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ELAC FS 108.2

Floorstanding Speakers

[Italian version]

Product: ELAC FS 108.2 Floorstanding Speakers Speakers
Manufacturer: ELAC
US Distributor: Trian Electronics
Approx.cost: $ 910 / pair USD
Reviewer: Scott Faller - TNT USA
Published: January, 2004

[ELAC FS 108.2]
ELAC FS 108.2's

Trivial Bits

A while back, I was trolling the manufacturers websites looking for something interesting to review. I happened across the Trian Electronics website (triancorp.com). Trian is the North American distributor for Thorens turntables (yes that's right, Thorens is alive and well, TYVM), the German speaker manufacturer ELAC and the Danish electronics manufacturer Thule.

As you have no doubt seen on the web (or possibly your local ELAC dealer), ELAC is one of the high end speaker manufacturers. Based in Germany, ELAC produces some very highly regarded and very unique looking speakers (the 330 JET's and 4Pi's anyway).

In addition to their unique looks, ELAC manufactures their own proprietary line of drivers for use in their speakers. All of their designs use a unique sandwiched driver design with the exception of their Cinema Series. The drivers appear to be a pure metal cone but they are actually a stamped piece of aluminum adhered to a paper cone behind. A slightly different approach than most all of the “mainstream” speaker guys. This sandwich design claims lower distortion characteristics over conventional paper coned drivers.

After looking over their product line, I decided to give Dick Ravich a call an see what they had that might fit into my series of speaker reviews. Dick mentioned that he had a few that were under my $1000 limit and suggested the ELAC 108.2's. Before long, I had a couple of boxes that said Lautsprecher stamped on them show up on my doorstep. Cool…… more toys to play with.

Manufacturers Published Data

Model Name

ELAC FS 108.2


Floor standing 2 1/2 way Bass Reflex

Driver Compliment

2, 140mm mid bass, 1, 25mm tweeter (both are shielded)

Frequency Response

40 Hz to 25 kHz


89 dB/2.8 V/meter

Nominal Impedance

4 ohm, Min. 3.3 ohm @220Hz

Power Handling

20 - 150 watts


35.4 x 7.3 x 9.5 inches (900 x 185 x 240 mm)


26.5 lbs. (12kg) ea

Crossover Frequency

bass to mid bass (+/-) 125hz, mid bass to tweeter (+/-) 2.5k

Lets Listen for a While

The ELAC's behind the Korato/AKSA Combo

As you can imagine with a 2 ½ way design, you can get all the bass you could ever hope for. Now, setting these speakers up so they integrate well in your room can be a bit tricky but not too bad.

First, since these have dual rear ports, back wall interaction can be pretty heavy. If you don't fiddle with these a bit you can be over run with bass. Not to worry, that's why these come with port plugs. In my case, when I used the factory supplied port plugs they tended to dry the bass up too much. No biggie, what I did was take some spare mattress padding that I typically use for side and back wall high frequency absorption and cut some 2 ½” squares and used them as port plugs. When you slide these in they don't cover the entire port thus allowing about 30% - 40% of the air to escape. This seemed (to my ears) to be a decent balance for most acoustical music.

On the other hand, when I was listening to most rock, I far preferred the sound with the port plugs out. The extra bass reinforcement was greatly appreciated and needed on some recordings.

The simple fact of the matter is these little speakers love to rock. Leaving out the port plugs and letting the speakers “breathe” is absolutely how these little boxes like it best.

The ELAC's have a forward presentation, much like the Dynaudio's. There are quite a few differences in the way they reproduce the music though. Both speakers have their good and not so good points. In the end, I think it will come down to your personal preference as it always should.

The ELAC's Behind RAM 301
Well, this little amp continues to amaze me. It's clean, crisp and punchy sound is always loads of fun to listen to. The ELAC's slightly higher efficiency (89dB) allows you to blast it a little more without clipping.

The RAM 301 provided a fair match to the 4 ohm load of the ELAC's. Granted you're not going to be able to shake things off the walls with just 30 watts of power but at moderate volumes (into the mid 90 dB range) you'd be very pleased with this mating. Above that sound level, the RAM could see some pretty heavy current draws at the ELAC's lowest impendence dips. The RAM didn't care for that too much and things got a little squirrelly a couple of times.

The ELAC's Behind the HH Scott 299
Here we have a pretty decent match too. The old HH Scott's rather thick sound is a darned nice match to the ELAC's. The bass sounds completely different than with solid state amplification (well duuh).

