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Lifewire / Emily Ramirez
Phenomenal instrument separation
Clean and detailed sound
Low distortion rates
Perform well for $500 a pair
Its crossovers don’t seem to be tuned properly on our pair
Too much treble out of the box
Needs some EQing for best results
If you want detailed sound perfect for movies and acoustics, you should consider the ELAC Debut 2.0 F5.2 speakers. They provide an amazing value for $500 a pair.
We purchased the ELAC Debut 2.0 F5.2 tower speakers so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess them. Keep reading for our full product review.
The ELAC Debut 2.0 F5.2 tower speakers are powerful beasts. With their Debut 2.0 lineup, ELAC aimed to crush the budget audiophile market, and they’ve definitely proved that they belong at the top of any list. Sure, there are $1,000 tower pairs that sound better, but there are also $1,000 pairs that sound worse than the F5.2s, and that’s laudable for ELAC. They’ve managed to make premium speakers affordable. The F5.2 speakers provide crystal clear sound through their entire range, and exhibit very little distortion. Their tweeters are a little more powerful than their woofers, but their low THD makes them easy to EQ to a flatter signature.
The first thing you will notice about this ELAC tower is that it’s heavy. It weighs 34 pounds and measures 40” tall, which is not fun to lug around a living room, but conversely means that it’s hard to knock over. More importantly, the weight serves a purpose: the steel frame shields the three 5.25” aramid fiber woofers and the 1” tweeter. That sturdy frame is wrapped with beautiful black veneered MDF that blends in with any decor, and the grill is a velvety soft cloth with the ELAC logo embedded in silver letters at the bottom. These are passive speakers, so you’ll need to get an amplifier and some speaker wire to set them up (though the connectors are compatible with banana plugs should you prefer them). There are flashier speakers on the market, but few command the elegance and maturity of the F5.2 speaker. It’s perfect for a stereo pair, and it’s part of the greater ELAC Debut 2.0 family if you’d like to set up a surround sound environment.
They have a mature, elegant look coupled with incredible sound.
To set up the F5.2 speaker, you will need some speaker wire. You’ll need to cut the wire to the length between your speaker and your amplifier, which six inches of slack, and then strip off the plastic coating from both ends of the positive and negative wires. If your wires are not already marked, I strongly suggest you use a Sharpie to mark the ends so that you don’t accidentally wire positive to negative (for consistency, we like to add the sharpie to our “negative” wire, since negative connections tend to be black).
Then unscrew the 5-way binding post, insert one wire into the small hole, and tighten the post again. Make sure the wire is touching copper, and then repeat with the amplifier, making sure positive leads to positive. It’s a fairly standard setup process for high-end speakers, though it’s a bit more involved that a lot of plug-and-play commercial setups.
Before we launch into details, we’d like to remind you we only tested one tower, so we cannot judge its soundstage or stereo performance. We strongly recommend you buy a pair for stereo, as that is how tower speakers are intended to be used.
The F5.2 is a beautiful speaker for its price, with a sparkly and tight sound. We measured the sound with both listening tests and with a MiniDSP UMIK-1 feeding into Room EQ Wizard. With no adjustments, the F5.2 speakers have a tight, defined bass, slamming treble, and a thin midrange. It really brings acoustic music to life, but genres with a prominent midrange or congested treble suffer. However, the ELACs do a great job of keeping distortion to a minimum, so it’s easy to use EQ to play with their sound until you find a signature that suits your needs.
The ELAC’s step response is nice and tight, with a very good sustain, giving the sound precision all over. Its bass is especially tight for its price point, giving drums a very punchy feel. It also has a phenomenal tweeter and a well damped impulse response, allowing the treble to shine without overstaying its welcome. However, it is a little more powerful than its woofers out of the box. In particular, the ELACs have a shelf boost past 1.5kHz, which gives treble an extra sparkle and brings more atmosphere to the sound, but also leaves the speakers sounding a little thin and harsh sometimes. Looking at the Impulse Response, we can infer that their spatial accuracy is solid, but we can’t confirm that without a stereo pair to test.
With no adjustments, the F5.2 speakers have a tight, defined bass, slamming treble, and a thin midrange.
Interestingly, their sound signature takes a huge dip in the mid-bass, between 90 and 120 Hz. This gives good separation between the bass and lower mids, and keeps the speaker from sounding boomy even when playing boomy tracks. It’s not great for studio monitoring, but it makes normally muddy tracks sound distinguished and enjoyable. After taking a closer look at its internal components and taking a full sweep of measurements, we think that its dips at 90-120Hz and at 1.2kHz are a build quality and tolerances issue with the crossover, but we need a second speaker to confirm that.
After EQing the ELAC speaker to have a flat signature, we were very happy with how it sounded. We managed to keep distortion to well under 5% across the entire range, and even reduced it in some places. This is an impressive feat for such a drastic change, and shows that the speakers take well to being EQ’d, and are quite friendly to those who like to tinker with audio. The ELACs are $500 per pair, and it should come as no surprise they blew the comparable JBL LSR305 away thanks to a much tighter instrument separation, clearer and more precise sound, and a general richness that made it feel like the musicians were playing in our house. Movies were also really impactful, since it felt like the rumbles were coming from outside!
At about $500 a pair, the ELAC Debut 2.0 F5.2 tower speakers are a phenomenal value. They have a mature, elegant look coupled with incredible sound. They perform well in almost all circumstances. If you don’t mind the ELAC F5.2’s brightness, it would be hard to find a better $500 pair. However, if you’re the kind of listener that prefers a warmer listening experience, then there are other options to consider.
Fluance XL7F Tower Speakers: These are also about $500, and they have integrated 8” down-firing subwoofers so you can get a richer, fuller bass. They paired their subwoofer with dual 6.5” long-throw mid-woofers and a premium 1” silk dome tweeter. All these drivers culminate in a detailed, all-encompassing sound that will be sure to impress.
Klipsch RP-250F Floorstanding Speakers: If you’re willing to spend a little more money, you will fall in love with this $650 pair of speakers. With a 1” linear travel suspension titanium tweeter, 5.25” dual woofers, a 90x90 hybrid Tractrix Horn and Klipsch’s signature aesthetics, these speakers will make you the envy of your friends. They’re a hallmark speaker in audiophile-land for good reason, providing unbelievable sound and immersion. Since they’re more powerful than the ELAC towers, they also require a more powerful amplifier, so make sure to factor that into the cost of these gems.
Polk T50 Floorstanding Speakers: If you’d like to save some money, the Polk T50 speakers can often be found for under $200 a pair, and they perform way above their price, with an impressively low distortion and incredibly clean and balanced sound. Their bass isn’t as clean as the ELAC speakers’, but you could always invest in a subwoofer with the $300 you’ve saved.
A fantastic tower speaker at a great price.The ELAC Debut 2.0 line-up delivers astounding quality in an attractive package, so it’s no surprise the Debut 2.0 F5.2 tower speakers are a phenomenal product. They’re a fun, bright set that will give music a touch of magic. If you want to invest in a solid tower speaker and don’t mind the treble, the F5.2 is sure to please.