I always look forward to ELAC paying a visit to Crutchfield HQ. They bring along their latest speakers for us to demo. But equally enjoyable for me is hearing about the company's design philosophy from Andrew Jones, one of ELAC's esteemed speaker engineers.
During a recent gathering in our training room, the VELA BS 403 stand-mount speakers delighted my ears while I got the inside scoop from Mr. Jones, a true industry expert. If you're in the market for a new pair of high-fidelity speakers, I believe the BS 403s are worthy of a spot on your list of contenders.
The BS 403's aluminum woofer features a unique, crystal-like design.
A remake of a tried-and-true classic
ELAC's 400 Series speakers have been beloved by audiophiles for years. To replace them, the VELA Series includes an improved JET 5 folded ribbon tweeter, which is hand-assembled in Germany to ensure the best possible quality.
This unique design works like the bellows in an accordion, squeezing air quickly and precisely to produce sound. Highs are incredibly smooth and detailed, while offering a realistic three-dimensional feeling of sound in space.
My listening impressions
On the half dozen or so tracks I auditioned, I was continually impressed by the size and depth of the soundstage these speakers produced.
For example, Lyle Lovett's "Good Intentions" found me bobbing my head with glee. His soulful voice complemented the deep, plucky notes of an upright bass and the array of tinkling piano riffs that give this track so much energy.
I could close my eyes and feel like I was in the middle of a neon-lit blues club. It was music how music was meant to be experienced — engrossing, emotive, and one heck of a lot of fun.
A woofer that looks cool and sounds sublime
More often than not, I find I need to add a subwoofer to smallish speakers to get the kind of bass that I enjoy when listening to music. That wasn't the case with the BS 403s.
Each speaker sports a 6" aluminum and paper "sandwich" woofer with a die-cast basket and a unique, crystal-shaped cone design. Add all of that up and you get punchy, musical bass that can fill even large rooms.
Ideal for music and for movies
Use this pair of BS 403s with confidence as part of an audiophile-grade stereo system, or as the front or rear channels of an ELAC VELA Series surround sound system.
Whether you're enjoying your favorite album or the latest superhero movie, you'll appreciate the crystal-clear, vividly realistic sound these speakers produce.
Upscale fit and finish
The BS 403s feature sturdy, reinforced enclosures to reduce vibration and eliminate unwanted resonance. The beautiful, grille-less design features a wood veneer exterior and a high-gloss lacquer finish. You'll want a powerhouse amp to drive them
A custom down-firing port improves bass output while reducing noise.
The BS 403s have a nominal impedance of 4 ohms. And with an 86 dB sensitivity rating, they're real "gas-guzzlers." I recommend using high-performance amplification to get the best sound of out these speakers.
In particular, I recommend matching them with ELAC's Alchemy Series DPA-2 amplifier. This high-end, space-saving amp offers plenty of power for the BS 403s to reach their full potential.
For the ultimate ELAC system, pair this amp with the Alchemy Series DDP-2
Stereo preamplifier/DAC/streamer. This is the equipment combination I auditioned the BS 403s on, and man, what a treat it was to hear.
Place them on stands so they sound their best
Proper speaker placement is crucial to getting the best performance out of the '403s. I recommend buying ELAC's matching LS-80 speaker stands to help eliminate unwanted vibrations and reflections.