With a reputation stretching back to the eighties, hopes are high for this big-hearted stand mounter.
This is the second largest floor stander in Epos’ new range of mainstream speakers; although it has three drive units it is effectively a ‘two-and-a-half-way’ design with both woofers working together, although the lower driver only works under 800Hz whereas the upper one goes up to 3.6kHz where the tweeter takes over. The bass units are 156mm designs with polypropylene cones and bullet-shaped dust caps; the tweeter is a 25mm doped-fabric dome with a short horn. A simple crossover is used, bi-wirable unlike many here.
The cabinet uses high-quality real-wood veneer. The company says that extensive horizontal and vertical internal bracing is positioned inside the sturdy 18mm-thick MDF cabinets. They’re supplied with plinths, and oddly there’s a choice of two baffles – a standard ‘audiophile’ type and an alternative cloth-covered version. The Elan 30 boasts the highest quoted sensitivity of the group (92dB); listening tests confirm it certainly goes loud with relatively little power and this makes it ideal for valve amplifiers, for example. It’s not too fussy about sitting close to rear walls; our review samples proved happy just 20cm away.
Here’s a speaker that sounds both bigger than it looks, and more exciting, too. The Epos isn’t the largest here, but no one seems to have told it! The result is an expansive sound, both across the soundstage from left to right, and also in terms of depth perspective, too. Unlike the Tannoy, for example, which is another feisty performer, the Epos doesn’t throw everything out at you in your face. There’s a little more room to breathe and this is appreciated on the High Llamas track, which is certainly a little forward tonally. The Epos delivers a balanced, but involving sound that lets the listener follow the natural musical progression of the song well. It doesn’t deconstruct things, but does still dig deep into the mix to let the music really flow.
The New Order track shows it to be skillfully voiced; this track can be blisteringly in-your-face with some speakers, but the Eposes sit back a little bit, tonally. They carry those lovely chiming eighties synthesizers in their full glory, never clouding or dulling them, but still they have real impact and this, alongside the spinning rhythm of the hi-hats, makes for an emotionally arresting, captivating listen. Again, the Elans seem to ‘carry the tune’ very well – only the Splendors manage to do better, and these are hamstrung by a slight lack of low bass, which the Eposes are not.
The 1st movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony is an excellent showcase for these floor standers; they have a fine range and prove they are able to dish out low bass without recourse to boom. As with several others here, the drivers are ever so slightly audible, giving a little extra coloration, but still this doesn’t intrude and the result is a lucid, musical feel to the proceedings. They’re a little larger in scale than the Splendors, if not quite as incisive across the midland. Treble is decent, with a crisp and atmospheric sparkle, but still some way behind the best. The good news continues with the Lou Donaldson track, when the Elans get a chance to show their excellent rhythmic prowess; they roll along with the music in a wonderfully easy and unobstructed way. Large in scale, smooth in tone and fleet of foot, the Elan 30 is a quite excellent speaker for the money.
It would be remarkable were the Elan 30 to achieve its claimed 92dB sensitivity, but our pink noise figure of 90.3dB suggests that a still creditable 90dB is more realistic. This is achieved without ridiculously low impedance, the 3.4 ohms minimum at 310Hz according well with Epos’ nominal 4 ohms figure. Impedance phase angles are large enough to drop the EPDR to a minimum of 1.8 ohms at 132Hz, but that’s towards the upper end of values for this group. On-axis frequency response error of ±3.8dB for both speakers is a good result and would be better, but for the extreme treble being shelved up by about 3dB. Pair matching was OK at ±1.3dB. Despite the high sensitivity, bass extension was one of the best in test at 42Hz, with a gentle roll-off beginning below 100Hz. The CSD waterfall shows fast initial energy decay, although low-level resonances are visible.
- Sound quality: 5/5
- Value for money: 5/5
- Build quality: 4/5
- Ease of drive: 5/5
- Like: Big hearted, smoothly balanced music maker; very easy to drive.
- Dislike: Lacks ultimate fine detail and transparency.
- We say: Excellent all-round floorstander that will win many friends.
- Overall: 5/5