Elac UniFi 2.0 UB52

StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
Well, the speakers are here. One is scuffed on the bottom so these are going back, but I'll keep them around a few days to see what they're all about. Right off the bat I'm quite underwhelmed with their performance. Coming from my "gatekeepers", the Mark Audio Alpair 7.3 (in my custom bookshelf sized cabs) is a drastic difference. We went from amazing imaging, transparency, detail, tone/texture to something that really resembles the worst AM radio has to offer. Pre-break-in these are dogs. They're closed in, there's zero detail (is the mid/tweet even working!?) and the image is just not good. Will they get better? We'll see. One thing for sure is my ears need to adjust a while.... maybe that's what it is... yeah...
 

StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
For the record, I'm a believer in break-in. I'll give these some time to do what they need to do. I'm just giving a personal play by play.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I recall mine needing some break-in, and they were certainly a bit strident at first, but they didn't sound like an AM radio. Also they really liked to have heavy stands, and to be basically glued to them with blue tack. I hope they improve! If not, I guess its a one-way trip back?
 

Jack

Junior Member
Sounds like my impression of the "famous" Pioneers Jones sold by the boat loads. I think I still have a pair of those dogs somewhere at the back of a closet. To me that was a prime example of crowd mentality lead by a couple of well placed reviewers.
 

StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
Wrapping up day 1. I was hammering on them pretty good by the end of the day and they had opened up a bit. These are very balanced speakers and while I can’t keep them long enough to fully break them in I think I already know more or less these speakers bring to the table and who they are meant for. I will elaborate on this more tomorrow after I do more listening. Wednesday they are going back.
 
They would probably need a few weeks to properly break in, and driven to decent levels while doing so. They do a lot right when they are broken in, but everyone has different tastes in what they prefer in a speaker. I enjoyed the few times I heard them and wouldn't hesitate to recommend them for others (especially the original UB5 since they can be purchased as previously owned, and would already be broken in).
 

Olson_jr

Active Member
I purchased my UB5's used so there was no break-in required. One thing I have noticed is that they mate better with more powerful amps. They didn't like a Yamaha Integrated or a NAD 325 BEE, they did like a Musical Fidelity A5 and a couple of class D amps I have used.

They certainly did not sound like AM radio, but they did sound much more detailed & alive with more power, even at the low volume levels that I usually listen.

Will be interesting to see who you think these speakers are designed for.
 

StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
OK, so the Elacs are boxed up and ready to be dropped off at FedEx. Music Direct was nice enough to offer a discount to keep them due to the damage on the bottom one speaker but I declined. I'm going to let them give me a refund and then give the next speaker a shot. I had hoped to have time to compare the two but it is what it is. Below are my thoughts on the Elac UniFi 2.0 in their current state with ~10hrs of heavy listening.

Even though I only had about 10hrs of listening on them, they opened up quite a bit from when fresh out of the box. As I reported the sound was dull, dim and just overall bland for the first few hours. I was really disappointed, even knowing that this is a budget speaker. The praise Elac has gotten lately lead me to believe that there was much more to be heard. And there was, and is. I rang them out pretty hard trying to get as much "break in" done before I boxed them up and sent them out this evening and I do believe it helped a lot. And of course as most of us know, I was just at the beginning of what it takes for full break in. Please read the below with that in mind. These are just my initial thoughts.

What I noticed is that these speakers really like to have the throttle applied. Compared to my Mark Audios the Elac don't do very well at super low volumes. It isn't an amp problem here as I'm confident in the ability of my modified/upgraded Nakamichi TA3A to deliver the goods at all volume levels. The Nak has been my reference amp here in 2020 and I compare it favorably, and prefer it over what I remember of my Benchmark AHB2. I tried the Elacs on my little SMSL SA-36A Pro and actually laughed at how sad it was in comparison to the Nakamichi. With the SMSL there was zero bass, tilted highs but a surprisingly decent soundstage. This presentation gave the illusion of more detail, but was really an imbalance of sound. Speaking of bass, the Elacs are VERY capable of tuneful bass and quite decent output. Considering the small sized woofer and small-ish cabinet I was mightily impressed with their articulation and impact. Kudos to Elac here. This is a very full sounding speaker for it's size.

