Elac Debut Reference DBR62 review: High-end design, friendly sound

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Since , speaker designer Andrew Jones has continued to produce some of the for the money in his new home at Elac America. His newest speaker, the Debut Reference, shares DNA with the original , which produced a warm sound and a lot of bass for a compact speaker. The Reference is the real sonic successor to the first Debut, with its own warm yet vocally expressive sound. 

7.9

Elac Debut Reference Bookshelf DBR62

How it stacks up

Like

  • Warm tone handles jazz, folk and vocals particularly well.
  • Forgiving and versatile with many systems.
  • Premium design for the money.

Don’t Like

  • They lack the drive demanded by rock and pop.
  • Cheaper Elacs offer better value for the money.

As much as I enjoyed listening to the Elac Debut Reference DBR62, it’s arguable if it’s worth the extra cost compared to Elac’s . The 2.0 is superior in many ways at half the price, while the offers an even more detailed performance for the same money as than the Reference. Neither of those look or feel as premium as the Reference, though.

If you don’t crave out-and-out excitement in your music, and instead want a laid-back performance for jazz or vocal-intensive music the Debut Reference looks and sounds the part. The Elac Debut Reference Bookshelf Speakers DBR62 are available for $600, £600 or AU$1,000.

Elac Debut Reference Bookshelf Speakers DBR62

Dig that walnut wrap.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Wood and metal

The Debut Reference is one of the most the most attractive Elac speakers yet. They look fine with the magnetic woolen grill in place, which shows off the vinyl walnut wrap of the back and sides. But I preferred them without the grill. The visual star is the metallic mesh over the dome tweeter, which adds a futuristic look to the big speaker design. 

Below the tweeter is a 6.5-inch aramid fiber woofer and flared bass port. On the rear you’ll find gold-plated binding posts. The speaker comes in two finishes: a white baffle with an oak cabinet, or the version I reviewed, a black baffle with a walnut cabinet. It’s 8.18 inches wide by 14.13 inches high and 10.82 inches deep, and at 18 pounds per speaker, it feels hefty as you remove it from the box.

The DBR62’s frequency response is rated at 44Hz to 35,000Hz with a maximum recommended power input of 120 watts.

Elac Debut Reference Bookshelf Speakers DBR62Elac Debut Reference Bookshelf Speakers DBR62

Grill-off FTW.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

How it sounds

Even if it’s not the most thrilling listen, the new Debut proves you don’t have to sound crazy-bright to be truly hi-fi. The Debut is especially sensitive to midrange instruments like voices and acoustic guitars, and gives folk and jazz a genuine sparkle. While it’s not the first speaker I’d choose for couch-jumping to hair metal, it doesn’t make hard rock sound bad by any means, either.

I compared the Elac against two very British designs, the  and the  with a selection of music and movies. I used the DBR62 with an Onkyo TX-RZ830, a capable midrange AV receiver, with pleasing results.

During lockdown I’m reviewing speakers from home so I didn’t have a pair of the Debut 2.0s to compare directly. But I know their sound well enough to realize immediately they are different speakers altogether than the Reference series. The Debut 2.0s have a very forward character compared to the laid-back nature of the Reference, and they demand a lot more care in system matching. 

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