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ELAC Adante SUB3070

SUB3070 is a premium subwoofer. Leaving aside the brutal fridge-sized units offered by some specialist high-end brands, this ELAC is quite possibly one of the most interesting choices for getting a powerful and controlled bottom end into the listening space. Unlike its competitors, it is a device that offers unique connection and setup options. But that’s more on that in a moment…

Function and form

ERGONOMIE 100%
SOUND 98%
PROCESSING 100%

I’ll start with something different, a quote from Room Acoustics: Audio’s Final Frontier, printed in The Absolute Sound magazine in October 2004. The author of the quote is Peter Lyngdorf, who summarizes:

“You have to accept that below 300-400 Hz, the room has a greater influence on the final sound [než komponenty], because from 300 Hz downwards, more than 90% of the total energy is in the average recording. This means that below the central “c” on the piano, the rest is largely the work of the room. The room then discards most of the tonality and introduces delay. Where there is resonance in the room, there is delay, so the bigger your speakers and the lower they play, the more you escalate the problem at low frequencies. If the resonance at 30 Hz is +10 dB, you are essentially accumulating a tenfold excess of energy at that frequency, giving a delay of 0.6 s at an average wavelength of 30 Hz. It means that the energy at that frequency completely throws off the original timing and you solve two problems – tonality and timing are both screwed. I’m convinced that this interaction of the speakers with the listening space is one of the reasons musicians hate hi-fi – the original timing is gone, and that’s hard to tolerate.”

Low frequencies

WEIGHT 98%
96% EXPLOSION
ARTICULATION 97%

Well, that would be a bit of despair to start with, and I’m going to deepen it. If you combine small monitors (read: stand-mounted speakers that end somewhere above 50 Hz) with a subwoofer and stick to the “the lower the better” rule when setting the turnout, you probably won’t encounter a problem, as the working range of the subwoofer and the main speakers don’t overlap. Plus, the miniature transducers in stand-mounted/regional speakers generally don’t have enough power to make life difficult for a good subwoofer, and you probably don’t even play them in a large listening space. Then it’s ideal to reach for a more compact bass solution – an example is the excellent KEF KC62, which works well for this purpose. If you insist on a DSP, you have the option to either upgrade to something like a miniDSP, or go pro and get a cheap Behringer, t.rack, TC Electronic or dbx processor. These readily available devices get the job done, and in the sub-bass band it doesn’t matter so much that it’s not high end if you keep them out of the main signal path. Another option is to get a subwoofer with built-in automation and parametric equalizer, for example Bowers & Wilkins DB-3 or ELAC SUB3010 or some Velodyne. Life will be much harder for those who want to use a subwoofer to complement large full-range speakers – you will be right among the demons mentioned by Peter Lyngdorf in the above article.

Resolution clarity

DETAIL 90%
94% TRANSPARENCY

The problem of combining a subwoofer with large column speakers in pure stereo is always a major challenge, because – regardless of your will and regardless of the price you pay for either component – the two sound sources will inevitably come into conflict. The primary problem is that when you normally place an active subwoofer in the listening space – i.e. at the level of the loudspeakers or anywhere behind them (and the corner of the room is probably the worst possible place from this point of view) – with a bit of effort you can control the phase and therefore the tonality, but you don’t have the slightest chance of matching the timing. In other words, it’s pointless to try to make the leading edges of the bass transients reach your ears at the same time from the main speakers, the subwoofer, and even the bass reflex, which puts the crown on it all. Depending on the specific position of the sub and its own latency, the sound from it will be delayed 2-8 meters behind the main speakers. And any equalization or microphone measurement won’t help you, you can throw both of them in the bin. Set up your filters however you want, and no matter how beautiful it looks on screen, you’ll still have bass that may be loud, but is dull. Then there are only 3 options to do something about it. The first is to move the subwoofer in front of the main speakers. The further away from them towards you, the better. You then set the phasing and delay on the subwoofer – this is one of the things the ELAC SUB3070 does perfectly. Few people can afford to move the subwoofer three metres in front of the speakers, so there is no choice but to move the speakers three metres behind the subwoofer. Not physically, of course, but electronically, by adjusting the delay of the signal going to the main speakers. Any good processor that you put in the signal path can do that. Again, you can reach for pro devices for a few thousand and totally mess up the sound, or AV processors for home theater for a few tens of thousands and mess up the sound a little less, or specialized devices for a few hundred thousand, like Trinnov or DEQX. Again, unfortunately, it’s a quid pro quo – regardless of the price tag of the processor, it’s just another unnecessary conversion down the road. So you gain something and you lose something. The last elegant option is to use an external turnout and use it to cut the main speakers somewhere between 80 Hz and 100 Hz. Then send the whole bottom end to the subwoofers (two, three, four, ten). A bit of a counterproductive solution, as few people spend their money on big speakers only to then put their woofers out of action. There are a few tricks to get around this or that and still achieve deep and hard bass, but that’s beyond the scope of this review. While the ELAC SUB3070 won’t solve the problem of primary placement relative to the main speakers for you, it does offer implementation options in an attractive package that you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere.

