Elac Carina BS243.4 loudspeaker Measurements

Sidebar 3: Measurements

I used DRA Labs' MLSSA system and a calibrated DPA 4006 microphone to measure the Elac Carina BS243.4's frequency response in the farfield, and an Earthworks QTC-40 mike for the nearfield responses. The measurements were taken without a grille.

Though Elac specifies the BS243.4's sensitivity as 85dB/2.83V/m, my estimate was closer to 82.5dB(B)/2.83V/m. The impedance is specified as 6 ohms with a minimum value of 4.8 ohms. The solid trace in fig.1 shows that while the impedance magnitude does briefly drop below 6 ohms, in the midbass and lower midrange, the average impedance in the treble is closer to 8 ohms. The minimum magnitude is 4.6 ohms at 190Hz, and while the electrical phase angle (dotted trace) reaches –57.4° at 101Hz, the magnitude at that frequency is 12.65 ohms. The BS243.4 is therefore not a particularly difficult load for an amplifier to drive.


Fig.1 Elac BS243.4, electrical impedance (solid) and phase (dashed) (2 ohms/vertical div.).

There don't appear to be any small discontinuities in the impedance traces that would suggest the presence of cabinet vibrational resonances. When I investigated the enclosure's vibrational behavior with a plastic-tape accelerometer, however, I found two high-level modes, at 453Hz and 566Hz, on the sidewalls (fig.2), as well as on the top panel. Both of these modes have a high Q, meaning that they need to be excited for a while to be fully developed, and, as they also have relatively high frequencies, it is unlikely that they would lead to audible congestion in the midrange.


Fig.2 Elac Carina BS243.4, cumulative spectral-decay plot calculated from output of accelerometer fastened to center of sidewall (MLS driving voltage to speaker, 7.55V; measurement bandwidth, 2kHz).

The impedance-magnitude plot has a saddle centered on 54Hz, which implies that this is the port's tuning frequency. The blue trace in fig.3 shows the woofer's nearfield response, which does indeed have its minimum-motion notch at 54Hz. (This is the frequency at which the back pressure from the port resonance holds the cone stationary.) The nearfield response of the downward-facing port (red trace) peaks at the same frequency; while its upper-frequency rolloff is clean, there are a couple of small peaks present between 400Hz and 550Hz. The small rise in the upper bass is due to the nearfield measurement technique, which assumes the woofer is mounted in a baffle that extends to infinity in both horizontal and vertical planes.


Fig.3 Elac Carina BS243.4, acoustic crossover on tweeter axis at 50", corrected for microphone response, with nearfield woofer (blue) and port (red) responses respectively plotted below 350Hz and 700Hz.

Higher in frequency in fig.3, the farfield outputs of the BS243.4's woofer (blue trace) and tweeter (green trace) are impressively flat within their passbands, with the crossover occurring at the specified 2.7kHz. The aluminum-cone woofer does have some resonant peaks present at 5kHz and above, but the high-order crossover suppresses these by close to 20dB. The Elac's farfield response above 300Hz, averaged across a 30° horizontal window centered on the tweeter axis, is shown in fig.4. The midrange and treble are superbly flat. The black trace below 300Hz in fig.4 shows the sum of the nearfield woofer and port outputs, taking into account acoustic phase and the different distance of each radiator from a nominal farfield microphone position. Again the nearfield bump can be seen, but the BS243.4's low frequencies are tuned to be maximally flat and down by 6dB at the port tuning frequency.


Fig.4 Elac Carina BS243.4, anechoic response on tweeter axis at 50", averaged across 30° horizontal window and corrected for microphone response, with their complex sum of the nearfield woofer and port responses plotted below 300Hz.

