Electrocompaniet ECI-6 Integrated Speaker Amplifier – Review
Looks & Build Quality
This amplifier has some slick looks, mostly because of glass front plate which gives it a really nice touch. Besides that, the chassis is of thick, sturdy metal. It has a nice design and is well built.
You can also take a peak inside through the ventilation vents on the sides. The unit seems to be very impressive on the inside as well. I couldn’t open the unit as it’s a demo unit from avmall and I don’t want to break the warranty. On the front plate it has a small led screen on the left where you can see in blue light the input you have chosen.
While trying the volume I was expecting to see something on that screen, but nothing changed. For a few minutes I thought it’s weird not to have something to show you your volume, but then I noticed that the small blue light near the center “e” is actually moving in circle (like a volume knob) with the volume. Pretty slick.
Specs and Technology
I didn’t find out much more than the information Electrocompaniet gives on their website.
The ECI 6 is a powerful integrated amplifier, equipped with a 4 analogue inputs. The new ECI 6 offers 2 x 125 Watts and is based on the successful ECI 5 MK II. To enhance it, we have equipped the ECI-6 with an even better power supply and a more sophisticated preamplifier module. As a result we can offer you an extremely substantial and dynamic amplifier, capable of controlling a wide range of speakers on the market. Analogue sources can be connected to one balanced (XLR) input and three single-ended (RCA) stereo inputs. With two preamplifier outputs, one balanced and one single ended, makes the ECI-6 ready for future expansions. The input stage is built from discrete circuits running in class A with zero feedback. The output stage runs with moderate amounts of negative feedback, carefully balanced between good bass extension and control, a detailed open midrange and a warm detailed top. All to ensure that the ECI 6 will reproduce your favourite music the way it was recorded. The ECI 6 is upgradable to ECI 6D and ECI 6DX.
Preamplifier section Input impedance ( Balanced input ) 47Kohm Maximum input level 10 Volt RMS Noise floor ( 1Vrms, 20 – 20 kHz, balanced)
-135 dB THD + N (1Vrms, 20 – 20 kHz, balanced) <0.004% Gain (Balanced) 0 dB Amplifier section Output Impedance < 0,02 Ohm Frequency response 1 – 150 kHz Channel separation > 120 dB THD ( 20 – 20 kHz) < 0.004% Maximum peak current >100A Damping factor 8 ohm load >350 I Input sensitivity 120W output 1.3Vrms Input sensitivity HT 120W output 1Vrms Gain HT Input x36 (31 dB) Rated output power 8 ohms 2 x 125 W 4 ohms 2 x 200 W 2 ohms 2 x 370 W Power consumption 110 W Standby 1W (no load or signal) Dimensions Width 465 mm / 18.3 inches Depth 405 mm / 16 inches Height 128 mm / 5 inches Weight 20Kg / 44 lbs.
Listening Impressions and Tests
As mentioned above, I have tested the amplifiers in two systems, one with Analog Dac and Martin Logan ESL 11A but also with Chord Mojo and Piega Coax 30.2. While the ESL 11A are actually active for the bass section and they have their own amplification up to 300 hz, most of the characteristics of ECI-6 were also transferred to those frequencies as well somehow, resulting in more control & detail for bass as well. However, this was more obvious with Coax 30.2 where the bass improved even further. The ECI-6 proved to be wonderful with both speakers.
The quality of the recording is not great but what I immediately noticed with ECI6 is a fast, fun & engaging pace with a punchy and controlled bass. I couldn’t stop tapping to the music. One other thing I noticed here is that this amp can handle crowded passages with a hand behind its back.
At first I was under the impression that the bass doesn’t hit as low and as strong as with Master 10, but when the big deep bass entered the scene I noticed that the response was better with ECI 6, showing better control & detail for the bass extension. The big bass that enters the scene at the beginning of the song extends wonderfully detailed into the scene. Also, overall the speed of the song was very good and engaging.
Jewel’s voice is clean and the guitar plucks are sparkling around the song. ECI6 gives fluidity / cursivity to the music as it goes effortless through the songs.
The grandeur of the scene was very nicely captured by ECI-6, transposing a very big and airy soundstage. Another strong point with this amplifier is the clearness of the leading edges of each sound and the space between the layers, leading to a big/relaxed soundstage.
The chorus is really impressive showing very lively/life like voices that have great separation and distinction in. The instruments around the chorus as just as impressive, showing great details and placement in the soundstage. The treble is also very detailed in a smooth and addictive way.
It’s been a while now since I’ve been impressed by a new audio component to tears, but it sure happened this time. The violins strings were so well extended, so smooth, so detailed, so emotional that the song manage to struck tears in my eyes.
The voice is clear and very well detached from the instruments in the scene. The instruments are dancing around the voice in an engaging, detailed and textured manner. The guitars have strong plucks and detailed extensions, the electric guitar is well…”electric” and the drum is hitting with good impact and control.
Can Electrocompaniet rock? Oh…yeah! Yes it can! Rock on! You know what I love about it? This amplifier has the ability to be very engaging & electric while sending an effortless vibe. The electric guitars have a very good energy, the drums have a strong kick, the voices are detailed and textured and the timing is great. When the scene gets crowded ECI6 just doesn’t care and handles it with ease.
