Wharfedale has announced a new addition to its Elysian range of loudspeakers: the floorstanding Elysian 3. The new loudspeaker joins the floorstanding Elysian 4, stand-mounted Elysian 2 and the 49cm high Elysian 1 high end speakers.
The Elysian 3 takes the three-way, four-driver design of the Elysian 4 and delivers it in a form that is more easily accommodated in a variety of room sizes.
Producing a more compact version of a large floorstander such as the Elysian 4 was not simply a matter of shrinking cabinet size and incorporating bass drivers of smaller diameter – the cabinet and drivers must seamlessly work together and every detail of the Elysian 3’s design has been precisely calculated to achieve this.
The manufacturer’s goal was to create a floorstander with a reduced footprint to suit less expansive listening spaces, delivering a perfectly balanced performance whilst retaining as much of the larger speaker’s sonic scale as possible.
With dimensions of 105x26x29cm (HxWxD), the Elysian 3 is approximately 11% shorter than its big brother but a third less wide and a third less deep, which gives it a more compact footprint – however, it delivers the same combination of driver, crossover and cabinet engineering that the Elysian Series is known for.
A 27x90mm AMT treble driver combines with a 150mm midrange unit and two 180mm bass drivers, while AMT (Air Motion Transformer) drivers move air to produce high-frequency sound, using a large, pleated, lightweight diaphragm driven across its surface by rows of metallic strips immersed in a magnetic field.
The pleats in the diaphragm contract and expand under the influence of the musical drive, squeezing the air between them to form the desired waveform. This is an efficient way of moving air and is also highly accurate, as the diaphragm is always under close control of the motor system. The result is a wide bandwidth transducer that achieves low distortion and musical detail.
The development of the large, high-spec AMT unit used throughout the series was a key part of the Elysian project, incorporating an ultra-lightweight PET diaphragm and an acoustically damped rear chamber to deliver clear and extended high frequencies.
To match the sensitivity and accuracy of the AMT treble unit, Wharfedale has developed bass and midrange diaphragms formed from a woven glass fibre matrix. These cones provide low mass and high strength, with the addition of a high-plasticity coating to control acoustic behaviour.
The Elysian 3’s 150mm midrange driver is identical to that found in the Elysian 4 and Elysian 2. With such a low-mass cone, only a low-damping, foamed, rubber-like material would match for the surround, coated for durability. A phase plug in the centre of the cone is specially shaped to linearise the output across a wide bandwidth, even off-axis, enhancing a natural response to the music that can be heard anywhere the listener wishes to sit.
A pair of 180mm bass drivers incorporate glass fibre matrix cones to match the midrange unit, terminated with a highly flexible rubber surround and driven by a specially developed low-distortion motor system.
The bass drivers are loaded by an advanced version of Wharfedale’s SLPP (Slot-Loaded Profiled Port), which ensures that the rear output of the bass units is not wasted. Instead, the lowest frequency energy is vented to a slot at the base of the speaker, specially profiled to equalise the high internal pressure to the low pressure in the room.
This reduces the distortion that is typical of bass reflex systems and increases the port’s efficiency. In combination, the bass units and SLPP system provide the foundation upon which the rest of the musical performance sits, revealing the full impact of every recorded sound, from percussive, stringed and wind instruments, to deep electronic basslines.
The drivers’ output is combined via a sophisticated crossover network, fine-tuned over hundreds of hours of listening tests to ensure a seamless blend between the drive units.
Of particular note is the phase consistency across the driver output, permitting a wide range of seating positions and encouraging the power response to be highly linear throughout the listening room. Only the highest grade, acoustically transparent components are used throughout the crossover network, ensuring all the musical detail is heard.
Special attention has also been paid to the exterior; the Elysian 3’s cabinet has been painstakingly designed to enhance the acoustic output of the drivers and provide a piece of furniture of which the owner can be proud of. Handcrafted veneers are enhanced by true piano finish lacquers, hand-polished to six levels of depth.
Beneath the veneer is a sandwich of woods of differing density, designed to reduce panel resonance to below audibility. Named PROS (Panel Resonance Optimisation System), this multi-layer construction also inhibits the leakage of unwanted sound energy from inside the cabinet, which would otherwise interfere with the forward output of the drive units.
“The Elysian Series was conceived as a flagship loudspeaker range worthy of the illustrious Wharfedale name, encapsulating the innovation and ingenuity with which it has been associated for close to 100 years,” says Wharfedale’s Director of Acoustic Design, Peter Comeau.
“Wharfedale speakers are not only highly accomplished; they also deliver excellent value for money, and the Elysian Series is no exception – whilst far from cheap, Elysian speakers deliver qualities that match and exceed much more expensive high-end designs.
“The Elysian 3 takes the highly acclaimed Elysian 4 – the pinnacle of Wharfedale’s range – and reduces its footprint to a size that some will find easier to accommodate, whilst maintaining the exceptional engineering that is inherent in every Elysian design,” he continues.
“The holistic and uncompromising approach to every element of the loudspeaker system – the drivers, the crossover, the cabinet – allows the Elysian 3 to convey the full-bodied character of instruments like cello and bass guitar, without constraining the dynamics of the musical recital. Whether you’re listening to solo piano, a full orchestra, a jazz trio or a rock band, these speakers bring the thrill and excitement of the performance to your listening room.”
The Wharfedale Elysian 3 is available from July in a choice of black, white or walnut, hand-finished in high-gloss piano lacquer, at an RRP of £5,999 per pair.
A presentation box containing stainless steel spikes, spike seats for hard floors, high-quality speaker jumper cables and a pair of white handling gloves completes the package.