Review: Elipson W35

0
818

Today we reviewed the Elipson W35 wireless and multi-room speaker. This spherical speaker with WiFi and Bluetooth aptX connectivity can stream both web radios and online music services such as Spotify, Qobuz, Tidal and Deezer. It can be controlled via the dedicated app, but it is also possible to control music vocally by pairing the speaker with an Amazon Alexa compatible device.

Sold for €799, this genuine stereo hi-fi speaker with four drivers and an amplification of 350 watts RMS is a direct competitor of the Audio Pro Drumfire speaker, but also the Naim Mu-so Qb 2 and the Devialet Phantom Reactor 600.

The first wireless WiFi speaker from Elipson, the W35 has a circular silhouette, reminiscent of the French brand’s iconic models. With a very understated design, it is easy to add to any interior.

Elipson W35: the brand

The Elipson BS50 speakers, each equipped with an up-firing driver and an acoustic reflector to direct the soundwaves towards the listening area. 

Elipson has always had a passion for circular speakers. This passion began with the brand’s founder and CEO Joseph Léon, an engineer by trade and an ingenious inventor. He was responsible for creating the Elipson BS50 spherical speakers with their oval-shaped reflectors, but also the more massive Elipson 4050 speakers. Featuring a circular “head”, they stood in the ORTF’s studios for many years and inspired the new Elipson Legacy 3230 speakers (read our review of the Elipson Legacy 3230 speakers here).

The Elipson Legacy 3230 speakers are comprised of a subwoofer (2 x 8” drivers) topped with a sphere that holds the ceramic cone midrange driver. The AMT tweeter is positioned on top. 

We aren’t going to retrace the history of the brand’s productions (of which there are many), but you can get an overview by visiting the page “Elipson : tout savoir sur la marque” at Son-Vidéo.com

We simply want to point out that the Elipson W35 wireless speaker is part of a long line of spherical speakers and is similar in size to the Elipson Planet L speakers.

The design of the Elipson W35 wireless speaker is inspired by that of the famous Elipson Planet L speakers. The model in this photo with its Neptune finish is mounted on a dedicated stand.

Elipson W35: packaging & accessories

The Elipson W35 wireless speaker comes in a cube-shaped box inside of which it is held in place by two pieces of polystyrene. It is protected inside a large pouch made from white synthetic fabric.

Among the accessories included with the Elipson W35 connected speaker are a power cable, a mini-jack audio cable, a remote control and 6 non-slip pads.

The manufacturer includes several accessories: 

  • A power cable
  • A mini-jack to mini-jack cable
  • A remote control
  • Six adhesive pads
  • A user guide
  • A registration card for the Elipson Club
  • An Elipson sticker

Elipson W35: presentation

Circular speakers have been Elipson’s trademark since the late 60s, when the Elipson AS-30 model helped the French manufacturer build an international reputation for developing “ball-shaped” speakers. This spherical design has the indisputable advantage of eliminating cabinet reverb and allowing the drivers to perform under the best possible conditions.

Brought up to date in the late 2000s with the Elipson Planet L and Elipson Planet M speakers, the circular shape has been used once more with the Elipson W35 wireless speaker. The structure of the latter is in ABS with a central aluminum band. The left and right sides of the speaker are covered with anthracite acoustic fabric.

The Elipson W35 wireless speaker with the Elipson Prestige Facet 8B and Elipson Legacy 3230 speakers in the background.

350 watts, stereo sound

The Elipson W35 wireless speaker features four drivers: two 1” silk dome tweeters and two 6.5” midbass drivers. They are positioned on either side of the central aluminum band that separates the sphere into two equal parts.

The two midbass drivers are directed towards the right and the left, while the two tweeters, which have greater directivity, are directed more towards the listening area, creating an angle somewhere between 70° and 80°. This configuration allows the Elipson W35 speaker to reproduce hi-fi quality stereo sound across a wide frequency range.

