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Elac Carina BS243.4 Review (Bookshelf Speaker)

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 11 4.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 67 28.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 145 60.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 15 6.3%

  • Total voters
    238

OWC

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That AMT tweeter sure as heck looks like the $35 AMT Mini-8 from Dayton / Parts Express. https://www.parts-express.com/Dayton-Audio-AMT-Mini-8-Air-Motion-Transformer-Tweeter-275-095
Assuming they use the same ribbon tweeter in other models, it's definitely not the same as the Dayton Audio one;

But I have seen very similar ones on Aliexpress;

Btw, that passive filter in the Elac Carina FS247.4 makes you instantly sad of course.

So the drivers are probably from a mass manufactured production company in Asia somewhere. (on Aliexpress you often will find the rejects and such)
Although that sounds like strange, I think that the vast majority of loudspeaker drivers come from these kind of production manufacturers.

Goes to show why it is absolutely essential to also do a little teardown and see and show what parts are being used.
A good quality product contains more than just RAW audio performance.
So if you want to be as objective as possible, this is an essential part of any objective review.
Even more so if you want to explain certain discrepancies. Otherwise everything can be dumped under the term "resonances".
Which is on itself a very useless and meaningless term without context.
 
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Peafowl

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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.
In my experience, Adam Audio emphasizes the AMT tweeters a bit. For my taste they are a bit too present. So I dare say you won't like them.

There are certainly loudspeakers where AMT are used very well and you will hardly hear any difference to the dome, but these are rare. So far I've only found what I'm looking for from the German company Abacus electronics. But I can only judge the loudspeakers, which I have been able to listen to myself so far.
 

H-713

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Assuming they use the same ribbon tweeter in other models, it's definitely not the same as the Dayton Audio one;

But I have seen very similar ones on Aliexpress;

So probably one from a mass manufactured production company in Asia somewhere. (on Aliexpress you often will find the rejects and such)
Although that sounds like strange, I think that the vast majority of loudspeaker drivers come from these kind of production manufacturers.

Goes to show why it is absolutely essential to also do a little teardown and see and show what parts are being used.
A good quality product contains more than just RAW audio performance.
So if you want to be as objective as possible, this is an essential part of any objective review.
Even more so if you want to explain certain discrepancies. Otherwise everything can be dumped under the term "resonances".
Which is on itself a very useless and meaningless term without context.

FWIW, Elac makes all their own drivers (or at least, they did 20 years ago). That includes the JET ribbon tweeters. They are good tweeters, but they really don't like low frequencies. In the past Elac used a sandwich cone woofer that worked really well with these - they didn't have cone breakup issues and could be crossed at the 2.3 - 2.8 kHz that is required for the AMT.
 

DMill

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I own them. Paid $999 pair at Crutchfield AND they came with free matching stands which MSRP for $500. First off the stands are 23” which is a bit low for these small speakers. Like Amir says they sound best sitting at or below tweeter height. Also, $500 for these stands is a complete ripoff, but I have pets and kids, so being able to screw them down was important. But as I said they were free, so I guess I can’t complain much about the stands. You can see from the measurements they have very good bass response for their size and are very neutral. That said I use them with an SVS 1000 pro crossed at 55HZ. I can also confirm Amir’s review that they do like a bit of power and are inefficient. They would not be my first choice in a large room. But in my small 2nd living room (12’ x 20’) they are plenty loud and then some for my taste. I also think it’s a bit unfair to compare them to Genelecs in terms of value and could certainly argue they are better in that regard. But if money is no object then yes there are other options I may have chosen.
 

OWC

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In my experience, Adam Audio emphasizes the AMT tweeters a bit. For my taste they are a bit too present. So I dare say you won't like them.

There are certainly loudspeakers where AMT are used very well and you will hardly hear any difference to the dome, but these are rare. So far I've only found what I'm looking for from the German company Abacus electronics. But I can only judge the loudspeakers, which I have been able to listen to myself so far.
Let me tell you a little secret, as soon as the frequency response is even, distortion is under control and directivity is equal, there is no difference.
It becomes the same thing (hooray for minimum phase systems)

It's nothing more than just a different technology to create high frequencies with a reasonable sensitivity.
Like there are different ways to brew a coffee.
Both have their pros and cons. And a VERY big disadvantage of ribbons, is that it's hard to get a reasonable low Fs as well as power handling and excursion (yes that exists for even high frequency drivers). So practically this means it's very difficult to get a lower crossover frequency, say around 1.5-2.5kHz.
You just don't want to cross any higher if you want to use a 6 inch woofer, otherwise you directivity WILL suffer from it.
Often they fix this issue by either making the ribbon bigger and/or using a horn or waveguide for it.

