8.4 out of 10 rating.
We have long been supporters of the German speaker manufacturer Elac, predominantly focussing on the wonderful 400 series and innovative 'Air-X' wireless active versions of the same range. However, starting at £1500 for the entry bookshelf these are not for everyone!
Welcome then the Debut range by Elac, a very serious foray into the so called 'budget' speaker market. With prices starting from £200 and a speaker in the range for every occasion including everything required for a complete home cinema, (with Dolby Atmos up firing speakers). It also includes no fewer than 3 different subwoofers the top 2 with innovative bluetooth setup and control via an app. This is a very well thought out proposition.
If that wasn't enough, Elac went a step further when it came to designing these speakers - Elac are more than capable of creating wonderful sounding speakers, but not necessarily at such an affordable price point. In steps Andrew Jones who is perhaps highly regarded when it comes to speaker design, he has been behind some of the best known speakers in the industry, from the legendary TAD Reference speakers to some of the best known designs by KEF.
Elac are taking their entry into the budget speaker category very seriously indeed!
So how do they sound? Stunning as you've probably gathered, from the moment we tried the first set of B5's we've been hooked! They stay just the right side of vibrant with surprising dynamics throughout the range. The bookshelf & floorstanding speakers alike sound fantastic partnered with good quality budget amplifiers such as the Marantz PM6005 or the 'do-it-all' Yamaha RN602 Network Amplifier, producing a genuine audiophile sound for very reasonable money. Of course, spend more on the partnering electronics and you get a corresponding leap in performance - these are the sort of speakers that will be the last thing changed in an ever upgraded system.
Don't just take out word for it, speakers throughout the Debut range have all received rave reviews. Indeed CNET went as far as comparing the B6 (£299) bookshelf speakers against the B&W 685 S2's (these were incidentally What Hi-Fi's 2015 'Speaker Product of the Year') and concluded;
"Returning to Kraftwerk's "Tour de France," the 685 S2 speakers' bass wasn't as nimble, tight or well controlled as the Debut B6's low end. That speaker's bass superiority was even more evident with the stepped synth bass notes that tumble down on the Beta Band's tune "Life." The 685 S2 blurred some of the notes together, and while the Debut B6 wasn't perfect it was better. All in all, we felt the Debut B6's midrange was more transparent and clear overall"
They went on to say;
"We were shocked that the Debut B6 outshone Bowers & Wilkins' more-than-twice-as-expensive 685 S2 speaker on a number of counts."
We like the Debut range a lot, smartly finished (provided you like grey) great sounding and sensibly priced...