Elac is a German company that has been making audio equipment for over ninety years now. Whilst not a household name in the States, they have gained an impressive reputation in Europe.
So when world-renowned speaker designer Andrew Jones moved from Pioneer to Elac back in 2015, we were eager to see what this combination of talent would produce. Jones has built a reputation for designing low-cost speakers that have amazingly high-end sound, and it didn’t take him long to work his magic over at Elac.
These bookshelf speakers truly live up to Andrew Jones’s reputation. Since their release, they’ve received nothing but universal praise from the audio world, and we’re here to heap some more in this in-depth Elac Uni-Fi UB5 Slim Review…
Out of the box, the first thing you notice is just how heavy the UB5’s are. This is always a good sign. However, it’s not always the case that there is a correlation between weight and performance. But usually, the heavier the speaker, the more likely it will be capable of superior audio. Each speaker weighs an impressive 16.5lbs.
The three-way driver design of the UB5 is coaxial. The tweeter is set within the mid-range driver above the woofer. This saves a lot of space, and the result is a speaker that is just over 12 inches tall.
These speakers will fit comfortably almost anywhere, including bookshelves, desktops, tabletops, and even on top of floor standing speakers. As a result, they are some of the most versatile speakers you can buy.
Housing and Internals…
The soft cone 1-inch tweeter is covered by a grille and sits in the center of the 4-inch aluminum cone mid-range driver. The woofer is a 5.25-inch affair and also of aluminum construction. There is also a bass reflex port at the rear of the speaker above terminals.
The cheapest model comes with MDF cabinets with a brushed vinyl finish. You can pay another 50% if you’d like a walnut cabinet to house the concentric drivers.
The combination of silver drivers on a black background makes for a sleek and stylish look that will complement any modern room nicely. If you want a more discreet look, then the UB5’s have a magnetically attachable speaker grille that provides a more demure look.
- Frequency response – 46 – 25,000Hz.
- Sensitivity – 85 decibels.
- Impedance – 4 ohms.
- Maximum power output – 140 watts/channel.
- Crossover channel – 3-way.
- Crossover frequency – 270Hz – 2700Hz.
- Height – 12.8”, width – 8”, depth – 10.7”
With all that out of the way, let’s talk about how good are Elac Uni-Fi UB5 speakers…
The Elac Uni-Fi UB5’s are amazingly clean speakers. Instrument and vocal placement have pinpoint accuracy. Compared to almost every other speaker under $1000 we’ve heard, the UB5’s has some of the best imaging, placement, and accuracy of them all.
Furthermore, they’re some of the best forward sounding speakers, with a confident and exact sound. This speaker knows exactly how it wants to deliver the sound and doesn’t hold back. It’s basically in complete control, never relaxing for a moment. This makes for quite an “in your face” experience that may not appeal to everyone.
Multiple layered recordings, with a lot going on, are almost surgically dissected into their constituent parts. The Elac UB5 can handle the most complicated music with ease. If there’s any criticism, there’s almost too much information coming at you on occasion.
Treble performance matches the forward nature of the speaker, and it’s up there with speakers that cost two to three times as much. The level of clarity, sharpness (in a good way), and refinement are very impressive.
Sometimes treble frequencies can blend into one. But here, you can easily distinguish between different kinds of sounds, whether that be the high rasp of a violin or the metallic shimmer of a high hat. Even if they are positionally happening in the same area, you’ll be able to hear the separation between instruments and higher frequency sounds very clearly.
The mid-ranges continue from the treble frequencies in terms of their wonderful instrumental separation. Every kind of instrument gets the royal treatment. Fans of complex jazz music will appreciate these speakers more than anyone else. The level of nuance and flavor that the UB5’s can deliver is truly exceptional in this price range.
The full range of an electric guitar, from manic distortion to classic sustain, is wonderfully represented. To be honest, there isn’t an instrument that these speakers don’t do justice to.
Vocals take center stage in reproduction…
You won’t struggle to hear them in the mix as they are very forward, probably more so than with most speakers out there. They certainly don’t dominate, though, leaving plenty of room left for the instrumentation to thrive in all its glorious detail.
Even with the speakers quite far apart, they are still able to maintain a very solid vocal image in the center of the room, with the rest of the soundstage nicely wrapped around it.
Bass junkies are probably going to be left a little disappointed by the Elac Uni-Fi UB5 speakers. If you want a ground-shaking bass response, then you’ll have to team these up with a dedicated subwoofer.
However, if you don’t require knee-trembling levels of boom, the UB5’s have a decent amount of punch and kick to them. What they lack at the very bottom end, they make up for in the mid to upper bass department. As you would expect by now, it’s an extremely tight and clean bass response that compliments the rest of the sound profile perfectly.
Elac and Andrew Jones could surely have made the bass response heavier, but didn’t. You almost feel that increased levels of sub-bass would spoil the overall profile, removing some of the cleanliness and accuracy from the overall mix.
Probably the best aspect of Elac Uni-Fi UB5 Slim speakers is how well they perform with almost any kind of amplifier, as long as it has enough power. They’ll bring out the best in cheaper amps and keep on raising their level of performance as you upgrade to more expensive gear.
They bring detail, balance, and a wide soundstage to cheaper equipment regardless of the source. Pair the UB5’s up with higher-end equipment, and you’ll be amazed how far such relatively cheap speakers will take you. They can genuinely be used as part of an audiophile beginners kit that most listeners won’t feel the need to upgrade.
If you purchase from a licensed Elac dealer, you’ll receive a 3-year warranty from the day you bought the speakers. As long as you haven’t tampered with the internal workings or connected them to an amp that exceeds 140 watts per speaker, then repair or replacement is covered.
In reality, the UB5’s are so well built that they should last for a very long time if treated properly. These are seriously durable and well-made speakers.
Elac Uni-Fi UB5 Slim Review – Pros and Cons
- A gorgeously detailed sound profile.
- Amazing precision and accuracy.
- Unbeatable value for money.
- Well-built and durable.
- Sleek design.
- Bass heads may not appreciate the lack of sub extension.
Looking for Great Speakers?
We have a wide selection of reviews for you, so check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Bookshelf Speakers, the Best Floor Standing Speakers, the Best Home Theater Speakers, the Best Wireless TV Speakers, the Best In Ceiling Speakers, the Best In Wall Speakers, and the Best Speakers For Vinyl you can buy in 2021.
Also, take a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Powered Speakers, the Best 7.1 Home Theater System, the Best Apple AirPlay Speakers, the Best Tailgate Speakers, the Best Computer Speakers Under $100, the Best Smart Speakers, and the Best Party Speakers currently on the market.
Elac Uni-Fi UB5 Slim Review – Final Verdict
The Elac Uni-Fi UB5 makes an excellent reference set for almost every genre of music. They give you a great understanding of treble response, mid-range response, and to a slightly lesser degree, bass response. They are going to display all of this with a level of confidence that continues to grow with the quality of the equipment you are using.
As value for money goes, it doesn’t get much better than this. The UB5’s compare very favorably with speakers that cost significantly more. Pair them up with a high-level amplifier or receiver, and you’ll have something special on your hands at a thoroughly affordable price.
Until next time, let the music play.