A class D amplifier with a total output power of 350 watts RMS is tasked with powering the drivers of this speaker which has no difficulty filling very large rooms.

WiFi and DLNA connectivity

The Elipson W35 speaker needs to be connected to the local WiFi network in order to provide access to as many sources as possible. Once it is connected to the internet, it can stream web radios from all over the world, several of the most popular streaming services, and music shared over the local network. 

If you have a Deezer, Napster or Spotify account, or if you are subscribed to a service that provides hi-res music such as Qobuz or Tidal, you will be able to enjoy your playlists thanks to the dedicated app.

SBC, AAC & aptX Bluetooth

It is also possible to play music wirelessly via Bluetooth with the Elipson W35 speaker. To ensure complete compatibility with Android and Apple smartphones and tablets, the SBC and AAC codecs are supported, along with the aptX codec which allows streaming up to 16-bit/48kHz from a compatible source.

Optical and mini-jack inputs

In addition to network and Bluetooth connectivity, the Elipson W35 speaker features two audio inputs. The optical input (Toslink) can be used to stream the sound of a TV, while the mini-jack input allows you to connect a DAP without internet connectivity or an audio source equipped with an RCA or mini-jack analog output. 

The Elipson W35 speaker’s connectors include a Toslink optical audio input, a mini-jack analog audio input and a powered USB port (5V/1A).

Control app

Wireless speakers always tend to have a control app for smartphones. The Elipson W35 speaker is no exception to this rule and has a dedicated app that can be downloaded for free on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.

Simply named Elipson, this app is a modified version of the Müzo Player app. It provides access to multiple online music services, such as TuneIn (web radios), Spotify, Napster, Qobuz and Deezer.

The Elipson W35 also has a control interface at the top of its central band. It allows you to begin music playback, adjust the volume and change tracks. An elegant infrared remote control is also included.

The Elipson W35 wireless speaker comes with a pretty infrared remote control that lets you switch sources, set the volume, pause the music, or skip to the next or previous track.

Multi-room and stereo pairing

WiFi connectivity can be used to link several Elipson W35 speakers on the same local network. This is carried out on the app. Placed in the same space or in separate rooms, the speakers can then stream the same music in perfect sync. It is also possible to stream different songs in each room. Up to 16 Elipson speakers can be associated to create a multi-room system.

Moreover, when two Elipson W35 speakers are in the same room, it is possible to achieve wider stereo sound by assigning the restitution of the left channel to one speaker, and the restitution of the right channel to the other.

Unfortunately, as we only had one Elipson W35 speaker to hand, we weren’t able to test the multi-room feature or the stereo pairing.

Compatible with Alexa

The Elipson W35 wireless speaker can be controlled vocally by connecting it to a smart speaker featuring Amazon Alexa. To do this, you need to enter your Amazon username and password in the Elipson app for the speaker to be supported. Then simply ask Alexa to play your favorite playlist on the Elipson W35 connected speaker, skip tracks, change the volume or pause the music for the action to be carried out.

Key specifications

  • Active wireless stereo and multi-room speaker
  • Spherical design
  • WiFi and Bluetooth
  • Compatible with online music services (Spotify Connect, Quobuz, Tidal, Napster…)
  • Amazon Alexa compatible
  • Multi-room compatible
  • Compatible audio formats: MP3, WMA, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, AAC
  • Hi-Res Audio compatible up to 24-bit/96kHz

Drivers

  • 2 x 1” silk dome tweeters
  • 2 x 6.5” high excursion midbass drivers
  • Output power: 350W RMS
  • Max SPL: 101 dB at 1m
  • Frequency response (± 3dB): 47Hz – 22kHz

Wireless connectivity

  • WiFi (2.4GHz)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Compatible codecs: AAC, SBC, aptX (16-bit/44.1kHz)

Connections

  • 1 x Toslink optical input
  • 1 x 3.5mm mini-jack input
  • 1 x USB-A

General

  • Diameter: 35cm
  • Weight: 7.6kg

Elipson W35: configuration

After taking the speaker out of its packaging, we stuck the six adhesive pads onto the base. Made from what seems to be synthetic rubber, they isolate the speaker from the surface on which it is placed and are non-slip.

