Elipson Legacy 3210 review: unfaltering compact speakers

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After the Elipson Legacy 3230 floorstanding speaker, it was the turn of the Elipson 3210, a compact model from the recent Legacy range, to stop by our test room this week. Sold for €2590 a pair, this 2-way speaker is loaded with a 6½” midbass driver and a wide-dispersion AMT tweeter. Will it manage to bring music to life with the same ease as the other models from the French manufacturer? Is it as polished as its larger siblings?

The Elipson Legacy 3210 compact speaker is a 2-way model with a power handling capacity of 100 watts.

Elipson Legacy 3210: the brand

The oldest French acoustic loudspeaker brand, Elipson was originally named Multimoteur and specialized in designing motors for electric toys. In the early 40s, the company’s CEO, Henry Bazin, along with engineer Maurice Latour began research which eventually led to the creation of the legendary BS50 Chambord speaker a few years later. However, it was in 1948, with the appointment of Joseph Léon as CEO of Multimoteur, that the company gained momentum in speaker design. Spherical loudspeakers quickly became the manufacturer’s signature product. In 1951, Multimoteur was renamed Elipson, a contraction of the French words “ellipse” and “son”.

Joseph Léon in front of multiple Elipson spherical speakers.

In 1953, Elipson revealed the Elipson BS50 speaker at the Château de Chambord’s first sound and light show. The plaster sphere that houses the driver is placed on a metal tripod, with no visible fasteners. There is a reflector on the top of the sphere to optimize sound dispersion. Thanks to this wide dispersion, Elipson became incredibly popular for its ability to produce accurate and high-quality sound in large spaces. Through television, Joseph Léon’s spherical speakers made their way into the daily life of French people. The singer Claude François made his TV debut surrounded by Elipson speakers and the Général de Gaulle’s inauguration speech at the Maison de la Radio was delivered by Elipson BS50 loudspeakers.

The Général de Gaulle’s inauguration speech at the Maison de la Radio in 1963 was amplified by Elipson BS50 loudspeakers (in the top right-hand corner).

In the early 60s, Elipson teamed up with the ORTF to create monitoring loudspeakers. The result was the Elipson Religieuse speaker. Born from this collaboration, it was a revolutionary model boasting an unprecedented shape and design. The elliptical woofer, the midrange driver, and the tweeter are all loaded in separate enclosures.

Prototypes of the Elipson Religieuse were used as the PA speakers during an ORTF conference.

The research carried out with the ORTF for the Religieuse was also behind the creation of the Elipson 4050 speaker. Released in the late 60s, it features separate enclosures for its three speaker drivers. It consists of a large cylindrical enclosure in which a 12” woofer is loaded. On top is a sphere inside which the midrange driver and tweeter are located. This outstanding loudspeaker remained in the ORTF studio for many years and could be seen by countless viewers during the evening news with Patrick Poivre d’Arvor.

In the 70s, the ORTF installed Elipson 4050 loudspeakers in its studios.

Under the leadership of its new CEO, Charles Bonnet de la Tour, the company made its first steps in the home hi-fi market in the 70s. The 1501, 1502, and 1503 speakers along with the Elipson Prestige range were created as a result. Spherical speakers that were initially designed for concert halls or recording studios were also a big success, with models such as the Elipson 402 and 4240s that don’t take up much space.

The Elipson 402 loudspeaker marked the arrival of the French manufacturer’s spherical speakers in the world of home high-fidelity.

The late 2000s marked a second step in Elipson’s history with the arrival of a new research and development team. The goal was to make Elipson quality accessible to as many people as possible. The Elipson Planet L and Planet M spherical speaker ranges illustrate this desire with speakers that are both elegant and efficient. This team change was also an opportunity for the brand to diversify its catalog and apply its expertise to a number of different fields, such as hi-fi turntables, WiFi/Bluetooth amplifiers, home theater speakers, Bluetooth turntables, portable Bluetooth speakers, wireless speakers and subwoofers.

Both elegant and efficient, the Elipson Planet L speakers come in several different colors to blend in perfectly with any decor.

Released in late 2019, the Elipson Legacy speaker range is the French manufacturer’s latest creation. It draws from the legacy and expertise acquired by the brand over more than 60 years. The flagship model, the Elipson Legacy 3230 (read our review of the Elipson Legacy 3230 speaker) is based on iconic models such as the Religieuse, the 4050, and the 1303 and adopts modern technologies and materials. This range also features the Elipson Legacy 3220 floorstanding speaker, as well as the subject of this review, the Elipson Legacy 3210 compact speaker.

