At Alpha-Audio, we like bookshelf speakers. And that’s exactly why we have another nice little speaker for you today: The Elac Vela BS403; a stylish bookshelf speaker with a twist. The word Vela comes from the Latin word ‘sail’ and refers to the origins of German company Elac that once was active in the maritime industry. Now only hi-fi products are produced at Elac’s headquarters in Kiel and that’s fine with us.
Elac, short for Electroacoustics, is a big name in the hi-fi world and it recently celebrated his 90th birthday!
A few years ago they opened a research department in ‘Sunny California’ with the aim of conquering the American market. In order to keep everything on the right track, none other than top designer Andrew Jones was hired. And Jones has clearly not been enjoying his pension. In fact, since Jones joined Elac in 2015, Elac has released a lot of new products. And that has resulted in a lot of media attention.
Jones reaped particular success with his affordable speakers, but also the active Navis-series got great reviews. In our recent multi-test, we found that all those eulogies were not unsubstantiated. The very affordable Uni-Fi BS U5 received an Alpha Approved award from us, and that honour is not easily earned. Meanwhile there is the brand new Carina series, which we will test later this year, and a ‘Reference’ version for the Debut, that other popular budget series.
Because we are a bit stubborn we didn’t choose for a ‘Mister Jones’ design. The Elac Vela BS403 is a further development of the previous 403 series that has been around for a while. Although Elac is mainly known for his speakers, they recently added a limited line of electronics and a few turntables. This makes it possible to purchase a complete Elac system.
Living with a loudspeaker
We had a look and the Vela BS403 is now the tenth monitor speaker to be placed on your humble servant’s rack. And you can take that literally, because we test each speaker in two ‘real-life’ listening rooms, combine them with different amplifiers and compare them with reference material.
In addition, we insist that each speaker is allowed to stay long enough so that we can live with them for a while. Especially with speakers, first impressions can be very misleading. Because of this longer period of time we not only get a better picture of the reproduction but we can also examine how a speaker behaves in the room.
Construction and appearance
When unpacking the speakers, we immediately notice a number of things. There is the top that rises at an angle, giving it a distinctive look. Then we see some nice rounded corners and graceful lines that seamlessly merge into one another. Finally, the separate aluminium base is much more elegant than on the previous model and now blends nicely with the rest of the speaker
That foot, which resembles the heel of a women’s shoe, houses the bass gate. It’s a bit different than a regular hole or a slot. The limited depth (24cm) gives this speaker its slim looks and with a little imagination the Vela BS403 even looks like a sail. In any case, it is a very stylish speaker that will be an eyecatcher in any room.
Not only is its construction special, the materials used are also excellent. The Elac Vela BS403 is a two-way model consisting of a ribbon tweeter and an aluminium driver. We often see that, but the ribbon Elac uses is a so-called JET tweeter that is still folded by hand in the factory. This tweeter, now in its fifth version, has a special waveguide to minimize unwanted reflections. The tiered ‘Extented Range’ driver with aluminium sandwich cone not only looks great, it should also provide a natural sound
So at the back we have that ingenious downfiring system to release the airflow of the bass inaudible. An additional advantage of this system is that the Vela BS403 can stand relatively close to the wall. We also see two pairs of high quality speaker connections that allow for bi-wiring and bi-amping, and inside Van Den Hul cables (type Skyline Hybrid) were used.
The black high gloss version, which we tested, is very nice and highlights the striking components even more. The Vela BS403 is also available in gloss white and gloss walnut. Optional round, metal grills and matching stands are available for those who need them. Striking, and worth mentioning, is the ten-year warranty that Elac offers on all its loudspeakers. That’s a lot more than most manufacturers.