The Elipson Heritage XLS 15 is a 3-way speaker featuring a vintage design inspired by the loudspeakers of the 60s and 70s such as the iconic Celestion Ditton 551, JBL 4312 and Pioneer HPM-100. As a true tribute to these speakers, the XLS 15 uses the same three-way configuration, a large white paper cone woofer, a bass-reflex load with front-firing port and front-mounted dials. The latter allow the user to adjust the midrange and treble registers by 2dB according to the listening room or the listener’s preferences. Will the old-school high-fidelity design be able to bring music back to life?
Elipson Heritage XLS 15: the brand
Elipson is the oldest French brand of loudspeakers. It made a name for itself in the 1950s for its spherical loudspeakers, which quickly became its signature. This solution was favored by the brand for its many acoustic advantages, including the reduction of distortion and vibrations. Since then, the French manufacturer has not stopped developing new acoustic solutions to design speakers that are always more efficient as well as elegant. The Elipson Planet L and Planet M range of spherical loudspeakers illustrates this intention. Today, the brand extends its expertise to many areas such as hi-fi turntables, WiFi/Bluetooth amplifiers, home theater speakers, Bluetooth turntables, portable Bluetooth speakers, connected speakers and subwoofers.
Elipson Heritage XLS 15: packaging & accessories
Each Elipson Heritage XLS 15 speaker comes in its own box, inside which the speaker is covered with a synthetic cloth and securely wedged between several foam plates. It comes with a set-up guide, a foam vent plug and wooden feet that allow the speaker to be tilted slightly for optimal acoustic phasing.
Elipson Heritage XLS 15: presentation
As soon as we took it out of its box, the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 speaker captured our attention. It is truly sublime and made us travel back to the 60s/70s with its resolutely vintage look directly inspired by the three-way models of the time like the Celestion Ditton 551 and Pioneer HPM-100. The Elipson Heritage XLS 15’s design is very similar, with a large paper cone speaker paired with a front-firing bass-reflex vent, as well as a cabinet that is halfway between a small floorstanding speaker and a big bookshelf speaker (420mm wide and 730mm high).
The cabinet of the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 is made of thick medium density wood fiber and benefits from internal braces to limit vibrations and undesirable resonance. It rests on a slanted base that raises the speaker and optimizes the phase. The construction quality of the cabinet is irreproachable and benefits from a beautiful finish. The different external faces of the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 speaker feature an imitation walnut wood coating with a very realistic grain, while the front face of the speaker is painted black.
The drivers of the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 are hidden behind a large acoustic fiber grille decorated with the Elipson logo. This grille features a magnetic fastening system that allows it to be removed very easily to reveal the drivers. This fixing system also has the advantage of eliminating any notches on the front of the speaker, thus reinforcing the pleasing esthetics of the speakers when the grille is off.
The Elipson XLS15 speaker adopts a 3-way bass-reflex design. Its main strength is the integration of a large 12” cellulose fiber cone driver. This “old school” configuration is used to ensure that the cone is both light and rigid, so that it can move air very effectively and very quickly. It is coupled with a large voice-coil and a powerful magnetic assembly to provide intense and reactive bass. The large diameter of the cone ensures that the Heritage XLS 15 is capable of delivering very low frequencies, all the way down to 40Hz.
The reproduction of the high frequency register is entrusted to a 0.8” silk dome tweeter. This tweeter is derived from the emblematic model used for the speakers of the Prestige Facet range of the French manufacturer. It was selected by the acoustic engineers of the brand for its excellent transient response as well as its capacity to maintain perfect control of the high frequencies up to 25kHz.
For the midrange, the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 uses a 2” coated dome driver. It has the particularity of being able to cover almost three octaves in the most sensitive frequency ranges of our auditory perception. The reproduction of the midrange register is thus freer, and perfectly coherent with the upper register. This also allows the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 to limit distortion and provide a rich, natural and well-defined midrange.
The Elipson Heritage XLS 15 speaker uses a bass-reflex enclosure with a front-firing circular port. It comes with a foam plug to block the vent to facilitate its placement in the room by reducing the necessary space between the speaker and the wall. It is advised to leave a few tens of centimeters between the speaker and the back wall, except if you wish to artificially amplify the bass level.
The restitution of the midrange and treble frequencies can be adjusted according to the preferences of the listener, the source or the listening room, which is a very convenient feature. To adjust these frequency registers, the Elipson XLS15 speaker has two switches on its front panel: the first is dedicated to high frequencies, while the second is in charge of the midrange. Each switch allows you to adjust the response of the speaker in the midrange or treble register by + or – 1dB. A function usually found on monitoring speakers and on vintage speakers like the emblematic Yamaha NS-1000, Celestion Ditton 551, JBL 4312 and Pioneer HPM-100 from which the Elipson XLS15s draw their inspiration. These dials are useful for modifying the sound signature, as we were able to experience during our test when enhancing the vocals, the high frequencies or the presence of an instrument. However, as the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 was correctly calibrated and in perfect adequacy with our reference amplifiers, the factory setting proved to be the most natural and best balanced with the tracks we listened to.
