Hands-On Review: ELAC Adsum-Inspired Debut ConneX Powered Speakers

Hands-On Review: ELAC Adsum-Inspired Debut ConneX Powered Speakers

When ELAC introduced its original Debut ConneX DCB41 powered speaker system, it was met with much of the same praise the brand has become accustomed to hearing. Terms like “expansive soundstage, detailed high frequencies,” and “value leader” have practically become synonymous with ELAC. As great as the original design was and is, it’s hard to stand out in a crowded speaker landscape that’s filled with similar innards and bland black boxes.

ELAC Debut ConneX DCB41-DS
ELAC Debut ConneX DCB41-DS

With the release of ELAC’s new Debut ConneX DCB41-DS, the brand looks to bridge the style and performance gap. If ELAC wanted to make a statement, this new speaker design is loud and clear. Fans of the brand can rest assured that all the features that made the original design a hit make a return appearance in this new speaker system—mainly, its sound signature and wide connectivity options―but what’s on the outside has gone through a substantial transformation, and the results speak for themselves.

To achieve the look of these new speakers, ELAC partnered with Adsum, a US-based clothing company known for high-quality output. From the packaging to the finer details, it’s clear that this partnership was more than simple branding; the new DCB41-DS speaker pair looks and feels stylish and begs to be displayed. Its fingerprint-resistant white finish is outfitted with a black 4-½" woofer and ¾" tweeter with waveguide that provides a nice visual contrast. Even the speaker grille has been reimagined, because it’s now magnetic and further showcases the ELAC and Adsum partnership. Two speaker stands are also included, which nicely complement the speakers’ modern aesthetic.

On the rear of the speakers, you’ll find a layout that closely resembles the original DCB41. As expected, one speaker is passive and the other handles the amplification duties and connectivity. USB, optical, and phono/line inputs are all onboard. If you want to connect the DCB41-DS to a TV in place of a sound bar, you can take advantage of the HDMI ARC (audio return channel) connection. There’s also a subwoofer output for connecting an external powered subwoofer, and more on that in a bit. For your wireless streaming needs, Bluetooth with aptX is supported.

These ELAC DCB41 Adsum bookshelf speakers are versatile, offering four different input types that cover a wide array of home audio devices, making them an ideal soundbar alternative.
These ELAC DCB41 Adsum bookshelf speakers are versatile, offering four different input types that cover a wide array of home audio devices, making them an ideal sound-bar alternative.

So how do they sound? I’ll get straight to the point: they are so much fun to listen to. A 4.5" driver isn’t huge, but these speakers sound much bigger than they are, producing a wall of sound that I’d normally attribute to their larger compeers. The high frequencies weren’t fatiguing in my room, and the sound didn’t fall apart when I increased the volume. At 50 watts, the class D amplifier isn’t designed to fill the largest of rooms, but 50 watts might be more than you think―I had no trouble filling my 10 x 17' space. As always with audio, your listening environment plays an important part in the result. What surprised me most was the speakers’ bass response, most notably ELAC’s proprietary XBass Enhancer. While I’d still recommend an external subwoofer with frequencies below 60Hz, ELAC’s processing did a great job of rounding out the bass without muddying up the sound. At extreme volumes, I preferred to leave XBass disengaged, but at normal listening levels I could see why some users may opt to skip an external subwoofer. If you do connect this system to a TV and watch a lot of movies, a subwoofer is essential for low bass impact. On their own, these speakers would make an excellent foundation for desktop listening or a moderately sized Hi-Fi system.

When it came to operation, the DCB41-DS didn’t miss a beat. AirPlay is my preferred way of listening to music, and while this speaker system doesn’t have it onboard, I was able to connect my AirPlay adapter easily to the speakers’ optical input without issue. Furthermore, everything was easy to use, and with the included remote you can perform functions quickly without toggling through a bunch of inputs; I appreciated the simplicity.

Some of the best speakers I’ve heard have the ability to disappear in a room and not call attention to themselves. If I happen to look at these new ELACs, however, I’m more than happy with what I see. These speakers do a fine job of balancing high quality with high design. I’m a fan.

Have you listened to the original DCB41 speakers? What do you think of the new Adsum-inspired design? We’d love to hear your thoughts.