Elac Vela BS 403 Review
Fast and furious, am I talking about sports cars? No, this is how I feel about Elac Vela BS 403. Fast refers to the fast and precise response speed in the low and middle frequencies. Furious refers to the ability of Vela BS 403 to reproduce musical emotions. Together, the two are the fun of listening to the Vela BS 403 speaker.
The New Elac Vela Series
Vela is a new series launched by Elac. From the perspective of the Vela BS 403 model, Vela and Line 400 have a very close relationship, especially in the use of the driver unit. The two are almost the same. The main difference lies in the speaker cabinet. The bs 403 is stylish, while Line 400 is the traditional Elac masculine straight, square line. Is the Vela series going to act as the successor of Line 400?
As far as I know, Elac rarely announces the change of the series but depends on the market’s needs. Although the Vela series is beautiful and modern, the Line 400 is still the active model. I think Vela and Line 400 will currently coexist.
The newly launched Vela series has a total of four speakers, namely Vela FS 409, Vela FS 407, Vela BS 403, and Vela CC 401. The model naming is very intuitive. FS stands for Floor Standing speakers, BS stands for Bookshelf bookshelf, and CC stands for Center Channel. So the Vela series can be played with two channels or as a multi-channel home theater.
Elac also has many subwoofers to choose from. Any Elac subwoofer can be paired with its speakers, and it can also be paired with other brand speakers to form a multi-channel home theater.
Newly Designed Speakers
The monomer selection of the Vela series is almost the same as the existing Line 400, like the Vela BS403 JET 5 tweeter, and the 150mm diameter employs the Aluminum-Sandwich AS Technology. The crystal-shaped inverse aluminum dome is joined to the paper cone in a unique gluing process to result in the desired sandwich construction.
The most significant change is the design of the speaker cabinet, which is an entirely new design from scratch. If you look from the top of Vela BS 403, the speaker box is wide at the front and narrow at the back, in a trapezoidal shape. From the front, the top plate of the speaker is tilted up. That’s because the aluminum alloy base at the bottom looks like high heels. The bottom of the speaker is raised, so the top plate of the Vela BS403 has pulled up accordingly, and the speaker panel has a slight backward tilt angle to obtain the time phase compensation.
From Line 400 to Vela, the most apparent change is the speaker unit, and Elac said that this is a shape change is based on the function, which is what audio manufacturers often call “Form Supports Function” (or Form follows function).
The function of the cabinet is to fix the speaker unit and provide a proper size. When the driver unit is working with violent piston movement, it will produce a Holmhertz resonance effect with the cabinet and generate sufficient sound pressure.
The cabinet is modified to be wide in the front and narrow in the rear, low in the front, and high in the rear. It is based on the function of the speaker. By changing the width and height, the parallel surface inside the speaker cabinet is no longer exits, and the standing waves in the cabinet are dispersed and removed. The noise produced by the box maintains the purity of music reproduction.
If you look closely at the speakers of Vela BS 403, you will find that the front baffle is not a flat surface but a convex arc. The Elac called the Ccnvex cabinet. It has a slightly convex arc front baffle. BS 403 is also decorated with rounded curves at the four peripheral corners. That is not only for aesthetics but also to eliminate the interference of standing waves inside the box.
Also, let the Vela BS 403 become low at the front and high at the back, cleverly hiding the bass reflex hole under. In the past, the Line 400 series used the design of the bass reflex hole to launch downwards, so the bottom of the speaker was raised, leaving an open space for low-frequency airflow, making the speaker position more flexible, and reducing the low frequency when the speaker is placed on the wall.
The wall reflection is over-enhanced. This time the Vela BS 403 has improved the design again. The speaker’s base is made of aluminum alloy. From the side, it looks like a V-shaped lying on the side. The bass reflex hole is hidden inside since it is the V-shaped aluminum alloy base so that Vela BS 403 seems to be stepping on high heels.
When I try to play music with more low frequency and put my hand close to the bass reflex hole, I can feel the force of air venting backward. The advantage of this design is to accelerate the air venting. The design of Line 400 allows the bass reflex hole to face down vertically, venting the low frequency by the gap between the bottom plate and the speaker. At this time, the low frequency will show a 360-degree diffusion, and the Vela BS 403 is designed with high heels to shorten the bass reflex hole of the bottom plate. The distance can accelerate the purification of the airflow.
The best JET/AMT Tweeter
The tweeter of Vela BS 403 is, of course, Elac’s proudest JET (or calling Air Motion Transformer -AMT )tweeter. How good the JET tweeter is, even Porsche uses it. The theory of AMT tweeter is to fold the aluminum alloy film repeatedly to make a structure similar to an accordion. The sound principle is to rely on the folds of the diaphragm to squeeze the air to generate the sound. There are two significant advantages in theory.
The first is ultra-wide sound wave diffusion angle, and the second is a more significant sound area, which can reproduce a more considerable sound pressure. From a theoretical point of view, JET (AMT) is the best tweeter design.
Theoretically, JET is an ideal tweeter design, but there are relatively few speakers using JET or AMT. You see, the use of a hemispherical tweeter may be at least ten times more than the number of speakers using JET or AMT tweeter. , What is the reason? Simply put, the JET tweeter is challenging to fabricate.
Although theoretically, it’s excellent, it isn’t straightforward to manufacture because JET/AMT has a large diaphragm area and must be folded manually. The machine cannot do it for you, which means that the manufacturing cost of JET/AMT is high.
In addition, the surface of the aluminum used by AMT has to be specially painted to act as the damping of the diaphragm. This coating material layer is the critical technology, and it is also the key to the evolution of JET over the past 30 years and five generations.