The base of the Elipson W35 wireless speaker features six recesses to accommodate the non-slip pads.

Be careful when handling the speaker! Preferably, you should hold the central aluminum band, not the parts covered in fabric. The fabric is stretched across each side but isn’t glued down and is only held in place along the center band. Improper handling may result in loosening or damaging the fabric, so it is best to be careful.

The left and right sides of the Elipson W35 wireless speaker are covered with a stretched acoustic fabric.

The Elipson W35 is operational as soon as it is plugged into a power outlet and connected to a source via Bluetooth or via its analog (mini-jack) or optical (Toslink) input. Pressing and holding the on/off button turns the speaker on, a single, short press lets you switch between inputs. The LED then changes color depending on the selected source: blue for Bluetooth, green for the mini-jack line input, yellow for the optical audio input and white for WiFi.

If you wish to access web radios, online streaming services or files shared over the local network, you must use the Elipson app. It is only possible to connect the Elipson W35 speaker to the local network and to the internet via WiFi as it doesn’t have an RJ45 network port. To connect this Elipson wireless speaker to the local network and the internet, we used the satellite of our Netgear Orbi RBK50 pack.

The Elipson W35 speaker’s control interface lets you control the volume, mute the music, carry out Bluetooth pairing with a DAP or smartphone and change the source.

To do this, you must first switch the Elipson W35 to WiFi mode by pressing the on/off button several times until the LED flashes white.

Elipson app

The Elipson app is free to download on iOS and Android smartphones. The procedure for connecting the speaker to the local network is essentially the same in both versions. However, there is one particularity on Android: mobile data must be deactivated otherwise the procedure may fail, which was the case for us.

When the app is launched for the first time, it automatically scans for any pre-configured speakers.Then, you must click on the “Add device” button that appears at the bottom of the screen after a few seconds.

The Elipson W35 speaker’s WiFi connection can be set up in the Elipson app for iOS and Android.

The app then prompts you to connect to the WiFi network generated by the speaker. To do so, press and hold the pairing button on the speaker for a few seconds for the latter to go into setting mode. The phrase “Entering setting mode” confirms that the setting mode has been activated. The WiFi network generated by the speaker is almost immediately visible to the smartphone. It is called “Elipson-W35_” followed by a series of four numbers and letters.

On an Android smartphone, one simply has to click on “Settings” at the bottom of the screen to access the WiFi menu and select the speaker’s network. 

On an iPhone, you must quit the app momentarily to enter the WiFi connection settings and select the “Elipson-W35_xxxx” network. 

The speaker then emits a message indicating that the connection was successful.

Once the smartphone is connected to the speaker via WiFi, you must go back into the app which also confirms the connection. You are then prompted to choose the WiFi network you want to connect the Elipson W35 speaker to and enter the password. A few seconds later, the speaker is connected to the WiFi network and you can enjoy all the services provided.

When the Elipson W35 speaker is connected to the local network via WiFi, the LED remains white.

Streaming and network playback

The Elipson app provides access to many online music services, starting with radio stations from around the world via the TuneIn service. Very conventionally, you can search for stations by country or by genre. The sound quality varied greatly between stations, but the Elipson W35 speaker provided a pretty smooth sound. The emphasis on the upper bass and the mids along with the softness of the highs “smoothed out” the sound on overly compressed audio streams.

Via the app, we were also able to enjoy our Qobuz, Deezer and Spotify playlists. As the speaker is certified Spotify Connect, you switch directly to the app of the American streaming service when you select it. Consequently, those with a subscription won’t be disorientated. 

Qobuz and Deezer have been successfully integrated. As a result, you can enjoy new releases, your playlists, your favorites, and even your Deezer Flow.

