atelier 13 audio
... driven by music ...
ROSSO FIORENTINO ELBA 2
Bringing high end sound to your home
The newly improved Elba is a great all-round speaker which combines power with grace for an exciting audiophile listening experience.
The engineering challenge behind the new Elba was to put in our entry level model the same enthusiasm, design expertise and innovation that we put in our higher-end speakers so as to give the listener the pleasure of a real high-end acoustic experience.
Made in Italy with superior materials and craftsmanship, the Elba series 2 sports a twin 6.5” woofer each featuring coated fibreglass cones for optimal stiffness and for damping membrane resonances, and a re-designed motor system which minimizes power compression.
These two mid-woofers work in a vented loading volume where the ports are directly placed behind both the upper and the lower woofer units drastically reducing their time delay. Each aluminium damped port has been re-tuned to the new motor parameters of the drive units in order to optimize turbulences. Compared to its predecessor, the result is a system with an increased bass frequency extension and control.
On top of the front baffle sits a 26 mm wide surround silk dome tweeter powered by a double magnet that offers an extended high frequency response to about 40kHz together with a great off-axis dispersion.
However, the high quality of the Elba is not limited to its drivers.
Hidden but critically important is the newly designed crossover, which carefully links the drivers together for a coherent emission on both vertical and horizontal axis and gives the Elba a drastically limited impedance variation, making it extremely compatible with a wide range of amplifiers. The use of audio grade capacitors exclusively customized for Rosso by ClarityCap, together with our new proprietary made in Italy inductors and precision thick film resistors, put the high-end quality of this circuitry beyond doubt.
The beautifully finished enclosure, made in Italy by skilled craftsmen, makes use of the multi-layer construction which, in a more sophisticated way, is to be found in all our models.
The use of multi-layered panels made of mechanically different materials, guarantees the right balance of sturdiness and damping properties thus forming the basis for a clean and powerful sound.
This is a simple, clean, elegant design which encompasses all the technology, expertise and performance, typical of a Rosso Fiorentino loudspeaker. A floorstander built to blend with style into your home capable of creating a dynamic and captivating high-end sound.
$ 7,000 per pair
$ 600 per pair / Premium Fish
Type : 2.5 -way rear-ported floorstander
Sensitivity : 88 dBspl (2.83V, 1m)
Nominal impedance : 6Ω (minimum 4Ω)
HF Driver : 1 x ø 26mm (1 in) hand treated textile diaphragm with wide surround
LF Driver : 2 x ø 165mm (6.5 in) coated fiber glass cone woofer
Frequency response (±3dB) : 40 Hz – 30 kHz
Typical in-room bass resp. : -6dB @35Hz)
Crossover frequencies : 60 Hz – 2.2 kHz
Recommended power : 30W – 150W into 8Ω with unclipped sound signal
Cabinet : solid HDF fiberboard, internal damping elements, 3 different absorbent materials
Height : 1086mm (42.8 in) incl. plinth and spikes
Width : 236mm (9.3 in) | 270mm (10.6in) including plinth
Depth : 290mm (11.4in) | 320mm (12.6in) including plinth
Net weight : 27 Kg (59.5 lb) each
Cabinet finish : exclusive RF silky matt black coating / black carbon fibre pattern leather (front panel)
Side panels : black carbon fibre pattern leather natural / real walnut veneer
Other finishes on request
what they say ...
Robert Harley | April 2021
EDITORS CHOICE AWARD 2020
“The Rosso Fiorentino Elba 2 are not just a great buy for the money they are worth. They are a great speaker, period.
They have the virtues of loudspeakers that cost much more, especially the realistic reproduction of the instrumental tone, which combines ease, warmth and harmonic richness with palpability, resolution and musical liveliness, a quality that few speakers of any price can do this well.
This is a speaker that doesn't sound like a hi-fi component. They are something more: they express the beauty of music in a way that defies what we would expect for its price.
Elba 2 is the type of speaker that will benefit from high-quality sources, amplification, and cabling. Even if your speaker budget is up to $ 15,000, you should still audition the Elba 2. You will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of features you get for $ 5,000, not to mention you still have $ 10,000 left to upgrade your associated gear. »
The Sound Advocate
Marvin Bolden | April 2020
All Rosso Fiorentino speakers are designed and hand-built in Florence Italy. The company is headquartered in a castle with a dedicated sound performance theater where live music is performed.