Fig.5 shows the Elac's horizontal dispersion and reveals that there is a very slight lack of energy off-axis at the top of the woofer's passband, which might make the speaker sound polite in large rooms. The BS243.4 rapidly becomes directional above 7.6kHz to its sides, and as the on-axis response doesn't have the usual top-octave peak, this speaker's balance will lack air in overdamped, medium-to-large rooms. In the vertical plane (fig.6), a suckout develops in the crossover region more than 5° above and 10° below the woofer axis. These speakers should be used on stands that are sufficiently high that the listener can't see their top panels.


Fig.5 Elac Carina BS243.4, lateral response family at 50", normalized to response on tweeter axis, from back to front: differences in response 90–5° off axis, reference response, differences in response 5–90° off axis.


Fig.6 Elac Carina BS243.4, vertical response family at 50", normalized to response on tweeter axis, from back to front: differences in response 45–5° above axis, reference response, differences in response 5–45° below axis.

Turning to the time domain, the Carina BS243.4's step response (fig.7) indicates that both the tweeter and midrange unit are connected in positive acoustic polarity. (I checked this by looking at which way the woofer moved when I applied a 2V DC voltage to its terminals.) The decay of the tweeter's step, which arrives first at the microphone, smoothly blends with the start of the woofer's step, suggesting optimal crossover implementation. The Elac's cumulative spectral-decay plot (fig.8) is extremely clean, with the high-frequency resonances in the woofer cone well-suppressed.


Fig.7 Elac Carina BS243.4, step response on tweeter axis at 50" (5ms time window, 30kHz bandwidth).


Fig.8 Elac Carina BS243.4, cumulative spectral-decay plot on tweeter axis at 50" (0.15ms risetime).

For a fairly expensive minimonitor to justify its price, it should offer excellent audio engineering. The Elac Carina BS243.4 does so.—John Atkinson

Elac Electroacoustic GmbH
US distributor: ELAC Americas LLC
11145 Knott Ave., Suites E & F
Cypress, CA 90630
(714 ) 252-8843

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be HR could also review the new Polk Audio L-100 bookshelf/stand-mount speakers ($1,200/pair) ..... L-100s were favorably mentioned by RS, in a recent dealer demo ....... L-100s are in the same price range as KEF LS-50 and the Elac Carina bookshelf/stand-mount speakers :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

BS243.4? ....... Their marketing department has great imagination in selecting their model designations :-) .......

partain's picture

Hence the BS .

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Measurements of Carina AMT tweeters look better than GoldenEar AMT tweeters :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Stereophile measurements of Adam Audio AMT tweeters are also pretty good :-) .........

Ortofan's picture

... speakers "sounded more refined than any similarly priced loudspeaker I know of" and that "the word elegant kept forcing itself on me."

But, does he remember stating that the comparably priced Wharfedale Linton Heritage speakers "merge a refined, elegantly detailed, full-range sound with a magnetic personality that made me want to play records—made me want to listen longer, and to understand more of what I was listening to?"


So HR, if the sound quality of both speakers is refined and elegant, do the ELAC Carina speakers also have that certain "magnetic personality" factor that makes you want to play records and listen longer - or not?

Or, could you be tempted by a pair of JBL Studio 590 speakers, presently on sale for only $880/pr.?


Herb Reichert's picture

I choose my words very carefully


Bogolu Haranath's picture

Refined and elegant without 'magnetic personality', could also mean boring ........ Who wants to go out on a date with a boring person? ........ You want that person to have a 'magnetic personality', also ....... Just a thought :-) .........

er1c's picture

and as always the gentleman poet of audio reviews. I wait for your articles and they are always kind and informative. My Kef LS50 Black Edition and (recent) Rogue Sphinx V3 are my current hot date, and that, thanks to you. Long may you write. (and paint)

Herb Reichert's picture

I am humbled and inspired by your kind words.

thank you and may 2020 be kind to us all


Bogolu Haranath's picture

May HR also keep recommending 'hot dates' in audio equipment till 2050 :-) .........

