Differences between Epic & Elan models
Due to obvious similarities between the two ranges, we have been asked why the Elan speakers are more expensive than similarly-sized Epics. Although there are some similarities between the ranges, there are far more differences. This is a detailed explanation.
In the Elan range we have striven to achieve even better sound reproduction than Epic. Epic is aimed at a lower price area in the market, so we have had to make some economies. The fact is we have made fewer economies than our competititors in order to offer extremely good value. However, we acknowledge that in doing so; we have raised the bar and made our own stiff competition to Elan, as the excellent reviews testify. Nevertheless, every Elan model delivers significant sonic improvements over their similarly-sized Epic counterparts, not to mention the obvious cosmetic improvements.
Of course, all the Elan models all have cabinets covered in real-wood veneer, each one applied and finished by hand and matched left-to-right for wood grain and colour. This matching and hand finishing are not required with the vinyl used in Epic, which is essentially a printed plastic veneer; albeit of high quality.
Quite apart from the higher material and labour costs of real-wood veneer, it is a natural material, with its own irregularities and variations and is easily damaged. Hand finishing and matching means that if one cabinet in a pair is ruined in production the other one cannot be used. Thus, the cost of making real-wood veneered cabinets is far higher than for vinyl. So, while the Epic vinyl veneers are very convincing to the eye, they are no match for the beauty and subtlety of real wood.
The real wood veneer is applied to both the outside and the inside of the outer panels to give long-term structural stability. This also adds some damping and stiffening, reducing even further the already minimal coloration from the extensively braced panels, so the benefits are not merely cosmetic.
In the Elan and Epic tweeter crossovers, we use polypropylene dielectric film capacitors for superior sound quality. However, to economise in the Epic range woofer crossovers we specify non-polarised electrolytic capacitors, which are by-passed by metallised polypropylene or polyester film capacitors to give much of the sonic benefits of film capacitors at a lower cost. (The ‘fuzziness’ introduced by electrolytic is reduced considerably).
Of course, this cannot be, and is not, equivalent to using high-quality polypropylene capacitors, exclusively and banishing electrolytics totally, which is what we do in Elan. Not only do all the capacitors have polypropylene dielectric, (no electrolytics, not even in the bass section where they are often found even in some very expensive speakers!), but these are of a higher grade than used in Elan in both the woofer and tweeter sections.
The Elan and Epic crossovers all use metal-oxide film resistors, which provide a smoother and more detailed sound than the wire-wound resistors commonly used — even many loudspeakers costing far more than either the Elans or Epics. The crossover circuit boards in Elan are soldered directly to the (higher-quality) input terminals, for a more direct signal path, and mounted on to brushed, black-anodised aluminium terminal panels.
Even though not clearly on show, being tucked around the back of the speaker, they are a lovely touch. Many speakers at higher prices than these use plastic input terminal panels (like we do in Epic to keep costs down), but at Epos we like to go one step further than the rest. And yet, the Elans are not super expensive, high-end products.
The wiring inside the Elans is all made using proprietary solid-core cable, which is hand soldered to the drive units and crossovers. In fact, for the woofers we double-up separately-insulated cables for even lower D.C. resistance. The solid-core cable not only provides a smoother and more transparent sound compared to multi-stranded copper, but the hand-soldered joints are superior to the push-on spade connectors used in Epic for ease of assembly. Of course, this costs more to implement. There is nothing wrong with push-on connectors, but soldering is the best method.
Finally, there are the drive units. The tweeters are identical to those used in Epic, but the superior capacitors in Elan provide even sweeter and more transparent treble sounds.
The woofers in the Elan range appear to be similar to those in Epic, but they are not the same. The cones, voice coils, ‘spiders’ and magnet systems are very similar, (identical in some cases), between Elan and the same-sized Epic models. This rationalisation has enabled us to keep costs down for both ranges by using similar ‘soft’ parts (cone, dust cap, ‘spider’ and surround) for both ranges — basically the same as car manufacturers have been doing for years.
The Epic woofers all have steel chassis to reduce costs. However, for Elan, we specified much stronger chassis made of cast aluminium alloy and having wider, deeper, mounting flanges. Although the physical outer diameters of the two sizes of woofers are larger in Elan, at 156mm, and 187mm, the effective piston areas (Sd) are the same as Epic at 92 square cm and 133 square cm respectively (due to the shared ‘soft’ parts). The ‘nominal’ woofer diameters are also the same in Elan as with Epic, at approx. 140mm (5 ½ inches) and 165mm (6 ½ inches).
The stronger Elan chassis design couples better to the front baffle, creating a more stable platform for the moving parts and fixed magnet system. Also, all the Elan chassis provide much better air flow behind the spiders than in Epic. The ‘spider’ is a stiffened corrugated-cloth disc used for rear suspension. It’s the part which supports the voice coil and controls the movement and ‘tuning’ of the woofer system. In the Elan range woofers, the cast construction has enabled us to engineer narrow webs to support the spider, providing wide gaps between them for excellent ventilation and to prevent pressure build up under the spider, (which can cause resonance and coloration). In the Epics, this would have weakened the steel chassis, so the spiders do not benefit from this generous pressure release.
The cast chassis used in Elan are not only structurally stronger; they are also non-magnetic, which diverts slightly more flux into the motor system, to give a little more ‘shove’ to the cone. So, all the Elans are about 1dB more sensitive than the Epics.
The Elan woofers work well in similar sized enclosures to the Epics, which is why the enclosure volumes and low frequency responses of Elan and Epic are similar, though not identical.
Elan vs Mi
Many features, such as the hand-finished matched-veneer cabinets, black-anodised terminal panels, solid-core internal wiring and hand soldering have been carried forward from the Mi range However, there are also many improvements compared to Mi, such as the use of polypropylene film capacitors and metal-oxide film resistors throughout the range. Also, compared to Mi, we have improved the effective power handling of the floor-standing speakers by means of a new 2 ½ way crossover topography, which runs both bass units port-loaded together down to the very lowest frequencies. In the new Elan 20 centre channel speaker we have also changed the crossover topography to give a totally symmetrical and broad dispersion pattern, which is much better than the old Mi model.
We have also given the larger of the two sizes of woofers 17.7% greater effective piston area (133 sq cm compared to 113 sq cm in Mi), increased internal cabinet volumes and designed a new, lower resonance, higher sensitivity, smoother-sounding tweeter. These improvements, coupled with higher system sensitivities and easier to drive speaker load impedances, have increased the maximum sound pressures attainable with Elan — considerably in some cases.
So, it should be clear that in addition to the improvements to Elan over the Epic range, there are very many areas of improvement over the now obsolete Mi speakers, the results of which can be readily heard and appreciated. Of course this inevitably makes them more expensive, but the extra cost is well worth it. Of course, if funds will not stretch that far, there is the Epic range to choose from. Thus Epos offers excellent value for money, as usual, and aims to satisfy customers in both regions of the speaker market.