Fast, punchy, detailed, controlled & engaging. Do you want more? Well, Master 10 for example hits a little harder and give the impression of going lower, but it’s behind in control & detail. The bass on ECI6 is just wonderfully engaging and I think correct.
The midrange doesn’t stand out compared to the other sections. You know why? Because all of them are equally impressive, showing fluency, very good textures & details. It’s addictive, really.
The treble on this amplifier is smooth & extended in the same time, but also detailed and non fatiguing. Impressive balance between all these qualities. ECI-6 opened up both Martin Logan ESL-11 Speakers and Coax 30.2, but on the latter, the treble details and qualities were even more obvious. Addictive!
Yes, this amplifier has very good timing but also good energy & prat. However, Electrocompaniet also managed to achieve a very interesting balance here, as it also sounds effortless and fluent, leading to an engaging, cursive and energetic listening experience.
ECI 6 offers a very detailed experience without emphasizing stuff in an artificial manner. Everything shows great details, from bass to treble, from male voices to female voices, from violin to cello, from harp to harpsichord.
Soundstage, Imaging & Instrument Separation
The sounds are very well delimited, showing clear leading edges and a good amount of space between them. The soundstage shows a lot of air, good size in all directions and very good placement of the sounds inside it.
The voices are wonderfully extended in the scene, being very well separated from the instruments. They’re not as present as on Master 10 for example, but they’re more holographical and better integrated in the soundstage, while on Master 10 they’re more intimate.
Comparison to Master 10
This is actually the first amplifier I have tested that seriously made me think of changing my Master 10.
The bass on ECI6 has better control and detail while the bass on M10 goes a little deeper. ECI6 has the better hand here, while M10 has a more organic sound.
This is a very strong section for Master 10 and it differs in presentation from the one on ECI6. M10 has a sweeter, more present, romantic and intimate midrange but still clean & pure. ECI6 has a neutral midrange with more details.
The treble on Master 10 is something that I have enjoyed throughout the years, because it’s quite pure, clean & detailed. It doesn’t have the fuzzy treble I usually hear in other amplifiers. ECI6 on the other hand goes even further, offering even more details, extension and purity without being bright at all. This also gives more air to the soundstage on ECI6. On the Electrocompaniet the treble has a better transient response. It can get quite addictive.
Instrument Separation & Sound-stage
This is where ECI-6 has a big advantage over Master 10, because it offers more space between the leading edges and better imaging overall. The soundstage on Master 10 is intimate and not very holographic in comparison to ECI-6 which has a considerably bigger, more airy and more holographical soundstage. When the scene becomes crowded, ECI-6 doesn’t seem to care and it handles the sound with a hand behind it’s back, while M10 seems to struggle a bit.
Transients, timing & energy
The transient attack seems just a bit stronger on Master 10, but the decay is longer than on ECI-6 which also has a strong attack but a more controlled, faster and detailed decay. Because of this, the timing on ECI-6 is more precise and it creates good energy in the songs, but also an effortless, fluent sound.
The voices on Master 10 have better presence and create a more intimate listening experience, while on ECI-6 the voices are more holographical and better positioned in the soundstage.
From a technical perspective, I would say that ECI-6 is a clear winner, offering excellent performance in each section. Master 10 still has that romantic, intimate, more present and sweet midrange that could be more appealing for some.
In favor for Electrocompaniet ECI6:
- Cleaner and more detailed sound
- Bigger soundstage with more air and better holography
- Faster, better timing, more cursive and effortless
- Better, faster bass with better control & detail
- Better extended and more detailed treble
- Neutral sound with equal performance in all sections
- Deeper bass with slightly better impact, but slower
- Sweeter, more present, romantic & intimate midrange
- Voices have better presence creating a more intimate listening experience
- More intimate, sweeter sound signature
A few words come in mind when I think of ElectroCompaniet ECI-6 : balance, effortless, engaging, fluent, clean & addictive. I have chosen my first word very carefully, as with ECI-6 it’s all about balance. And I am talking about two kind of achievements here : obvious and subtle. The obvious one is that this amplifier doesn’t excel at one thing, it excels at everything. The more subtle ones are the balance between an engaging and a cursive/effortless sound, between bass control/detail and depth, between smooth & extended treble, etc.
I think that ECI-6 is simply a wonderful amplifier and if the sound is not to your liking is either because of system matching or because of your sound signature preferences. ECI-6 has a neutral sound signature and doesn’t emphasize anything in comparison to something else.
Do I recommend it? I want to get one for myself, so freaking yes! I’ve missed having such audio component in my home for tests. I think this is the best speaker amplifier I have ever tested.
- Excellent bass: fast, punchy, detailed, controlled & engaging
- Excellent Midrange with good details, textures fluency & details
- Excellent treble with good details, extension and smoothness
- Excellent PRAT/Timing – engaging
- Effortless / fluent sound
- Very Clean and detailed sound
- Holographic, clean & well extended voices
- Excellent imaging & instrument separation
- Excellent soundstage & holography
- Very good looks and build quality
- Will tell you when I find them