Here, the sometimes thin and forward nature of the ELAC's midrange is completely negated (I get into more detail later). Warm and milky is the sound, yet still very well defined. You guys out there that have an old Scott, Eico, Heathkit or any of the other vintage tube amps should enjoy this sound, providing you have 4 ohm taps on your transformers. If you don't have the 4 ohm taps on your tube amps, the ELAC's might pose a bit of a problem similar to what happened with the RAM 301.

Objective Stuff

Fit, Finish and Basic Design
This particular pair of speakers is quite attractive. Here we have a relatively small floor stander that doesn't take up much room at all. The cabinet is made of ¾” MDF with a decent looking veneer wrapper (it's not real wood). The front baffle is ¾” MDF with a light grey satin, painted finish.

On the back side of the speakers is a single pair of the entry line WBT (I think) binding posts. Additionally there are a pair of flared ports and the back side also has the veneer.

[sandwich woofer]
[ELAC tweeter]
audio porn

This particular speaker is a 2 ½ way design that is becoming so popular. The ELAC's have a pair of 5 ½” mid-bass drivers set up in an MTM arrangement. One of the drivers runs full range to the upper crossover point (to about 2500Hz) and the second mid-bass driver has a crossover point of about 125Hz (or so) Hz.

Your typical 2 ½ way designs usually utilize an EBS (extended bass shelf) enclosure. Result, you get a much deeper (and sometimes pronounced) bass response. ELAC also claims a full 15mm (+/-) of Xmax from their bass drivers. Out of a 5 ½” driver, that's pretty amazing. My Shiva's are only 13mm and they're a 12” woofer!

With this type of design, life can get a bit tricky. Not only are you dealing with phase issues at the lower octaves but you can have some serious group delay problems making the entire bass region sound slow, undefined and lumbering.

One of the other issues you run into is with a 2 ½ way, EBS enclosure you can suddenly have more bass than you can handle. If not properly implemented, a speaker can literally run you out of the room. This can be the case with the ELAC's unless you spend a bit of tweaking time (playing with the port plugs and such) and make sure that you WASP the speakers.

Next is the aluminum magnesium manganese dome tweeter. The design used by ELAC on this speaker is slightly different. They have placed the tweeter in a molded, oval, concaved plastic housing. Over the dome of the tweeter is some sort of plastic wave guide or maybe attenuator (I'm assuming). ELAC describes it as an integrated phaser and wave guide. Kind of interesting.

Usually when I see these things (wave guides, attenuators, whatever) it makes me wonder just what's up with the tweeter design. If the manufacturer has to “direct” or “attenuate” the sound, that (usually) means there in an inherent design problem with a particular driver. I ran across this same issue with a pair of Axiom speakers. They utilized a similar attenuator and it sounded…… well……. pretty rough. With the Axioms the treble screamed at you. It was extremely shrill IMO.

After listening to the ELAC's, I suspect we have a different use of these doohickeys. If you look closely at the tweeter housing it is concaved. I've got a sneaking suspicion the engineers at ELAC aren't trying to mask a tweeter problem with the attenuator, I think they are trying to cut down the directivity of the treble region thus expanding the “sweet spot” with the concave baffle design. As I sit here sliding back and forth in the sweet spot, the image and tonality in the treble region stays very stable. I can slide back and forth a good two to three feet without huge drop outs or peaks in the upper registers. This is a good thing.

The other thing this design does (I suspect) is that it skews some of the high frequency diffraction on the baffle around the tweeter. Rather than the diffracted sound coming at us, the frequencies are somewhat diffused (dispersed, redirected pick your favorite descriptor) without too much smearing of the image due to the concaved baffle design. Result, a much more open and expansive sounding high frequency range.

I guess this is just another case of thinking outside of the box that seems to have paid off for the ELAC engineers.

[woof.....er .... Get It ? Ha!!!]

As I've mentioned (and will keep mentioning) these little speakers love to rock. When I say rock, I mean crank the shit out of it. The louder the better. The more dynamic the music the better.

Well, if you haven't figured out by now, I'm a 17 year old trapped inside a forty something year old body. I like my music loud. It turns me on to no end. So what are we supposed to do when we are given a pair of speakers that beg to be turned up. Feed them a steady diet of Rock of course. I pulled out all the stops with the ELAC's. I fed them Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, Rob Zombie, some Trance and House, not to mention I even dipped into my kids Hip Hop music collection. Hell I think I played every piece of “heavy” music I could find.

