ELAC Concentro S 503 Loudspeaker Page 2

In particular, there was an enormous sense of space, extending far beyond the boundaries of these slim speakers. This was especially noticeable with 'Hinter Den Bergen', which saw the S 503s echoing vocals around the soundstage but also lifting one particular synth out of the mix.

Depending on the surroundings and your taste, it probably is worth playing around with toe-in and the DCRs to mellow out the sound. Although the latter have a subtle effect, anything that assists in honing the S 503's performance is welcome. At a 3m listening distance, I settled on a limited toe-in and kept the Neutral rings in place.

One of the S 503's strengths is undoubtedly the ability to project the finest of details out into the room. Whether it's the subdued snare drum and the intricate acoustic guitar picking on 'Ordinary Guy', the first track on Jacob Dinesen's Let The Hard Times Come [DALI 5703120112510], or all the intricacies of Thelonious Monk's piano playing on the rare Live In Rotterdam 1967 recording restored by Fondamenta and Devialet [FON-1704029], the S 503 delivers both detail and grand scale.

Close Knit
At the same time, these speakers still manage to maintain an intimate feel. Musicians aren't performing off into the distance, but close by on a wide stage – near enough for me to delight in hearing extraneous noises, such as the breathing of musicians or fingers sliding across strings. This element of the S 503's performance was utterly convincing, and while Larry Gales was playing his heart out on the contrabass solo midway through 'Epistrophy' on the Thelonious Monk album, I realised that, without really being aware of it, I had moved to the edge of the seat to get even more into the experience. That's a good sign.


ELAC's 400Hz/2.6kHz crossover is split, so the Concentro S 503 is fitted with pairs of 4mm terminals to facilitate bi-wiring/amping. The rear-facing port is substantial

Jet Setter
Some of the qualities ELAC's S 503 exhibits will be recognisable to those who have heard earlier JET tweeter designs from the company. But what this new, compact Concentro model does better is blend a level of mid/treble coherence with exceptional low-end performance. I've heard slim-profile floorstanding loudspeakers with far less impactful bass – and here it comes from just a single, reflex-loaded 180mm driver...

ELAC's JET tweeters are typically adept at revealing the twists and turns of slick detail, and all that swiftness and acceleration is even more on show here. It's an exhilarating ride to hear Rodrigo y Gabriela's 'Mettavolution' [Rubyworks 538471642] on these speakers, as they manage to relay the incredible speed and expressiveness of the Mexican duo's guitar playing. Strings twang, guitar bodies are hit, and the transient attack is often breathtaking. Only occasionally there's a note that jumps out from the mix with uncontrolled gusto, but generally there's a sense of integration and 'playing together' that makes for an addictive and fairly natural sound.

By The Book
This performance all comes together in a standmount speaker that isn't without faults, but that on the whole sounds spectacular considering its size. Playing the iconic theme from 'The Book Of Boba Fett', composed by Ludwig Göransson [Walt Disney Records], it's really all there. The epic scale, eye-opening wavefront when the massive percussion beats down, and the chants resounding away into the distance – it's a magnificent, dynamic result.

For sure, the S 503 requires a bit of power, not that it bothered the Hegel Reference H590 amplifier [HFN Oct '19] that I used. You just have to be prepared to give the volume knob a good twirl to realise a truly rousing performance. But trust me, you will.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Although less outrageous in terms of design and size compared to the flagship Concentro models, this small ELAC standmount performs splendidly. 'Sounds like a floorstanding speaker' is something an overexcited marketing department might say, but in this case there's more than a kernel of truth to the claim. The ability to tune the S 503's off-axis response via the Directivity Control Rings is a nice extra, too.

ELAC Electroacustic GmbH
Supplied by: Hi-Fi Network Ltd, London
01285 643088