Long-time listener's picture

These are the kind of speakers I'd go out and just buy without even hearing them--except for two things. First, I'd be happier if that base was metal, rather than plastic. But more importantly, a 6.5" woofer rather than a 5.5" one, with a slightly larger cabinet, would give greater bass extension and would make this a more useful speaker, as far as I'm concerned. I wonder why ELAC made their only bookshelf speaker in the range such a small one?

jimtavegia's picture

At this price range I would not have expected fig 4 to look this excellent. Even the cross-over graphs do not show the huge dips the crossover regions we normally see.

Long-time listener's picture

I can't think of any speakers I've seen measured in Stereophile recently that had a "huge" dip in the crossover region. And for my part, a "slight" dip in the upper-midrange/lower-treble (or presence) region would often be welcome. The Dynaudio Special 40 lacked such a dip, and in addition, had off-axis emphasis in this region, and the result was an unpleasant upper-midrange emphasis. The speaker was in many other respects excellent but I sold my pair because there's nothing like an upper-midrange emphasis to make a speaker sound "hot," "aggressive," or unpleasantly forward. I very much look forward to the return of the mild British presence-region dip, because they were tuning speakers by what sounds good, not by what microphones say is flat.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Recently reviewed Wilson Sasha DAW has a -5 db BBC dip in the presence region from 1 kHz to 5 kHz :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Could this Elac Carina bookshelf model be the first Elac bookshelf model to make it to the Stereophile Class-A limited LF? ........ Stay tuned to this same channel :-) .......

JRT's picture

Nicely done.

(12/29) edit: My first reaction stands, but... I think there is some room for some inexpensive improvement, in that I think it could well use a wide rectangular waveguide on the tweeter, out to the full width of the baffle, to better control the tweeter's directivity, most especially the horizontal directivity over most of the tweeter's passband and down into its highpass stopband, and perhaps to widen directivity at higher frequencies, and to provide a little more tweeter sensitivity with some useful boost to excursion limited SPL for a slightly lower crossover frequency.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

After designing and making 5000 different model bookshelf speakers at different price points, Andrew Jones seems to have finally made a Class-A bookshelf speaker at a reasonable price :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

The only downside is (if, any) some side wall resonances in the upper midrange (see, Fig 2) :-) .........

mememe2's picture

Liked the review but baffled by all of the incorrectly hyphenated words. Is this a result of some automatic editing function in some program? e.g. - audio-designer, cheap-vinyl-covered booxes, front-side, com- pound curvature, super-focused image. high-speed, high-volume air movement. There are more littered throughout the review. What gives?

John Atkinson's picture
mememe2 wrote:
Liked the review but baffled by all of the incorrectly hyphenated words. Is this a result of some automatic editing function in some program?

No, it's old-fashioned human error on my part. I prepare the web reprints of the magazine's content by working from the finalized files that are sent to the printer. These hyphens creep in where was a word-break in the print version and I have to manually delete them. Obviously I missed some :-(

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

tonykaz's picture

What's old-fashioned about your human error ? ( which I never seem to notice or bother trying to notice. for gods sake )

If you error, I'd have to say it's on the side of nit picking accuracte descriptiveness .

However, punctuation and ly ending words aside, this publication seems as captivating a read as John Grisham, Michael Connelly & LeCarre, considering it's a technical journal and not a Literary adventure.

Technically I'd "like" to see Stereophile continue doing in-depth Manufacture articles that take readership deep into our well loved outfits like Magnepan, PS Audio, etc. ( even Schiit )

Overall, perfection is over-rated and probably a symptom of a serious personality disorder.

Tony in Venice

ps. I'm hunting down a book on proper use of hyphens.

mememe2's picture

Don't believe in perfection either. How could I, since I'm into music and gear. And no person alive has one side of their face (or body) exactly the same as the other. We all live with im-perfection.

JRT's picture
Tony_Kaz_a_Florida-man_living_in_Venice wrote:

"I'm hunting down a book on proper use of hyphens."

