Hi Gordon,

Firstly, I’d like to thank you for your work on SoundStage! Simplifi. I’ve been looking into new equipment recently and have enjoyed reading your informative articles and reviews.

After reading your reviews of the NAD C 658 streaming DAC-preamp and Elac Navis ARF-51 and ARB-51 active loudspeakers, I have purchased the C 658, and auditioned both versions of Elac’s active speakers. I really enjoyed both of them, but preferred the additional bass of the floorstander. In both cases, I felt a subwoofer would be useful in the future for certain genres and for watching movies.

I then found your article where you compare the floorstanding Elacs to the stand-mounts plus SVS PB-2000 Pro subwoofer.

Ideally, with no budget constraints, I would go for the ARF-51s and a meaty subwoofer, if only for the fact I prefer the aesthetic of floorstanders, and have always desired to own some. However, since the total cost of the ARB-51s plus stands and a sub like the PB-2000 Pro is less than that of the floorstanders, financially it doesn’t make sense.

So my questions relate to your final paragraph. When you tried the ARF-51s and sub together, did you cross over at 60Hz or 80Hz? On a technical level, is the ARF-51 with a high-pass filter engaged likely to outperform the stand-mount in the frequencies not dealt with by the subwoofer? I’m trying to make an informed purchase, and not stretch financially to the ARF-51s plus a sub if the performance difference is negligible.

To throw another spanner into the works, a friend has offered me a very cheap deal on some KEF R700s that I have yet to hear. Decisions, decisions . . .

Kind regards,
Liam Reilly
United Kingdom

Hi Liam,

Thanks for your letter, and congratulations on your new system. As to your question whether you should go with the ARF-51s, or ARB-51s plus a sub, it’s hard to offer any definitive advice without knowing anything about your listening room, preferred musical genres, and listening habits. But even with this information, I doubt I could provide any more insight than that offered in in my feature, “All About that Bass.”

In any case, I suspect you already know the answer to your question. “I prefer the aesthetic of floorstanders and have always desired to own some,” you write. I think that should be your starting point; otherwise you’ll always be second-guessing your decision. So my suggestion would be to buy the ARF-51s, and after you’ve lived with them for a while, make a decision about the sub.

I really enjoyed the SVS PB-2000 Pro, but if your primary application is music as opposed to movies, you should also consider the SVS SB-2000 Pro, which Diego Estan reviewed on SoundStage! Access in February. As the SB-2000 Pro is a sealed as opposed to ported design, you’d be trading off some wallop, but gaining some definition. The SB-2000 Pro is also smaller, which in some rooms could be an important consideration (it would be in mine).

When I used the PB-2000 Pro with my ARF-51s, I set their high-pass filter at 80Hz. If I had had more time, I would have experimented with both settings. Compared to the ARB-51s plus a sub, the ARF-51-plus-subwoofer combination should provide more weight and greater sense of ease in the bass frequencies not covered by the subwoofer. In that region, each of the ARF-51’s three woofers has to move only one-third the distance as the single woofer on the ARB-51 to produce the same volume level, so they’re operating in their linear region, free of distortion, more of the time.

As to the possibility of purchasing used KEF R700s, I can’t offer any first-hand advice, as I’ve never heard that speaker. The R700 has not been reviewed on any of the SoundStage! sites, but Doug Schneider has reviewed the R500, and discussed the R700 in his reply to a reader’s letter in March 2017. When evaluating the financial end of that deal, keep in mind that you’ll also have to buy a power amplifier.

Good luck with your decision. Whichever route you go, I think you’re going to end up with a great system.

Kindest regards,
Gordon Brockhouse

Hi Gordon,

Thank you for your reply. Regarding my choice, I think you are right -- my heart desires floorstanders so I will probably go with the ARF-51s and add a sub later. Sometimes the most financially sound decision isn’t necessarily the right one! Whilst I do think it’s worth listening to my friend’s KEF R700s, I also subscribe somewhat to the Simplifi philosophy. There is a certain appeal in not having to worry about matching passive speakers to the right amplifier.

Speaking of passives, do you think you will have the opportunity to try the Elac Vela range at some point?

On the subwoofer front, I think I am sold on eventually getting a sealed SVS subwoofer in gloss black to complement the ARF-51s sonically and aesthetically. Although, Elac does make their own subs, which might be worth considering!

Thanks again for your thoughts and insight. I look forward to reading your “Top Ten” article in a few weeks.

Kind regards,

Hello again, Liam,

Great choice! I’ve been really happy with the C 658 and Elac Navis ARF-51s, and I bet you will be too. And with decisions like this, it’s almost always better to go with your heart than your head, and get the product you love, rather than the one that you think you should get. Not that you should ignore your head. With financial decisions of this scale, it’s important to do some research to make sure your heart is leading you in the right direction, and you’ve clearly done that.

I think your long-term plan to match the ARF-51s to a sealed subwoofer is excellent, and also agree that it’s worth looking into Elac’s subs. Their models that work with a companion smartphone app for performing room EQ look really interesting.

I doubt that I’ll be reviewing any of Elac’s Vela speakers, as I focus on active and powered models. But who knows, maybe they’ll be covered on another SoundStage! site.

Thanks again for writing, and enjoy your new system.

Best regards,