The Elba II from Rosso’s classic series looks a lot like many basic rectangular boxed speakers. It is 42.8” tall by 10.6” wide by12.6” deep– all measurements include the plinth. The speaker weighs in at about 59 pounds, and is a 2 ½ way rear-ported design consisting of one 1” hand treated textile diaphragm with a wide surround and two 6 1/2” coated fiberglass cone woofers. Sensitivity is 88 dB spl (2.83v, 1m). Setting up the speakers in my room was straight forward and easy.
While the Elba II have a great foundation incorporated for its bass response, these are not speakers that will pound away at your chest and push you back into your chair. On the other hand, the Elba’s are neither quite like the somewhat “polite” British sound either. Generally speaking, they are a bit more nuanced in detail with great textures and multi-note harmonics.
Two tracks I used to test bass are Chris Jones’s “No Sanctuary Here” and “Hey Now” by London Grammar. From the outset, the Elbas more than filled my room with tight, clean, and fast bass, no complaints here. They also made a good honest attempt at chest-pounding bass along with a tight mid-bass response when playing “AwolNation’s Sail”, so I did not feel that they were shortchanging me at all in this area of their performance attributes. In this respect, The Rosso Elba’s passed the bass test with flying colors.
The mid-range is where I came to fall in love with the Elbas, as they superbly displayed a richness of sound along with fine depth and ambiance. Crisp, punchy guitar sounds and clean chesty male voices as witnessed by Chris Jones “Thank You” which were in abundance as well. “The Last Fallen Leaf” by the same artist gave the soundstage stage a surreal three-dimensional image. You could hear each string being plucked and the echo of the overtones. Instrumental tonality was spot on with a true to life naturalness; indeed, the hallmark of an extremely accurate design.
Female vocals were just as natural and lifelike as the voice of Alison Krauss was so sweet sounding with that bluegrass country accent was projected right there front and center. Her voice was as polished and distinct as a fresh clear spring morning.
The songs “Sight” and “Strong” by London Grammar have a haunting reverb where sounds are clean and refreshing. The singer and natural tones of the accompaniment instruments were displayed with a spaciousness that was airy as the music just ‘hung’ in their individual spaces in the soundstage. Another plus for the wonderful Elba II’s while giving extra points for Jerry Douglas playing the ‘dobro’ on the Krauss CD.
Female vocals from Alison Krauss and London Grammar were clear, distinct, airy and extended–no ear bleed here. The tweeter is so smooth and relaxing that I would think it would need a very HOT recording for the tweeters to bring attention to themselves.
Another test was violins for the upper register was Shannon Lee on the Telarc label. Violins can make or break a lot of tweeters but the Elbas II had the violins dancing across the upper regions with ease and grace with sublime elegance and silky naturalness. Ace, ace, ace; another stellar performance for the Elba
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
As I said at the beginning of this review, I am quite partial to the Rosso sound and the Elba II’s did not disappoint. Sweet airy highs, natural clean mids, tight tuneful bass with just the right amount of chest thump.
Anyone, I say anyone looking in this price range could not go wrong by choosing Rosso Fiorentino and I say this in all honesty, you could live with them for a very long time.
Honestly : the market and music lovers need loudspeakers like these... loudspeakers which bring tears to our eyes listening to them, but do not make us cry when we see their price. I had not had time to look for information on the Rosso Fiorentino Elba 2 when I had already been with them for a while, and as things have been, I expected a figure more than twice above what I found when looking for their price … It was a very pleasant surprise to discover that these Rosso Fiorentino Elba are around four thousand euros... particularly when they have a build quality and finish worthy of higher-end speakers ... and above all, a sound that – frankly – makes one fall in love ... a sound that, in addition, is objectively also of a very high level.
Any audiophile thinking of acquiring speakers in this range (or higher) should listen to the Elba 2, ideally in an environment as similar to that of their living room, and if they already can put tubes into the equation, they will be sure to love them.
Delicious sound in all senses of this word
Natural harmonics and good transparency, they do not “cut out” at the top
Very three-dimensional, wide and deep sound scene
Set up location is not problematic, even for less than optimal positions
Somewhat fair in the bass, although that makes them react "kindly" to the room
Gregg Simmons | 2020
The Red Flower
"The Elba, Series II is a moderately large, three-driver, 2 ½ way floor-standing speaker. It’s faced with carbon fiber patterned leather and the top, base plinth and corners are covered in an appealing matte rubberized material dressed up with real walnut veneer side panels. At forty-three inches the speaker cabinet sits about an inch over a plinth supported by three pillars. With the gap between the speaker cabinet and plinth I expected to find a downward-firing port, but no, the two ports are located directly behind each of the mid/woofers cones. The entire contraption stands on supplied carpet spikes with pucks included preventing damage to hardwood and other delicate floor surfaces. The spikes are long enough to ensure that there is about a half-inch gap between the bottom of the plinth and the carpet underneath, effectively linking the speakers to the solid floor below. The speakers look like very high-quality pieces, with excellent fit and finish.
