Review: ELAC Carina BS243.4 monitor speakers

Review: ELAC Carina BS243.4 monitor speakers should your choice if you are looking for bookshelf speakers that offer a lot of the fine detail of music
4.5/5 - (8 votes)

Review: ELAC Carina BS243.4 monitor speakers: Is Andrew Jones from ELAC the best loudspeaker designer right now? Possibly. But at least he’s the most productive, because after a series of successful speakers, Jones is back. This time with the Carina, an affordable mid-range that once again gives ELAC’s beloved JET tweeter a starring role.

ELAC Carina BS243.4

The Carina is a family of speakers from ELAC released last year. The Germans from Kiel have been very intensely engaged in the release of new products in recent years, including many speakers. Add up: Debut and Debut 2.0, Uni-Fi, Navis, Adante, Concentro and this Carina. Recently we even looked at the even newer Solano floorstanders, which are a bit more expensive than the speakers from this review. Why the true explosion of new speaker models? This has to do with the hard work of Andrew Jones, the legendary designer who switched to ELAC after the downsizing of Pioneer. He immediately set to work to prove that you can offer a lot of sound quality with proven techniques. And that at reasonable prices.

The Carina’s that we look at here correspond perfectly to that description, with a little more attention to an elegant finish than with the cheap Debut speakers. If you pay close attention, you will also detect the JET tweeter with which ELAC regularly scored in the past. You can also deduce from the full name of the Carina bookshelf speakers that we are testing here – BS243.4 – that they are a further evolution of the German brand’s older 240 series. By the way, the Carina family is not very extensive. In addition to the 2-way BS234.4, there is only the FS247.4 floorstander and the CC241.4 center speaker. So three models, but that’s more than enough for most scenarios, including surround setups.

Graceful design

Where the entry-level models at ELAC have a rather functional finish – as with almost all manufacturers – the Carina is much more of an eye-catcher. For just under 1,000 euros per pair, you will receive two compact monitors that appear even smaller from some angles due to their slim lines. It’s in the wide front with its rounded corners that brings through the side panels to a narrower rear. The matte black or satin white finish further enhances the premium feel, as do the shiny aluminum rings around the tweeter and woofer. The speaker also rests in a plastic base, which also makes the shape subtly different from a weekday bookshelf speaker.

But the design choices that ELAC makes are not just about aesthetics. There are also acoustical benefits. For example, those rounded transitions to the sides would produce less diffraction from the higher tones coming out of the tweeter. From the listening seat, it is also not noticeable that the speaker at the back does not run all the way to its base. Instead of the classic round bass reflex opening that you find on many speakers, Jones opted for an indirect approach in this case. There is indeed an opening at the bottom. But it is not visible and has been ingeniously constructed so that it distributes air through a slit that runs along the three sides of the speaker. If you look at the Carina bookshelf speaker from the side, you see a triangle shape, as if someone took a cake from the housing.

The interesting thing about this approach is that the air movement caused by the woofer within the speaker cabinet is pushed out in a very natural, unobstructed way. In designs with a single round port on the back, the distance between the speaker and the wall usually has an impact on the bass response. The denser, the deeper but also woolier the basses become. Not so with the BS234.4, which is much more insensitive to installation due to the triangular opening. During our tests, we also did not notice any noise (chuffing), as you can experience with a less well-designed bass port. In short, both close and far away from the wall, the bass reproduction of the Carina monitor remains tight and controlled. A similar trick is also used with the ELAC Solano’s.


For the Carina, ELAC once again pulls out its JET tweeter, which certainly won’t make fans unhappy. And it is not a one-off move by the manufacturer, because the special tweeter is also present in the luxurious Vela line. Connoisseurs of the brand may know the JET tweeter, because in the past ELAC used this interpretation of the ribbon tweeter regularly. It is a further development of the Air Motion Transformer that Oskar Heil developed almost half a century ago and is now used by various manufacturers.

With this design, a very light membrane is folded like a harmonica; the electrical signal from your amplifier causes it to open and close. This movement pushes air out of the folds of the membrane. The big advantage of the JET tweeter is that very small movements of the membrane are converted into large air movements in no time. An airy, crystal-clear reproduction of the highs is what you can expect – and the Carina indeed delivers.

We always find Andrew Jones’ speakers particularly universal when it comes to genres. You can listen to everything on it, something that we noticed in the past with both the Debuts and the Adantes. The Carina’s also prove to be all-rounders, who have both the tightness to play electronic music in a super-controlled way with deadmau5 and the balance to also beautifully reproduce indie rock from the nineties. The emphasis is a bit more on a detailed, clear reproduction, so that the fine details – such as fingers gliding over strings before hitting the next chord – come out of the mix. In our opinion, that gives a pleasant ‘live feeling’ to many recordings. The JET tweeter also radiates very wide, which in combination with the wide bass opening ensures a full sound. We also find that this fullness still persists when the volume knob is almost closed. Many monitors only come off completely when they play a bit louder. Not so with the BS234.3, which also very quietly gives the percussion in ‘Last Revolutionary’ by Seun Kuti (son of) and Egypt 80 still enough body. In Afrobeat like this one, the rhythm section plays a key role, so that is really an asset. The tweeter not only responds quickly and is good in micro detail, the attack is also very good, which allows the immense rhythm of this ‘Black Times’ album (FLAC 44.1 kHz / 16-bit) to be conveyed very well. You spontaneously start to wiggle.


During our test we connected the Carina to the Marantz PM7000N who visited the test room around the same time. As sources we use the ELAC Miracord 90, an excellent turntable from the same house as the speakers, and the brand new Auralic Altair G1. Because devices often come and go in the test room, the bookshelf speakers were also hung on a Naim Uniti Atom in between. But such a high-end amplifier does not need the ELACs to show their best side, although you should not combine them with something ultra-cheap now. Like many compact speakers, they have a lower sensitivity (85 dB), which requires a little more from the amplifier. In any case, that marriage between Marantz and ELAC pleased us very much.

The surprising power of the BS234.3 can be experienced with the beautiful ‘Stay Tuned’ by Canadian singer Dominique Fils-Aimé. Not only does her voice become completely detached from the small ELACs, in the often recurring polyphonic parts and the traditional percussion, a depth is created in the sound image, so that our listening room with the eyes closed immediately sounds a bit larger. The JET tweeter also presents all the little nuances, such as when Fils-Aimé takes a slow breath between sultry vocal lines. It is a very intimate performance that we hear here.

We also look up at the start of Prokofiev’s ‘Romeo & Juliet: Op.64: Dance of the Knights’, in a performance with violinist Lisa Batiashvili, surprised by the impact of the deep thumping timpani – but also by the flowing character of the strings in this beautiful work (although this is not the best performance). For classic this is a good choice.

ELAC Carina BS243.4 monitor speakers

ELAC Carina BS243.4 monitor speakers Conclusion

Are you looking for bookshelf speakers that offer a lot of insight into the fine detail of music without falling short in terms of bass performance? Then the Carina BS243.4 is definitely an option to investigate. The clever design with an opening on three sides provides a surprisingly mature layer, even when the volume knob is not really turned wide. The real star, however, is that JET tweeter, which gives this ELAC bookshelf speaker quite a bit of audiophile quality. And that in a price range where you do not immediately expect that.

Pros of ELAC Carina BS243.4 monitor speakers

  • Beautiful, detailed high
  • Compact size but no small sound
  • Good bass performance
  • Great finish for the price

Negatives of ELAC Carina BS243.4 monitor speakers

  • Require a better amplifier