Lastly, it is also possible to access tracks stored on the memory of a smartphone as well as those shared over the local network via the “My Music” section in the Elipson app. It is important to note that only MP3, WMA, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC and AAC audio files are supported (up to 24-bit/96kHz).

The Elipson app lets you stream music on the Elipson W35 speaker from a smartphone, via the Qobuz streaming app.

Elipson W35: listening impressions

For our review of the Elipson W35 wireless speaker, we tried placing it in different areas in our test room to see if it had an impact on the sound. It did, so it is important to take care in placing this speaker in your room.

First, we placed it on our TV-Video stand (a rather low model), centered in relation to our listening position and about 30cm away from the wall behind it. The stereo image was barely satisfactory and the lows tended to echo and generate vibration (cabinet sound).

At first we thought this was due to a design flaw, but moving the speaker up to ear-height and further away from the wall by placing it on a NorStone Stylum 2 speaker stand proved to be beneficial. The stereo sound was more pronounced, and the highs were clearer. Moreover, the lows, which had a tendency to “float” a little up until then, proved to be more responsive and tidy. The shelves of our TV stand probably acted as sound boxes, generating somewhat sluggish bass.

The Elipson W35 provides the best performance when raised on a stand, like it is here with the NorStone Stylum 2 stand.

Placing the Elipson W35 speaker in a corner, still using a speaker stand, didn’t prove to be suitable for us. The stereo image was unimpressive, and the upper bass was too prominent.

Consequently, it isn’t a bad idea to invest in a stand for the Elipson W35 speaker. In fact, the manufacturer provides a very elegant wood and metal tripod stand under the reference Elipson W35 Tripod, as well as a more traditional metal stand called Elipson W35 Stand

The Elipson W35 wireless speaker is a decorative object in its own right and immediately takes on a whole new esthetic aspect when mounted on its dedicated tripod stand (manufacturer’s photo).

If you don’t have a stand, it is also possible to place the speaker on a sideboard or side table, so long as the latter does not generate any unwanted vibrations when the speaker produces low frequencies.

Bluetooth

When listening to music via Bluetooth with an Android smartphone compatible with the aptX HD codec, the Elipson W35 speaker provided a very satisfying performance. Spatialization wasn’t exceptional compared to that of a real pair of speakers, but it was noticeable with stereo effects that are prominent in the original recording. The compressed sound which can be aggressive with other Bluetooth speakers wasn’t here. The smooth highs produced by the silk dome tweeters and the generous lows erased these flaws.

Spotify/Deezer

Although they both provide an extensive catalog and an interface that is particularly pleasant to use, the sound quality of these two streaming services is limited to 320kbps (except for Deezer Hi-Fi, which is equivalent to CD-quality) and, as a result, they don’t offer high resolution streaming. 

However, the sound was pleasant, with powerful bass and well-defined mids. The highs could have done with more presence to brighten the soundstage and add detail and spaciousness. That said, we enjoyed playing track after track.

Screenshots of the Elipson app while listening to Qobuz (left), audio files via the network (center) and Spotify (right) on the Elipson W35 wireless speaker.

Qobuz/DLNA

We could hear the difference in sound quality when we used the Qobuz online music service and its high resolution tracks (playback up to 24-bit/96kHz). The same goes for when we dug through the Hi-Res (FLAC HD) files stored on one of the computers of our local network. The sound was more accurately reproduced, and more detailed. The spatialization was a little more present as well.

The remote control

Compact and nicely finished, the Elipson W35 wireless speaker’s remote control lets you select the source, activate Bluetooth pairing and control audio playback (play/pause, previous/next track, volume +/-). The buttons are well organized.

Despite its qualities, however, it is very difficult to control the speaker with this remote control due to the poor placement of the infrared sensor on the speaker. Placed too high, it isn’t directed towards the listener, but towards the ceiling.

