The Powered Tower Loudspeaker for Modern Audiophiles: ELAC Navis ARF-51 Keeps Signal Path in Analog Domain, Features Incredible Frequency Response, 300 Watts of Amplification
For all the convenience they offer, powered loudspeakers have long had a reputation for falling short when it comes to sound and power. The ELAC Navis ARF-51 powered tower loudspeaker puts an end to such restrictions. Fueled by 300 watts of pure analog amplification involving three separate amplifiers for each driver set – a 160-watt BASH AB amplifier for the woofers, 100-watt BASH AB amplifier for the midrange, and 40-watt Class AB amplifier for the tweeter – Navis ARF51 features a potent suite that eliminates clipping and crossover distortion all the while providing authoritative playback. Not for nothing does Navis ARF-51 claim a 110dBA signal-to-noise ratio and incredibly low noise floor.
True to ELAC tradition, Navis ARF-51 comes equipped with a state-of-the-art driver array. An in-house-developed four-inch aluminum midrange with a concentrically mounted one-inch soft-dome tweeter offers sumptuous detail, insight, responsiveness, and clarity. The best-in-class combination is complemented by a trio of in-house-developed 5.25-inch aluminum-cone woofers capable of delivering slam, punch, accuracy, and water-tight bass. With Navis ARF-51, you will not be hurting for low-frequency depth or mentally filling in the decay of notes. These loudspeakers bring you up-close with the action at hand and make music spring to life with addictive enjoyment.
For connectivity ease, Navis ARF-51 arrives with balanced XLR, unbalanced RCA, and AirX Wireless inputs. If you add the optional ELAC Discovery Connect wireless transmitter, Navis ARF-51 turns into a wireless speaker that streams music from Discovery, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Roon, Spotify Connect, and more. And if you want no-compromise analog performance, just switch the Wireless option to "off" and you're good to go. A furniture-finish enclosure and elegant architecture further ensure Navis ARF-51 will brighten the look on your face every time you see it. 100% Music Direct Guaranteed.
"If you're going to use the ARF-51 speakers wirelessly, be prepared for some trade-off between cable-free convenience and ultimate sound quality. Fortunately, the speakers themselves set the bar high, so what is an exceptional range of abilities, creating a really rather magical experience in wired, all-analogue mode, simply becomes very acceptable, if not exceptional, when the wireless system is in place."
– James Parker, Hi-Fi News, Outstanding Product
ELAC Designer Andrew Jones on the Thinking and Engineering Behind Navis Series
Traditionally, audiophiles have rejected the idea of powered speakers. They like choice and anything that restricts such freedoms is generally rejected. Active speakers limit choice in that they have built-in amplification, and any upgrade path proves more limited and difficult. Of late, however, there's been an awakening interest in simple solutions for audiophiles who eschew the complexity and expense of multiple components needing to be connected together. It led ELAC to create the Navis Series.
Led by Andrew Jones, the company first realized that an approach that incorporates almost everything into the speaker – a DAC, a preamp, a DSP, and power amplifiers – not only limits listeners' choices, it also caps the performance level to the date of acquisition. The system can never ever sound better than when it was bought. It also means that when using analog sources, such as a turntable, the source gets internally digitized, going first through an ADC and then a DAC. A further consideration was that of wireless connectivity. Some wireless speakers still require a wired connection between speakers to maintain left channel to right channel synchronization. Call such a need faux wireless.
After due consideration, ELAC chose a path that lies partly in both domains: That of the traditional audiophile and the more minimalist listener. Navis uses variants of Class AB power amplifiers: BASH amplification for bass and mid, and pure Class AB for the tweeter. This is preceded by analog line-level active filters to keep the whole signal path in the analog domain. While DSP filters are very versatile and powerful, the capability they have is not so necessary if the drivers are carefully designed to allow for the use of the analog filters.
Navis Series drivers comprise a dedicated aluminum-cone bass driver optimized for a frequency range from the mid-40s up to the 270Hz crossover point, combined with a concentric driver consisting of a four-inch aluminum-coned midrange and wide-range soft-dome tweeter. Inputs are balanced (XLR),unbalanced (RCA), and wireless, the latter using ELAC's AIRX2 wireless transmission system. When selecting the analog inputs, the wireless receiver is turned off so no interference can occur. When on, the wireless transmitter system broadcasts a synchronized signal to the left and right channels, along with a L+R subwoofer channel. On the back panel, users can find switches to adjust bass, mid, and treble level to help match to the room acoustics; an adjustable high-pass filter setting for matching to a subwoofer; and switchable gain to match to the source equipment.
ELAC's approach allows the listener to have a system that not only sounds great due to the analog active approach, but also forms part of an upgradeable system that can sound better as the source equipment gets upgraded. At the same time, via wireless, the system remains free from the need to run wires, and due to the robustness of the wireless communication, can be located at some distance from the transmitter and maintain stable connectivity.