Elac vs B&W – Which Brand Is Better?

Norvan Martin
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Elac and B&W are two renowned and well-respected brands in the audio industry that produce high-quality car speakers, headphones, soundbars,  and subwoofers. 

In this article, we will cover a general overview of both brands, looking specifically at sound quality, durability, price, and so on. Of course, each brand has different devices at different price points, however, we will compare them as closely as we can.

ELAC is a well-regarded brand known for its high-quality speakers and home theater systems, while Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) is a well-respected brand in the audio industry known for its high-quality speakers and headphones.

Elac vs B&W Comparison Table

CriteriaELACBowers & Wilkins (B&W)
Brand ReputationGerman audio company known for high-quality speakers, particularly in the hi-fi and home audio segments.Renowned British audio brand with a history of producing premium speakers and audio systems, catering to audiophiles and enthusiasts.
Sound QualityEmphasizes accurate and detailed sound reproduction, often with a neutral audio signature suitable for critical listening.Known for delivering rich and immersive sound, often with a focus on advanced driver technologies and acoustic engineering.
Build Quality/DesignEmphasizes quality craftsmanship, often with attention to aesthetic design and the use of high-quality materials.Emphasizes premium build quality and distinctive design, with a focus on both visual appeal and acoustic performance.
Product RangeOffers a range of speakers, including bookshelf speakers, floorstanding speakers, and home audio systems.Offers a diverse range of speakers, headphones, and audio systems, catering to both home audio and professional audio markets.
PricingVaried pricing, providing options for different budgets, with offerings in both mid-range and high-end segments.Falls in the mid to high-end price range, reflecting the premium quality and performance of their audio products.
FeaturesEmphasizes advanced driver technology, innovative design elements, and high-quality materials to enhance audio performance.Known for features such as diamond tweeters, Continuum cone technology, and unique enclosure designs in speakers and audio systems.

Before we continue, you can check out similar comparisons in the series:

Pros and Cons of ELAC:

  • Pros: Known for producing high-quality speakers with excellent sound quality and strong bass response. Many of their products are designed to be aesthetically pleasing and can be a good fit for a home theater setup.
  • Cons: Some of their products can be expensive, and some users have reported issues with durability.

Pros and Cons of Bowers & Wilkins (BW):

  • Pros: Known for producing high-quality speakers and headphones with excellent sound quality and build quality. Many of their products are well-regarded by audiophiles and have received positive reviews.
  • Cons: Some of their products can be expensive, and some users have reported issues with durability.

Quick History

Elac Quick History

Elac was founded in 1926, which was just a few years before the Second World War. It became prominent during the war with the production of electroacoustic devices and a range of other nautical applications for the Kriegsmarine.

Elac

After the World War, the brand expanded into the production of consumer audio products, including loudspeakers, subwoofers, and sound monitors.

B&W Quick History

Bowers & Wilkins, best known as B&W, is a British manufacturer of consumer and professional loudspeakers and headphones.

bowers and wilkins overview

B&W was founded in 1966 by John Bowers in Worthing, West Sussex, England. They currently have many award-winning loudspeaker designs to their name.

Sound Quality

Elac Sound Quality

The sound quality of most Elac speakers is out of the box, and with an impressive delivery on audio clarity.

ELAC Uni-Fi UF5 Floorstanding Speaker

For example, the ELAC Debut 2.0 bookshelf speakers offer crisp sound, outstanding detail and thunderous bass.

Elac subwoofers produce a bass effect that is soft and warm, which makes them a lot more comfortable to listen to. For example, an Elac B6 loudspeaker delivers a 3-dimensional sound effect that instantly fills the room.

B&W Sound Quality

B&W puts a lot of money into research and development. This has allowed them to make many audio breakthroughs over the years. B&W devices are noted for delivering pure, natural and detailed sound reproduction. There’s chest-thumping bass and clear mids and highs.

Bowers and wilkins monitor speakers

One feature of some B&W speakers is a tweeter separated from the main cabinet, this allows the tweeter to produce an accurate sound that’s unaffected by the subwoofer

Features

Elac Features

Some key features found in some Elac speakers include a cloth dome tweeter, woven aramid-fiber cone woofer, and a front-firing flared port (in a few others).

Most Elac subwoofers come with high excursion doped paper woofers with a Bridged Amplifier Switching Hybrid (BASH) tracking amplification.

B&W Features

Even though B&W is an older brand, they are still competing with best-in-class modern devices with modern features, like:

  • Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth, WiFi
  • Wired connectivity includes USB, HDMI, optical audio
  • AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and aptX Adaptive Bluetooth support
  • Bowers & Wilkins Music App, which supports music streaming services including Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz, Soundcloud and TuneIn
  • Amazon Alexa voice control for hands-free operation

Build Quality

Elac Build Quality

Elac loudspeakers have great durability, an impressive finish, and a solid build. An example is the Elac 2.0 B6.2 bookshelf speaker that has a brace built into it to reduce the overall vibration of the speaker and ultimately improve its durability.

