|Radiient Technologies Elara Compact 5 Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Andrew Robinson|
|Friday, 01 September 2006|
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We’ve all sat and drooled over the pages of the latest industry mag at the sights and specifications of some master designer’s latest Herculean, not to mention expensive, efforts in speaker design. And why shouldn’t we? Often, these products represent what is the pinnacle of loudspeaker design, and while no trip to Everest is free, there are other mountains worth climbing, which are rewarding in their own right. Enter companies like Radiient and their new line, or should I say line-up, of speakers, starting with the Elara compact five-speaker system.
Founded by David Buuck, formerly of DVDO, and Jano Banks, the co-creator of HDMI, Radiient is out to prove that great sound and quality craftsmanship don’t necessarily have to come at a steep price. In fact, they’re out to change the way you look at, listen to and buy speakers altogether. This is why you’ll only find their products sold direct through their website, where they can offer potential customers the chance to become more educated about music and movie reproduction, as well as save a few bucks on purchases by eliminating the middle man. Throw in a 30-day money back guarantee, and making a purchase from Radiient may just be the easiest transaction in all of consumer electronics, period. At least, that’s Radiient’s goal and, with the introduction of several different speaker packages, they seem poised to prove it.
Retailing for a very obtainable $499.00 and available exclusively online, the Elara system is essentially a subwoofer/satellite combo, minus the subwoofer. Now, the Elara system isn’t one of those micro satellite/subwoofer combos you’re probably used to seeing in this price range. On the contrary, the Elara system is essentially four rather large bookshelf speakers mated with a matching center channel. While a subwoofer is recommended, and Radiient does recommended that you use one, in smaller rooms or for those of you who don’t like to rock the Kasbah, you may be okay with just the five speakers. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The main speakers in the Elara system have an attractive two-way design with a light maple finish and piano black faceplate that contains a single five-and-a-half-inch coaxial carbon fiber midbass driver/tweeter above a two-and-a-half-inch forward-firing port. The piano black faceplate, while extremely attractive, goes largely unseen due to the speaker’s fabric grille. Atop the main speaker enclosure rests a one-inch metallized silk dome tweeter with a B&W-like design. Another borrowed design element is the Elara’s tapering cabinet design which, when the speaker is viewed from above, gives it a sort of V shape. All in all, the main Elara speakers measure in at 14 inches high by 13-and-three-quarters inches wide by 11-and-three-quarters inches deep, weighing in at a respectable 17 pounds apiece. They are bi-wireable via two sets of gold-plated binding posts found on the speaker’s slender rear edge. The Elara mains have a reported frequency response of 50Hz-35kHz, with a sensitivity of 86dB into a rather benign eight-ohm load.
Moving on to the Elara center channel, I was greeted with more of the same. The styling is almost identical to the mains, with the exception of the top-mounted tweeter, which the center does not have. It’s a two-way design with matching four-and-a-half-inch carbon-fiber midbass drivers, mated with a two-inch silk dome tweeter mounted between the dual midbass drivers. The cabinet has the same fit and finish as the rest of the line, but doesn’t taper as much in the rear as the mains do. The overall dimensions are a little over seven-and-a-half inches tall by 17-and-three-quarters inches wide and 10-and-one-quarter inches deep. The Elara center tips the scales at 16 pounds and has a reported frequency response of 60Hz-20kHz into an eight-ohm load, with a sensitivity of 90dB. Unlike the Elara mains, the center channel is not bi-wireable. However, it does feature the same gold-plated five-way binding posts found in the rest of the Elara line.
Lastly, there are the surround speakers. The Elara surrounds are not traditional surrounds, in the sense that they are not bi-polar or wall-mountable. In fact, you could use the surround speakers as front speakers if you were so inclined. However, for the sake of this review, I used them solely as surround speakers, albeit directional ones. They are visually identical to the rest of the Elara line and look just like the mains, minus the top-mounted tweeter. The surrounds feature a single five-and-a-half inch carbon fiber coaxial tweeter/midbass driver mounted above the two-and-a-half inch forward-firing port. The one-inch silk dome tweeter rests in the center of the midbass driver, hence the coaxial configuration. They measure in at little over 14 inches high by eight-and-three-quarters inches wide and 12-and-a-half inches deep. They tip the scales at a respectable 16 pounds.
The Elara rears feature the same V-shaped cabinet as the mains and are bi-wireable. Just like the center channel, the Elara rears have the same reported frequency response of 60Hz-20kHz into the same eight-ohm load.
I went ahead and set up the Elara system in my newly-completed reference room. I placed the main speakers atop a pair of 24-inch Omni Mount speaker stands approximately three feet from the front wall and two-and-a-half feet away from the sidewalls. I then placed the center channel on top of an 18-inch Omni Mount stand and placed it square in the middle of the room three feet out from the front wall. The rears were placed on 36-inch Omni Mount stands and rested about a foot out from the sidewalls, in line with the main listening position. All five speakers were connected to a Parasound Halo A51 multi-channel amplifier (review forthcoming), with the processing falling to the matching Parasound Halo C1 controller (review forthcoming). I split the source duties between my Toshiba HD XA-1 HD DVD player and trusty Oppo up-sampling DVD player. The video duties fell into the capable hands of my Panasonic AE-900U LCD projector. All components and speakers were connected with Monster M Series cables, with all power filtering being handled by my reference Monster Power HTPS 7000 MKII.
If the Elaras were ever going to get a fair shake, it was going to be in this room. Hell, the speaker cables alone cost more then the speaker system’s asking price. I decided to utilize my current reference JBL L series subwoofer to round out the Elara’s low end. I understand the JBL L series sub might be a bit of overkill for a system like the Elara. However, it was already present in my room and calibrated, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it.