ELAC Concentro S 509 Test

image credit: Elac


Of course, speakers, a pair of which costs significantly more than ten thousand dollar, are not a product of mass consumption. Therefore, manufacturers of such Hi-Fi components can use the best technologies and materials of the appropriate quality without any restrictions. For renowned loudspeaker manufacturer ELAC in the seaside city of Kiel, this approach has been the key to a successful voyage, as evidenced by the price of the  Concentro S 509 .

This is a larger version of the AC  Concentro S 507 , the cost of which is somewhat lower.

Naturally, the question arises as to what makes the Concentro S 509 more expensive? Visually, the columns are related to each other. We believe the larger ones boast a stronger bass foundation and increased sound power, making them more suitable for larger spaces.



The S 509 continues the Concentro  and  Concentro M series of high-end models  According to the manufacturer, the design composition is an attractive combination of such ELAC style icons as  Concentro  and  Vela . The curved front panel with a slight tilt of the body back creates a smooth, large-scale image, an interesting contrast is given to it by pronounced ribs. The trapezium, tapering towards the rear panel, firstly, creates a memorable appearance, and secondly, eliminates the possibility of the formation of internal standing waves that violate the harmony of the sound of the speakers.

Innovation plays a big role in the Concentro S 509. The stepX JET concept uses a coaxial HF/MF module with the excellent Jet 5c ribbon tweeter, combined with interchangeable DCR rings that allow you to change the angle of the radiation pattern. It ensures optimal use of the Concentro 509 in all rooms and conditions. Also, thanks to the coaxial design, high and mid-frequency sounds reach the listener at the same time.



The Concentro 509 comes with three accessories - Directional Control Rings (DCR). They allow you to change the ratio of direct and diffuse radiation, so that the sound of a pair of Concentro 509 can be effectively adjusted to the acoustic properties of the room and the distance from the listener to the location of the speakers. There are "focusing", "scattering" rings, as well as the usual for balanced directivity.


In addition to the coaxial tweeter/midrange module and four (two on each extended side panel) woofers, a high-end mid/bass driver with an exceptionally strong and rigid basket is also used. And thanks to the AS-XR (Aluminum Sandwich Extended Range) technology applied to the same, it is able to very accurately work out the audio signal fed to it. This technology provides for the connection of an aluminum diffuser stamped according to the shape of the surface of a crystal (cut diamond) with a cellulose cone using a special glue. Its high rigidity is accompanied by a relatively small membrane thickness, which is optimal for providing a response to the slightest signal changes in the midrange and bass ranges.

And what kind of guns hit in the bass range? The Concentro 509 speakers are equipped with four powerful, long-throw 18 cm drivers, positioned for mutual damping of vibrations. In this case, we are talking about the Push-Push/Pull-Pull technology. ELAC simply calls it "Pulse Compensation Design" (ICD). Four woofers are mounted on the side, two on each side.

The body is covered with noble natural wood veneer and many layers of lacquer, which gives it an extremely stylish look. The maritime character of the Concentro 509 manifests itself precisely in the execution of the “high-gloss walnut” - thoughts of expensive yachts, of genuine, unique luxury, are spontaneously arising, which is in perfect harmony with the image of ELAC. The special atmosphere of the city of Kiel surrounds the company's factory throughout its history.



The love for detail is also evident in the "invisible" down port of the bass reflex. This “down-shooting” combined with the sophisticated design of the hull support provides an ideal, precisely calculated distance from the hull exit to the floor. The "high heel" pedestal is a distinctive feature of the AC Concentro 507 and 509, as it resembles an elegant women's shoe.


Of course, the Concentro 509 is completed with high-quality input connectors for bi-wiring and bi-amping. Speakers can be easily connected to the amplifier, for example, using banana plugs.

And which one to choose? We heard about the ELAC Alchemy line, which can be complemented as a source by the  ELAC Discovery music server .


Here are some points regarding the Alchemy series component system; we will limit ourselves to the preamplifier and power amplifier. The DDP-2 preamplifier/streamer/DAC impresses with its wide range of connectors and versatility: among the analog inputs you will find a balanced XLR and two unbalanced RCA. Analog outputs: XLR, RCA fixed level and the same variable. Digital inputs are represented by a USB port, two coaxial and a pair of optical, AES / EBU, as well as two I2S interfaces (Alchemy and HDMI). In addition, the connection can be made via Ethernet, Bluetooth and WLAN. Among the supported streaming formats, MQA will soon appear, and PCM and DSD are already being accepted. In addition, the DDP-2 acts as a Roon termination device and is compatible with Spotify Connect technology. The DDP-2 preamplifier weighs 6.25 kg,

The DPA-2 power amplifier is used twice in our system: one in mono mode for each Concentro S 509 speaker, and there are no problems with the sound. 325 watts per channel in stereo (into 4 ohms) and an impressive 625 watts per channel (into 4 ohms) in mono keep it clean. The amplifier weighs 6.35 kg and has a low body height - only 5 cm with a width of 44.5 cm and a depth of 39.5 cm. It has unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR inputs. The DPA-2 design combines: in the input circuit, an amplification circuit operating in class A mode, in which discrete field-effect transistors and a linear power supply with a toroidal transformer are used, as well as an output section operating in class D, with a switching power supply.