What is a special coating? Of course, I don’t know because that’s Elac’s secret. They collaborated with a local university in Germany to continuously improve the performance of JET. For Vela BS 403, its high-frequency extension has been extended to 50kHz, and its bandwidth performance is quite excellent.
The Vela BS 403 with two sound channels design. The mid-bass woofer uses the 150mm diameter AS-XR crystal surface sandwich diaphragm, with a short voice coil and long magnetic gap design. These technical features are the core technology of the speaker design. The short voice coil and long magnetic gap mean that when the single unit is moving, the voice coil will not run out of the magnetic gap, the magnetic kinetic energy works more linearly, and the distortion will be reduced.
To shorten the voice coil, the easiest way is to wind it twice, or even three times, so that a coil of the same length can be wound with the voice coil. The total width will be shortened by half or more. But it takes time to wind the coil repeatedly, and it needs to be wound neatly and beautifully. The winding speed is slower and more time-consuming. Find a factory that specializes in making monomers. It is difficult for the factory to follow the requirements step by step.
It’s time to listen to the voice performance of Vela BS 403. The speaker’s efficiency is 86 dB, which is not too low for bookshelf speakers, but you still need proper power to match it. I used Linear Acoustics LAV 60 MK II, a 100-watt integrated amplifier to drive, which is almost enough. Many people think that the size of the bookshelf speakers is small and does not require too much power. The smaller the size of the bookshelf speakers, the more the amplifier is needed to “squeeze” out the energy, which requires higher requirements for the amplifier.
The sound performance of Elac has always been reassuring, so when listening to Vela BS 403, I first tested and listened to the fourth movement of “Brahms Symphony No. 2”. What is the difficulty of this piece of music? The contrast between strengths and weaknesses. At the beginning of the fourth movement, the orchestra maintains the volume of the weak playing, and when the theme is repeated, it suddenly jumps to the strong playing, contrasting from weak to strong. There are very high test requirements for amplifiers or speakers.
I chose Bernstein’s version of the Vienna Philharmonic. The theme of low performance is presented smoothly in Vela BS 403. The slightly darker tone can feel the expressions of the orchestra members who suppress the volume, so the high-frequency end rhyme seems to be covered with a layer of yarn. Then the strong performance was turned over instantly, and the Vela BS 403 was presented with a brilliant tone. The luster of the string group lit up for an instant, and the timpani hits became heavier.
Even though the Vela BS 403 is just a bookshelf speaker, the low-frequency details of Bernstein’s stepping on the floor on the podium are still clear, realistically bringing us back to the recording scene decades ago.
Listening to the “Million Dollar Baby” soundtrack. In the opening “Blue Morgan”, a simple guitar Solo plucking theme, Vela BS 403 presents a cohesive and clear steel-string guitar with fingertip sliding details. Following the “It’s Nice Viewing”, the sound of the piano receded slightly, and the entire sound field expanded. Vela BS 403 presents the three guitar, piano, and strings levels clearly and distinctly, fusing a specific and broad sense of space in the sound field. The sound field is portrayed realistically, and the tone has a natural and transparent beauty.
Let’s listen to the human voice. With “Schubert: Beautiful Mill Girl” sung by Kwastaf and German art songs by male voices accompanied by piano, the Vela BS 403 easily presents the vast space of the sound field. The pianist Justus Zeyen touches the keys softly, the continuous melody and the steady progressing chords of the left hand, like the appearance of gurgling water. Kwastaff’s voice is warm and sincere. The sound image is not particularly large, but the warmth of the tone makes people savor the details and charm of art songs.
Vela BS 403 not only listens to classical music but also performs well in popular music. Listen to “Dangerous” by Michael Jackson. In the beginning, the sound of cracking glass and powerful low-frequency swept through. Vela BS 403 was not afraid to catalyze the explosive electronic music, the rhythm of the synthesizer, and the low frequency. The Vela BS 403 surpassed the size of the loudspeaker. The huge sound, the electric sound, is full of heat.
Vela BS 403 can not only burst fiercely but also can be tender, listening to the same Michael Jackson album “Heal the World”, the soft and delicate prelude, Michael’s sincere singing. Michael Jackson, who debuted as a child star, has a childish and sweet voice even after growing up. On Vela BS 403, you will not miss the beauty of Michael Jackson’s unique voice, singing “Make a better world for you and for me”.
If you have the opportunity to listen to Elac Vela BS 403, please enjoy the authenticity and beauty carefully presented by Elac. Vela BS 403 has a powerful performance and can emit a colossal sound that exceeds the size of a speaker. BS 403 has a natural and open high-frequency extension, creating a wide and natural sound field and unearth the beautiful notes contained in every record.
Elac Vela BS 403 Specs
- Type: 2-Way, bass reflex
- Woofer: 1 x 150 mm Ø, AS XR cone
- Tweeter: JET 5
- Magnetic shielding: No
- Crossover frequency: 2400 Hz
- Frequency range (IEC 268-5): 41 – 50000 Hz
- Sensitivity: 86 dB at 2,83 V/m
- Suitable for amplifiers from… to: 4 – 8 Ω
- Recommended amplifier power: 40 – 200 W/channel
- Nominal | Peak power handling: 70 W | 100 W
- Nominal | Minimum impedance: 4 Ω | 3,2 Ω at 260 Hz
- Finishes: Black High Gloss, White High Gloss, Walnut High Gloss
- Optional accessory: Speaker grilles
- Height x Width x Depth: 362 x 191 x240 mm
- Weight: 7,1 kg