Elipson Heritage XLS 15: testing conditions
Out of the box, the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 vintage speaker is mounted on a flat wooden stand. It is possible to use it as it is, or you can use the tilted stand provided to optimize the phase and the perception of the different frequency registers. The stand is composed of three wooden sections and is very fast to assemble. To do so, you just have to unscrew the flat stand already attached to the speaker, then mount each part of the feet in the order mentioned in the instructions using the screws supplied with the speaker. This inclined support adds to the vintage design of the speaker and contributes greatly to the general aesthetic. Note that it is also possible to raise it even further by placing it on a stand like the NorStone Vintage Stand.
Once the slanted stand is installed, the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 speakers just need to be connected to the amplifier. For this test, we chose to pair them with the Cayin CS-55A KT88 tube amplifier using Viard Audio Silver HD12 HP speaker wires. With its 2×40 watts of power in triode mode, our reference tube amp had no difficulty efficiently driving the speakers and their 12” woofer in our 20m² room. We then coupled them to the Atoll IN200 amplifier, capable of delivering up to 2×120 watts. Thanks to its superior amount of power on tap, we were able to enjoy a more percussive sound. The source used for this test of the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 speakers was a network player allowing access to Hi-Res music shared on the local network, as well as to the online music services Spotify and Qobuz.
Elipson Heritage XLS 15: listening impressions
We started listening to the Elipson XLS 15 speakers with the Cayin amp. On the track Salvadore by Lana Del Rey, the sound stage had a great transparency and outstanding breadth. The voice of the singer enchanted us by the quality of the timbres and their softness. The vocals were very well defined, even on the highest intonations. The voice had room to expand with great finesse and had a beautiful harmonic palette in the center of the stage.
In a completely different register with the album The Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd, the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 speakers were able to perfectly reproduce the different stereo effects which developed with a very impressive amplitude in our listening room. On the track Time, the bass was energetic, dynamic and showed a nice extension. We gained more depth and substance by removing the foam plug from the port. With the port plugged, the bass is a little bit tighter and less round, closer to a closed enclosure.
The Elipson Heritage XLS 15 displays an unshakable spectral balance and a stunning respect of the different registers. Still on the track Time by Pink Floyd, every single detail of the electric guitar was audible and reproduced without an ounce of aggressiveness, even with the most complex chords. The Elipson Heritage XLS 15 speakers constantly remained graceful and smooth. This mastery continued throughout our test, even the most complex tracks, from Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze to ZZ Top’s La Grange.
The Elipson Heritage XLS 15 speakers showed great versatility and proved that they are able to flawlessly adapt to any musical style. On a jazz track like Para Machuchar Meu Coracao by the iconic duo Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto, the sound was warm, soft and adorned with a beautiful shine. The saxophone was textured and expanded through the room with great depth. The Elipson Heritage XLS 15 speakers managed to embody with great skill this instrument that seemed to mateiralize right in front of us, in the hands of the saxophonist.
The great dynamic range of the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 loudspeakers also benefits classical music. With the interpretation of Vivaldi’s 4 seasons by Anne-Sophie Mutter, the speakers reacted instantly to the slightest impulse from the orchestra. The XLS 15s managed to combine balance, dynamics and wonderful timbre. The orchestra was sublimated and ideally materialized, just like the acoustics of the recording room. Even at high volume, the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 speakers know how to remain faithful to the recording and never aggressive, even with the most complicated string instruments to reproduce.
Elipson Heritage XLS 15: compared to…
Magnat Transpuls 1500: sold at €1090, the Magnat Transpuls 1500 is a real reference in the world of vintage-looking speakers. It benefits from a large 15” woofer, allowing it to deliver more powerful and deeper lows than the 12” woofer of the Elipson Heritage XLS 15. Apart from that, the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 brings a richer reproduction with more substance and texture in the midrange. It also has a wider and deeper sound stage.
Klipsch Heresy IV: sold for €3,790, this Klipsch speaker inherited the vintage design of the Klipsch Heritage range. It benefits from an even more high-end cabinetry, with a real wood veneer. Acoustically, the Klipsch Heresy IV features a 12″ woofer coupled with a 1.75″ midrange compression driver and a 1″ titanium cone tweeter loaded in a Tractrix horn. The Klipsch Heresy IV gives the impression of having a better extension in the highs, which is especially beneficial to acoustic instruments. The Elipson Heritage XLS 15, on the other hand, has a better extension in the lows. The sound is also a little softer and warmer with the Elipson speakers.
Elipson Heritage XLS 15: conclusion
Visually sublime and musically exceptional, the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 speakers won us over on every level. The retro design is undeniably mastered by the oldest French hi-fi brand and will seduce any vintage equipment enthusiast. In addition, the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 speakers ensure a well controlled balance of the various registers which perfectly fill the space. The different sound levels are well layered and the harmonic palette is extraordinarily rich. The 12” driver is the real asset of these Elipson loudspeakers, bringing energetic and dynamic deep lows. Because of its large diameter, we recommend using an amplifier with plenty of power on tap such as the Atoll IN200 Signature to exploit the full dynamic range of the speakers. It is also preferable to use the tilted stand to perfect the esthetics rather than the one installed in the factory.
What we liked
- The very well made vintage design
- The depth and control of the lows
- The wide and deep sound stage
- The clarity and naturalness of the vocals
We thought that
- Having two different floor stands was not that useful
- The front panel frequency control was a bit gimmicky
- It would have been great to have them under our Christmas tree!