Elac Debut S10EQ 10-Inch Powered Subwoofer Review

Last updated on: 9-7-18
Bottom Line: a very powerful subwoofer for how light and compact it is, developed by a highly respected audio engineer. It’s expensive though, and there are comparable alternatives that are significantly cheaper, especially if you don’t mind bigger and bulkier.

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Important Spec Overview

Speaker type: powered, sealed /w passive radiator
Continuous power handling: 200 W
Peak power handling: 400 W
Frequency response range: 28 – 150 Hz
Driver size: 10″
Warranty: 1 year (amp/electronics), 3 years (non-electronics)

Review and Discussion

The S10EQ was one of the first Debut series speakers designed by renowned audio engineer Andrew Jones since his move to Elac from Pioneer, where previously he similarly designed good quality but inexpensive loudspeakers.

While most powered home theater subwoofers have a ported design, the S10EQ interestingly uses a passive bottom radiator in conjunction with a front firing driver. The advantage with this design is that, with a lot of power driven in, even a highly compact 10 inch subwoofer like the S10EQ can get very loud, and evenly so across the entire response range. It will pair adequately with all but very high end main speakers. Other ported competitors with comparable specs tend to necessarily be larger – one of our favorites, the Dayton sub-1500, as great as it is, is 3 times the size and twice as heavy as the S10EQ.

So that’s the big advantage of the S10EQ design – you get a lot of power and volume out of a unit that’s smaller and easier to move around. It will need to rest on a hard surface so that the bottom facing radiator can function properly, but that’s true for a majority of home theater subwoofers, and a fair concession.

The Elac debut speakers have a nice design that’s definitely a step above the Pioneer budget speakers that Jones designed prior. The cabinet is a vinyl finish MDF with sheen grill bezel that matches the stands, and it looks quite nice, for those who care about that.

Another interesting feature is that there are no rear physical controls – instead you use a mobile app for adjusting the crossover and other such things, which can pair via Bluetooth. We imagine this will be neat to some and annoying to others.

The downside of getting all that power out of a compact and aesthetic design is that this subwoofer is definitely on the more expensive side of the value spectrum. Add to that the bare minimum 1 year warranty on the amp which, although something we can live with on a lower end speaker, is just really comparatively short to competitors that offer 5+ years of all inclusive warranty coverage.

Our Overall Take, As Compared to the Competition

Elac is a good company, and Andrew Jones wouldn’t put his name on a bad speaker, and the S10EQ is certainly a high quality subwoofer. It’s also nice to see a slick and compact option with the kind of power specs this unit has. We’re always all for there being more such existing choices, even if they’re more expensive.

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The downside though is indeed the price. It’s not so much that the S10EQ is overly expensive, it’s that there are competitors that have become significantly discounted from their MSRPs. Since audio gear doesn’t depreciate like most consumer electronics do, you’ll often find speakers that are just as good that wind up getting sold for significantly less than they used to. While the Dayton-1500 is a relative behemoth, it does have superior range and is available for like half the price. The Polk PSW505 as well has a bigger driver, more power, and is significantly less expensive.

There’s no right or wrong answer, rather it really comes down to what’s important to you and what’s worth paying for. It’s definitely worth checking out our running favorite budget subwoofers here to see if other options are worthwhile