Review: Elipson Heritage XLS7

Surprisingly good retro loudspeakers

The Elipson Heritage XLS7 is the smallest member of the French retro family. But the sound is surprisingly big.

Published 2024-02-24 - 8:00 am
Elipson Heritage XLS7
John Hvidlykke

The retro wave is rolling with increasing force in the hi-fi world. Speakers are once again allowed to make a statement. And after many years of white lacquered blandness, walnut veneer is back in fashion.
Thus, the Elipson Heritage XLS7 scores the first style points.

The retro style is realised down to the smallest detail. (Photo: Elipson)

The speaker is the newest and smallest member of Elipson’s retro series, which started with the huge XLS15 and continued with the XLS11, which we tested just over a year ago.

Although Elipson is as arch-French as a camembert baguette, the Heritage XLS7 looks like something that could have been Made in the USA in the 1970s. It’s a mid-sized standmount speaker with a design and finish that can best be described as unapologetically masculine. The cabinet is veneered with real walnut (not vinyl). And without any hint of rounded edges and corners.

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Noble, grey-black fabric grilles are included. But the drivers are almost too pretty to hide. (Photo: Elipson)

Greyish black front fabric is included, but it was left in the packaging so the drivers were visible.

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Elipson Heritage XLS11 are French - but look like American monitor speakers from the golden age of stereo.

The Elipson Heritage XLS7 is a two-way speaker with a 6.5″ midwoofer – with a light-coloured cone, of course – and a 22 mm tweeter dome tweeter, which is also used in the larger XLS11 and XLS15. And to complete the 70s style, the treble level can be adjusted with a rotary knob.
On the back of the cabinet, which is also veneered, you’ll find a set of banana/screw connections of reasonable quality.

The Heritage XLS7 has 6.5″ bass – with a light-coloured cone, of course – and a 22 mm dome tweeter. And to complete the style, the treble level can be adjusted with a rotary knob. (Photo: Elipson)

Since the bass reflex port is on the front, it’s tempting to place the speakers close to the back wall or even in a bookcase. For the most balanced sound and best stereo perspective, we still recommend placing them on stands with some distance to the back wall and corners.

Sound quality

Elipson has had a lucky hand with these. Today, you can simulate and measure far more parameters than was possible in the good old days that vintage speakers aspire to. But in the end, it’s all about the magic of well-chosen compromises.

You can buy matching stands in walnut wood. (Photo: Elipson)

The Elipson Heritage is fun, but also clever company. The first thing that strikes you is that the sound is not just between and inside the speakers, but extends well out on either side of the array. This is something you would expect as a matter of course from more expensive speakers. But not from a pair of low-cost boxes like these. I put on Rise of the Triads by Code Elektro just to get in the mood before the actual test, but I immediately got caught up in the large and wide soundstage.

The next thing that wakes up the jaded reviewer is the dynamics. Small speakers often struggle to convey the difference between quiet passages and explosive bursts. But the Heritage XLS7 is ready for fun and games. Whether it’s the heavy beat of Right Hand Man from the musical Hamilton or the whiplash and timpani drone of the Telarc version of Johann Strauss’ Banditen-Galopp with the Cincinnati Pops. OK, the bass isn’t deep, but it’s deep enough for the job. And – more importantly – powerful enough.

Sounds better than its big brother

The larger Heritage XLS11, which is a three-way speaker, could seem a bit raw in the midrange. In this respect, the XLS7 actually performs better. The 6.5″ woofer meets the dome tweeter seamlessly at 2.4 kHz. And although I’ve heard voices rendered cleaner and more nuanced, the soundstage is beautifully cohesive and retains its engagement and enjoyment.

The stress test in the form of Disturbed’s Sound of Silence cover version passes convincingly. Admittedly, the small speakers sound strained when the entire orchestra sets off in the latter half of the song. But it doesn’t sound ugly or distorted. And that’s an achievement in itself.

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Competitors

The Elipson Heritage XLS7 is in a price range where, ironically, you’ll primarily find speakers with inbuilt amplifiers. However, a close competitor is Q Acoustics 5020, which is a tad more nuanced in the midrange, but doesn’t have the same dynamic range. The playing style – and design – is not surprisingly similar to the JBL L52 Classic. Just at a comfortably lower price.

Conclusion

The Elipson Heritage XLS7 is a small, fairly inexpensive speaker that surprises with its large and dynamic soundstage. It’s fun to listen to, and with its vintage design, it’s perfect for the cosy little mancave. In terms of quality, it’s more than worthy of a place in a nice living room. And it’s hard to find any competitors that do a convincingly better job for the price. And in all areas other than the ability to play loudly, the XLS7 is actually better than its twice as expensive big brother, the XLS11.

Karakter
Elipson Heritage XLS7
Basic

We think

The retro style is executed down to the smallest detail. Beautiful build quality and finish for such an inexpensive speaker. Great and dynamic sound. We see it as an advantage that they are not available in white. The bass and sound pressure are by nature limited. The midrange is not super nuanced.

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