Jump to content
IGNORED

ELAC Element App vs. NAD D 7050 vs. Paradigm PW Amp Shootout


starbux
 Share

Recommended Posts

Well I’ve just spent 10 hours last night staying up very late doing a more comprehensive shootout between the three amps.

 

 

System setup:

Computer(source), WASAPI Foobar2000 with FLAC music à Insert_Amp_Here à KEF LS50 + Rythmik F12

 

 

Reference Songs (that I know well):

The Dark Knight soundtrack

Pacific Rim soundtrack

Jurassic Park soundtrack

Alexander soundtrack

Lord of the Rings soundtrack

Michael Buble (male vocals)

Diana Krall (female vocals)

Various jazz + classical songs (Mozart, Ray Charles, etc)

Akon, Kayne West (Graduation album)

Zero Seven, Thievery Corporation, Air (down tempo, chill)

Classic Rock (Elton John, Eric Clapton, The Eagles)

Michael Jackson

Beach Boys (Pet Sounds DCC)

 

Test Method:

Blind (2nd person swapped the cables from one amp to another after each song so I don’t forget how the song sounded. Each cable switch took about 5-10 seconds, we got very fast. It was tedious, but for science!)

 

 

Here are my final conclusions.

 

Elac Element EA101EQ-G amplifier

Setup: I was able to borrow an Android tablet (note their ios app has half the functionality disabled and is worthless, if you have a iphone just give up). Use the android tablet to do auto blend (the sub crossover) + room correction EQ

 

Pros:

-Amazing highs.

-Vocals are crisp and clear, just accentuates the strong points of the LS50 on highs.

-Widens soundstage.

-Feels like a big stage in front of me and easier to pick out instrumentation on each.

-Sound best with classical, jazz, vocals

-Bass is tighter

 

Cons:

-Unusable without the auto blend and room correction if you have a sub. Just sounds like a muddled piece of crap and my ears actually started hurting. If you use the amp without auto blend and room correction, my KEF LS50s + Rythmik F12 sub turned into a Promedia 2.1 system (which I own). Hence why Android is needed.

-Mids sound recessed after you apply the auto blend and room EQ. I did the auto blend/room correction several times with different crossover selections on the app to try to see if it was human error, but I don’t think so. Changes the LS50s to sound more basically like the ELAC Unifi UB5s

-Strange “Pop” noise every single time you switch signals/songs. I think this applies only when you use WASAPI true bitrate as I didn’t get this when using just the normal direct sound output. I’ve tried fiddling with the buffer settings in foobar2000 but it doesn’t fix it. Just a loud audible POP every time I switch songs. Very, very annoying.

-The auto blend and room EQ almost make me feel that I am no longer listening to the song as it was recorded. It does feel very strongly there is some kind of filter that is applied that is coloring the sound, changing the LS50s to sound more like the ELAC Unifi UB5s.

-The bass is tighter, but almost sounds too clinical. Just sounds like hyper-accurate bass frequencies being played rather than a part of the actual song.

 

NAD D 7050

 

Setup: Subwoofer crossover at 60hz, 50hz and 70hz (tested all three). Seemed to me that 60hz sounded the best, but I didn’t think it made that big of a difference.

 

Pros:

-Compared to ELAC Element, soundstage sounds more narrow. Everything is almost directly in front of you. But compared to the ELAC, despite the soundstage being more narrow, it does sound like the stage is much closer to you, right in front of you whereas the ELAC sound stage sounds further away. Couldn’t decide if this was a pro or con relative to the ELAC, I like both although generally I think people consider a wider soundstage better. I do like the fact that the soundstage is closer to me though, sounds like they are right next to me.

-The bass is much more “fun” compared to the ELAC. I don’t know how to describe it – it’s definitely more muddy/less tight than the ELAC, but it just envelopes you and sounds very musical. Like I couldn’t help smiling when I heard a song with a strong bass line/component, because despite the bass being less tight it didn’t sound clinical like the ELAC. Just punchy, casual fun. Loved it.

-Amp sounds more fun in general. Mids are not recessed and lively, highs are less accurate and detailed than the ELAC but sound more “live”. I just don’t know how to describe it, music sounded more like music.

-Amp feels best for home theater, watching movies/gaming, techno/hip hop/R&B. Just anything where you want the feeling of a powerful bass that just adds so much fun to what you are listening to. I was less impressed with jazz and classical music.

 

Cons:

-Crap build and materials. The remote worked 1 day, and the next day it stopped working. I even went out to buy a new battery but that wasn’t it. So I guess I have no remote. The auto power off feature worked initially, but I switched it off on the amp, and when I try to turn it back on, it won’t enable the feature anymore. I did a quick google search and looks like other people have the same problem. So many bugs. Subwoofer output jack – after the first 10 songs, the output no longer holds my subwoofer cable. So the person who was running the blind test for me had to physically hold it in or tape it so the subwoofer cable holds. Just shoddy binding posts and materials all around. Feels like NAD took too many shortcuts.

-Soundstage more narrow

 

Paradigm PW Amp

 

-TBD (the anthem mic started malfunctioning, so I’m waiting for a replacement. Didn’t think it was fair to evaluate with the others when it was entering the race missing a leg, so will do another comparison in a week or two.).

 

 

Final thoughts: I’m not sure whether to choose the ELAC or NAD to keep. Each have their pluses and minuses and so I am literally on the fence on which one is better. I wouldn’t rate either higher than a 6 or 7 out of 10. I wonder if there is a better integrated amp out there that can do some proper bass management in a small form factor.

 

Has anyone else done a comparison between those two and can offer some thoughts?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I’ve just spent 10 hours last night staying up very late doing a more comprehensive shootout between the three amps.

 

 

 

 

Excellent idea and effort!!! We need SSSOOOOOO much more of this "shootout" and real A/Bing (putting aside purity of methodology for a moment) than we get. The normal audiophile world single component review is so overused - so "safe" in that a winner is never even thought about, let alone picked - it studiously avoids the slightest controversy. Please keep us updated!

Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

… Final thoughts: I’m not sure whether to choose the ELAC or NAD to keep. Each have their pluses and minuses and so I am literally on the fence on which one is better. I wouldn’t rate either higher than a 6 or 7 out of 10. I wonder if there is a better integrated amp out there that can do some proper bass management in a small form factor. …

In my experience it seems that, for some reason, the designated (mono) subwoofer line-output of many integrated amps and preamps doesn't sound optimal.. The solution is to connect a regular (stereo) line-output of the amp to the (stereo) line-in of the sub.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would have assumed that the NAD and the ELAC are underpowered when paired with the LS-50. Did you find yourself turning these amps up to the max?

No not even close. I stayed between -20db to -15db depending on the song. If you are using it for nearfield computer desk use, this is way enough power. I did crank it up and it would shake my entire bedroom.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No not even close. I stayed between -20db to -15db depending on the song. If you are using it for nearfield computer desk use, this is way enough power. I did crank it up and it would shake my entire bedroom.

 

Gotcha. My setup is more small room than nearfield. Very interested to hear your thoughts on the Paradigm, which is a bit more powerful. Thank you for posting.

Bluesound Node 2-->LFD LE Mk V-->HSU VTF-1 Subwoofer (via high-level inputs)-->Harbeth P3ESR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share



×
×
  • Create New...