|Radiient Technologies Elara Compact 5 Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Andrew Robinson|
|Friday, 01 September 2006|
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First and foremost, the Elara system is not a true 5.1-channel system. If you want any sort of real bass, you’re going to have to invest in a decent subwoofer. While the price of the Elara system may prove enticing, keep in mind that you will have to budget more for a sub and, while my JBL L series subwoofer proved to be a good match, there are other subs out there that will work just as well and fit within the realm of the Elara’s price bracket. My recommendation would be to pair the Elaras with a subwoofer from the likes of Outlaw or Definitive Technology. There are many options out there when it comes to subwoofers and I encourage you to look at them all before making your final decision.
Next, the Elaras are going to require stands of some sort. Five of ‘em. Sure, you could place them in a cabinet or on a low table or credenza. However, I found their off-axis response, especially in the treble, to be a bit more limited than some when placed at any but the appropriate heights. Experimentation is the name of the game. However, with the extra money in your budget, you can afford to take your time doing some research when buying the proper stands.
Lastly, there is the issue of the Elaras’ build quality. While extremely stylish, I found their construction to be the one of the largest causes of their sonic shortcomings. For starters, and after several discussions with the folks over at Radiient, I found the speakers’ binding posts to be largely responsible for the tweeter’s glare and the mid-bass driver’s rattle. The binding posts, while nicely constructed, were prone to loosening due to vibrations within the cabinet itself, which would result in lessened performance sonically. Granted, it was always an easy solve, but it was just a bit of a nuisance to have to continually check the grips on the binding posts every couple of days. Speaking of cabinet vibrations, I found that they could cause the speakers’ more decorative elements, mainly the shiny black pad on either side of the main’s outboard tweeter, to come loose and/or fall off altogether. I think if the cabinet’s internal bracing were given a once-over, it would alleviate a great many problems with the system itself and possibly catapult the Elara system from being merely good, given its cost, to being something truly great.
$499 for an almost complete 5.1 speaker system seems almost too good to be true. Well, yes and no. There’s no denying that the Elara system has many strong points. Its lively sonic character and relatively easygoing sound, regardless of source material, is sure to attract a slew of potential buyers. Throw in a décor-friendly look and relatively small stature and it will no doubt find its way into homes the world over. However, its lack of sure-footed bass and absolute sonic capabilities across the entire spectrum when played back at true reference levels may keep die-hard enthusiasts at bay. I’ve heard great speakers and I’ve heard bad speakers. While I would classify the Elaras as somewhere in between, they were nothing if not enjoyable, and that is what it’s all about. Trust your ears, do your homework and maybe, when the dust settles, you’ll find yourself listening to the Elara speaker system in your own home.