Elipson Legacy 3210: packaging & accessories

Each Elipson Legacy 3210 speaker comes in its own cardboard box inside of which it is securely held in place and protected by polystyrene sheets. Each Elipson Legacy 3210 speaker comes with a circular fabric speaker grille held in place by a magnetic system for the midbass driver, 4 decoupling spikes that were already screwed on, and 4 counter-spikes. There’s also a pair of soft-fabric white gloves for handling the speaker, a user guide (French/English) and a warranty card.

The Elipson Legacy 3210 compact speakers come with two magnetic acoustic grilles.

Elipson Legacy 3210: presentation

True to the traditions of the French brand, the Elipson Legacy 3210 compact speaker is entirely designed and manufactured in France. It features an MDF cabinet that is between 22 and 25mm thick. It is covered with a genuine wood veneer and benefits from many internal supports that strengthen the speaker and eliminate vibrational resonance. The speaker’s top panel features an aluminum insert that gives the Legacy 3210 an elegant look. In addition, the side panels aren’t parallel and the front and rear edges are rounded to optimize the circulation of the sound waves behind the drivers by limiting internal standing waves.

The Elipson Legacy 3210 speaker’s cabinet features internal supports for better rigidity and to eliminate vibrational resonance.

At 36cm deep, 27.5cm wide and 40cm high, the Elipson Legacy 3210 speaker’s cabinet is large enough for the drivers to fully express themselves. The bass-reflex enclosure has a circular rear-firing port. This design provides an extended low frequency response, but requires a minimum amount of space between the speaker and the rear wall. Consequently, the placement of the Elipson Legacy 3210 speaker plays an important role in the impact and distribution of the lows.

For an extended low frequency response, the Elipson Legacy 3210 speaker has a bass-reflex enclosure with a circular rear-firing port.

The reproduction of the lows and mids is handled by a large, 6½” driver. This driver has an aluminum cone that is covered by a thin ceramic layer. This design results in a cone that is both lightweight and rigid, capable of moving air very quickly and efficiently. It is coupled to a large voice coil driven by a powerful neodymium magnet for intense and responsive lows.

The Elipson Legacy 3210 compact speaker uses a 6½” aluminum cone driver to reproduce the lows and mids.

For the highs, the Elipson Legacy 3210 compact speaker is equipped with an AMT (Air Motion Transformer) tweeter. Frequently yet inaccurately likened to ribbon tweeters, AMT drivers have a significantly different design and way of working. While the diaphragm of a ribbon tweeter is perfectly flat, that of the Elipson Legacy 3210’s AMT driver has multiple folds along its entire length. This increases the contact area with the air in addition to providing higher velocity at the reproduced frequencies. By pinching the air in between its folds, the speed of the expelled air is significantly optimized compared to a conventional ribbon tweeter, resulting in an improved transient response without any sibilance or listening fatigue.

The Elipson Legacy 3210 speaker’s AMT tweeter provides a perfect reproduction of high frequencies up to 30kHz.

The Elipson Legacy 3210 speaker has a linear response curve over the 42Hz to 30kHz frequency range. Its power handling is 100 Watts RMS for a sensitivity rating of 88 dB (measured at 1m for 1 watt). We recommend pairing it with a hi-fi amplifier that has a significant power reserve and is capable of delivering 40 watts or more per channel. Bi-wiring and bi-amping is possible thanks to the two pairs of speaker terminals on the back of the speaker. The latter are compatible with thick gauge cables, banana plugs and spade connectors.

The Elipson Legacy 3210 compact speaker features two pairs of speaker terminals compatible with thick gauge cables, banana plugs and spade connectors.

The Elipson Legacy 3210 compact speaker’s terminals are connected to a high-quality crossover filter using 1.5mm² gauge cables with dual OFC conductors. The filter is specifically designed to optimize the phase of each speaker pair thanks to rigorously sorted and paired audiophile-quality components. Finally, the double OFC connector cable is also connected to the output of the crossover to ensure perfect transmission of the sound signal to the drivers.

The Elipson Legacy 3210 speaker’s crossover uses audiophile-quality components that have been rigorously sorted and paired.