Midrange was good, not reference level, but had nice weight, good tonality and a stable image. Highs is where I thought this could use a touch more of. I agree with what Ron @ New Record Day says. These are a very balanced speaker. The crossover work was done well and even in the nearfield where I listen, there was zero detectable instances where I could pick out when one driver would hand off to the next. They were very point source like. This balance and configuration contributed to a nicely layered and somewhat wide soundstage.

If the next speaker fails to impress, I may actually re-order these from Music Direct for the bedroom. I know that I only had a few hours on them but they really did show a lot of promise. Perhaps with extended break in I'd see the treble come into focus a bit more like I wanted, perhaps their low level listening would have cleaned up instead of sounding a little muffled. These were two of my complaints for the audio portion. The other two complains are purely physical. The vinyl veneer... it's gotta go. I know I know, they did it to meet a price point, but at least give an option to purchase real wood veneer like the original UniFi got. And.. the binding posts. They're absolute trash. Worst I've ever used. Not only are they too close together, but they're also pretty tiny. Got bare wire? Good luck. These posts aren't knurled in the right spots and it almost seems like you need some specialized tool to tighten them. Come on, Elac, put those fancy posts back in that everyone loved. These speakers deserve them as well as a decent real wood veneer option.

As for who I think these speakers are for. Well, they're for someone who values a perfectly balanced speaker. They're for someone who wants a speaker that does nothing wrong and is easy to love. They do most genres equally well. I think this speaker would be great for someone starting off in the hobby and not really wanting to pursue more. It's attainable for most anyone and I could see this being a good stopping point for someone just wanting a nice stereo without actually falling into the merry-go-round that most of us do. I do think these punch above their price point, but they aren't game changers, IMO.

For someone who hasn't heard better, these would be good enough. For someone like myself who likes a speaker with a bit more personality, a bit more artisan in it's voicing you're probably best to keep looking, though for a bedroom or secondary/backup stereo these would fit the bill quite nicely. The fact that I miss their full bodied sound already this soon after packing them up is a good sign. They're worth an audition even if you don't actually need another pair of speakers. They could surprise you.
 

Kpatch

Junior Member

I think Audorama offers free returns, as well.
I’ve heard the BR03s in a friend’s shop and didn’t care for them. The detail is great but I thought the high end was too bright for me. However, my friend thinks very highly of them. The Comments to the above link are interesting, if you pat attention to that sort of thing.

“I own the BR03s, Elac Uni-fi UB5s, Klipsch RP-600Ms, and KEF Q100s (not the Q150s). The Uni-fi UB5s are the best of this group, BUT you need very good amplification to get the most out of them--something costing at least $800, most likely, something like the Arcam SA10, which is widely on sale these days for $799, or the Cambridge CXA81 or something comparable. I paired mine to a Musical Fidelity M2si, and it sounds great--almost as good as KEF LS50s. The Onkyo A-9110 is the only cheap amplifier that I have heard that pairs ok with the UB5s, but at this budget amplifier level, you may prefer some of the other speakers. The BR03s have a big soundstage and excellent midrange. I personally think they need a subwoofer, as the bass was weak for me--this is very much a function of setup and room, though, so others may find a different outcome. If you are listening to vocals or jazz, I think these types of music work best with the BR03s. I will say that at $350, the BR03s are a great deal. Personally, I like the Klipsch RP-600Ms better than the BR03s--they work very well with cheaper good amplification, like the NAD C316 BEE. The RP-600Ms just sound great--not so much making an amazing soundstage of imaging with crystal precision, but just making the music fun with good bass. The RP-500Ms play well with a wide range of music, but classical is the least effective. The KEF Q100s are very good speakers, but they are my least favorite in his group. I understand that the Q150s are similar to the Q100s except with more bass, and the reasons that I find the Q100s the weakest in this group are not due to lacking bass. Just a less appealing speaker, overall, but still quite nice.”9
 

tomlinmgt

Moderator
I’ve heard the BR03s in a friend’s shop and didn’t care for them. The detail is great but I thought the high end was too bright for me. However, my friend thinks very highly of them. The Comments to the above link are interesting, if you pat attention to that sort of thing.

