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Elac Carina BS243.4 Review (Bookshelf Speaker)

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 11 4.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 67 28.8%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 142 60.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 13 5.6%

  • Total voters
    233

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Elac Carina BS243.4 stand-mount speaker. It is on kind loan from a member and sells for US $999.
Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker Review Bookshelf stand-mount.jpg

Even though this is a speaker designed by Andrew Jones, it is a continuation of the line traditionally designed in Germany with much higher sales price and it shows. The cabinet and hardware is way above budget class. It feels extremely solid and well put together. This is the first time Andrew has designed a speaker with folded tweeter (AMT).

Back panel sports some of the fanciest, nicest, largest binding posts I have seen on such a small speaker (hard to see in the picture):
Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker Review Back Panel Bookshelf stand-mount.jpg


As you can see, there is a cut out to allow the port to exhaust. This a compromise that allows the speaker to be placed close to the wall yet not have the disturbance that front port can create due to internal resonances. The built-in stand is cast aluminum (?) and seems quite sturdy. I thought it would be plastic but it is not.

Overall, the mechanical and industrial design nicely matches the price point.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.


Reference axis was the tweeter center. Measurement temperature was about 62 degrees F (17 degrees C).

Elac Carina BS243.4 Measurements
As usual we start with our "spin" graph:
Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker Frequency Response Bookshelf stand-mount.png


The on-axis response looks pretty good until we land in that ditch at 2.8 kHz. In a video I watched, Andrew talked about the challenge of the AMT tweeter not being able to reach as low as dome tweeter. I thought he had solved that problem but seeing this hole, it seems that was not. Sensitivity was about 4 dB lower than average (roughly 83 dB). So you need good bit of amplification to go with these speakers.

I can't quite tell where the hole is from near-field measurements due to in ability to precisely match the driver responses:
Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker near-field driver Measurement Frequency Response Bookshelf stand-m...png


Due to good overall directivity, off-axis response is similar to on-axis:

Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker Early Window Measurement Frequency Response Bookshelf stand-mount.png


Predicted in-room response has the error we already know about:
Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker Predicted in-room Measurement Frequency Response Bookshelf stand-m...png


Beamwidth is larger than typical speaker which should result in a more spacious image:
Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker Measurement Horizontal Beamwidth Bookshelf stand-mount.png


It beams (narrows) above 10 kHz but that is not a very critical region.
Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker Measurement Horizontal Directivity Bookshelf stand-mount.png


Vertically it has the typical problems of 2-way speakers (non-coaxial):
Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker Measurement Vertical Directivity Bookshelf stand-mount.png


So be sure to point the tweeter at your ears and don't sit above them.

I noticed a pronounced distortion caused by a narrowband event (like a resonance):
Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker Measurement Relative THD Distortion  Bookshelf stand-mount.png



Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker Measurement THD Distortion  Bookshelf stand-mount.png


I was however stomped in finding the source of it in other measurements. It shows a bit in waterfall graph though:


Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker Measurement CSD Waterfall  Bookshelf stand-mount.png


Impedance is kept above 4.5 ohm which is good for the class:

Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker Measurement Impedance and phase  Bookshelf stand-mount.png


Finally, here is the step response:
Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker Measurement Step Bookshelf stand-mount.png


Elac Carina BS243.4 Listening Tests
Overall first impression was very positive. The wide directivity produces a large halo around the speaker which I really appreciate. There was excellent clarity to the sound as well. I could stop here and say I can't find anything wrong but best to correct the response and compare:

Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker EQ Bookshelf stand-mount.png


With the correction in place the space around the female vocals opened up nicely and was definitely my preference. Overall signature was a tad bright but that brought brilliance that I liked in this case. The wide dispersion from my reflective walls probably accentuates this. Turning off the EQ caused the sound to flatten some so my preference was definitely with the two filters in place.

Lack of sensitivity was obvious with the speaker happily eating up all the power I threw at it. It attempted to produce sub-bass but what came out was clearly distorted. Above that region however, there was reasonable amount of bass response.

