ELAC Debut series has been around for some time now, and the B5.2 we have here is a member of its latest iteration – Debut 2.0. What’s interesting about this particular iteration is that it was designed by the famed speaker designer Andrew Jones, that started cooperating with Elac recently. Initially, their attention went to higher-end models but some of those ideas did finally boil down to the every-man Debut series. So, were these little guys worth all that hype? Let’s see.
Build and Features
Looking from the outside, there’s nothing unusual about Debut B5.2. It’s a small speaker finished to a good standard for the price and reassuringly weighty when lifted. The bass/midrange unit is 5.25″ in diameter, while the tweeter is protected with a mesh wire, meaning no worries that some little fingers will lose their way and damage your precious tweeters (my personal nightmare with exposed domes). Bass reflex is located on the front making placement just a tad easier. On the back, we have one pair of binding posts that feels quality made. Sensitivity is rated at a pretty low 86 dB while nominal impedance is 6 Ohms. These numbers are nothing to worry about, but it means that B5.2 will thank you for an amp with a healthy dose of power and control.
Just for fun, I tried these Elacs with a dirty cheap Arylic A30 digital amp first and got a very thin and flat sound; this combo was a no go. Moving to the vintage Luxman A-225 things looked much, much better. This old but sonically balanced amp was a great match for Elacs and resulted in a sound one could easily live with. In the end, I hooked them to my Cyrus 8vs2 that showcased just how well these speakers scale with better amplification. At all times, amps were fed with the Denafrips Ares II DAC. That said, how do they actually sound?
The first thing that struck me is how tonally correct Debut 2.0 B5.2 is. Frequency response is even-handed and smooth, and I’m not able to notice where one driver ends and the other takes over (something easily noticeable with many speakers for a trained ear). That said, I still plan to dissect the sound a bit.
Bass is as deep as you can expect from a box of this size. It will produce a decent amount of bass down to around fifty Herz, and even a tad lower with a help of a smaller room. Bassline provides very decent weight to the sound but it will not produce much of the punch and slam. To be fair, no speaker of this size and price can do it either. The mid-bass region is full and juicy, lending a healthy dose of boldness to the midrange. Talking about the midrange, it feels very neutral and even-handed, without any nasties that would make vocals sound boomy or hissy. It’s highly informative and transitions smoothly to the highest region, which is bright and airy. Now, I never felt Debut 2.0 B5.2 to be overly bright or edgy, but dark or sweet it’s definitely not. With these, you’ll hear the moment a microphone turns on and that slight background noise we call air or atmosphere easily.
Moving away from the frequency response, B5.2 is able to create a very decent soundstage of reasonable width and commendable depth. All of the instruments are positioned and layered with a skill that’s usually hard to come by at this price point. Dynamically speaking, these are not party speakers and I found them to be best suitable for some calmer music genres such as Jazz, Blues, Acoustics, etc. This doesn’t mean that Rock and Electro will not sound good too, but you should scale your expectation when it comes to high octane music. There’s a reason people put up with those big and space-consuming boxes after all. But for what it is, ELAC Debut 2.0 B5.2 is capable of producing some serious hi-fidelity sound.
Wharfedale Diamond 220 are midrange masters with full and lush vocals. However, they can’t match Debuts smoothness across the range and sound a bit grainy at the top end. Debut is also more skilled when it comes to sound-staging and layering.
Q Acoustics 3030i is slightly bigger and more expensive. It offers more grunt in the bassline and sounds a little bit livelier dynamically. It’s also very good with sound-staging and layering, but its frequency response is not as even-handed. The higher midrange is slightly pronounced, while the highest spectrum is tamer in comparison to Elacs. Tonally, I would give this one to B5.2 but 3030i counters with greater drive and dynamics. I believe B6.2 would prove to be a better competitor on that front since it’s closer in size to 3030i.
Even after hearing all the praises other reviewers had to offer about these Elacs, I haven’t predicted getting this fond of them. Other products in this price range may offer more excitement or present an easier load for your amp, but I have yet to hear the one sounding this masterfully and naturally balanced. Given capable amplification, Elac Debut 2.0 B5.2 is easily one of the best budget speakers ever produced and deserves the highest recommendation.
|ELAC DEBUT 2.0 B5.2 – CHARACTERISTICS
Enclosure Type: 2- Way Bass Reflex