“I own the BR03s, Elac Uni-fi UB5s, Klipsch RP-600Ms, and KEF Q100s (not the Q150s). The Uni-fi UB5s are the best of this group, BUT you need very good amplification to get the most out of them--something costing at least $800, most likely, something like the Arcam SA10, which is widely on sale these days for $799, or the Cambridge CXA81 or something comparable. I paired mine to a Musical Fidelity M2si, and it sounds great--almost as good as KEF LS50s. The Onkyo A-9110 is the only cheap amplifier that I have heard that pairs ok with the UB5s, but at this budget amplifier level, you may prefer some of the other speakers. The BR03s have a big soundstage and excellent midrange. I personally think they need a subwoofer, as the bass was weak for me--this is very much a function of setup and room, though, so others may find a different outcome. If you are listening to vocals or jazz, I think these types of music work best with the BR03s. I will say that at $350, the BR03s are a great deal. Personally, I like the Klipsch RP-600Ms better than the BR03s--they work very well with cheaper good amplification, like the NAD C316 BEE. The RP-600Ms just sound great--not so much making an amazing soundstage of imaging with crystal precision, but just making the music fun with good bass. The RP-500Ms play well with a wide range of music, but classical is the least effective. The KEF Q100s are very good speakers, but they are my least favorite in his group. I understand that the Q150s are similar to the Q100s except with more bass, and the reasons that I find the Q100s the weakest in this group are not due to lacking bass. Just a less appealing speaker, overall, but still quite nice.”9
Interesting that you found the top end too bright with the BRO3's. I had them directly up against Elac Debut Reference, JBL Studio 530, and Epos Epic 2. The BRO3's had the most controlled top end of the bunch save for the Elacs, which sounded just a little too dark. This was in my own (acoustically treated) listening space (tried them in a small and larger room) and with my own gear. The Elacs had the strongest bass, but it wasn't the nicest...that went to the BRO3's. The mid range went to the BRO3's. They ain't perfect, of course. But they push a lot of my buttons. With subs they sound way bigger than they should.
 

MWalt

Active Member
Dare I recommend the NHT Super Zero 2.0/2.1??!! Even though the NHT Super Zero 2.0 or 2.1 is discontinued, you can still get them from amazon or Ebay etc. for just over $100 a piece. Do a google search and you will find them. I only recommend them if you have a sub, but you WILL be floored by how good they sound. They are as audiophile as many I have heard at 10 times their cost. If you don't like them then return them. Just my .02

Mark
 

StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
Dare I recommend the NHT Super Zero 2.0/2.1??!! Even though the NHT Super Zero 2.0 or 2.1 is discontinued, you can still get them from amazon or Ebay etc. for just over $100 a piece. Do a google search and you will find them. I only recommend them if you have a sub, but you WILL be floored by how good they sound. They are as audiophile as many I have heard at 10 times their cost. If you don't like them then return them. Just my .02

Mark
I like their size too. May bring some of these in to compare with my other speakers coming in. Thanks
 

Kpatch

Junior Member
Interesting that you found the top end too bright with the BRO3's. I had them directly up against Elac Debut Reference, JBL Studio 530, and Epos Epic 2. The BRO3's had the most controlled top end of the bunch save for the Elacs, which sounded just a little too dark. This was in my own (acoustically treated) listening space (tried them in a small and larger room) and with my own gear. The Elacs had the strongest bass, but it wasn't the nicest...that went to the BRO3's. The mid range went to the BRO3's. They ain't perfect, of course. But they push a lot of my buttons. With subs they sound way bigger than they should.
Oh, that’s interesting that you felt the BRO3s had a controlled top end and the nicest mids of the bunch. Very interesting. I’ll have to give them another listen now. And the Super Zeros as well. Thanks.
 
