A truly innovative speaker design
It's not every day that a speaker grabs my attention the way that ELAC's Adante AS-61 has. For starters, this stand-mount titan features an incredibly unique design. That massive 8" woofer on the front? It's completely passive — the active bass driver is hidden from view inside its own internal chamber. And that's just the beginning of the story. Read on for insight into the AS-61 from its creator, acclaimed speaker designer Andrew Jones, along with my first-hand impressions.
Crutchfield training manager JR literally sawed an AS-61 in half to get a close-up look at this speaker's innovative design.
The inside of the cabinet speaks volumes
I first met the AS-61 when we sawed it in half to see how this crafty speaker was put together. As you'd expect from a no-compromise Andrew Jones design, the enclosure itself is formidable. It uses thick, reinforced walls to resist vibration that can color the sound.
High-quality, heavy-duty crossover
With access to the speaker's "guts," I took the opportunity to check out the crossover. It's got some serious weight to it, which reflects the care and thoughtfulness that went into its design. Andrew Jones goes into detail about his approach to it in a fascinating interview with Crutchfield Senior Editor Steve Kindig. If you like geeky details of speaker design, it's well worth reading.
A unique, high-octane driver arrangement
I mentioned earlier that the 8" front-facing driver is actually a passive radiator, and there's a 6-1/2" woofer mounted inside the cabinet. The passive radiator moves in tandem with the active woofer, reinforcing low-frequency output for impressively accurate and tightly controlled bass.
The AS-61 has no external ports, instead using internal ports in what's called a "coupled-cavity" design. The concentrically mounted 1" tweeter and 5-1/4" midrange are completely isolated from the woofer, ensuring smooth, natural sound from each driver.
Andrew Jones on coupled-cavity design
"I came up with a new version of coupled-cavity which I call 'interport.' The way I like to describe it is instead of putting an extra box over the front of a sealed-box loudspeaker, you put an extra box over the front of a ported-box loudspeaker. So both the driver and the port drive into the front chamber, which is then either ported, or in this case, taken further, by using a passive radiator."
— Andrew Jones, Vice President of Engineering for ELAC America
You'll want a powerhouse amp to drive it
Perhaps more than any speaker I've auditioned in recent years, the AS-61 requires a lot of power. It's officially listed at 4-ohms nominal impedance, and at 85 dB efficiency it's a gas-guzzler.
Just a friendly heads up: you may be disappointed in the performance of this fine speaker if you aren't using a suitably strong amplifier. I recommend a high-output, 4-ohm stable power amp or integrated amp to drive the AS-61s. In the majority of my time listening to these speakers, they were powered by the NAD Master Series M22 power amp. At 250 watts per channel, the M22 is a beast, but I had it cranked fairly wide open to get the level of volume and control l wanted.
I found the AS-61s to provide a rock-solid center image, as well as a full, realistic soundstage. Their strongest trait, in my opinion, is the ability to reveal every nuance and detail of a recording. That's fantastic for high-res tracks where the production quality can shine. But these ultra-revealing speakers can make compressed tunes sound, well, like they're missing something. I found streaming from Spotify to be less than desirable in the midbass, while well-recorded CDs absolutely sparkled.
Give these stand-mount speakers a firm foundation (like ELAC's custom-built speaker stand), robust amplification, and good source material, and you'll see just how capable they are.