This is where the ELAC's really shined. Granted it's not really fair to the Dyn's cause their just a little mini-monitor with limited bass extension but….. needless to say the ELAC's just killed in low bass and dynamics. Best I've had in the listening room so far. The 108's had loads of slam. Slam to the point that you see pictures on the walls vibrate. This is very cool. You don't get that very often out of sub $1000 speakers. Clarification, you can get that but often the bass is muddy and uncontrolled. Not the case here. The bass is clean, crisp and tight as can be.

But dynamics don't just stop with the low bass. In the ever critical upper mid-bass range the dynamics were pretty comparable to the Dyn's. Listening to Blue Man Group's Audio CD I'd have to say I'd give a (very) slight edge to the ELAC's in this area. They had just a little more snap to the presentation. I really think most of it is attributable to the ELAC's sandwiched woofer design. It provides more detail in the upper mid-bass registers. This cleaner sound gives more definition to things like the upper registers of floor toms (like the skin of the drum head), upper octaves of bass guitars and things like the PVC instruments the Blue Men use.

Next stop is the uppermost registers, the treble. Here I'm afraid the ELAC's have a slight edge again. The clarity of the treble allows the true(r) dynamics of things like cymbals to shine through.

Treble Extension
The treble extension of the metal domed ELAC tweeter is a bit flatter than the Dyn's soft dome. After measuring this with my geek-o-meter it showed that the ELAC stayed +/- 1 db out to 20kHz where the Dyn's drop off pretty heavily at 16kHz and up (in my room). This probably contributed to my impressions that the ELAC's have a more “open” sound. It should be noted that when I measured these speakers that they have a healthy rise between 8k and 10k which (again) added to my impression that the ELAC's have a slightly forward sound.

Treble Clarity
Here I think we have the differences between a soft dome and a metal tweeter that come into play. Metal tweeters tend to provide a slightly forward and brighter sound. The audiophile community is pretty divided on their sound. Some like them, some don't.

In the case of the ELAC's, these metal domes seem to be done right. Without a doubt they sound more forward than the Dyn's but at the same time they sound more open and clearer without that usual metal dome listening fatigue that can set in. One of the major factors (in my mind) that allow this to happen is that concaved tweeter baffle. No longer are you listening to heavily diffracted high frequencies. You can now begin hear the virtues of this metal tweeter. The clarity and openness of the design.

Disc after disc that I put in I had the same result. Even going to some bright recordings like Marian McPartlands Live at Shanghi CD. As I listen to the shimmer and decay to the cymbals, the quality of the treble and this metal tweeter is quite good.

Midrange Clarity
Here lets pick something a little different. Harry Connick's release, Blue Light. Traditionally Harry's music has been very well recorded not to mention he is one of today's best male voices in Jazz.

The ELAC's open sounding nature translates directly to a much “clearer” midrange when you compare them to the Dyn's. Now this comes with a price (as does everything in audio). Though the presentation is seemingly “clearer”, some of Harry's “chestyness” is now missing.

I feel I need to explain a couple of things before I go on. First, the apparent “clearness” in the midrange is caused by the slight recess of the upper mid-bass/lower midrange region rather than a frequency (or group of frequencies) being accentuated. When you attenuate a portion of the frequency band, other (surrounding) frequencies can seem more pronounced, hence the cleaner sound I mentioned. Second, by “chestyness” I mean the lower fundamental harmonics of his vocals. To give you an extreme example (and no this isn't how the ELAC's sound), it's like a torso-less head singing. Again, this isn't how the ELAC's sound. That was just an example to help you understand what I mean by chestyness.

Not to dwell but the ELAC's seem to be a bit thin in the upper mid-bass to midrange. Not bad by any stretch mind you but it is something that I hear when compared to the Dyn's. In turn this stretches into instruments within that same frequency range.

As you will read in the ratings, the thinner sounding midrange, in my mind, nullifies any advantage of the clearer midrange. It's all about balance. Now, if you have a warmer sounding amp or pre, you may just find that the thinness in the midrange I mention isn't there just as when I had these behind the old HH Scott. YMMV.

Bass Clarity
Even though the Dyn's do a great job with bass, the ELAC's sandwiched driver seems to add another higher level of detail to the bass regions. Not only in the low bass but the upper mid-bass region. Reread the Midrange Clarity section for the resulting consequences. I suspect that much of this is attributable to ELAC's sandwiched woofer design. Remember they claim lower distortion for these drivers and I think they are right (at least by my ears).

A good example is an upright or double bass in an acoustic setting. Listening to Alison Krauss and Union Station's New Favorite, the Dyn's do a decent job but the ELAC's provide a little smoother and more defined presentation of the upright.

