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In the listening room
To get a handle on sonics, I naturally cued up regular material first. But the real fun begins when musical choices are freely ruled by lust. Take "Black Wall Blue", a nearly jazzy tune by the 80s' avantgarde outfit Hula based in Sheffield [Treshold, 1988]). While no audiophile pearl, it's an honest and dynamically involving cut which despite its studio origins conveys a kind of live atmosphere. Being a clearly energetic transducer, that's exactly what the Elac 330 CE latched onto. Be it the blistering e-bass attacks, the always sudden sax appearances, the impulsive and quite powerfully hammered piano or percussion, the 300 CE conveys all of it surprisingly intense and spiky. On dynamics and joie de vivre, she's definitely got it going on. Don't judge her a toy hifi on sight because this speaker sounds fundamentally big. It's a mind fuck confirmed by my girlfriend Maria who, lounging on the couch, queried in disbelief but mostly rhetorically (no other boxes were visible) whether it was really those boxes playing. In matters of scale and sonic impact, Elac's 300 CE is somewhat of a shocker. She definitely impersonates rather "fatter" speakers in this milieu of the minis.

This is ably supported by the two-way's LF performance. Peter Gabriel's well-known "Red Rain" [So, 1986] is a number whose bass foundation becomes the make-or-break proposition. In low-fat diet trim, I simply lose my appetite. No fear, Elac's 330 CE is great fun and surprisingly substantial. It's not wobbly fat but immaculately transparent and sorted and, if at all, only minimally goosed in the upper bass. The e-bass runs which I always associate with porcine grunting are as clean, articulate and 'visible' as I know them from my bigger boxes. Hat's off.

In my space, I actually obtained the best balance when the bass reflex port was reduced to medium diameter via the included foam sleeve to neither breathe completely freely or not at all. This supports the midrange play of saxophone, piano and guitar with mostly happy substance even though at times, their sonority seems facing the dark side to invoke Jedi talk. Fear of thin blood is not on the menu. This naturally affects Julia Stones' childlike voice on "A Book Like This" on her eponymous 2008 album. It's somewhat less pip-squeak than usual and more endowed in the fundamentals. But this subliminally boosted sonority wasn't apparent during relaxed sessions .It took more hair-splitting A/Bs.

To avoid misreading my midband comments, the Elac 300 CE is anything but built for comfort. Fundamentally, the focus is on outlines, visibility and timing. Elac's signature JET tweeter certainly plays a role with high speed and resolving power to -- not tonally but in the transient domain -- imbue the upper midrange and treble with a certain emphasis. Given clean electronics, this execution won't default into artificial brilliance. In my Fonel chain of Simplicité spinner and Emotion integrate, even borderline masters of intrinsically harder fare like Peter Gabriel's So or TV On the Radio's musically wonderful Dear Science (2008) didn't restrict enjoyment.

Biwire-ready, Elac nicely includes wire jumpers. It's recommended to occasionally loosen and move these and other connections in a system.

If I did relate to the treble a tad more appreciative still with the dispersion control foam ring installed, the JET ultimately surprised with a certain tameness. The uppermost range is somewhat recessed and the Elac 330 CE thus is no poster child for ultimate extension and ephemerals as captured in the term airiness. Take the spiderwebby cymbal work on Øystein Sevåg's "Hanging Gardens". While the Elac tracks the development from attack to multi-layered ring out accurately and principally perfect, direct A/Bs against the Thiel SCS4 and Sehring 703SE detected an earthier and darker hue. This trait differentiates the 300 CE from the FS 247 which, though equally fitted with a 3rd-gen JET tweeter, is airier if I'm not mistaken. Given preferences, certain listeners could nearly call that too much. This recalls my Geithain ME150 auditions with colleagues Ralph and Martin. While we all agreed that in matters air, things were somewhat genteel, I was nearly bothered, Ralph not at all and Martin ... well, he acquired the pair.

Last but not least, soundstaging. Here Elac's 330 CE is sheer joy. Its lively and involving personality extends to a first-rate disconnect of the music from the apparent sound sources. Rather than a diffuse sonic cloud, the stage action is exceptionally well organized and sorted. This is a known forté of mini monitors and goes beyond my €5.600/pr phase and time tweaked Sehring S703 SE 3-ways. The small Elac stages noticeably more accurate and in matters of dimensionality is the more persuasive and involving speaker over my Berliner towers.

Looking for a compact speaker of astonishing substance and sonority whose solid bass creates surprising power and scale; whose perfectly free-floating sound dispersion creates toe-tapping excitement by emphasizing timing, image outlines and transparency over understatement and romance without artificial etch? The small Elac then becomes a mandatory audition. Without doubt, it's a speaker blessedly different from the mainstream.

However, grace before truth won't be a choice this accurate speakers makes under questionable conditions. Ancillaries should be neutral, of low distortion and free of sharpness from timing errors. Due to the bass reflex tuning options, short distances and small rooms pose are of no concern and even spaces up to 30 square meters (about what I used coupled to pretty stout height) remain appropriate. Monster SPLs and small stature never go hand in hand of course but for non-excessive parties, Elac's 330 CE will provide sufficient power.

The Elac 330 CE is characterized by...
Size-defying scale and heft with articulate and surprisingly deep bass
An exceptionally energetic, rhythmic and dynamic character
A fully free-floating, grand and well-organized soundstage
High resolution, i.e. great transparency across the board.
A somewhat darkish sonorous tendency in the midband
A quick lively treble whose upper-most extension or air is nonetheless recessed

Model: Elac 330 CE
Concept: 2-way bass reflex monitor
Voltage sensitivity: 87.5dB / 2.83V / 1m
Nominal impedance 4 ohms, minimum impedance 3.8 ohms at 195Hz
Dimensions: see sketch on previous page
Weight: 10.5 kg/ea.
Trim: High-gloss black as tested, Titanium Shadow
Other: 10-year warranty, "Made in Germany" thru and thru, biwire terminals, JET DC ring
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