Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years, the fact the audio world has changed almost unrecognisably recently can’t have passed you by. CD and even download sales are in steep, and some say even terminal, decline, eclipsed by the new world of audio streaming. Our audio products are beginning to reflect this, but slowly. Electrocompaniet’s bold EC Living project is more than just grudging acceptance that times have changed; it’s a bold and powerful welcome to the future of audio.
EC Living is a simple yet deceptively clever, extendable, and extremely flexible set of products totally designed and built in Norway to grow with your musical requirements if needed, or remain just a single, network-connected box of tricks. The first two products out of the starting gates are the TANA SL-1, which combines loudspeaker, amplifier, and streamer in a cabinet about the size of a conventional two-way standmount design, and the TANA L-1, which is the wireless add-on speaker to turn a single SL-1 into a stereo pair. The SL-1 can be set up as a specific zone in a house, can run wired or wirelessly as a UPnP renderer, can support a USB stick, or local coaxial and Toslink digital connections. On the cloud, it can connect to Tidal (or sister channel WiMP in some regions), Qobuz, Spotify, and play internet radio. It will support practically any file, even up to 24bit, 192kHz PCM and DSD128. The TANA SL-1 can even support Apple AirPlay, although Electrocompaniet recommends not using this pathway when playing from Spotify or Tidal, preferring instead to use its own EC Remote App, or control direct from a computer.
Extendable means other products will become available in time. And this is related to what people need and where the music industry takes us over the next few years, rather than shoe-horning people into a fixed solution that no longer fits the world around us. The next product is intended to be the RENA S-1, a dedicated EC-Living streamer designed specifically to connect TANA L-1 speakers to make an alternate stereo system from the SL-1/L-1 package. Planned additional devices included multichannel surround systems, video streamers, or devices that allow EC Living to access an existing audio system, but these options remain truly open. Nevertheless, there are some pathways not open to the TANA SL-1 as it stands, such as Bluetooth. However, it runs along 802.11ac wireless protocols using Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) channels, making the EC Living system about as robust as it gets in the widest number of homes without demanding ‘enterprise’ grade Wi-Fi.
Alongside the digital electronics side, the loudspeaker itself (whether SL-1 or L1) is a two-way bass-reflex standmount using custom specified drivers and an aluminium enclosure, coupled with a 150W Class AB (as opposed to Class D) power amplifier and some subtle DSP correction. The top panel is a neat glass effect and the speaker comes in a choice of black, silver, or shiny copper bases.