Powered speakers for audiophiles
ELAC Navis ARB-51 speakers offer simplicity, convenience, and high-end audiophile performance inside a pair of very stylish cabinets. “Listening to them, I’m really happy,” said ELAC’s speaker design guru Andrew Jones, as he demonstrated the Navis for me on one of his frequent visits to Crutchfield HQ. “They’re open and transparent. You can play all different sorts of music on them. Even with contemporary music with a lot of bass, they do really well.” As Mr. Jones streamed his favorite tracks in one of our dedicated listening rooms, I found myself bobbing my head to the beat by way of agreement.
Note: Navis ARB-51 powered speakers do not have a volume control. If connected directly to a fixed output source, the volume will be at maximum level and may damage the speakers and your hearing. Only use these speakers with variable output sources and/or a preamplifier like the NAD C 165BEE.
Each ELAC Navis speaker features handy EQ switches on the back panel, so you can tweak the sound to suit your unique listening space.
In audio-design lingo, these speakers are “three-way” — each features a separate woofer, midrange, and tweeter. To make sure each driver does its job with maximum efficiency and precision, ELAC gave them individual amplifiers, each with their own power supply. There’s 160 watts for each woofer, 100 watts for the midrange driver, and 40 for the tweeter. “We went to the three-way design so we could get full excursion on the woofer,” Mr. Jones explained, “and not have it be limited by acting as a midrange as well. It’ll play much louder and lower.” ‘Nuff said.
All analog, all the way
These speakers make one major departure from the usual design approach used by others in their class. “We’re not using DSP (digital signal processing),” Mr. Jones explained, “so if you’re using a turntable, we’re not digitizing that analog sound you love. You can get an upgrade in sound because the stuff inside is of high quality.”
Wired and wireless connectivity
Ever the innovators, ELAC created their own wireless protocol called AirX that helps solve a specific bothersome issue: “Usually when you’re on Wi-Fi, the only way to synchronize the left and right speaker is to run a cable between them,” said Mr. Jones. “We don’t have to do that.” The ELAC Discovery Connect (not included) provides a robust streaming platform for Spotify® Connect, Bluetooth®, Apple® AirPlay® and Roon, so you can eliminate one more wire from your system.
For making wired connections, each speaker has a single unbalanced RCA input and a single balanced XLR input.
The final piece of the puzzle when trying to get the best sound out of any pair of speakers is finding out how they sound in your unique listening space. The ARB-51s provide separate EQ switches on the back of each speaker for adjusting high, mid, and low frequency response. “You can match the sound to your environment,” said Mr. Jones.
Each also has a switchable high-pass filter that can be set “flat” to get the most out of the speakers alone, or switched to cut off at 60 Hz or 80 Hz for easy integration with a subwoofer. A subwoofer can be added to your system via your preamplifier’s subwoofer output.
Take a stand (or two!)
When you’re trying to get optimal sound out of a great speaker like this one, you owe it to yourself to place it on a quality speaker stand. Stands make it easier to put your speakers at ear level, adjust their directional output, and they eliminate bad vibrations and reflections from furniture and walls that can impact sound quality in a negative way.
Inside each Navis Bookshelf Loudspeaker is a Tri-Amp Pure Analog Amplifier, employing three separate amps for each transducer: a 160-watt BASH AB amplifier for the woofer, a 100-watt BASH AB amplifier for the midrange, and a 40-watt Class AB amplifier for the tweeter. A total amplifier power of 300 watts ensures that each transducer is optimally—and amply—powered, eliminating clipping and crossover distortion, and driving each transducer with authority. Specs like a 110 dBA signal-to-noise ratio and 100 uV noise floor could only come from such audiophile-quality amps!
Local inputs include balanced XLR, RCA and Wireless, when used with ELAC’s Discovery Connect wireless transmitter to stream Discovery, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth, AirPlay and Roon. Just switch Wireless “Off” for a no-compromise analog input and output.
Navis’s elegant design integrates perfectly with any interior. Its enclosure has a fine-furniture finish, available in Gloss Black, Gloss White and Wood Veneer. A dedicated floor stand completes the installation, and is recommended for optimum performance.
All New Custom Designed Midrange/Tweeter
One reason the Navis sounds so natural is because of its in-house developed transducer, a 4-inch aluminum midrange
driver with a concentrically mounted 1-inch soft-dome tweeter. Combined, this signature configuration lets Navis set the
performance standard for its class.