The mechanical parts of the Elbas include a 26mm double-magnet silk dome tweeter that is claimed to extend all the way to 40kHz, high enough to have the canine chorus singing along (the canine chorus is naturally called…wait for it…The Woofers… get it? No? Try the veal, I’m here all week.), as well as two coated fiberglass mid/bass drivers with the aforementioned rear-firing ports. The ports themselves are aluminum tubes that transition into the rubberized surface material. Attention to detail is evident : the seams between the two materials are all but invisible unless you stick a light inside the port, which naturally I did. The joint tolerances are very tight.
Sensitivity is rated at 88 dB with a nominal impedance of 6ohms and a minimum of 4 Ohms. In their product literature, RF points out that the Elba’s crossover was specifically designed to create a very narrow impedance band to make the speakers as consistent a drive load as possible, which among other things makes them friendlier towards tube amps. I primarily used my Cary V12r power amp set up in triode mode at about 60 watts per channel and never felt I was under-powering the speakers. The other amplifier I drove them with for a few days was the Norma HS IPA-1 integrated – also Italian – which I had in for review a few months ago. The Norma’s seventy-five watts were also more than sufficient to drive these speakers. 88dB’s on paper is not a terribly efficient speaker, but with no amplifier-punishing, nose-diving impedance dips they proved to be easy to drive with moderate power: Very smart.
One other little notable detail is that Rosso Fiorentino has designed its own binding posts, which appear to be primarily of aluminum, with finger-shaped indentations to facilitate getting a good grip. I found them quite effective and comfortable for tightening down spade lugs, a nice little detail.
I enjoy the music of Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805) for the same reason I love Haydn: he was a consummate melodist, consistently writing music that was both interesting and unfailingly beautiful. A virtuoso cellist, he introduced some unusual instrumentation: string quintets featuring two cellos and – having spent much of his professional life in Spain – compositions prominently featuring the guitar. I don’t claim to be an expert on Boccherini’s life or music - my experience is limited to ten or so records and a Wikipedia entry - but I know what I like.
Case in point : Four String Trios, performed by the New York String Trio (Dover 97255-0 1966). As already noted, Boccherini’s melodies are lovely, but music is more than just the notes as played, it’s the effect of the instrumental interactions in their entirety, the blended harmonies, and in particular on this record, the textures. Those textures play straight into some the Elba’s greatest strengths. The fullest measure of this recording involves the reproduction of string vibrato across the frequency spectrum - the passages where all three instruments are simultaneously holding long notes. You can hear the three instruments on any speaker. The Elbas allowed me to feel them as well. The air vibrated with the draw of the rosined bows over the strings. You might expect that level of air movement out of a bass-heavy recording with pumping woofers, but a string trio is not an especially bass-heavy thing. This effect was simply the Elbas excelling at reproducing the natural vibrato that you would experience in the room with the musicians. In this particular element my own speakers suffered in comparison.
Another strength of the Elbas is musicians in their performance space. On the same record, in the Opus 14, Number 4 in D major, second movement – the Andantino – most of the viola and cello parts are played pizzicato while the violin carries the primary melody. Personally, I find the pizzicato lines to be every bit as engaging as the violin. Not simply a couple plucked notes in the background, they’re a complex component of the music, with melodies and harmonies of their own. And here again the performance plays into another of the Elba’s strengths : imaging. The viola and the cello are in the center and right side of the stage respectively, with the violin on the left. The pizzicato notes don’t produce the volume of the violin, but they’re clear nonetheless, well defined in their space, recessed a little, tight and physically palpable. In that same vein, the Elbas were also especially good at not crowding music around the speakers. In my system, nothing sounded like it was coming from a box except on the most unnaturally hard-panned recordings.
Perhaps most importantly, I found the Elbas to be musically satisfying in a “just shut up and enjoy it” kind of way. In some respects, it was difficult to review these speakers because all of the things that hi-fi reviewers dwell on, a hyper-detailed presentation, musicians etched in space, and the like, disappeared into the musical performance in its entirety.
But Can They Rock?
Leaving Italy, and forgetting about the speakers for a minute, the bigger question really ought to be, ‘Can I still rock?’ Now that I’m in my fifties – some occasional Motörhead notwithstanding - the answer is no, not really, but Dire Straits still can.
Until a few months ago I hadn’t listened to the song “Industrial Disease” since high school in the late eighties when it was a mixed-tape staple as we bounced around in a buddy’s ancient F-150. No cassette deck in this truck, no siree. A boom box rested in the middle of the front red vinyl bench seat pumping out a steady jam of harder-edged rock & roll, all the while blowing through D-Cell batteries at an alarming rate.
In that context “Industrial Disease” was just a great song, but we seldom listened to the rest of the album because it just didn’t rock hard enough. Love Over Gold (Warner Brothers, W4-23728, 1982, Mobile Fidelity reissue 2020) is not kiddie pop. The songs are longer, with the opening “Telegraph Road” clocking in at over fourteen minutes. Instrumentals are complex with additional percussion and even a vibraphone making an appearance. Mark Knopfler’s lyrics – which in some places are almost Leonard Cohen-esque - demand attention in a way no Van Halen record ever did. There are few catchy hooks or anthem choruses. This is music that requires an attention span longer than that of an average fourteen-year-old kid.
Having only listened to “Industrial Disease” on that boom box, I had no idea the album from whence it came was such a great recording. Earlier this year Mobile Fidelity reissued Love Over Gold on two 45 rpm LPs and it is a sonic jewel: instrumental clarity, stage dimension, slam… all the things you could want in a first-class pressing. Best of all, the music holds up really well thirty-eight years after it was first recorded.
“Private Investigations” was the hit single from this record, but “Industrial Disease” is the rocker. From the opening guitar chords, organ intro and driving hi-hat, the production is as clean as you’ll likely find on a rock & roll record. Bass has excellent definition and authority, if not the deepest extension, and the kick drum punches hard. The really low foot pedal organ notes at the end of the song have decent heft and resonance from a speaker that’s only flat to 40Hz, and to credit of the Elbas it emanates from a specific place, slightly to the left of center between the speakers, a notable feature of good record engineering when so much music of the era treated deep bass as a wall of sound proposition. Knopfler’s vocals are present, if not quite in the way you’d find on a great jazz recording, but that’s the recording, not the speakers.
Even with just the sixty watts driving them, the Elbas delivered the music to my years with power, throwing a large, tall soundstage. Aside from the 45 rpm curse of having to hop up to change the record every few minutes, this was a great, engaging, fun listening experience; far more than just a nostalgia trip through my high school years.
What Don’t They Do?
All speakers – well, all equipment, really – involves trade-offs. Different speakers will emphasize different elements of the sonic landscape. I once reviewed a stand mount with a RAAL tweeter that made the treble extension the defining characteristic of the speakers. Everything else was just along for the ride. My own speakers are very neutral top to bottom making them a great tool for reviewing other equipment. They’re very detailed but also somewhat unforgiving of bad recordings, mismatched ancillaries, and the like. They’re what sometimes get referred to as ‘truth-tellers’, whether you like that truth or not. At their best they sound great, but when something is off, look out!
By contrast, the Rosso Fiorentino Elba speakers are defined by the textures and musicality I spent so much time talking about earlier, and that makes for truly wonderful reproduction of great recordings.
The tradeoff is in that last bit of liquidity, and on first listen that difference is audible and a little disconcerting. But then that whole-cloth presentation takes over and the question of ultimate resolution quickly recedes into the background as the Elba’s overwhelming musical competence takes over. It didn’t take more than a few records to get past this mild shock to discover the Elba’s other great qualities, but I can see why Skip prefers to create a little process when introducing folks to these speakers.
Purchasing a new piece of audio gear is always a very personal process, especially loudspeakers which - whatever the rest of the equipment is doing - still have to create the ultimate sound that the listener will enjoy hearing. In that respect, the Rosso Fiorentino Elba II loudspeakers were exceptionally good and I would definitely recommend an audition for anyone looking for a pair of speakers in this price range.
They don’t need a ton of amplification power to sound great and they were easy to integrate with the rest of my components. They certainly have their own point of view, but in the end, they’re one of the most musically satisfying speakers I’ve had in my listening room. Their ability to unearth the beauty in great music was exemplary : dynamic, exciting, and satisfying. During the time I spent with the Elba IIs, I spent more time simply enjoying the music, which – as always - is about the highest compliment I can offer to any component.