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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

brandonhall

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This is my speaker and I'm appreciative @amirm took the time to review it. I only sent him one because that's all he needs for testing and I saved on shipping costs.

These speakers definitely have a personality and sound signature which is smooth. They handle all genres well but really excel with jazz. As Amir mentioned, they also look and feel fantastic. My only disappointment is the visible screws. I think that's a huge miss at this price point.

I've A/Bed these with numerous other speakers and my ears preferred their sound the most. The 70 degrees of directivity is incredibly immersive and an absolute joy. I use them nearfield and they excel there. I haven't compared them to the Revel M16 but I'd love to.

From a buyers perspective, once you get north of say 600USD, you're buying looks and/or a sound signature. Think these, SonusFaber or Bower & Wilkins.

For the 600USD price point, the Wharfedale 12.1, Polk R100, or ELAC Debut Reference are all better buys and way higher value. Those are all amazing speakers for the money.
 

Rottmannash

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Yes, it looks like a 2-way, but it's a 3-way, not sure how the heck that happens....I had noticed it say crossover at 100Hz on the Elac website so that confused me when I thought it was a 2-way from looking at the pics. Where is that 3rd speaker?

But with regards to the wide dispersion that I mentioned - maybe that's what caught Amir's ear to aid in his positive review.....otherwise I don't see it as such a great speaker from the other measurements. I voted this speaker as "Fine", I was intrigued by the wide dispersion and Amir's positive listening impression, which is the only reason I voted this "fine" rather than "not terrible" (given it's fairly high price).
From the owner's manual: appears to be a down firing woofer.

"Downward Firing Port For a more flexible speaker placement the bass ref ex port on the Carina series is directed to the floor, exiting the bottom of the speaker cabinet in a down-firing configuration."
 

restorer-john

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Seriously, Andrew Jones & Elac couldn't come up with a unique name other than one his former employer used on a range of speakers for many years? The KEF Carina.

I wouldn't buy Elac. They used the Uni-Fi name which was obviously meant to be close to KEF's Uni-Q. Now Carina? What's next? An 'Elac' 104/2 floorstander? Tacky Elac.

iu
 

Maiky76

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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.

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

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

Hi,

Here is my take on the EQ.
Please report your finding positive or negative!


The following EQs are “anechoic” EQs to get the speaker right before room integration. If you able to implement these EQs you must add EQ at LF for room integration, that is usually not optional… see hints there: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...helf-speaker-review.11144/page-26#post-800725

The raw data with corrected ER and PIR:
Score no EQ: 5.1
With Sub: 7.3

Spinorama with no EQ:
  • Fairly flat
  • Nothing much except the Xover issue
  • A few sharp peaks/dips
Elac Carina BS243.4 No EQ Spinorama.png

Directivity:

Must stay at tweeter height
elac Carina BS243.4 LW better data.png


elac Carina BS243.4 2D surface Directivity Contour Only Data.png

EQ design:

I have generated two EQs. The APO config files are attached.
  • The first one, labelled, LW is targeted at making the LW flat
  • The second, labelled Score, starts with the first one and adds the score as an optimization variable.
  • The EQs are designed in the context of regular stereo use i.e. domestic environment, no warranty is provided for a near field use in a studio environment although the LW might be better suited for this purpose.
Score EQ LW: 5.9
with sub: 8.1

Score EQ Score: 6.2
with sub: 8.4

Code:
Elac Carina BS243.4 APO EQ LW 96000Hz
May302022-115156

Preamp: -3 dB

Filter 1: ON HPQ Fc 55.92,    0.00,    1.40
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 100.95,    -2.88,    0.89
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 370.80,    1.17,    2.70
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 1422.38,    0.84,    1.63
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 2043.64,    -1.71,    4.46
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 2823.57,    3.54,    1.92
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 3592.12,    -3.33,    4.47
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 10695.84,    2.46,    1.71

Elac Carina BS243.4 APO EQ Score 96000Hz
May302022-114626

Preamp: -3 dB

Filter 1: ON HPQ Fc 55.92,    0.00,    1.40
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 102.45,    -2.90,    0.89
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 377.80,    1.17,    3.43
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 1181.11,    0.87,    4.64
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 2110.76,    -1.43,    3.28
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 2781.53,    4.20,    2.53
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 3570.41,    -3.33,    4.47
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 5496.79,    -0.62,    0.57
Filter 9: ON PK Fc 10694.84,    1.66,    2.50

