ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 Bookshelf Speaker Now Available – Best Bookshelf Speaker Under $500?
ELAC’s latest Uni-Fi speakers, designed by the famous speaker engineer (Andrew Jones) is now available and up for sale in the US. Last year’s ELAC Debut series was a very successful lineup, specially the Debut B6. The Debut series was considered to be ELAC’s performer speakers and offers fantastic sound at a very attractive price. The new Uni-Fi on the other hand is a step up and dubbed as “a new chapter in sound”. The new series consist of the Uni-Fi UB5 bookshelf speaker, Uni-Fi UF5 floorstanding speaker and the Uni-Fi UC5 center speaker. It features a concentric driver and a balanced 3-way design instead of the usual 2-way design speaker.
The ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 Bookshelf Speaker
The new ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 (together with the UC5 and UF5) features an all new custom-designed concentric driver. This basically means that a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter and a 4-inch aluminum midrange cone is combined within a single voice coil to deliver the most coherent and accurate reproduction across the treble and midrange frequency. This also provides a flat frequency response and enhanced imaging.
Normally, this kind of design is very expensive, but Andrew Jones’ didn’t want to make another (very) expensive bookshelf speaker. According to him: “My goal with the Uni-Fi series was to create a line of speakers with technology and performance normally reserved for speakers costing significantly more. By going with a 3-way design and employing a new in-house developed concentric driver, I’ve achieved a sound that is more true to the music than similar priced products.”
Of course, to keep the cost lower, there are some cost cutting measures; for example the finish used is a simple vinyl wrapping and not some high gloss piano coating or real wood finish. However, despite its looks, I do believe that the Uni-Fi UB5 offers the best (or one of the best) audio performance you buy under $500 USD.
Additional Features of Uni-Fi Series
Balanced three-way design – A three-way speaker offers many advantages in the design of a full-range system. By assigning dedicated drivers to high, mid- and bass frequencies, each is optimized for the frequency range for which its design and material composition is best suited. Drivers like the groundbreaking concentric midrange-tweeter of the Uni-Fi series perform at their best, while larger, aluminum-cone woofers handle the frequency ranges in which they perform best. At the same time, a three-way speaker complement allows for a more straightforward crossover and cabinet design, eliminating complex and costly solutions.
Sophisticated crossover – One secret to the great sound of the Uni-Fi series are the high quality, audio-grade components specified in the manufacture of each custom, three-way crossover, the careful design of which is essential to smooth transition between the drivers. The best crossovers are the ones in which the sonic landscape—from lowest fundamentals to highest highs—becomes seamless.
Sophisticated aluminum woofer – Through the use of aluminum, resonances that affect the linearity of common paper cones can be placed beyond the driver’s operating frequency range. An extended size magnet with vented pole piece increases power handling, for accurate reproduction of bass frequencies that are clean, clear and powerful.
Custom-designed binding posts – The custom terminals provide flexibility of speaker wire connections and ensure optimal electron transfer from speaker cables to the speaker itself.
Robust cabinets – Every Uni-Fi enclosure is engineered for the long run with thick MDF outer walls and a luxurious textured vinyl finish. The Uni-Fi cabinets incorporate specially designed internal bracing to add stiffness and strength to the cabinet’s outer walls. This bracing greatly reduces cabinet vibration, which causes unwanted coloration to the sound. ELAC believes that the only parts of a speaker that should be moving are the speaker drivers themselves.
How does the ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 Sound?
According to CNET’s review, the Uni-Fi UB5 delivers “deep, tight bass; an effortless midrange and sweet highs. The soundstage is wide and unexpectedly deep.” More from the videos below.
Below are sound demo videos from YouTuber Ferdz B:
ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 Lower midrange and vocal test
ELAC Uni-Fi B5 Midrange and Treble test, no subwoofer
Price and Where to Buy
The ELAC Uni-Fi Speaker series are now available. The Uni-Fi UB5 bookshelf and UF5 floorstanding speakers retail for $499 (available at Amazon.com here and here), and the UC5 center speaker retails for $349 (Amazon.com here). There’s also a Uni-Fi B5 Blemished version that amazon is selling (the one you see on the left), and it’s priced at only $399.95 a pair. I am not sure if there’s any difference in sound quality, but the obvious difference is there’s a green blemish or tint on the concentric driver. I’m not sure if this is a regular product or until supply last, but worth checking out if you want to save $100.
ELAC Uni-Fi Speaker Series Specifications
|Speaker type||3-way, bass reflex||3-way, bass reflex||3-way, bass reflex|
|Tweeter||1 x 1-inch soft dome, concentrically mounted||1 x 1-inch soft dome, concentrically mounted||1 x 1-inch soft dome, concentrically mounted|
|Midrange||1 x 4-inch aluminum cone||1 x 4-inch aluminum cone||1 x 4-inch aluminum cone|
|Woofer||1 x 5.25-inch aluminum cone||2 x 5.25-inch aluminum cone||3 x 5.25-inch aluminum cone|
|Crossover frequency||270 / 2,700 Hz||270 / 2,700 Hz||270 / 2,700 Hz|
|Frequency response||46 to 25,000 Hz||48 to 25,000 Hz||42 to 25,000 Hz|
|Sensitivity||85 dB at 2.83 v/1m||85 dB at 2.83 v/1m||85 dB at 2.83 v/1m|
|Recommended amplifier power||40 to 140 wpc||40 to 140 wpc||40 to 140 wpc|
|Peak power handling||140 wpc||140 wpc||140 wpc|
|Nominal impedance||4 Ω; minimum 3.4 Ω||4 Ω; minimum 3.4 Ω||4 Ω; minimum 3.4 Ω|
|Binding posts||5-way custom||5-way custom||5-way custom|
|Cabinet finishes||Black brushed vinyl||Black brushed vinyl||Black brushed vinyl|
|Accessories included||Magnetic fabric grille||Magnetic fabric grille||Magnetic fabric grille|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||7.87″ x 12.75″ x 10.75″||18.75″ x 7.87″ x 10.75″||7.87″ x 38″ x 10.75″|
|Price and Availability||$499|