The Elac Adante series of loudspeakers, especially the compact AS-61, have been the darlings of the press since the first one reached a reviewer’s listening room. Recently the AS-61 received the coveted 2018 EISA award. While the bookshelf-sized Adante has been a veritable rock star, the larger floorstanding model, the AF-61VR (A is for Adante, F is for floor, VR is rosewood veneer), has seen far less journalistic sunlight. That just isn’t right…so I will attempt to rectify the situation.
The Elac Adante AF-61VRs are priced at $5000 a pair. To be perhaps overly candid, I assumed the AF-61s were $5k each for most of the time I had them in my clutches. While this misunderstanding was partially a result of how rapidly “mid-priced” floorstanders have gone up in price during the past five years, it was also due to the AF-61s’ high level of build- and sound-quality. Let me put it this way: For $10k/pair I thought the AF-61s were an excellent, highly competitive option. For $5k a pair they are an obscenely good value. But are the Adante AS-61 floorstanding loudspeakers “the ones” for you? Hopefully, this review will help clarify that.
To the casual eye there doesn’t seem to be much that’s special about the AF-61. It looks, from the outside, like just another nicely finished multiple-driver box speaker with a rosewood veneer. Upon second glance you’ll notice that it’s not rectangular—its sides are slightly angled so they meet at a center-point, and there’s a second driver surrounding the 1" soft-dome tweeter, so it’s actually a concentric-driver design.
The Adante AF-61 is an example of “stealth” technology taken to extreme measures. The three 8" aluminum-cone woofers that reside below the concentrically-mounted 1" soft dome and 5.25" aluminum-cone midrange are passive radiators! Located behind each lightweight 8" passive cone is an active 6.5" aluminum-cone driver. Elac calls this configuration a “3-way interport-coupled-cavity design.” The internal ports work in conjunction with the passive drivers to further control and smooth the AF-61’s output. Because of the internally vented box, the front section (the area behind the passive driver and in front of the active one) serves as a second-order low-pass filter.
To integrate the AF-61’s five active and three passive drivers the crossover required was, in Andrew Jones’ words, “complicated.” It wasn’t “complicated” because it required a lot of parts, but because the AF-61’s crossover combines multiple physical and electrical elements in a way that they have an effect on each other. Many iterations and variations were required to find the ideal combination. Without computer-assisted design tools it would have taken far too long to parse the various possibilities. In a video interview Andrew Jones said, “With a regular crossover network, if you need to change its characteristics you pull or change an inductor and a capacitor. Here, to change the crossover you must change a physical volume or a mass. Unless you have a very accurate electric/acoustic model you end up cutting wood all the time.”
According to the published specifications, the crossover points in this three-way design are at 200Hz and 2kHz. I’m positive these are not your garden-variety, loudspeaker-cookbook, simple first- or second-order filters.
With a published sensitivity of 87dB at 2.83V/1m and a nominal impedance of 6 ohms, on paper the AF-61 doesn’t appear to be a difficult load for an amplifier to drive. During my review I used the Digital Amplifier Co’s Cherry Megaschino (800 watts into 4 ohms) as well as the less powerful Pass X150.5 (150 watts). Neither exhibited any signs of difficulty or strain while powering the AF-61 loudspeakers.
The published specification for the AF-61 lists its frequency response as 39Hz to 35kHz, which is only slightly more extended on the low end than its smaller stand-mounted sibling, the AS-61, which is rated as extending to 41Hz. The AF-61 does have 2dB greater sensitivity than the AS-61. With a double set of five-way binding posts, you can bi-wire or even bi-amp the AF-61s if you wish.
The AF-61s are available in gloss white, rosewood veneer, and gloss black. My review samples were the rosewood veneer version. The rosewood looked exquisite, and the black metal grille (I only received one) gave the AF-61 a clean, elegant, modern appearance. Obviously, I did all my listening sans grilles.