Inside Track: Elementi Audio Home Cinema Loudspeaker System

Posted on 24th May, 2022

Inside Track: Elementi Audio Home Cinema Loudspeaker System

Tony O'Brien takes a close-up look at this interesting range of home theatre speakers…

Elementi Audio

Home Cinema Loudspeaker Systems

From AUD $24,000 RRP

Elementi Audio's creator David Moseley has worn many hats over the years. Architect, builder, designer, engineer – his credentials give him a unique perspective on home cinema that I suspect few share. And while his brand may be a newish entry into the home cinema speaker market, Moseley is no stranger to it. He's owned and operated Australia's most awarded custom Home Cinema company, Wavetrain Cinemas, since 2007.

These credentials, coupled with an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of cinema design and acoustics, have seen him lecture and collaborate with such notaries as Tom Holman of THX fame and acoustician Anthony Grimani.

Moseley tells me that there's no one size fits all when it comes to loudspeakers and rooms. Speaker manufacturers have little say over the room their speakers find themselves in, nor the electronics they're partnered with. The natural response, of course, is to calibrate the speakers in situ. The problem with this is that you're essentially 'calibrating the room', and attenuating the speakers' response to overcome issues within the room. There are also fundamental differences between in-room delay and that of an anechoic chamber. 


David Moseley, Elementi Audio

If the room is tuned correctly in the first place, you can overcome many room introduced problems and know how a speaker will perform in the space. When tuning a room, everything needs to be considered from the ground up. Dimensions, structure, speaker placement and even furniture can play a part in how the speakers perform.

All of the Elementi speaker range is active, which avoids many of the electronics-introduced variables that can influence the performance of a speaker. For instance, designers don't have control over the processors they're partnered with, so are therefore at the mercy of another product to control the crossover. This can introduce its own set of problems, Moseley explains.

All Elementi speakers use high-quality digital amplifiers from Danish manufacturer Pascal, with the crossover managed in the digital domain. Whereas most active speakers house the amplifiers within the speaker cabinet, Elementi amplifiers are installed separately from the speaker. Keeping the distance between speaker and amp to a minimum ensures the cleanest signal path, whilst accessing the electronics. It enables access to the amplifier's controls and makes swapping out amplifier modules relatively painless.

Each speaker has 2,048 points of equalisation, or 3,072 in the case of Elementi's three-way speakers. Knowing how the speakers will behave in a room means there's no need to tune the speakers above the room's turning point, with the lower frequencies being tuned in situ.

This, Moseley claims, gives Elementi systems an incredibly natural sound, with perfect frequency and phase response. It also means that his speakers can't be purchased off the shelf, only from authorised Elementi dealers. All, except for some subwoofers, are designed to be wall-mounted. Each speaker is supplied with resilient mounts for affixing the speaker, ensuring vibration is not transferred into the structure.

EARTH, WATER, AIR, FIRE

Elementi offers a range of home cinema speakers for different sized rooms and applications – Earth, Water, Air and Fire. Earth is a range of subwoofers that promise commercial cinema-level depth, consisting of the 12” Basalt, 15” Onyx (standard and slim models available), 18” Obsidian and Kola with single or dual 24” drivers. Except for the Kola, Earth subwoofers feature neodymium drivers. Amplifier power ranges from 500 to 2,200 watts depending on the model, with all offering a choice of amplification dependent on the application. 

Elementi speakers and subwoofer amplifiers provide 3dB of headroom to eliminate clipping and distortion. The amplifiers incorporate 32 point DSP processing, digital crossovers and FIR filters with frequency and time domain correction, and high-quality DACs.

