Important Specs Overview
Speaker type: passive, 3-way, back double ported
Continuous power handling: 42 W*
Peak power handling: 140 watts
Impedance: 4 ohms
Sensitivity: 85 dB/W/m
Frequency response range: 42 – 25k Hz
Driver size: 4 in midrange; 5.25 in woofers
Unit weight: 39.5 lbs
Cabinet dimensions: 8 x 11 x 38 in (width x depth x height)
Warranty: 3 years
*When nominal/RMS power isn’t specified by manufacturer, we use an approximation of ~30% of the specified peak/dynamic power for comparison purposes.
Review And Discussion
Elac’s Uni-Fi lineup is yet another creation of renowned audio engineer Andrew Jones. It consists of higher end versions of their highly popular entry level Debut speakers (also designed by Jones). The UF5, reviewed herein, is the floorstanding model that features distinct changes/upgrades over the preceding Debut F5.
The mainly significant design changes with the UF5 is that the drivers/cones are aluminum instead of a woven fiber/cloth blend. Metallic drivers have the propensity to be maximally stiff and light, with the added benefit of being fairly durable and cheap/easy to manufacture. If you’re looking for a speaker to really get as loud as it can and fill up a room at a distance, metallic drivers tend to be the optimal choice. But they also tend to have a distinctly harsher tone compared with cloth or paper drivers that some people dislike.
Another significant change is the lowered 4 ohm impedance. You don’t see this normally on budget/entry level speakers, because that low of a resistance means you’ll need to drive a lot more power to the speakers. The good thing about that is that the continuous power handling and volume, thus, is going to be higher than a 6/8 ohm speaker. The “bad” thing is that you’ll need a better amplifier to drive sufficient power.
The UF5 also adds a third woofer to enhance the lows/bass. And beyond that, there are a few other minor changes that are mostly aesthetic: black surrounds to contrast with the chrome drivers, outward stands, extra ports, and magnetically attachable covers which is kind of neat.
Lets talk specs now – the UF5 isn’t that much different than the preceding Debut F5, or the subsequently released Debut 2.0 F5.2, all of which have decidedly modest power specs. The one distinction of the UF5 is the lower 4 ohm impedance which as we said means it will be able to handle more power and go louder, but you’ll need a higher grade receiver to supply that power. For the price, there are competitors which boast power specs significantly higher than the UF5, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an inferior speaker. Power/volume is only as useful up to how loud you need the speakers to actually get.
The UF5 is a three way speaker, meaning the three woofers have a dedicated 2nd crossover at 270 Hz and are truly optimized for bass reproduction. Many tower speakers are only two way, and thus only really differentiate from a smaller bookshelf speakers in that they’re bigger and maybe look cooler. A pair of UF5s could certainly suffice as standalone satellite speakers, but some might still opt to add a full sized subwoofer on to enhance the bass, and Elac certainly makes those too.
Pretty much all of Elac’s new generation speakers look great, and the UF5 is no exception. The grain MDF cabinet contrasts well with the chrome drivers. The outward stands with a wider foot print is also a nice new feature, and the bottom spikes make resting these on a soft carpet quite easy to do.
Elac offers a 3 year warranty on all its passive speakers, which is decent but not top of the line – a lot of competitors like Klipsch and Polk offer 5 years of coverage on passive speakers.
Our Overall Take, As Compared To The Competition
The Uni-Fi F5 offers nice upgrades to the already popular and highly regarded Debut floorstanding speakers. But are metallic drivers and an extra woofer worth the premium? We’re hesitant to say yes, especially considering that Elac speakers run comparatively on the expensive side for the specs they have. There are competitors with more power that currently cost less. See the links at the end for some such recommendations.
Also consider that the debut speakers will likely become significantly discounted due to their now legacy status, and if you’re looking for a lesser powered close/midrange speaker, cloth drivers might be a better choice anyhow.