Elac Carina BS243.4 EQ Design.png

Spinorama EQ LW
Elac Carina BS243.4 LW EQ Spinorama.png


Spinorama EQ Score
Elac Carina BS243.4 Score EQ Spinorama.png


Zoom PIR-LW-ON
Elac Carina BS243.4 Zoom.png


Regression - Tonal
Elac Carina BS243.4 Regression - Tonal.png


Radar no EQ vs EQ score
Some improvements
Elac Carina BS243.4 Radar.png


The rest of the plots is attached.
 

Attachments

  • Elac Carina BS243.4 APO EQ LW 96000Hz.txt
    432 bytes · Views: 12
  • elac Carina BS243.4 Raw Directivity data.png
    elac Carina BS243.4 Raw Directivity data.png
    472.4 KB · Views: 11
  • elac Carina BS243.4 Normalized Directivity data.png
    elac Carina BS243.4 Normalized Directivity data.png
    302.8 KB · Views: 11
  • elac Carina BS243.4 Reflexion data.png
    elac Carina BS243.4 Reflexion data.png
    139 KB · Views: 13
  • elac Carina BS243.4 LW data.png
    elac Carina BS243.4 LW data.png
    138.1 KB · Views: 10
  • elac Carina BS243.4 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    elac Carina BS243.4 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    265.3 KB · Views: 11
  • elac Carina BS243.4 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    elac Carina BS243.4 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    476 KB · Views: 11
  • elac Carina BS243.4 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    elac Carina BS243.4 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    470 KB · Views: 10
  • elac Carina BS243.4 Horizontal 3D Directivity data.png
    elac Carina BS243.4 Horizontal 3D Directivity data.png
    402 KB · Views: 10
  • elac Carina BS243.4 Vertical 3D Directivity data.png
    elac Carina BS243.4 Vertical 3D Directivity data.png
    415.7 KB · Views: 12
  • Elac Carina BS243.4 APO EQ Score 96000Hz.txt
    481 bytes · Views: 10

GiBo61

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My take on the product/review (not read other comments - saying this in case someone thinks I'm replying to someone above).......my take is that I'm surprised to see quite a bit of lack of bass given it's a 5" woofer, I would have expected more, like from the JBL 305p Mkii as just one example, although I'll temper that by saying that the Elac has a very smooth/slower roll off in the bass that might work well with room bass reinforcement....but I'm still surprised by the lower amount of bass. I think the large dip at 1800Hz is quite a large compromise to make, I wouldn't like to see that in my speaker. What is interesting though is the wide 70 degree dispersion in the horizontal directivity! I was expecting this speaker to get a fair panning (negative review) when I saw the spinorama, but I would wager the wide directivity saved this speaker when it came to Amir's listening impressions. I mean, how many speakers have we seen with a wide 70 degree horizontal dispersion? Normally we have around 60 degree horizontal dispersion as pretty much best case right? So maybe the extra 10 degrees of horizontal dispersion is really what is making this speaker a pleasure to listen to???
If you listen to them I'm pretty sure you will not find any lack of bass, at least this was my impression in two different setup. Obviously they lack deep bass due to their small size but their big sisters (Carina FS 247.4) use the very same speakers and have no problems at all in reproducing lower frequencies.
 

Robbo99999

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From the owner's manual: appears to be a down firing woofer.

"Downward Firing Port For a more flexible speaker placement the bass ref ex port on the Carina series is directed to the floor, exiting the bottom of the speaker cabinet in a down-firing configuration."
Yeah, there's one of those, but our member "thewas" already debunked the specs here:
The company got their web page wrong, it really is a 2-way speaker!
 

Robbo99999

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If you listen to them I'm pretty sure you will not find any lack of bass, at least this was my impression in two different setup. Obviously they lack deep bass due to their small size but their big sisters (Carina FS 247.4) use the very same speakers and have no problems at all in reproducing lower frequencies.
Maybe the fairly slow roll off in the bass helps with this perception & when combined with room bass reinforcement.
 