The Air range of speakers comprises three different modes – Zephyr, Sirocco and Tempest. A two-way LCR speaker, its ultra-wide dispersion tweeter not only provides a wide uniform coverage but makes it a perfect candidate for surround speaker duties, says the manufacturer. Its broad dispersion capabilities make the Zephyr the perfect candidate for surround channels, with fewer speakers required to create a uniform sound field, Moseley claims. The Zephyr range is designed for rooms seven metres in length, where seats are placed between one to six metres from the speakers. The Zephyr has a rated frequency response of 80Hz to 23kHz and can be installed with 500 or 1,000-watt amplifiers.

The two-way Sirocco adds a horn-loaded 200mm pleated diaphragm tweeter and waveguide to increase sound focus and steer sound across the seating positions. Like the Zephyr, it can be used as LCR speakers and surround speakers in larger rooms. Both front left and right speakers feature a 10-degree tilt towards the centre of the room. Moseley explains that angling the drivers slightly towards the centre of the room not only concentrates sound toward the listening positions, but removes energy from side reflections. Frequency response is rated at 70Hz to 23kHz with a muscular 1,000 watts of amplification.

Tempest is a three-way design utilising a horn-loaded 400mm pleated diaphragm tweeter and waveguide. Unlike the Zephyr and Sirocco, which use dual 6.5” neodymium drivers, the Tempest is outfitted with dual 12″ neodymium drivers and two 5” midrange drivers. The addition of midrange drivers gives the Tempest a stated frequency response of 30Hz to 23kHz, while amplification is a whopping 2,200 watts.

The Fire range of speakers utilises compression drivers capable of delivering incredible amounts of power. Often associated with Pro Audio, compression drivers produce a big airy and cinematic response. Moseley points out, however, that above 10,000Hz, their response can vary as much as +/- 6 dB, so tuning is essential.

The baby of the range, the Firefly, is designed for the same sized room as the Zephyr, with seating between one to six metres from the speakers. A two-way speaker, the Firefly – and indeed the entire Fire range – use an ultra-wide dispersion tweeter, its HF driver using a 1” Compression Ferrite driver, while the LF section consists of dual 6.5” Ferrite drivers. 

Fireflys can be used as LCR monitors and surround speakers, and are equipped with a 500W amplifier module with a claimed frequency response of 80Hz to 20kHz. The Firebird can be equipped with either a 500 or 1,000W amplifier suitable as LCR or surround channels, in rooms ten metres in length, with seating located two to nine metres from the speakers.

The 1,000W Phoenix is designed for the same size room as the Firebird but replaces its LF and HF sections with commercial-grade Neodymium bass and compression drivers. Offering the same frequency response as both the Firefly and Firebird, the Phoenix is designed to be used as LCR speakers in rooms approximately ten meters in length. Sitting at the top of the range is the mighty Fire-Dragon. A three-way speaker with a staggering 2,200 watts of amplification, designed for concert-level playback in commercial and larger home cinemas. The Water series comprises a range of Atmos speakers. Claimed to provide unparalleled sonic immersion for Atmos channels, it was not yet available at the time of review.

THE LISTENING

My introduction to the Elementi range started with the cinema at Wavetrain's dedicated and purpose-built studio in Sydney, housing the Fire System. This comprised Fire Dragon LCR speakers, Firebird surrounds, and Obsidian and Onyx subwoofers to make up a 9.1.4 system. 

The Fire Dragon and Fire Birds were partnered with a Storm Audio ISP.32 Processor and a Panasonic 4K Blu-ray player. Capable of producing reference levels from 20 metres, the system was housed in a 7-metre long room, 4.3 wide with a ceiling height of 2.7m.

I started the audition with the 4K UHD of A Star is Born in Dolby Atmos. It's a reference soundtrack that, when played on a great home cinema system, engages the viewer on an emotional level. After repeated viewings, though, it's fair to say that it has lost some of its shine. Despite that, the first thing that struck me was the sheer sound pressure level that the Fire Speakers could produce. Playing at reference level, it's obvious the system was nowhere near breaking a sweat, handling the high volume with ease that simply has to be heard to be believed.