The bass from the ELAC's in the (say) 50Hz to 150Hz range seem to sound a bit closer to the bass of a rear loaded horn or transmission line rather than a bass reflex speaker. If you've never heard a horn or TL, the bass is extremely “tight” and well defined with very, very little overhang. Almost dry, but not quite. Again, I really think it's the lower distortion thing.

This quality in bass may or may not be to your liking. For me personally, I like a tight, “fast”, well defined bass.

Bass Extension
Here we have the result of the basic difference in cabinet and speaker design. The Dyn's being your basic bookshelf/mini-monitor and the ELAC's being a floor standing EBS enclosure and dual woofers. The cabinet volumes are roughly 4:1. In turn the ELAC's can provide almost another full octave in the lower register.

Not only do the ELAC's do the lower bass octaves, but rather than rolling off below (say) 50Hz to almost nothing, provide decent output down to almost 25 Hz (in my room) though there is a fair hump at about 40Hz. There is some usable all the way down to near 20Hz in room. Now, the bass in this region can get a little peaky at times but nothing too drastic. As I mentioned earlier, the factory supplied port plugs didn't work in my room so I made some new ones out of common, flat mattress foam. A little square stuffed into the port where it still allows air to pass on both sides tamed some of the excessive rear port and back wall interactions. The bass became pretty manageable.

Soundstage Depth
Listening to Alison Krauss and Union Station's New Favorite, as I flip back and forth between the speakers the soundstage depth is very close at certain frequencies and some what different at others.

First the bass region. As I flip back and forth the upright bass of Barry Bales stays steady in the background without moving either forward or back in the virtual stage. As I listen to Alison's voice the stage changes slightly. Allyson goes from about two feet behind the speaker to about three feet back on the ELAC's. Not a huge difference but a difference non the less.

[could we all pay attention here for a minute.......PLEEEEASE]

Soundstage Width
So here I return to my usual test for soundstage width, Pink Floyds Signs of Life on Momentary Lapse of Reason. The water lapping against the shore the Dyn's project that particular sound out about two to three feet outside of the speaker plane. Switching to the ELAC's the soundstage opened up even further. These same sounds now appear a solid four feet outside of the speaker plane. Something also to take note of is the fact that the better bass extension of the ELAC's provided even more ambiance to the recordings. Even though the relative soundstage depth is about the same between the two speakers, the extra octave or so of bass makes for an even larger picture of the recorded material, hence the slightly higher rating below.

Soundstage Height
Flipping back and forth between the two speakers, the Dyn's predominant stage is on the same horizontal plane as the speakers extending a foot or so below and about three to four feet above the speaker. The ELAC's project a much larger soundstage. They extend about two feet higher and lower than the Dyn's. Most of what I am hearing is due to the extended bass. The soundstage the upper frequencies projected are very similar.

Imaging and Focus
The ELAC's ability to cast a much larger image than the Dyn's meets with a few focus problems. Although your typical vocals (and other instruments in the same frequency bands) stay relatively stable, much of the other musical information tends to get a bit lost in the background. The bass regions are clearly audible but can be difficult to zero in on.

Likewise, the frequencies of an acoustic guitar. If you have an engineer that has mixed a guitar to just the left of center stage, the image can drift and get a bit smeared. Not too bad mind you, but when you do a direct comparison, the Dyn's have a more stable and better defined image.

Subjective Stuff

Overall Coloration
These speakers are pretty darned even when compared to the Dyn's. Each of them has their unique qualities. The Dyn's vocal mid-bass (slight) bloom gives way to the ELAC's slight dryness in the same region. Depending on the recording it either adds or detracts equally both directions.

[it's a little lumpy on the bottom and there is LOADS of bottom end with these speakers]

The bass bloom in the lowest octaves can add some coloration to acoustic music but on Rock and other aggressive genres of music, I rather enjoyed it quite honestly. It added loads of life to what can be sometimes a lifeless recording. Wasn't it J. Gordon Holt that said “flat sucks” (basically)?

Tough call. This one comes down to your personal preference in reproduction.

The slight increase in stage depth has these speakers presenting as (about) a 5th row speaker. You are still right down in front of the stage with the ELAC's.

The lowest octaves of the bass region can get a bit peaky. In turn it can be a bit disconcerting on certain types of music, especially an acoustic bass. Mind you it's nothing too bad but it is there as you can see from my rating.