They're worth an audition even if you don't actually need another pair of speakers. They could surprise you.
That is why I avoided all the Black Friday sales on the original UB5s. 😁 I had no need for them, have no room for them, but yeah, I really wanted a pair. They wouldn't fit in my desk system, as they were too tall and deep to fit. (The LS50s fit nicely.) But when my youngest wants to get a system, I'm tempted to get the UB5 (probably used) and a PS Audio Sprout100 so she has a compact system that's easy to move and set up, and sounds good doing it. PS was running that same setup at an audio show and it put out quite a respectable sound.
 

StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
@MWalt I ordered a pair of the SuperZero 2.1 just now. These will be great for the home or office. Looks like they're completely out of stock right now so they're expecting a delivery 3rd week of December. Hoping to have these by Christmas. That would a nice surprise.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
When I first got the original UB5s that I had, I broke them in near-field with a couple of amps. I found them, in the nearfield and right out of the box, to be strident and rather horrible sounding now that I'm thinking about it. I had totally forgot that setup...I removed my computer Yamaha HS7 active monitors I used for mixing home recordings and replaced them with the Elacs. They imaged, nearfield, like I was wearing headphones which wasn't necessarily a good thing, too in-my-face. After a day of blasting them like that (I was also playing them more loudly than I would have preferred) I moved them to their home in the bedroom system, where I played with several amps. They were really picky about amps. Hated a Sansui AU-X901 (too dark/mid-range forward). They liked my Leben CS-300 ok, and really liked this old 80wpc Heybrook P2 amp (a lovely under the radar amp). They eventually lived with the Heybrook after trying a few other options like a Dynaco Stereo 70 (not bad, bass suffered). A couple of old Luxmans, not bad/not great. With the Heybrook I liked them quite a lot, the other options, not so much. None of these options were what I'd consider to be 'bad' amps, but the Heybrook struck a balance that just really worked with them. Preamp was for all but the integrated amps a Berkeley Alpha DAC w/volume control. Oh, they liked my VAC PA-100/100 kt88 amp, too, but that was way too big for a bedroom setup.

I ended up replacing them with a pair of little Royd Minstrels, as I wanted something that would work better with the Leben amp and it LOVED the Minstrels. The combination of the Elacs and the giant steel four-post, clay-cat-litter-filled Target stands was just too much for the bedroom. I tried running them just sitting on the shelf with the gear and they totally lost the plot. They absolutely wanted the heavy stands, and wanted to be tacked to them, to sound great. And once attached to those stands, they did sound really good to my ears but there were a LOT of variables, and often with just the change of one variable they really took a step back.

I sold them cheaply to a friend who really liked them, but then I sold him an old pair of Sony SS-m3 standmounts, which he very much preferred. Not really surprising, I think the Sony speakers despite being older were a more interesting design and they were not built to such a budget constraint, being a kind of loss-leader for Sony stores at the time to break into a higher end market.
 

MWalt

Active Member
Component synergy still fascinates me. It is amazing how component A can be so-so with component B, but sounds great with Component C (ex: Royd/Leben combo).
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Component synergy still fascinates me. It is amazing how component A can be so-so with component B, but sounds great with Component C (ex: Royd/Leben combo).

That was one of the more surprising pairings I've ever done, that worked out. It made no sense but the sound was inarguable. A few others who heard it were dumfounded as well.

One of the more frustrating things I've found with budget speakers like the Elacs is that often I've needed to rotate them through thousands of dollars of amps to figure them out, which is something most people buying budget speakers don't have laying around. But because they're budget speakers, they're going to be difficult in some way (at least that's been my experience) and so you got to balance out their shortcomings or let their attributes excel by finding just the right match.
 

StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
Do we actually know why some pairings are better than others? I'd be curious to find out the WHY.
 
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