Are you looking for a neat, good sounding but affordable hi-fi system? Then Elac’s Debut ConneX DCB41 might be perfect for you. It’s a powered setup where one speaker contains all the electronics, including the 2 x 50 watt amplification, while the other is a conventional passive design.
Construction & features
The two speakers are connected with a speaker cable that is supplied as standard. Unlike more expensive alternatives like Triangle’s AIO Twin or the KEF LSX II, smart network streaming isn’t included here, so you’ll need to specify the source. This could be an aptX Bluetooth signal from your phone, or something digital that connects directly through the USB (Type B), optical or HDMI inputs. That addition of HDMI ARC is a smart touch and opens up the ConneX for use with TVs.
Analog users have not been ignored either. There is a single set of stereo RCAs that can be switched between a line level or a moving magnet phono input. In an ideal world we would have liked a coax (digital) and maybe another line level analog input, but it’s fair to say that Elac covered most bases well.
Elac Debut ConneX DCB41 technical specs
Loudspeaker type powered speakers
Amplifier Current 2 x 50 watts
Tweeter 19mm Soft Dome
Woofer 10 cm polypropylene
Inputs HDMI (ARC), USB (24-bit/96kHz), line/phono (switchable), optical, Bluetooth aptX
Subwoofer output? Yes
Dimensions (hwd) 25x14x20cm
Finishes Black ash, royal blue, walnut
However, we have a few complaints. The volume knob, which cycles through the inputs when pressed, is awkwardly placed on the rear panel. Of course you could just use the supplied remote control, but it is not always handy. Elsewhere, it would be nice to have an indication of the volume level. At the moment there is nothing, which can lead to unpleasant surprises when exchanging resources.
The Debut Connex DCB41 doesn’t take up much space. The individual units are about a hand span high and will easily fit most places. The build quality is pleasant, good and solid. These speakers would be right at home on a desktop, but can also work in a decent-sized room, provided you don’t need party levels.
As befits a product of this type, the ConneX speakers don’t prove overly fussy about placement, although they work best when given a little breathing room and on a firm, low-resonance mount. Good speaker stands would of course be ideal, but we understand that such mounts may not be a practical solution for some.
These Elac are equipped with a small 10cm mid/bass unit and a 19mm soft dome tweeter. The low frequencies are tuned by a rear-firing slot reflex port and remain quite controlled even when placed relatively close to a rear wall and, equally commendably, when we boost the bass using the remote’s XBass setting. This setting adds a welcome dose of weight to the sound, but can easily sound a bit too obvious, so we ended up leaving it out.
If you want to hear this system optimally, use the digital inputs. Used in this way it is a clear, balanced and insightful performer. There’s a good level of detail here and the ability to organize that information into a cohesive and musical whole. While listening to a variety of music from Sadness gone by folk group The Unthanks to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, it becomes clear that this is a surprisingly capable performer.
The overall presentation is controlled and balanced in the manner of Elac’s award-winning Debut 2.0 series of passive loudspeakers. It’s not the most exciting presentation – Triangle’s pricier AIO Twin is a more energetic performer – but the understated way this system does its job is eminently likeable. This is a product that recedes into the background, putting music in the spotlight.
This can only be done if there are no obvious weaknesses, and that is the case here. Nothing disturbs or distracts from the music that is playing. The presentation of the Elacs is well judged in that it’s a little rounded to keep the system humble about recording quality, but not so much that better signals suffer. We’re happy to switch between Bluetooth and the other digital inputs with no problem, despite it being clear that the wireless connection is the most limited sonically.
Try the line-level analog input and there’s a slight loss of transparency and openness, but the Elacs’ strengths remain. It remains informative and fun. It’s not until we get to the phono stage that we’re a little disappointed. This phono stage is fine for occasional use, but sounds a little too opaque and lacks dynamic expression to hold our interest for long. If vinyl playback is a priority, we recommend budgeting for an external phono stage, such as the Rega Fono Mini A2D.
We’re big fans of systems like this. They are neat, well equipped and the best of breed represent excellent value. Considering the Elac Debut ConneX DCB41’s aggressive pricing (£529 / $595 / AU$900), it earns a rich recommendation from us.
Read our review of the Triangle AIO Twin
Also consider the KEF LSX II
Read our Denon D-M41DAB review
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