Next was Chris Botti’s album “To Love Again”. Chis had his start as Sting’s trumpeter and is now an accomplished top-selling jazz artist. The song “What Are You Doing With the Rest of Your Life” is sung by Sting. Here I was presented with a rather immense soundstage, both deep and wide. Sting’s voice was presented as distinctive, clear and authentic. The natural warmth in this recording came through just slightly lean of how I’m used to hearing it and the trumpet was put forth in a wonderful manner with great extension, and wonderful harmonics. It was nice to find the trumpet represented so smoothly, carrying no glare or harshness whatsoever. The reverb on the track was nicely apparent. Bells sounded crystalline, brushes on drums were very detailed and the conga drums sounded lifelike. Skipping to the last track “Smile”, Steven Tyler’s throaty voice was clearly identifiable. Bass on this track came across with depth but not as low as it is capable of being portrayed. The soundstage was expansive once again.
One of my favourite CDs for evaluation is, “La Bamba” by the O-Zone Percussion Group. This is an extremely well mastered disc and one of my references for transient response, timing, soundstage, dynamics and tonal accuracy. It contains creative percussion interpretations of some familiar jazz tunes. I jumped to track 10, “Jazz Variants”. Here again, the FS 247’s produced a nice layered soundstage with great instrument localization and placement. Instruments were brought across with their unique timbres allowing them to be easily identifiable. With bells, chimes, xylophone and vibraphone their harmonics and natural decay were brilliant, preserving their intrinsic qualities. Drums, tympani and cymbals had impressive immediacy and sustain, with skin reverberation and shimmer on symbols accurately portrayed. I found the 247’s only missed on the deepest notes and most impactful parts, which is understandable given their modest stature. On another track, “Minuano” the drum strikes were tight and precise and castanets were very realistic sounding.
I should mention that during my listening sessions, I experimented with the included bass control / port bung plugs in the upper rear ports. With the plugs out, bass sounded fuller and somewhat deeper but was less cohesive and the pace and tightness of bass notes were compromised. Hence, for all my critical listening, I kept the plugs in, with the speakers placed about 20 inches from the back wall. In addition, I did try the aforementioned ELAC Jet Dispersion Control (JET DC), a pair of bagel shaped foam rings. Mounted around the circumference of the tweeters using the provided clips, they slightly but noticeably tamed upper treble frequencies at the expense of some airiness, shimmer and liveliness. I’m sure they could benefit those with smaller and/or overly reactive rooms but I found they took some of the magic away, so I returned them to their packaging.
Without question, the most distinctive attribute of the FS 247’s is the JET III tweeter. The JET III sounds unique in comparison to traditional fabric / aluminum dome tweeters being more akin to what I’ve come to expect from exotic beryllium designs. The tweeter presents high-frequencies with great extension but also in an extremely smooth and natural manner. The JET III has a wonderful vivacity and buoyancy that I’d further characterize as velvety and wispy. Dispersion is exceptional, allowing centre flanking seating positions to sound just as good as dead centre, while filling the room in a natural manner. I did find that there was a little less of that perfect locked-in centre focus that some speakers provide but this I’d say is a small sacrifice, given the benefits. Completing this package are the very nicely matched mid-bass drivers that provide the agility needed to homogenously blend with the superb tweeter.
Overall, these Dobermans didn’t have the harsh bark that you sometimes find in lesser designs but rather the Elac FS 247’s showed themselves with poise, like pedigrees of their breed. If I had to characterize them in one sentence, I’d say that they are detailed and nimble truth-tellers that are well behaved and mannered. They are not the last word in lower midrange body, low bass extension or high impact nor would you ever describe them as full-bodied and forgiving but if you favour accuracy, transparency and transient response, delivered with lifelike finesse then the FS 247’s should be at the top of your list for an audition.
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ELAC FS 247 Loudspeakers
Price: $3,450 CAD