For active demos of their Adante AF-61 floorstanding loudspeakers (US$5000/pair) at Munich High-End 2017, ELAC deployed the talents of designer Andrew Jones as well as Peter Madnick, the (former) head of Audio Alchemy, whom ELAC acquired at the end of 2016. Those aren’t ordinary bass drivers that sit below concentrically-aligned tweeter and midrange drivers; 6-inchers are tucked away inside the box to drive outward-facing 8″ passive radiators.
How did this set of ‘cost-no-object’ Jones-designed loudspeakers sound? I thought ‘great’ – but just how reliable are show-based calls? Answer: not very. Readers are advised to apply spoonfuls of salt, not just pinches.
Experience tells us that the majority of attendees, myself included, must listen past unfamiliar music and – more crucially – an unfamiliar room. The room influences what we hear more than any hifi component ever could.
The Adante will sound very different in my listening room to how they sounded in Munich. However, back in Berlin, my room’s sonic personality is a known quantity. Easier for me to separate room from speaker and derive the ELAC’s personality, especially with other models used to comparative triangulation.
Sitting between the Adante towers, a rack populated by the Madnick-designed Alchemy Series of electronics. In the room next door, where passive displays allowed for more abundant conversation, ELAC’s Christopher Walker dug deeper into what was new.
ELAC’s original Discovery music server (not pictured here) does’t run full Roon but Roon Essentials. With a 30,000 song limit and shorn of many of Roon proper’s power user features, ELAC can included a lifetime license of Roon Essentials as part of its €1100 asking. Landing in a few weeks will be Roon Essentials 1.3 which adds, among other things, support for streaming to Sonos devices.
The Discovery can also be run as a standalone, all-in-one device – server and endpoint – but if you have to ask which DAC chip sits inside, it’s probably not for you.
What is aimed at audio folk with a mind for how a circuit’s finer technical points can influence sound quality is the forthcoming Madnick-designed Discovery DS SQ-201 music server.
With single-ended and balanced outputs, linear power supplies, AKM DAC chips, a SHARC DSP for jitter reduction, support for 32bit/384kHz PCM/DSD256, I2S and an unadulterated version of Roon, ELAC and Madnick have knocked over the audiophile checklist one feature at a time.
Christopher Walker tells us more:
The Discovery Q music server begins shipping in Q3 2017 for ~US$2500 and will feature one year’s worth of Roon completely free of charge.
Further information: ELAC