Add to this the Discovery DS-101G music server with dimensions (HxWxD) of 4.45x21x11 cm and a weight of 0.9 kg. It has two analog outputs along with a pair of digital outputs, optical and coaxial, supporting streams up to 192kHz/24bit. The device is also equipped with a USB port and an Ethernet connector.


Now let's talk about a series of tests.

FIRST SERIES OF TESTS

We were surprised to find that the S 509s "go all out" like the pair of S 507s we've already listened to   . Diana Krall 's The Look Of Love impresses with a well-formed music scene. Complete acoustic homogeneity, the feeling of immersion in sound is even more pronounced than in the S 507. At the same time, Diana's voice easily comes off the speakers and is evenly distributed throughout the room. The sound is perceived as a thin carpet, perfectly woven and without gaps. Individual instruments stand out due to the appropriate tonality and subtle nuances that provide exquisite dynamic performance.

Even with older material, such as  Nessun dorma  (performed by Luciano Pavarotti and the Orchestra del Teatro Arena di Verona, directed by Armando Gatto) from G. Puccini  's Turandot , AC ELAC has no problems. Our fears that the sound will be too shallow and slightly tinny (due to the poor quality of the original content) turn out to be completely unfounded. This pair of noble performers hit the ground running with a precision and precision that we didn't expect. Pavarotti's unforgettable vocals have great charisma and resurrect the opera in our thoughts. The system does an excellent job of separating the voice from the instruments, but here it should be added again, despite the fact that the "source" is, at best, of average quality.

Even if something completely different is to your taste, the S 509 will still be completely in its element. The song  " Deutschland  " by Rammstein is presented in a catchy manner. The power of the Alchemy DPA-2 power amplifier is also impressive, which provides amazing sound stability thanks to its 625 watts in mono mode. And even despite the extremely loud voice of Till Lindemann, magnificent sound images are created, there is a clear focus. Other features include fast-paced and large-scale dynamics, as well as an extremely rich yet accurate bass range.

The sound of the song Sonic Empire  (performed by Tom Vox and Ian Oliver) testifies that the exclusive speakers from Kiel can cope with almost any material  . Here the bass is simply hoarse and at the same time absolutely controlled - yes, even potential buyers of the S 509 listen to such music, not only jazz and classical. Excellent images, dense sound, at the same time organic volume suggest that even with the techno / trance genre there will be no slightest difficulties. The acoustic fullness is very attractive and, in combination with an unsurpassed playing style, undoubtedly represents something special.

SECOND SERIES OF TESTS

Having not yet fully familiarized ourselves with the Concentro S 509, we decided to “digest” what we heard a little. Therefore, after a while, the second series of auditions started, and we chose the  West End Girls song as the opening one. (updated version in 2001) by the Pet Shop Boys. The very clear bass of the Concentro S 509 confirms our previous impressions, it does not weaken even at high volume levels. Harsh, crisp, rich - that's what the lows look like, and yet they never overwhelm other acoustic effects. The vocals are always convincing and are in the spotlight, the sound of the synthesizers is also carefully crafted. In all this, one admires the ease with which the Concentro S 509 reproduce every note. Of course, you should expect a lot from such noble speakers, but this incomparable sound strikes again and again.

We will now play two Till Brenner compositions with this ELAC pair. We'll pick  Stand by Me  (vocals by Gregory Porter) first, and we'll be surprised by the responsiveness these big speakers show. It's not that other high-end models have serious shortcomings in this regard - no manufacturer can afford it. But the feeling of light, airy, permeable space created by the Concentro S 509 is excellent in itself, even in comparison with strong competitors. The sound of the trumpet is so subtly tuned that you will certainly notice the skill of Till's playing. And at the same time, the focus of the vocals does not weaken, all his charisma is revealed. By no means excessive, but always a solid foundation, we note thanks to the bass range.

The second song  O Que Sera  (Vanessa Da Mata's vocals) especially emphasizes this refined and at the same time atmospheric, finely crafted manner of reproduction - the originality of this song perfectly matches the beauty of the city of Kiel. The voice, according to our feelings, is focused in the middle of the room and completely separated from its source - the speakers, and the Concentro S 509 also skillfully create bass foundation in tune with the song.

When moving on to  Paul Kalkbrenner's No Goodbye  , the style of the music changes completely, but the S 509 calmly overcome a new obstacle. Now the side woofers can show their full talents, which they do in an absolutely convincing way. The power, structure and depth of delivery are amazing. Vocals are not lost in any way during this low-frequency demo, moreover, they are drawn thinly and accurately with impeccable tonality.

CONCLUSION


With the launch of the high-end Concentro S 509, ELAC has significantly enriched the market. The appearance of the speaker, driven by the new design language from Kiel, which began with the Concentro S 507, is extremely successful. Clear yet sweeping lines, a chic stand-up concept and not-too-large lateral bass drivers – this is what modern speakers look like. In terms of acoustics, the model from Kiel uses all existing possibilities. And all this translates into an immense ease, an all-encompassing simplicity with which the S 509 performs its tasks. They also work out the bass range reliably, while the sound is always very accurate, so the performance of any music from the speakers from the north of Germany really impresses with its playfulness and sophistication.


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