It was particularly evident with the enormous dynamic swings in the Dolby Atmos soundtrack; whether it was Bradley Cooper strumming out the chords to Alibi or percussion instruments, the speakers remained in control with a huge airy sound and a vast sense of headroom. Dynamics were likewise whip-fast, the bass exhibiting the same punchiness and speed that belies a system of this size.

Good as it is, though, there was something about the system's sound that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Before Lady Gaga made her way on stage, I realised that it was the tonal neutrality of the sound. It brings to mind an earlier conversation I had with Moseley, where he told me the Elementis are purposefully tuned to provide a neutral sound.

It's a wonderfully natural sound that doesn't favour nor distinguish, but is free of the colouration that I'm used to hearing in many other systems, including my own. As Lady Gaga made her appearance, I was well and truly drawn into the concert, forgetting that I was there to review the speakers!

Switching to the 7.1.6 Air Cinema, comprising the Sirocco LCR speakers, Zephyr surround channels and 4 Basalt subs, the difference was immediately apparent. The Fire speakers, which utilise compression drivers, have a more forward sound, whereas the ribbons of the Sirocco and Zephyr's give them a more laid back quality. 

Once again, the speakers were partnered with a Storm Audio ISP.32 Processor and a Panasonic 4K Blu-ray player. It's a system I would have been immediately impressed with if I hadn't come straight from listening to the Fire Speakers. Having some time to settle in, I realise that it's a sound that I prefer over the Fire Speakers, although it's mainly going to come down to personal preference.

Despite having a more laid back sound than the Fire Speakers, the Air Speakers quickly point out their immense power capabilities. There's plenty of power and dynamic range here, with enough headroom to extract the finest of details and restore them to their rightful place within the soundtrack.

As the Leaf trailer from the Dolby Atmos demo disc played, the tracking was superb, smooth and remarkably transparent – often making me look to my side where no speaker existed. The wide dispersion tweeters and waveguides gave the speakers excellent object tracking within the space and created a tremendous sound stage. What surprises me equally is the Atmos speakers. Despite not being aimed, all the mounted speakers are clearly heard and, for that matter, often felt even from the back right-hand side of the cinema. 

As the orchestral tones at the beginning of Blade Runner 2049 began, there was a remarkable clarity to the sound. The soundstage was massive, all of the speakers working together beautifully, creating a seamless whole. As V's ship flies overhead, the varied bass notes of the ship's engine were produced cleanly and distinctly, avoiding the mess some systems make with this scene. Meanwhile, the bubbling of garlic cooking on Sapper's stove can be heard clearly and distinctly from the steam escaping the pot.

Sapper's voice sounded somewhat more rumbly than I'm used to, leading me to scramble through my demonstration discs in short order. Dialogue remained clear and natural with all the other material I sent its way, leading me to suspect I was probably hearing it like it's supposed to be for the first time. As V and Sapper trade blows, the impact was tremendous. The sound remained both fast and tight, while demonstrating an abundance of visceral power from my listening position. The Air system speakers gave the soundtrack a sense of dignity and presence, whether with simple things like V closing a door or the film's excellent orchestral score. This trait drew me into the film.

THE VERDICT

After spending the day with Elementi designer David Moseley, I gained an appreciation of why I needed to visit the Elementi showroom and studios to review them personally. With this range, you're not simply buying an off the shelf speaker but engaging the installer to tune the room and the speaker to work together harmoniously. It's a revolutionary approach to dealing with the interaction between speakers and the room. And the results speak for themselves. I found myself drawn into my usual barrage of test discs in a way that I haven't been for a long time. Dynamics, power, detail and powerful bass – and just about every superlative I can think of – were all there. They really are that good.

For more information visit Elementi Audio

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    Tony O'Brien's avatar

    Tony O'Brien

    As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.

    Posted in:Home Theatre Loudspeakers Active Dedicated Cinema Applause Awards 2022
    Tags: elementi  cogworks 



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