I have very rarely seen a good performing ribbon in combination with a woofer that's bigger than 5..25 inch.
In the cases I have seen it working, they had to go through all the trouble, using steep crossover combinations and what have you, to make it work.
Or they just use a waveguide/horn.
 

Peafowl

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Let me tell you a little secret, as soon as the frequency response is even, distortion is under control and directivity is equal, there is no difference.
It becomes the same thing (hooray for minimum phase systems)

It's nothing more than just a different technology to create high frequencies with a reasonable sensitivity.
Like there are different ways to brew a coffee.
Both have their pros and cons. And a VERY big disadvantage of ribbons, is that it's hard to get a reasonable low Fs as well as power handling and excursion (yes that exists for even high frequency drivers). So practically this means it's very difficult to get a lower crossover frequency, say around 1.5-2.5kHz.
You just don't want to cross any higher if you want to use a 6 inch woofer, otherwise you directivity WILL suffer from it.
Often they fix this issue by either making the ribbon bigger and/or using a horn or waveguide for it.

I have very rarely seen a good performing ribbon in combination with a woofer that's bigger than 5..25 inch.
In the cases I have seen it working, they had to go through all the trouble, using steep crossover combinations and what have you, to make it work.
Or they just use a waveguide/horn.
Yes, I totally agree! Exactly my experience over the last few years.
That's why I would cause an AMT in a 3-way and dome in 2-way speaker.
 

Kennyknetter

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Elac Carina BS243.4 Measurements
As usual we start with our "spin" graph:
View attachment 209384

Others have probably mentioned this before... but when I see the dip right there, with the slightly elevated response around it, I can't help but to think what the response would look like after psychoacoustic smoothing has been applied. Maybe it would look rather flat, and hence, not have to be corrected as much as the raw response would suggest? Would it be possible to add a response chart with PS applied to it, and if so, do you think that it would be a good idea to include it in the reviews?
 

abdo123

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Others have probably mentioned this before... but when I see the dip right there, with the slightly elevated response around it, I can't help but to think what the response would look like after psychoacoustic smoothing has been applied. Maybe it would look rather flat, and hence, not have to be corrected as much as the raw response would suggest? Would it be possible to add a response chart with PS applied to it, and if so, do you think that it would be a good idea to include it in the reviews?

1653757325728.png
 

5th element

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The resonance is at 1.9kHz. Stereophile show clear metal cone breakup at a little over 5kHz. Distortion peak is third order. Not much more needs to be said about where it comes from.
 
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OWC

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The resonance is at 1.9kHz. Stereophile show clear metal cone breakup at a little over 5kHz. Distortion peak is third order. Not much more needs to be said about where it comes from.
That sounds about right, also because the 5th harmonic copies the same shape.
It's quite substantial and high for just a cone breakup, reminds me of those break-ups in Accuton speakers.
So a very uncontrolled cone resonance.

See HifiCompass for further details;

This used to be a big problem 10-15 years ago, but most brands these days figured ways to just push these outside the practical bandwidth after filtering.
Another reason why you would like to rather have a lower crossover frequency instead of an higher one.
I good quality tweeter can do 1200-1500Hz these days no problem.
 

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panther

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I had the BS speaker at one time with a Yamaha WXA-50 and didn't care for that pairing.
I also have the FS version, really enjoy it for our downstairs TV setup. Paired with a Lyngdorf 1120 it was good, but I really had to turn up the volume for dialogue. I bought a NAD C399 and this pairing is great.
I find the Carina very non fatiguing versus the Monitor Audio 300G speakers I had before.
 

thewas

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FWIW, Elac makes all their own drivers (or at least, they did 20 years ago). That includes the JET ribbon tweeters.
They used to back then, but now with the mix up with Elac USA they don't (just on their more expensive German models). If you translate the German product website of the here tested model it writes "Air Motion Transformer folded according to JET principle" which is a clear hint vs the more expensive models which have the famous JET 5 (before JET 3) made by Elac, for example this one.
 

DMill

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Not all literally. But any standmounter big it or not speaker need subwoofer
These are very small speakers not mentioned in the review. They almost make it without a sub which I thought was a nice advantage vs the Kef 50. But a sub without a doubt helps.
 

hyfynut

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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.
View attachment 209382
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):
View attachment 209383

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:
View attachment 209384

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:
View attachment 209385

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

View attachment 209386

Predicted in-room response has the error we already know about:
View attachment 209387

Beamwidth is larger than typical speaker which should result in a more spacious image:
View attachment 209388

It beams (narrows) above 10 kHz but that is not a very critical region.
View attachment 209405

Vertically it has the typical problems of 2-way speakers (non-coaxial):
View attachment 209389

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):
View attachment 209390


View attachment 209391

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


View attachment 209392

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

View attachment 209393

Finally, here is the step response:
View attachment 209394

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:

View attachment 209395

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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$999 a pair or for a single speaker?
 
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