Debut 2.0 C5.2

Most Elac audio products are built with either a wood or vinyl body and have a nice finish that ensures they don’t wear out easily.

B&W Build Quality

B&W has always been at the forefront in pioneering new techniques that improve the acoustics and durability of their devices. Their devices are enclosed in aluminum or sturdy plastic for a durable and attractive finish.

bowers and wilkins history

B&W patented the use of Kevlar fibers, impregnated with a stiffening resin to provide controlled rigidity and internal damping; and minimize distortion. They currently use their own material, Continuum, for their speaker cones.

Ease of Use

Elac Ease Of Use

Although Elac products are produced for consumer use, most of them require a bit of technical knowledge to operate.

For example, while the Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 speaker is said to be designed for the bookshelf and wall mounting, the speaker does not come with wall mount hardware which might make it hard to mount on walls without the technical knowledge of a professional.

B&W Ease Of Use

B&W devices are very easy to install and operate. This is made even easier by the company’s support for voice assistants, such as Alexa. The B&W music app allows you to use streaming services on your devices and finetune the sound output to your taste.

Cost

Elac Cost

Elac products are quite expensive. The brand believes paying more for a product is a way to appreciate the quality and engineering of that product.

Elac bookshelf speakers have a price range of $180 to $3000, with the Elac Vela BS 403 (a bookshelf speaker) being sold for around $3000.

Also, most Elac portable subwoofers are in the price range of $150 and upward. The floor-standing speakers have a price range of $400 to $3800.

B&W Cost

B&W devices usually have midrange prices, though some devices are well into the high-end price range. Their price ranges are given below.

  • Subwoofers: $900 – $3200
  • Earbuds/headphones: $320 – $550
  • Speakers: $500 – $8400

Space Requirements

Elac Space Requirements

However, some of the Elac speakers and subwoofers have a nice internal brace, which makes it easy to arrange them closer to the wall without affecting the sound and creating enough space around them.

Elac speakers can be arranged closer to the sitting area without causing discomfort since they do not vibrate while in use.

B&W Space Requirements

B&W floorstanders require quite some space in which to operate and are better suited to spacious rooms.

The bookshelf speakers are more versatile and can either be mounted on a stand, fixed to a wall using brackets or placed on a desktop or shelf space. Keep in mind that they all require some free space around them for ventilation.

Remote Controls

Elac Remote Controls

Very few Elac products come with a remote control. One of the few that come with a remote are Elac amplifiers and Elac Hi-Fi Stereo system.

B&W Remote Controls

Some B&W devices have their own in-house remote controls but they also support the use of third-party remote controllers. The B&W music app and Alexa allow you to control your speaker from any device on the same WiFi network.

Connectivity Options 

Elac Connectivity Options

Here are the main connectivity options compatible with most Elac speakers:

  • Bluetooth
  • Wi-Fi
  • RCA
  • HDMI

B&W Connectivity Options

B&W devices can be connected to each other and to other devices using wired or wireless options. These include Bluetooth, HDMI, WiFi, USB, aux input and a whole range of other options.

Power Range

Elac Power Range

Elac bookshelf speakers have a power range that is around 40-140 watts. The power range in the Elac subwoofer goes from 100 watts in the Elac Debut 2.0 S10.2 subwoofer to 1000 watts in the Elac Debut 2.0 Sub3030.

B&W Power Range

Power ranges differ for various different devices, though they all give quite powerful performance, even without the use of amplifiers.

The B&W 607 S2 bookshelf speaker is rated at 100 Watts, while the B&W Zeppelin peaks at 240 watts.

Frequency Response

Elac Frequency Response

The frequency range for most Elac subwoofers is around 28-150Hz. In a 2-way center speaker such as the Debut 2.0 C5.2, the frequency range is about 55Hz to 35kHz. Also, Elac bookshelf speakers have frequency ranges from 44Hz to 35kHz.

B&W Frequency Response

The B&W 606 Speaker has a frequency response range of 52Hz on the low end and 28KHz on the high end, which is simply amazing for a bookshelf speaker. The B&W 804 D4 floorstanding loudspeaker has a vast 20Hz to 35KHz frequency response range.

Conclusion

Elac devices have great deliverability with the build quality and overall sound quality. However, when getting an Elac product, you need to understand that they have a design that requires enough space because of the boxy design. on the other hand, B&W devices deliver excellent performance at reasonable prices. Though they can be quite costly, you should expect nothing but the best from them.

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Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin