Elipson Heritage XLS 11: retro hi-fi brought up to date

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Mis à jour le 3 August 2022.

The new Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speaker is the smaller counterpart of the popular Elipson Heritage XLS 15, and has the same 60s/70s inspired design in a more compact format. The French specialist sticks to the same formula, with a three-way design, bass-reflex enclosure with a front-firing port and knobs on the front panel to adjust the mids and highs. The large 12” white paper cone driver has been replaced by an 8” model. Will this stripped-back version be just as musical?

The Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speaker has the same vintage design and many of the same acoustic elements as the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 speaker in a more compact format.

Elipson Heritage XLS 11: packaging & accessories

Inside their cardboard box, the Elipson Heritage XLS 11 vintage speakers are securely held in place using packing foam and are wrapped in a synthetic fabric cover. They come with a user guide, rubber pads and a foam plug for the port. Consequently, they can work with a sealed enclosure to attenuate the bass.

Each Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speaker comes with rubber pads, a magnetic grille, a user guide and a foam port plug.

Elipson Heritage XLS 11: presentation

Design 

The Elipson Heritage XLS 11’s design is identical to that of its larger counterpart. It harks back to the 1960s and 1970s with its vintage look inspired by the three-way models of the time, such as the Celestion Ditton 551, JBL 4312 and Pioneer HPM-100. The cabinet of the Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speaker features an imitation walnut finish that has very realistic grain, while the rear panel is painted black. An aesthetic that won us over during our review of the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 speakers.

The Elipson Heritage XLS 11 has a retro design inspired by the 3-way models of the 60s and 70s.

The French manufacturer has included the same dark fabric acoustic grille decorated with the Elipson logo. The latter has the same magnetic mounting system as the XLS 15 so that it can be easily removed to reveal the drivers. This system also has the advantage of leaving no screws or notches on the front of the speaker, enhancing the design of these attractive objects when they are used without the grille.

The Elipson Heritage XLS 11 is equipped with a magnetic acoustic grille that can be easily removed to reveal the drivers.

While the Elipson Heritage XLS 11 has the exact same design as the XLS 15, it is much more compact. The cabinet is now 32cm wide, 56cm high and 27cm deep. A far cry from the XLS 15’s height of 73cm, width of 42cm and depth of 33cm. Because it is 52% smaller, the Elipson Heritage XLS 11 is easier to install in small spaces.

Thanks to its more compact format, the Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speaker can be integrated more easily in rooms measuring between 20 and 40m².

Unlike the Elipson Heritage XLS 15, the XLS 11 doesn’t come with a wooden tilted stand. When placed on the floor, they are very low and some information from the acoustic message is lost. To raise the speakers, you need the optional Elipson XLS Stand 1. It is recommended to use this stand to raise the speaker and optimize the phase. This allows you to benefit from a better perception of the various frequencies. The sound is more coherent, with more well controlled lows and vocals that are more precisely reproduced at the center of the soundstage.

It is best to raise the Elipson Heritage XLS 11 off the floor using the Elipson XLS Stand 1 to improve the precision of the reproduction.

Acoustic design

The Elipson Heritage XLS 11 has a three-way design with a bass-reflex enclosure. To be more compact, the XLS 15’s 12” driver has been replaced with an 8” model. However, the latter has the same composition, with a white cellulose fiber cone. This design allows the cone to be both light and rigid, capable of moving air very effectively and quickly. It is associated with a magnetic system that is smaller, but still very powerful considering its size.

The Elipson Heritage XLS 15’s 12” driver has been replaced by an 8” model. Its composition is the same in order to preserve the same dynamics.

The Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speaker has a bass-reflex enclosure with a circular front-firing port. Paired with a substantial load volume, this port allows the speaker to reproduce very low frequencies down to 45Hz. If you prefer more discreet bass, it is possible to create a sealed enclosure by placing the foam plug (included) inside the port. This also makes it easier to place the speaker in a corner of the room.

The Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speaker has a bass-reflex enclosure with a front-firing port that can be blocked using a foam plug.

For the highs, the French manufacturer still uses a 0.9” silk dome tweeter. This tweeter is derived from the iconic model used for the speakers of the Elipson Prestige Facet range. It was selected by the brand’s acoustic engineers for its excellent transient response as well as its ability to maintain perfect control of high frequencies up to 25kHz. As a result, the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 promises the same finesse and softness in the highs as its counterpart.

The Elipson XLS 11’s tweeter ensures perfectly controlled highs up to 25kHz.

The Elipson XLS 15 was praised by the specialized press as soon as it was released, notably for its rich and natural midrange. A quality that is largely due to its 2” coated dome midrange driver. Much to our delight, this driver is used once again on the Elipson Heritage XLS 11. It has the particularity of being able to cover almost three octaves in the frequency ranges our ears are most sensitive to. Therefore, the reproduction of the midrange is freer and perfectly coherent with the highs. This also allows the Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speaker to limit distortion and provide a rich, natural and well-defined midrange.

The Elipson Heritage XLS 11 vintage speaker uses the same 2” dome driver as its predecessor to provide a free and consistent midrange reproduction.

Adjustable gain

Like the 1970s speakers it is inspired by, the Elipson Heritage XLS 11 lets the listener adjust the mids and highs depending on their preferences, the source used or the listening room. To do so, the Elipson 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 by + or – 1dB. 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 and the presence of an instrument.

The font panel of the Elipson Heritage XLS 11 features two gain switches to enhance vocals, high frequencies or the presence of a certain instrument.

Elipson Heritage XLS 11: listening conditions

We tested the Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speakers with the Cayin CS-55A KT88 tube amplifier. We also connected the speakers to the Advance Paris My Connect 150 hybrid amplifier and the Atoll IN200 Signature amplifier. The latter was the most dynamic and striking. For our source, we used the Bluesound Node (2021) network media player to listen to Hi-Res music on Qobuz.

The Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speaker alongside the larger Elipson Heritage XLS 15. Here the speakers are accompanied by the Cayin CS-55A KT88, Advance Paris My Connect 150 and Atoll IN200 Signature amps.

Elipson Heritage XLS 11: listening impressions

The Elipson Heritage XLS 11 provided the same transparent and natural sound as the XLS 15. With Enya’s eponymous album, the XLS 11’s soundstage was a little shallower than that of its larger version, but the feeling of space was still very good and gave music a nice breadth. The many complex details were accurately outlined and precisely positioned. We enjoyed the excellent balance between the various sound layers.

The Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speakers offered a spacious reproduction that gave music a nice amplitude.

Naturally, the 8” driver and more compact format meant that the Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speakers didn’t go quite as low. Consequently, the bass wasn’t as deep, but it was incredibly tight. It was remarkably powerful for a speaker of this size and was always well controlled. The lows were energetic and intense, without any excess.

The Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speakers offered tight bass without any excess.

The Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speakers delivered a lively and well rhythmed reproduction. With the track Here by America, the guitar was accurately transcribed. The entirety of the instruments’ details and nuances were very realistically reproduced. They were marked, clear and very spontaneous. The electric bass was dense and nicely highlighted. It brought texture to the listening experience thanks to a correctly sustained reverb. The Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speakers displayed a great sense of timing. 

The midrange/tweeter duo brilliantly reproduced all vocal tessituras. From the deepest tenors to the highest sopranos, the Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speakers offered an infinite harmonic palette and impressed us with the quality of their timbres. Voices were crystal clear and natural. With a beautiful presence, they were embodied with conviction and strength in the center of the stage. However, it is important to raise the speakers using the dedicated feet to optimize the placement of voices and to hear each micro detail clearly.

The midrange/tweeter duo brilliantly reproduced all the vocal harmonic palettes.

Elipson Heritage XLS 11: compared to…

Elipson Heritage XLS 15: a larger version of the XLS 11, the XLS 15 has many similar features, including the vintage design, the dome midrange driver and the 0.9” tweeter. The speakers differ in that they have a 12” woofer and a larger format. The XLS 15 offers deeper and more generous bass. The reproduction is also a little more suave with the XLS 15, notably with a more present midrange. Finally, the soundstage is deeper and more textured, in particular thanks to the additional bass. 

More imposing, the Elipson Heritage XLS 15 speaker is even more generous in the lows. Its soundstage is slightly deeper and more spacious.

Magnat Transpuls 1000: priced at €950, the Magnat Transpuls 1000 is a reference when it comes to retro-looking speakers. A smaller version of the Magnat Transpuls 1500, it boasts a 10” driver and double front-firing port to deliver even deeper and more powerful bass than the XLS 11. Other than that, the Elipson Heritage XLS 11 has a richer reproduction with substance and texture in the mids. The soundstage is also wider. 

Elipson Heritage XLS 11: who is it for?

The Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speakers are designed for those who love vintage equipment and beautifully designed objects. Their smaller size and 8” driver make them easier to install in small spaces than the XLS 15. They are ideal if you want to replace the aging JBL 4312 or another vintage model while keeping the much appreciated retro design. However, it is important to use them with an amplifier that has a substantial power reserve, such as the Atoll IN200 Signature or Denon PMA-900NE, to benefit from the full dynamic range of the speakers. Amateurs of warmer sound will appreciate pairing them with a vacuum tube amplifier such as the Cayin CS-55A KT88.

The Elipson Heritage XLS 11 speakers are designed for those who love vintage equipment and beautifully designed objects. More compact than the XLS 15, they are ideal for rooms up to 40m².

Elipson Heritage XLS 11: conclusion 

With the new Elipson Heritage XLS 11, the French manufacturer manages to effectively condense the XLS 15’s key elements into a more compact format than ever. The retro design is faithfully replicated, with a perfect finish and essential 70s details like the potentiometers on the front panel. The acoustic configuration hardly changes, with a smaller woofer for easy placement in any interior. The result is a sound that is still as grandiose and outstanding as ever, with a soundstage that is extensive, open and correctly layered. The listening experience is lively and always well-paced. The Elipson Heritage XLS 11 can be used for all musical genres thanks to a very wide harmonic palette and a real sense of analysis. However, it is essential to elevate the speakers by placing them on a piece of furniture or by using the Elipson XLS Stand 1 to enjoy the full extent of their musicality.

We liked:

  • The excellent vintage design
  • The tight, energetic lows
  • The clear and natural vocals

We would have liked:

  • Not to have to raise them
  • For the base to have been included

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