The Elipson W35 wireless speaker’s infrared sensor is placed slightly too high and doesn’t always receive the remote control’s commands. However, the application is primarily used to control the speaker.

It’s a shame that this forces the user to stand up to send a command to the speaker. A radio wave remote control would have been appreciated. Fortunately, the Elipson app allows you to control everything from your smartphone and that is what a wireless speaker is designed for, after all.

Elipson W35: compared to…

Audio Pro Drumfire: the services provided by these two speakers are very similar, with Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity for access to web radios, streaming services and music shared over the local network. Via their respective apps, both models allow you to create a stereo pair with two speakers and a multi-room audio system. The Audio Pro has the advantage of being equipped with an Ethernet port, as well as being AirPlay compatible. But it doesn’t include an optical input like the Elipson W35, and the latter is able to produce a much wider stereo image. Lastly, the French speaker is more compact and we preferred its design (but this is purely a question of personal taste).

Ruark Audio R5: we were very impressed by this British wireless speaker when it stopped by our test room. It has more features than the W35 (CD player, FM/DAB+ radio tuner, aptX HD compatible Bluetooth, wider range of connections) and has a more elegant finish (wood cabinet, high-end acoustic fabric). But all this has a price, as it costs almost €500 more than the W35.  

When it comes to sound, the Ruark Audio R5’s stereo spatialization is wider, mainly thanks to the integrated DSP with its highly effective 3D mode. However, the Elipson W35 speaker surpasses the R5 with the energy it displays and its presence in the lows. The integration of Qobuz in the dedicated app is also a plus.

If you have no interest in FM/DAB radio, don’t listen to audio CDs and favor high-resolution music, the Elipson W35 is the right choice for you.

Elipson W35: conclusion

The Elipson W35 wireless speaker has many attractive features. Esthetically, its unassuming design means it can be added to any interior, classic or contemporary, even though its anthracite color can seem a little austere. It’s a question of taste, but we would have preferred to have seen a finish more along the lines of the Elipson Planet speakers, with more color and metal speaker grilles.

When it comes to included features, the Elipson W35 wireless speaker doesn’t disappoint. AptX HD Bluetooth (24-bit/44.1kHz), WiFi, high-resolution DLNA network playback (24/96), Spotify Connect, a convenient app with the most popular streaming services, auxiliary inputs (analog and digital). Nothing is missing, except maybe an Ethernet port for those who don’t wish to use a WiFi connection.

Lastly, concerning sound, the 350 watts of this Elipson W35 speaker power the four drivers very efficiently. The lows are responsive, powerful and tight, even at high volume. The mids are natural and well-defined. The highest frequencies are never aggressive (an advantage of the silk dome) but could brighten the soundstage a little more, which would make it more precise and spacious. 

We were able to listen to Qobuz on the Elipson W35 speaker thanks to the Elipson app.

As we mentioned earlier in this review, the placement of this speaker can have an impact on the sound. Therefore, it is important to test several spots to find which is the best for an extensive stereo image. It will of course be difficult to achieve a sound image as wide as with two speakers, unless you pair two Elipson W35s so that they each reproduce one channel.

That said, it is still possible to achieve a pretty wide soundstage, especially when the speaker is mounted on a stand. This is why we recommend that you invest in one of the two dedicated stands sold by the French manufacturer. Not only will this improve the sound, but it will allow you to appreciate the excellent design of this speaker, which also doubles as a beautiful decorative object, even more.

Two Elipson W35 speakers can be paired in the same room to stream music with an even wider soundstage (manufacturer’s photo).

One thing is certain: the Elipson W35 speaker will have no trouble filling a large room of over 20m² with music. The only drawback to this speaker is the remote control which, despite its successful design, can only really be used when standing.

What we liked

  • The design and finish
  • The perfectly controlled volume
  • The powerful lows and articulate mids
  • The access to numerous services via the app

What we would have liked

  • Clearer highs
  • A more conveniently located infrared sensor
  • Different colors


Share your opinion!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.