No doubt, these peaks are partially caused by room interaction and my homemade port plugs. Another thing on the bass, as I watched my Sencore meter using the real time analyzer I noticed some strange peaks on the fundamental harmonics of frequencies that probably lend themselves to my conclusions. Again, nothing too major but it is noteworthy.

Miss You
I really enjoyed my time with the ELAC's. It was nice not having to integrate a sub into the system. Sometimes that can be a little tricky. The music was pleasant and very memorable.

Objective Ratings




Fit and Finish

- 2

Nice but not quite on par with the Dyn's



Loads of punch and snap to the presentation

Treble - Extension


Very nice, flat extension

Treble - Clarity


Smooth and clear, though there was a slight peak around 9k

Midrange - Clarity


Nice but the Dyn's had a more "chestyness"

Bass - Clarity


I might be a bit biased here but I preferred the "tighter" sound

Bass - Extension


This one is simply because of the EBS design. Not fair (I know) but I did say I wasn't going to limit this to just bookshelves

Soundstage - Depth


Slightly deeper presentation

Soundstage - Width


Again, this is more attributable to the deeper bass response providing more ambience to the recordings

Soundstage - Height


More from the bass department

Imaging - Focus


The ELAC's ran into some trouble here

Subjective Ratings

Overall Coloration


Not too bad, just a tad dry in the upper mid-bass



5th Row



A little peaky in the bass region

"Miss You" Factor


These things loved to Rock

[and you thought I was going to say something interesting]


Here we have another really nice pair of speakers, especially for those who enjoy more aggressive music. This time there is little need for a subwoofer. Placement and setup can get a little tricky but nothing you haven't done before. The bass that comes with these speakers is more than you could ever want (almost). Cool part is, once you dial them in for acoustic music, pop on some rock, pull the port plugs and crank the hell out of it. These little speakers love to rock.

From hard rock to industrial to trance and ambient to some hip hop, these little floor standers did a great job. Of all the types of music I played on these little gems, those were my favorites. Almost everything and more you could ask for in a sub-$1000 speaker and more. We had some seriously stompin' bass goin on here for a month or so.

The ELAC's did a pretty fair job on jazz and classical too. If you are anal about reproduction of (say) an upright bass, you will probably what to look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you are a hard rock-phile, these might be just what you've been looking for.

Manufactures Comments

Thank you very much for your positive review of our new ELAC 108.2 loudspeaker. With a range of speakers going all the way to over $15,000 per pair, ELAC offers a model for just about everyone. The only comment we would like to make is ato offer a brief description of the construction of our drivers.

The woofers used in the 100 and higher series speakers are of the "Aluminum Sandwich" design which bonds a machined aluminum dome with a pulp / fiber backing. This provides the rigidity achieved with aluminum cones and eliminated resonances which are a common problem with aluminum only cones.

The HT25KST IV tweeter used in all 100 series models is a unique 25mm aluminium magnesium manganese dome with integrated phaser and wave guide. The dome and voice coil former are made of one piece. Sensitive gluing joints are thus avoided and distortions efficiently prevented. The driver is extremely heat-resistant.

All drivers in the 100 series are fully magnetically shielded and all models are available in Black, Silver, Beech / Silver and Cherry finishes and all feature a 10 year warranty. For more information on these or any of the broad range of ELAC products, please visit our web site at www.elac.com. to find a dealer in your area, please email us at sale@triancorp.com or call 608-850-3600.

Dick Ravich
Trian Electronics

Thanks/Reference Gear

I'd like to personally thank all of the manufacturers who have made this series of speaker reviews possible. Remember, without these guys, you wouldn't be reading this :-) Surf on into their sites. They all sell affordable gear well worthy of your consideration.

Reference Gear


Manufacturer and Model


CD Player

Njoe Tjoeb, Upsampled

Upscale Audio - Kevin Deal

Pre Amp

Korato KVP-20

Korato Group

Audio Switching


NLA – My personal gear


ASKA - Aspen 55 watt Amplifier

Aspen Amplifiers Pty. Ltd.


RAM 301 - 30 watt Modified Jolida

Response Audio - Bill Baker


HH Scott 299A Integrated - EL84 PP

NLA - My Personal Gear


Silver Plated Copper, Teflon Insul

Home Brew

Speaker Cables

Silver Plated Copper, Teflon Insul

Home Brew

Speakers (ref)

Dynaudio Audience 42

Dynaudio USA Michael Manousselis

Speakers (review)

ELAC FS 108.2

Trian Electronics, Dick Ravich

Geek Toys

Sencore SP-295c



© Copyright 2004 Scott Faller - http://www.tnt-audio.com

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