Elac BS 142 Jet Loudspeaker - Standard Deviation (Part 2)

7/26/2013 2:09:36 PM

Sound quality

Black Ash cabinets and the promise of bass made me think of Violator by Depeche Mode, and I was not disappointed. The BS 142s sound larger than they actually are, and in a blind test you’d scarcely believe that pounding beats that run right through tracks like Police of Truth were coming from a pair of five inch woofers. The track came across as lively and full of energy. For this type of music the overall tonal balance was good, with no undue emphasis to any one band of frequencies and no particular problems with bass overhang or boom.

Of course, you can’t expect absolute low-end precision with small ported cabinets and there was some blurring of the bottom end detail which larger pressure-chamber loudspeakers can reveal, but overall the results were very enjoyable. The treble around percussion did seem to lack bite, while some instruments had a slightly lipsy quality, even with a bright sounding source like CD. This is not a unique quality of the Elacs, as I have encountered other two-way loudspeakers with ribbon tweeters with this character. It’s a lot to ask of one drive unit to work from 2.6 kHz right up to 50 kHz as Elac claims, and in this case the trade-off seems to be a slight loss of treble sparkle. In their favor, the tweeters don’t beam as much as some do, so the listening sweet spot is reasonably large.

The BS 142s sound larger than they actually are, and in a blind test you’d scarcely believe that pounding beats that run right through tracks like Police of Truth were coming from a pair of five inch woofers

The BS 142s sound larger than they actually are, and in a blind test you’d scarcely believe that pounding beats that run right through tracks like Police of Truth were coming from a pair of five inch woofers

Listening to A Sorta Fairytale by Tori Amos, once more revealed the surprisingly warm and embracing sound which the Elac BS 142 can produce considering its diminutive dimensions. I heard heavily struck piano chords coming across in a way that gave a solid sense of realism. In absolute terms, vocal texture could sound slightly opaque, while Tori’s beautiful voice sometimes gave the impression of detachment. Imaging was vivid, as it so often is with small two ways, and broad – it was amazing how these little boxes were so easily capable of filling my listening room with music. Within the broad soundscape, the focus could have been a little sharper, but this is a minor observation. Overall, as an introduction to stereo these loudspeakers do a very good job.


Priced at $899, Elac’s new BS 142 isn’t a cheap speaker, but nor is it prohibitively expensive either. Its all-black finish and the preference for rock and other beat-driven musical styles mean that a certain type of listener will love it. It’s very zesty, but conversely those seeking subtlety should look elsewhere. This box is all about giving a big, punchy sound in a smallish space, something in which it excels. Highly recommended then, if you enjoy a bit of weight behind your music but want or need it to come from a small speaker – but as ever with this sort of product, do try and audition it with your own amplifier first.

Also consider

There are plenty of fine small stand mount loudspeakers for around $900, but the most interesting are surely the Boston Acoustics M25 ($855) and the Monitor Audio Silver RX2 ($789).

the Monitor Audio Silver RX2

The Monitor Audio Silver RX2

The former is a new design from the dynamic duo that is Ken Ishiwata and Karl-Heinz Fink, fellow analogue addicts who love a nice smooth sound. Frankly it shows in the voicing of the M25, which is wonderfully deep and even, without the usual small box shriek. It’s a consummate music maker and images beautifully too - with the right amount of toe-in. Still, the Boston isn’t the most forensically detailed, and in some systems with some sources will sound just a little dull. That’s why Monitor Audio’s RX2 is a good alternative, with an altogether tighter and more ‘spry’ sound. There’s a lot more treble detail, and what there is, is beautifully crisp and open – this gives the speaker a very spacious feel.

Still, if you use this with shouty sources, you’ll wish you kept to the M25s or these Elacs which have much of the smoothness of the Bostons with the incision and detail of the Monitor Audios. As such the Elac is a great working compromise, giving you in many respects the best of both worlds.

In sight

1.    available in black Ash vinyl wrap cabinets only

2.    bass driver with sandwich cone and rubber roll-edge

3.    Recessed single-wire binding posts!

4.    JET-type ribbon tweeter deals with the high notes

In sight

In sight

Our verdict

·         Sound quality: 4.5/5

·         Value for money: 4/5

·         Build quality: 4/5

·         Ease of drive: 4/5

·         Like: Big sound from small boxes; lively and dynamic with beat-driven musical styles

·         Dislike: Soft treble not for all; lack of spatial focus

·         We say: Decent sensitivity and fine sound make these an essential audition

·         Overall: 4.5/5

Elac BS 142  specs

·         Origin: Germany/China

·         Type: 2-way stand mount loudspeaker

·         Weight: 4.5kg (each, without stand)

·         Dimensions: (W x H x D) 260x160x262mm

·         Features: 5” woofer; Ribbon tweeter; Bass reflex cabinet


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