Tonal fidelity

THEMBR 99%
DYNAMICS 98%
TIMING 98%

I will not go into a description of how to build and integrate the ELAC SUB3070 properly – the kind reader is referred to the articles we have published on this topic previously. I’ll stop here and talk about why the SUB3070 shouldn’t escape your attention.

First of all, it’s a subwoofer built by Andrew Jones for ELAC. If you don’t know the name, search under KEF and TAD, now Mobile Fidelity. The name is not only a guarantee of above-average sound, but also that it will be an audio component designed soberly and responsibly, without unnecessary and pretentious. Jones gave the SUB3070 a trapezoidal shape so that the two 12″ (30 cm) speakers walk at an angle to each other. The transducers are an aluminium sandwich and the soundboard is Bowers & Wilkins-like in finish, i.e. flawlessly smooth piano lacquer in a premium finish. Maybe black, white or rosewood veneer. Unlike B&W, you’ll find a heavy base in the subwoofer package that screws to the sub from underneath and anchors it to four massive prongs. The manufacturer has not forgotten about the pads, so that the SUB3070 does not sink through the floor.

The subwoofer is enclosed and powered by a 1200W amplifier based on Class AB, enhanced with ELAC BASH technology to increase its efficiency. It’s even more interesting from the back: you can connect pretty much any way you like, as in addition to the class-mandatory XLR and LFE inputs, there’s a pair of RCA inputs, the option to connect a wireless module, and as a bonus, speaker terminals for the high-level input. That last one is a huge advantage. Firstly, you don’t need a preamplifier and you can feed the subwoofer(s) from the terminals of the terminal amplifier, and secondly you can take the signal from the speaker terminals. In case you do decide to put the subwoofer(s) right next to them, a metre or less of speaker cable will be sufficient. The ELAC sub basically doesn’t care what you use to connect it, because either input will be digitized internally for DSP purposes anyway. This brings me to the next enticement, and that is the setup options.

Spatiality

THREE-DIMENSIONALITY 99%

There’s no fiddling with the knobs, everything is set via the smartphone app (Android and iOS).

Pairing is absolutely smooth and fast, and controlling the subwoofer is intuitive via the app. It’s a fact that it happened to me several times that even though pairing was active, the settings on the phone were not transferred to the subwoofer. Then just restart the sub and the app and everything works as it should.

The app has three screens. On the initial pairing one, you can adjust the volume and switch between predefined equalization waveforms. Flat is the default flat curve, Cinema has a subtle lift of around 80 Hz, Music has the same subtle lift of around 40 Hz, and Night mode pulls down the subwoofer output by 3 dB. All equalizations are gentle and musical, so you can use them without worry. The other two screens of the app offer more advanced settings. First of all, we have automatic calibration. It works completely seamlessly and you don’t need anything but your phone to use it. The SUB3070 sends two frequency sweeps into the room, which you measure with your phone’s microphone at the sub and in the listening position. The subwoofer itself generates a correction curve for the microphone in the phone and performs the necessary equalization “straight”. You have to be careful because the sweeps are really loud. On the other hand, resonant furniture or overhead lights will also give you a check at the same time. The screen will show the before and after curves, including corrections. The autocalibration is very reliable, which I can’t say about any of the other subwoofers that have similar autocalibration that I’ve reviewed in the past. If you want, you can of course continue to work with the curve manually. There is another screen that has 8 parametric filters where you can adjust the center frequency (20-200 Hz), steepness of the correction (Q factor), and amplitude (+/-10 dB). In addition, bandpass, phase and delay can be set separately. By the time you’ve perfectly aligned one stage at a time, you’ll be fed up with playing bass-rich material and leaving the rest for another day. This doesn’t solve the problems mentioned above, you need to try to get the subwoofer in front of the main speakers and set the delay correctly, ELAC allows you to shift the delay in 1ms increments. When you get it right, you have the SUB3070 not only perfectly phased amplitude-wise, but also transient-wise. Very few subwoofers allow you to make such precise adjustments. As far as frequency response adjustments are concerned, I recommend taking away, not adding. Reduce with narrow (high) Q, even by a few decibels. When adding, do so with a wide (low) Q, 0.5-1.0 dB maximum.

I recognize that you didn’t learn from this review how to play Pink Floyd, Patricia Barber, Dire Straits, Yello, or other must-have recordings with the help of the ELAC SUB3070. But that was not its purpose. The aim was to highlight an excellent subwoofer that not only looks good and sounds good (from 18 Hz), but is also affordable.

PRICE AT THE TIME OF REVIEW: 64 000,- CZK

Recommendations to dealers

Dreamaudio , Bratislava, +421 907 838 806
Manufacturer’s website: https://www.elac.com

Connected components

  • Accuphase DP-720, XDuoo X10T II
  • Amplifiers: TAD M2500
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: InAkustik Toslink, AAI Maestoso, AAI Assoluto, Ansuz Signalz C2, Krautwire Numeric Digital, AudioQuest Dragon Zero | Bass, AudioQuest Dragon IC
  • Speakers: TAD Evolution ONE E1, Sonus Faber Gravis I, AVAA C20
  • Filtration and network: Shunyata Research Denali, Stromtank S-1000, Ansuz Mainz C2, AAI Maestoso, AAI Assoluto, Synergistic Research Atmosphere Level 2, Synergistic Research SRX, Shunyata Research Typhon T2

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