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Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 review: Clearer sound, better build quality, excellent value

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The Good Excellent sound for the price. Solid build quality and attractive finish. Front bass port allows close placement to walls.

The Bad Big, boxy design. Not as forgiving or versatile as competitors.

The Bottom Line The Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 is one of the best speakers at this price, with great sound and excellent build quality.

8.5 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Sound 8
  • Value 8

The original Elac Debut B6 came out of nowhere in late 2015. Designer Andrew Jones had only recently left Pioneer, yet here he was with a fully formed speaker design -- one that immediately became our favorite bookshelf speaker for the money, period. Over the next three years he followed up with the equally impressive Uni-Fis, Adantes and then an unexpected update to the speaker that started it all.

The Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 reviewed here manages to make some improvements on the original speaker, namely in terms of build quality, but in the meantime there has been a $70 price bump to $350. The design sounds like a cross between the old Debut and the original Uni-Fi, with a clearer, more open performance than before. We miss the laid-back qualities of the original B6, but nonetheless the B6.2 is a fine speaker for less than the price of an AV receiver.

Elac's problem is that in the two years since the B6.2 first came out, other companies have caught up to what Jones is doing. Q Acoustics, Emotiva and Polk also offer compelling speakers for similar prices to the B6.2, and the Q Acoustics 3030i in particular manages to challenge the Elac with superior bass power and versatility. 

The original B6 earned our Editors' Choice award as the slam-dunk best speaker in its class, but the B6.2 isn't as versatile. The impressive Q Acoustics 3030i is an easier recommendation for under $400, but the B6.2 is still an excellent speaker. If you want a pair of affordable speakers with a more expansive, enveloping sound than the Q Acoustics 3030i, the Elac B6.2 is a great choice.

Update, Nov. 17, 2020: After reviewing the Q Acoustics 3030i and awarding it the Editors' Choice, and taking into account Elac's price increase, we have modified this review to reduce its rating from 8.8 to 8.5 and update the introduction above. The remainder of the review, originally published Mar. 6, 2018, remains largely unchanged.

Not much family resemblance

13-elac-debut-2-0-6-2

The Elac Debut B6 (left) and the new Debut 2.0 B6.2.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The B6.2 has a cheerfully retro appearance that recalls older British designs from Bowers and Wilkins or Wharfedale. When placed alongside the original Debut B6 it looks like a completely different speaker -- where the B6 was short and squat, the update is taller and slimmer with the noticeable addition of a front bass port.

Like the original the B6.2 boasts a 6.5-inch aramid fiber (similar to Kevlar) woofer and a 1-inch silk dome tweeter, but their implementation is different. For example, the tweeter on the 2015 model was recessed which made the speaker more directional, but this time around the mesh-covered tweeter is almost flush with the front panel. In addition the driver now boasts an extruded dust cap, which is designed to make the driver more responsive.

04-elac-debut-2-0-6-2

The B6.2 with the grille on and off.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The dimensions are familiar for a pair of stand-mount speakers at 7.69 inches wide by 14.76 inches high and a relatively thin 10.55 inches deep. While the original Debut was resonant -- rap a knuckle on the side and it rang -- the B6.2 has had additional bracing installed to reduce potential sonic coloration. Knocking on it gives a faintly metallic plop. 

Extra bracing isn't the only change. Upon closer inspection you'll notice the use of an old-school black ash wrap instead of the brushed vinyl of the original Debut. Finally, around the back you'll find a pair of metal binding posts.

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