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Andrew Jones is a very famous loudspeaker designer and rightfully so. He designed the TAD $80,000 Reference One loudspeakers. But it is much easier to design a great sounding speaker when price is no object. Mr. Jones did not stop there, however. He designed some great budget priced speakers for Pioneer. Now he has moved on to ELAC, a respected German loudspeaker manufacture. And there he has done it again, designed budget sounding speakers that most anyone can enjoy if they love the accurate reproduction of live music.

Mr. Jones has designed several models for ELAC. We have chosen the new ELAC Debut B5 Bookshelf Loudspeakers because we want to compare it to the AudioEngine A2+’s. These speakers are about equal in price. There are obvious similarities. In each case, the individual drivers in these speakers are made in-house. AudioEngine assembles their own speakers while the Debut B5’s are assembled in China. The mid/base drivers in both speakers are made of similar materials – a woven aramid-fiber for greater stiffness and lower distortion. The B5’sw are priced at $230 while the A2+’s are priced at $250. Both of these speakers offer outstanding clarity for the price.

The comparison breaks down when it comes to lower bass reproduction however. The A2+’s clearly need a subwoofer, particularly when placed on stands in a medium-sized room. The Debut B5’s are better in the lower end. They have 5.25 inch woofers compared to the A2+’s 2.5 inch woofers. This also means that B5’s have greater power handling which could prove significant in playing louder in a medium-sized room.

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Let us look at the prices again. The A2+’s cost a little more and really need a subwoofer. That will add at least a $100 to their overall cost. But the A2+’s have a built-in dual class AB monolithic power amp that is superbly matched to the speakers. In order for the Debut B5’s to play at their best they need to be mated with a very good power amp and not some generic receiver.

Which ones win? They both do. When it comes to stereo imaging the A2+’s are hard to beat. Their small-sized baffles have something to do with that. The B5’s are much larger speakers. They carry more weight in the low-end. Are they as nimble as the A2+’s? An extended period of listening will be necessary to complete any meaningful comparison. Perhaps you might want to share any experiences you have in auditioning these speakers. They are beauties and the price is right!

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