Here is a link to the website of the Friends of the Venice Public Library, including address and map.


tonykaz's picture

Thanks for the suggestion, I've been a Patron of the Sarasota County Library System for most of 2019.

I'll find something British on hyphens, they invented the dam things, didn't they? ( of course it was left up to us Americans to improve/refine the language's usefulness & utility )

Tony in Venice

ps. this little hunt-adventure is already pretty far back on my burners.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Brits invented dam English ...... Now it is up to US to perfect it :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Perfection is not attainable ..... but, if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence" ........ Vince Lombardi :-) ........

tonykaz's picture

They never quite caught up with Vince's philosophy, did they. We still talk about Lombardi, back home in Wisconsin, after all these decades. Hmm This shows how little Wisconsin is up-to.

Tony in Venice

ps. My Dear Mother is buried in Manatowoc and I need to visit her one more time before I join her. My people are buried there since the 1850s. Phew!! Six Generations starting 1847

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Packers NFL record this season is 12-3, so far ........ They can clinch the NFC North championship title this season and are definetly gonna make to the Playoffs, this season :-) ......

tonykaz's picture

How did you become a Green Bay Fan ??

I'm from Manatowoc, so, I have reason. Yet, I'm not any sort of NFL fan.

If I had to choose a Team, I'd choose my Packers, I suppose, for birth origins reasons.

My grandparents did business with the Lombardis in the 1940s, everyone was small town people in those days.

Tony in Venice

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I'm not a Packers fan per se ...... I follow all the NFL teams during their entire season ....... I'm a football fan, in addition to other types of games :-) ......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Sorry to say, Detroit Lions are not doing very well this season :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

There is a good reason why the NFL final championship game trophy, the Super Bowl trophy is named as The Vince Lombardi Trophy :-) .......

eriks's picture

Sorry Herb, but with Be, Ti and AMT tweeters I've heard good and I've heard terrible. Was it the material or the implementation?

The best in all categories disappear and sound like nothing at all. If you can tell the type of tweeter by listening to it, it isn't a very good tweeter.



Ktracho's picture

How well do these speakers work on a desktop for near field listening? I'd love to get something like LS3/5a type speakers, but these seem like a potentially less expensive alternative.

Herb Reichert's picture

the Elecs were a too big for my desk; but I would bet some headphones they would work quite well about 12" from the wall behind them.

That being said, for decades, I used my Rogers LS3/5a just above my desk (with factory wall-mounts) and found them to be one of most satisfying speakers I have owned.


David Harper's picture

My ELAC B6 speakers are now in an upstairs closet due to their having been displaced by a new pair of Maggie LRS speakers. Recently I got them out, reconnected them alongside the maggies, and gave them a listen. They were the same speakers I had listened to for a few years past, but now, for the first time, I heard two distinct things I had not noticed at all before getting the maggies. First, the treble had a gritty metallic distortion and second the mids sounded as if they were coming out of a horn. They were still excellent speakers for their price and the inherent limitations of dynamic drivers in a wooden box. But they gave me a new appreciation for the maggies. I wonder how the ELAC AMT tweeters would compare with the Raidho ribbons. That would be a good shootout. Forty years ago I owned a pair of ESS speakers with AMT drivers and I remember them being the smoothest sounding speakers I ever heard. But now I find nothing compares with the maggie LRS (except for electrostats which I dislike for reasons having nothing to do with SQ). And best of all, 700 dollars!!!! Oh, and a new Schiit Vidar amp too.

ajkwak's picture

Carina or Quad S2?

gregoryhears's picture

Thanks, once again, Mr. Reichert for another of your thorough reviews. I especially appreciate the comparisons of how the Elac Carina BS243.4 loudspeakers sound with various amps, and comparison to their competition. One of the things that is important to me in the world of recorded sound playback, is soundstage. Could you please comment on your impressions of the Carina soundstage – depth, width, anything that struck you as noteworthy?

thanks, and best wishes to you