13,395, which is relatively inexpensive compared with many other systems at the show.

David Roth’s “Before I Die” features male vocals, guitars, and bass. It sounded gorgeous on this system—clean, clear, and very natural with excellent imaging and detail. Next up was Jen Chapin’s “Master Blaster” with female vocal, acoustic bass, and saxophone. Again, the clarity and natural quality of the sound was startling. The same was true of John Campbell’s “Down in the Hole” with male vocal, electric guitar, electric bass, and drums. I especially liked the clean, powerful bass on that one. I finished up with Big Phat Band’s “Sing, Sang, Sung,” which exhibited excellent imaging and differentiation of instruments.

It seems that Andrew Jones has done it again, designing a speaker that performs way above its price class. In fact, many attendees I spoke with said it was the best sound they heard at the show—and it was among the least expensive systems being demonstrated! Granted, the new line is much more expensive than ELAC’s Debut or Uni-Fi speakers—which are jewels of performance at astonishingly low prices—but for those with slightly more means, the ELAC Adante line seems hard to beat.

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