The standard of finish is about where it should be for a loudspeaker at this sort of money. Certainly the high-gloss lacquer is flawlessly applied, and the anodised aluminium soft-touch top plate of the cabinet is quite tactile. The rather rakish angle the top plate mimics the angle of that die-cast bottom plate – when the speaker’s on its hefty stand, if seen in profile it looks a little like it’s standing on tip-toe.
ELAC has decided the distance between the horizontal base stand and the angled bottom plate is perfect for the stand to be used as a fixed boundary for the Vela FS 408’s downward-firing bass reflex port. One of the biggest visual advances of the Vela 400 series over the range it replaced is the apparent disappearance of a port-hole, and ELAC has been able to deploy the same oval, double-flanged port (at 250mm long and with an effective diameter of 80mm, it’s a big one, Missus) as is fitted to the larger Vela FS 409 without anyone being any the wiser.
So despite appearances, the Vela FS 408 is a two-and-a-half way ported design. The top of the baffle features the single most intriguing bit of technology on display here – ELAC’s long-ish serving and extremely well-regarded JET5 tweeter. This deploys a light, folded foil membrane (so tricky to achieve it’s mostly left to robots) with neodymium magnets – ELAC suggests the Vela FS 408’s frequency response can achieve a dog-bothering 50kHz.
Below it are positioned a couple of 180mm examples of ELAC’s distinctive ‘crystal membrane’ drivers. These are sandwich drivers, with a paper cone bonded to the back of each stamped aluminium cone – the look, it has to be admitted, is vaguely reminiscent of a crystal, and the intention of the stiff, lightweight construction is to improve power-handling and reduce overall coloration. ELAC, with no apparent sense of overkill, calls this AS-XR technology, which stands – or, rather, doesn’t quite stand – for Aluminium Sandwich Membrane with Extended Frequency Range.
ELAC is quite vocal about the AS-XR drivers’ long stroke potency and ‘excellent’ large-signal behaviour – so both drivers sit in aluminium cages and are supported by large roll surrounds. If ever a pair of drivers looked like they wanted to represent ‘authority’ and ‘power’, these two do.
Sensitivity is a reasonable 88.5dB, though a nominal impedance of 4 ohms suggests the Vela FS 408 may need to be shown the whip just a little for optimum results. Crossover occurs at 450Hz and 2550Hz, and the incoming signal is delivered to chunkily purposeful bi-wire speaker binding posts just above the bottom plate at the rear of the cabinet.