Rottmannash

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Yeah, there's one of those, but our member "thewas" already debunked the specs here:
The company got their web page wrong, it really is a 2-way speaker!
Ah. Did Amir look to see if it had a downfiring woofer? Hard to believe they would have incorrect specs for their speaker all over their owners manual and website.
 

thewas

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Ah. Did Amir look to see if it had a downfiring woofer? Hard to believe they would have incorrect specs for their speaker all over their owners manual and website.
Just the US website is wrong, all other sites as well as even the spec sheet and owners manual from the US website correctly write that its a 2-way speaker:


 

brandonhall

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The bass on these is excellent but the speaker could use a high pass crossover. I didn't need a subwoofer and actually unplugged mine while running them. Once I added a room EQ, it was perfect for my ears.
 

fineMen

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The dip cannot be excused. Maybe the bass/mid driver is used too far up in frequency. So production inconsistencies at some resonance point make the response unpredictable in level and phase. It very much looks like the x/over was designed for another specimen of the speaker model.

The high x/over is dictated by the esoteric AMT. With a too low x/over these distort like hell even up to the 7th harmonic, which is not seen with regular tweeters. I don't now of any benefit offered by AMT technology other than its show factor, the chic.
 

DMill

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Just the US website is wrong, all other sites as well as even the spec sheet and owners manual from the US website correctly write that its a 2-way speaker:


i have them sitting in my living room. They are 2 way speakers with a down firing port. i believe the ELAC Navis has a similar design in their bs speakers.
 

fotoalan

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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?
I've had the bookshelf Carinas for a couple of years and my local MediaMarkt is currently selling an ex demo pair of the floorstanders well below half price, so I may be about to find out if I prefer them subjectively (although I have neither the equipment or the experience to do frequency response measurements).
 

Agdp

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First of all, hello! I've been reading the reviews and discussions on this website for years, but I finally decided to create an account since I own these speakers.

I got them slightly used for 500€ last year and have been enjoying them ever since. I owned the SVS Ultra bookshelves before them and I think I enjoy these more. Obviously I can't rely on memory though, especially since I've used them in completely different rooms/set-ups.

They obviously have their issues as the measurements also show, but I find them lovely to listen to.
Interestingly there's a hint of that dip on a measurement of the Solano BS283, which use an actual JET-5 tweeter instead of Carina's cheaper version, but still seem to use the same woofer, on a german website called i-fidelity.

DC012AE5-26ED-4E66-89DF-8BC56465CF3D.jpeg


On the same website, a measurement of the Elac Vela BS 403 indicates that the dip has been tamed a bit more. The Velas also use JET-5 tweeters, but they use Elac's higher end woofer, known as the AS-XR cone. It seems like it works better with those tweeters.

E75B3266-B397-410A-AAC3-890B84539FA6.jpeg

D90CA91C-772C-460B-B29F-F0105C795528.jpeg


If you can, give the Carinas a chance and listen to them. They sound mch better than the measurements imply.
 
Last edited:

fotoalan

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I've had the bookshelf Carinas for a couple of years and my local MediaMarkt is currently selling an ex demo pair of the floorstanders well below half price, so I may be about to find out if I prefer them subjectively (although I have neither the equipment or the experience to do frequency response measurements).
So, I am now the proud owner of a pair of the 247.4 floorstanders (780€ ex demo from Media Markt), the idea being to replace my two year old 243.4's. But a pernicious thought starts to creep in: I've never had the slightest interest in a 5.1 setup, but now I find myself in possession of matched front & rear pairs ...
 

tw 2022

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So, I am now the proud owner of a pair of the 247.4 floorstanders (780€ ex demo from Media Markt), the idea being to replace my two year old 243.4's. But a pernicious thought starts to creep in: I've never had the slightest interest in a 5.1 setup, but now I find myself in possession of matched front & rear pairs ...
that may call for "tough choices ".. maybe another set up?
 

changer

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What I liked about the bigger 2.5 way FS 247.4 was the very atmospheric, wide presentation. The image is projected behind the speaker and the spacial perception is huge. The bass was also tight and gets low enough, I would however think a sub should be added.

The single thing that got me irritated was the fact that the image was ‘weaker’ in the center than it was to the sides, even if they were toed in or the stereo triangle ratio was changed. I am only guessing when I assume it might be due to the interference of the very wide pattern. The detailed brilliance that amir noted was less pronounced in the middle.
I think they are very elegant and interesting speakers, that sound very spacious.
 
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