Last year, I reviewed a part of the ELAC Debut Speaker System and left in figurative awe. The kicker was that we did not even review the highest-end choices available at the time, our original intention to prove that gateway audiophile speakers do exist in the out there.
We wanted to take it further and it ate at me a little bit afterward, since each component comes independent of one another. With this as my motivator, I finally test the littlest entry ELAC Debut S10EQ Powered Subwoofer to complete my impressions and potential of the lauded budget-oriented lineup.
Among The Group
Editors’ Note: This will be our culmination and should give some insight how low (or high) you can go in terms of price and build experimentation. Along with what we already had before, beyond the S10EQ Subwoofer ($499.99) we added B4 Bookshelf Speakers ($179.99/pair), we added two F6 Floorstanding Tower Speakers ($379.99/each), and finally the B6 Bookshelf Speakers ($279.99/pair). Each of these aforementioned units come separately.
The look is functional with MDF (medium-density fiberboard) covered in brushed black vinyl skin with metallic feet, for an uncomplicated, yet opulent appearance. However, the subwoofer is a little unique among the entirety with a downward-facing 10” doped cone woofer underneath, and a prominent 10” passive radiator for bass enhancement.
Around back, connectivity appears limited compared to other subwoofers (which we’ll get into in a moment). The expected arrangement of dials and flip switches are gone for just a single LFE input (RCA), standard USB port for professional installers, and a reset button. The only other thing is a lone status light to indicate that the power is on, nothing more.
Crossover frequency for the S10EQ is continuously adjustable and offers an effective range between 50 to 150 Hz, and response can be anywhere from 28 to 150 Hz. Maximum power is able to reach a peak of 400 Watts / 200 Watts RMS, handled by a BASH type amplifier.
The dimensions of 13.5 in / 13.5 in / 13.5 in (height/width/depth) is equal on all sides, weighing in at a heavy 31.1 lbs. This subwoofer does not feel hollow unlike of rest of ELAC speakers, and contributes how well bass carries itself.
Wireless with SubEQ
The S10EQ’s claim to fame is the utilization of Bluetooth and the SubEQ app (aka SUB Control). To reduce the clutter and provide a higher level of sophistication, ELAC has made every conceivable setting adjustable through your smartphone. I’m almost certaint that most people are probably cringing at this idea.
Luckily, at least for me, the experience worked right out of the gate with no problems whatsoever. The subwoofer instantly recognized my Xperia Z3 after pairing, menu layout is easy to navigate, and the auto calibration process (Auto EQ) is initiated by simply putting your device microphone close to the subwoofer pressing ‘analyze’ in the app. Current smartphones and tablets will operate fine but Android 4.3 or iOS 7.0 firmware is required.
Just One Job
Armed with a Denon AVR-X6300H AV receiver that can power up to 11.1 built-in channels of audio before external amplification, and do both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X at a maximum 9.1.2. We tested the performance and matched with whatever we had for a flexible arrangement.
Despite testing with a wide range of ELAC speakers, a subwoofer’s purpose is singular. Its only job is to project low-end bass in a believable or overtly climatic fashion, and the S10EQ generally accomplishes this for everything we threw at it. However, it is a smallish performer (yes, in relative terms) that happens dominates medium to medium-large areas to amazingly aggressive effect. Less discerning listeners will be satisfied, but a few might be tempted to add another S10EQ for a twin setup or go for an S12EQ. Which aren’t bad ways to go if you can afford it.
From DSD/FLAC versions of John Coltrane’s SoulTrane, Café Bleu: The Style Council, to Norah Jones the interpretation, the S10EQ compliments the soundstage depending on the setup. Obviously, you want to pair it with speakers like the ELAC B6/F5/F6 or equivalents from other brands, but it makes a modest impact in overall presentation, although you’ll be glad to have a subwoofer for home theater.
Speaking of which, Star Wars: The Force Awakens exuded richness in projection and scale, while the tenseness of Gravity gripped ears until the finale. We remained impressed as the octaves reached bottom levels that surprised even me, with an 80 H/-4dB count that was better than expected. This applied to all the setups we tried when the action was at its most cinematic and seismic in scale, shocking many listeners who expected to pay twice as much for the performance. The S10EQ gloriously shines in this respect.
Similar to the rest of the lineup, the ELAC Debut S10EQ is a standout among other compact subwoofers in its class. It gets the basics just right that you will question spending more elsewhere. It doesn’t punch above it weight and won’t compete against something like the SVS SB16-Ultra, but it’s hard to deny how much thumping low-end ability and wireless freedom you get for $500.