I moved side to side and could not detect any tonal shifts even after I got close to the speaker, verifying the horizontal wide beam width. It is a nice and liberating effect. If you can accommodate it, the Carina would make a nice center speaker for this reason.

As a sign of a good speaker, after a few tracks, I just got lost in the music and started to just listen and enjoy the sound.

Conclusions
The Carina BS243.4 comes close to a well executed speaker. But for whatever reason, decision was made to leave a response hole in rather critical region. Is this an attempt at "BBC dip" to please people believing in that? Or an oversight? The degradation is not large but it is a miss regardless. Fortunately it is easily corrected. Once there you are presented with a wide dispersion speaker with very nice sound and spatial qualities which I enjoyed.

I am going to recommend Elac Carina BS243.4 speaker.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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MrOtto

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Would the Clarina floorstander with 2.5-way and perhaps a different midrange/woofer driver fix this dip at 2.8 kHz?
 
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amirm

amirm

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Would the Clarina floorstander with 2.5-way and perhaps a different midrange/woofer driver fix this dip at 2.8 kHz?
No way to tell without measuring it.
 

ROOSKIE

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Nice review.
Decent speaker.

This was $1499, then ELAC dropped the price to $999 and even had some B-stock for less ($699 I think)
This may have been closed out though I am not sure.
 

Beave

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The dip is right at the crossover. This speaker appears to use pretty high-order filters. Either the woofer lowpass is slightly too low, or the tweeter highpass is slightly too high, or some combination thereof. The response of the two drivers doesn't quite overlap enough on-axis. It could even be a parts-tolerance issue in the crossover, or it could be the best they could do with reasonable tolerance (price) parts.

Nice review.
Decent speaker.

This was $1499, then ELAC dropped the price to $999 and even had some B-stock for less ($699 I think)
This may have been closed out though I am not sure.

I think they were $1199 when they first came out. Then the might have been raised to $1499, but I'm not sure. Now they are listed at $999/pair on a couple of sites.
 
Last edited:

DanielT

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Thanks for your review Amir!:)

Well, hm ... Sensitivity was about 4 dB lower than average (roughly 83 dB) and that distortion. If you get irritated at such distortion levels.Maybe you should think about it regarding these speakers?


Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker Measurement Relative THD Distortion  Bookshelf stand-mount.png
 

Rja4000

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Thanks for the review, Amir.

You forgot the horizontal directivity (color) graph ?
Or you decided to go for the plot only ?
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thanks for the review, Amir.

You forgot the horizontal directivity (color) graph ?
Or you decided to go for the plot only ?
Oops. Added to the review. Thanks.
 

GWolfman

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I've been meaning to ask this for a long time: what's the difference between the Total Early Reflection (green line) and the Estimated In-Room Response? They look identical to me.
 
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amirm

amirm

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I've been meaning to ask this for a long time: what's the difference between the Total Early Reflection (green line) and the Estimated In-Room Response? They look identical to me.
It is used for the upper range of response. For the lower range, sound power is used. So it is a stitched curve.
 

DSJR

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In today's market, I'd not mark it highly really, especially as the response errors are right where our ears are usually most sensitive - andnot match of amp or bits of wire is going to sort it. I'm probably way behind, but I've never liked AMT tweets on top of cones, no matter how fancy as the 'tinsel effect' seems magnified somehow. I need to listen to some Adam monitors though, but even these I think show it a bit.
 

Streamc

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Nice. German speaker measured. Nice to see 283.3 here but I understand that it can not be sent so simple way.
 

MZKM

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I've been meaning to ask this for a long time: what's the difference between the Total Early Reflection (green line) and the Estimated In-Room Response? They look identical to me.
If you look at the Spinoramas I post where the in-room is included, you’ll see that they are indeed very similar but not identical. The in-room is a 12%/44%/44% weighted average of the listening window/early reflections/sound power.
 
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