Hi Gordon,

I just read your review of Elac’s Navis ARB-51 active speakers on Simplifi. Thanks for your great insights on these speakers. I am wondering if you think these speakers would be a good option for use in the nearfield at my desk, about 12″ from a wall? My usage is about 70% nearfield in the evening when I want to play at lower volumes, and then playing out into a large room from time to time.

Thanks in advance if you are able to provide any further insights!


Hi Nathan,

Thanks for your letter. I don’t have a definitive answer to your question, as I have never used the Navis ARB-51s for nearfield listening. But I have used them at close-to-nearfield distances, as documented in my reviews of the HEDD Type 07 and Focal Shape 65 analog studio monitors. For both those reviews, I did some of my listening in my basement family room. The speakers were 4′ apart and 5′ from my listening chair. And as you envision for your nearfield application, the speakers were 12″ from the wall behind them. All three speakers sounded wonderful. You can read how the Elac, Focal, and HEDD speakers compared to each other in those two reviews.

My question to you is this: how close will you be seated to the speakers? The HEDD and Focal speakers are designed specifically for nearfield listening, though as my reviews stated, they work really well for listening at regular stereo distances as well. The Elacs aren’t designed as nearfield monitors, but in my experience, they sound wonderful in close-to-nearfield conditions. If you’re going to be sitting very close to the speakers, you might want to consider a speaker specifically designed for nearfield monitoring. But if you're listening from 4′ or more, any of these speakers should work really well.

Thanks again for writing, and I hope this helps. Please write back and let me know which choice you make, and how it works out for you.

Best regards,
Gordon Brockhouse

Hi Gordon,

Thank you so much for the reply and linking those reviews. I had heard about the Focals, but not the HEDDs, so I will read through both reviews. I did decide, kinda spur-of-the-moment, to buy some used Elac Carina [bookshelf] speakers, as I got a great price on them, and I still have my amp. But I am still intrigued about active speakers.

When I am at my desk in the evening I normally sit about 3′ away and listen at quiet levels, or use headphones. If I have some time to myself in the daytime, I will play louder at the same place, but I also move around the open living area in my house where my desk is. It’s about 12′ × 30′, so I like to be able to listen loudly while working out or cooking, etc. I am playing with placement a bit, but the speakers won’t be much more than 12″ from the back wall. I previously had some MartinLogan Motion speakers and they seemed fine, but I wanted a speaker with less depth so I could play with placement a bit.