Elipson Legacy 3210: specifications

Design

  • Compact speaker
  • Type: 2-way
  • Wood veneer cabinet with an aluminum insert on top
  • Cabinet thickness: 22-25mm
  • Bass-reflex enclosure
  • Flared rear-firing port

Drivers

  • Tweeter: AMT (Air Motion Transformer)
  • Midbass driver: 6½”, aluminum cone with a ceramic layer
  • Audiophile crossover with high-end components
  • Internal wiring: 1.5mm², double OFC connectors

Measurements

  • Power handling RMS: 100W
  • Frequency response: 42Hz – 30kHz
  • Sensitivity: 88dB
  • Impedance: 6 ohms

General

  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 404 x 276 x 360mm
  • Weight (unit): 13.9kg

Elipson Legacy 3210: listening conditions

For our review of the Elipson Legacy 3210 compact speakers, we placed them on NorStone Stylum 2 stands so that they were positioned at ear level. We chose to connect them to the Rega Aethos amplifier, a transistor model capable of delivering 2 x 125 watts into 8 ohms across a wide bandwidth, using Viard Audio Silver HD12 HP speaker cables. Afterwards, we paired the speakers with a McIntosh MA252 hybrid amplifier with an output power of 2 x 100 watts into 8 ohms. For our source we chose the Zappiti One SE 4K HDR network media player, which we connected with Viard Audio Premium HD RCA cables. We used this player to play 24-bit/192kHz flac files shared over the local network and Pure Audio Blu-rays. We also used a Hi-Res compatible network media player to stream music from Spotify and Qobuz. The latter was connected with Audioquest Yukon RCA cables.

The Elipson Legacy 3210 speakers paired with the McIntosh MA252 hi-fi amplifier.

Elipson Legacy 3210: listening impressions

To start our listening session with the Elipson Legacy 3210 speakers, we listened to the album If You Wait by British indie pop band London Grammar. Right from the very first tracks we listened to, the Elipson 3210s impressed us with their ability to produce incredibly deep, powerful and perfectly controlled lows. The responsiveness of the aluminum cone was outstanding, giving the Elipson 3210 speakers great dynamics. The acoustic guitar present on many of the tracks was very well defined and every single strum of the strings was clearly audible. Lastly, the AMT tweeter provided Hannah Reid’s voice, which was reproduced softly and naturally at the center of the soundstage, with great transparency.

The responsiveness of the aluminum cone was outstanding, giving the Elipson 3210 speakers great dynamics.

We continued our test of the Elipson Legacy 3210 compact speakers with the album Supernatural by Santana. The sound image delivered was dynamic, lively and bursting with countless details and nuances. The soundstage was wide and spacious, allowing the different sound levels to be perfectly positioned. Each instrument was flawlessly rendered and almost seemed to materialize in our listening room. The Elipson 3210s remained perfectly controlled at all times, and even the most distorted guitar notes were reproduced without the slightest hint of harshness. It is possible to listen to the Elipson Legacy 3210s for many hours without experiencing any fatigue.

The Elipson 3210s remained perfectly controlled at all times.

The Elipson 3210 speakers confirmed their dynamic character when listening to Hans Zimmer’s 2017 Prague concert. The magnitude of the Elipson Legacy 3210’s soundstage was impressive as it was able to materialize the orchestra. Each instrument breathed and unfolded with striking naturalness. The lows were deep and brought structure and substance to the sound. The overall balance was flawless and each timbre was expertly reproduced, without overshadowing the other frequencies.

Elipson Legacy 3210: compared to…

B&W 705 S2: sold for €2048 per pair, the B&W 705 S2 is a 2-way model equipped with a 6½” driver and a decoupled carbon cone tweeter. The latter is capable of retrieving even more subtle details in the highs. The B&W speaker’s soundstage is also wider. However, the Elipson Legacy 3210 provides a more lively and dynamic in general. The 3210s are also more generous in the lows, with deeper and more powerful bass.

Atohm GT1-HD: €100 less expensive than the Elipson Legacy 3210s, these Atohm speakers offer a natural sound with rich tones. The soundstage is wide and the different instruments correctly rendered, although the vertical plane is a little narrower than with the Elipson Legacy 3210 speakers, whose sound is also a little more dynamic and detailed.

Elipson Legacy 3210: conclusion 

The Elipson Legacy 3210 compact speakers reflect all of the French brand’s expertise in acoustic speaker design. Just as elegant as they are powerful, they deliver a very wide, dynamic and always perfectly controlled soundstage that brings recordings to life. While they may seem quite imposing for bookshelf speakers, their size is in fact a major advantage, as it allows them to deliver powerful, deep lows capable of competing with those of small floorstanding models. We recommend pairing the Elipson Legacy 3210 speakers with an amplifier that has a significant power reserve and an output power of 40 watts or more per channel, like the Marantz PM7000N, Cambridge CXA81, Hegel H190 or McIntosh MA252, for example.

What we liked: 

  • The magnitude of the soundstage
  • The impressive dynamics
  • The tonal balance
  • The depth of the lows
  • The accuracy of the timbres
  • The design

What we would have liked: 

  • A front-firing port for easier placement

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