STEREO GUIDE verdict
Electrocompaniet EC-Living Tana SL-2 and Sira L-1 Sub are convincing in terms of operation, flexibility and connectivity and, with the subwoofer, do not lack any large floorstanding speakers in terms of sound. The sensible addition for medium and large rooms not only increases dynamics and depth. It ensures more precise spatial imaging with a sharper focus.
- Homogeneous, detailed sound
- Practical operation with app and radio remote control
- Rich, precise bass foundation
- No HDMI connection
Sound: tonal balance / transparency9.6
Sound: Bass / Dynamics9.6
Sound: spatial imaging9.4
Ease-of-use / Connectivity9.5
Price / Performance9.2
The Electrocompaniet Tana SL-2 and the Sira L-1 subwoofer stand alone. Only a few traditional high-end manufacturers are venturing into the terrain of open-platform multi-room systems. And when they do, it is usually with the support of suppliers or ready-made modules for integrating a wide range of protocols. Or with only rudimentary playback functions, which in turn makes the products mostly uninteresting for modern applications.
The Norwegians from Electrocompaniet proudly point out that this is not the case with their Tana. The active speakers in the Tana series are even based on an in-house programmed streaming platform called EC-Living. There is also a dedicated Electrocompaniet Remote app for iOS and Android: it is called EC Play for short. But just recently, the Norwegians introduced a matching Bluetooth remote control EC Living Remote (40 euros) with programmable favorites buttons. This allows you to decide which form of control is more convenient depending on the situation.
The Tana SL-2 master speakers can be used in mono or coupled with the Tana L-2 slave speaker to form a stereo pair. If you have larger rooms to fill with sound or want more oomph, you can simply integrate the Sira L-1 subwoofer wirelessly. It was precisely this combination that we decided to review. The product family is completed by two high-end streamers that can supply classic passive speakers or an entire hi-fi system with converted digital streams, either with or without a built-in amplifier (Rena SA-2 or Rena S-2).
EC Living Tana: Genuine high-end, many possibilities
The list of playback options is pleasingly long for a high-end manufacturer: in addition to Bluetooth 4.2, the trio understands Airplay, Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect. You can play music from the Qobuz app as well as from Roon. The streaming services are also elegantly integrated into the app with controls, a large cover display and useful information about resolution and even bit rate. Internet radio, DLNA and playback of local data from USB storage are available as additional playback options, so we only really missed Chromecast in the streaming area.
In addition, sources can be connected in the classic way, i.e. via optical digital cable or coaxial S/PDIF. An Ethernet socket enables direct wired connection to the router and therefore particularly stable data connections from the home network from now on. Of course, the components of the active trio can also be configured and played wirelessly via WLAN. And there is also a USB-A port on the back of the master box. The list of supported formats is long: WAV, MP3, AAC+, Vorbis, ALAC, FLAC, APE, WMA up to 24 bit/192 kHZ and, in addition, DSD up to DSD 128 (5.6 MHz). However, the maximum resolution in wireless mode with WLAN is 24 bit/96 kHz.
Classic high-end technology for sound conversion
Electrocompaniet began its success story 50 years ago as a manufacturer of legendary amplifier concepts. At LowBeats, with the support of technical director Volker Hunger and images from the company archive, I looked back over the 50 years. It is no exaggeration to say that the origins of the hi-fi idea of the early 1970s can be traced back to a large extent to the first Electrocompaniet models. The small, fine Electrocompaniet (“Electro Company”) from Norway first popularized the idea of developing particularly harmonious-sounding amplifiers instead of technically extremely low-distortion models with a focus on the measurement laboratory and data sheet.
It is therefore more than logical for the amplifiers in an integrated streaming system to be designed purely from a sound perspective: The EC Living Tana SL-2 and Tana L-2 contain traditional “analog” class A/B amplifiers and no switching output stages. Nevertheless, each of the two speakers in our stereo set produces a total of 150 watts RMS.
To ensure that this is audiophile despite the compact dimensions, a 2-way combo consisting of an 11 cm carbon cone and a small 1.9 cm silk dome works on the baffle behind the fabric cover. The latter is supported by a waveguide specially developed for the Tana, the former by two rectangular passive diaphragms on the two side walls. Only the discreet lettering “Electrocompaniet” in the brushed metal base reveals where the front is.
Compact, stylish wireless subwoofer with powerful performance
The Sira L-1 subwoofer boasts 200 watts of amplifier power. Its two 18 cm chassis plus a passive diaphragm are spread over three sides of the cubic housing with an edge length of around 26 centimeters. This means that the Scandinavian sub combines a lot of power and cone area in a very small space. And it looks good to boot.
The electronic module embedded in the rear of the vibration-resistant metal housing is equipped with an IEC socket. The necessary settings can be made in the app; Electrocompaniet has not provided for control via cable. It receives its audio signal exclusively wirelessly via WISA from the Tana master box or a Rena-S2 streamer. Other renowned hi-fi manufacturers such as Piega and Mission Electronics also rely on the WISA process with its maximum resolution of 24 bit/96 kHz. This allows audio systems from 1-channel to home theater setups with 7.4 surround sound to be implemented in countless zones throughout the house.
Listening test with unexpected synergies
In order to at least sound out the expansion stages within our Nordic combination, we first listened to the Tanas in 2.0 configuration. The balanced, broadband performance of the compact stereo set seemed so mature that you wouldn’t have risked a bet as to whether the subwoofer wasn’t also running. But he didn’t. Placed close to the wall, the bass harmonized very well with the room. The result is a homogeneous sound image with a rich foundation, the substance and quality of which in the passive range is actually only known from much larger speakers.
It was a flashback for me, because I had already reviewed the EC-Living Tana SL-2 and Tana L-2 for AUDIO magazine a long time ago. The harmonious interplay and the rich, clean punch were also convincing in a completely different environment that was not acoustically dampened like the print magazine’s listening room. The midrange and treble reproduction was not trimmed for maximum resolution and focus, despite all the transparency. She didn’t miss any information about the recording, but avoided dissecting the pieces of music. So you can browse through all the genres in your music collection for hours and simply enjoy.
The Tana SL-2/L2 shone with acoustic tracks such as Miles Espanol’s “New Scetches Of Spain”. The two active compact speakers also produced good drive with beats from the synthesizer. And guitar rock à la Garry Moore “Parisienne Walkaways” was also made for the not at all cool northern lights. Only the focus of the individual sound bodies lagged somewhat behind the richness of timbre and detail or punch. But there is a panacea that many people may not have on their radar in this respect: The Sira subwoofer.
Subtle enhancement with the Sira L-1 subwoofer
When we brought the subwoofer into play, the reproduction not only gained in depth, richness and dynamic range, as was to be expected. I was most impressed by the remarkable gains in the disciplines of plasticity, image stability and, in particular, focusing. What could not be solved by bending was cured as a positive side effect, so to speak.
The stabilizing effect of a subwoofer on the precision in the mids and on the imaging is old hat for those who know the subject. This is not only due to the fact that the entire sound image is based on the bass reproduction. In this case, the EC-Living subwoofer also relieves the low-midrange drivers, protecting them from intermodulation between the lowest octaves and the mids. At the same time, the chassis and power amplifiers in this 2.1 configuration are not put under as much strain as in 2.0 mode. However, we have rarely experienced such a profound effect beyond the low notes.
To describe the effect in more detail. The three Electrocompaniet loudspeakers didn’t hit you in the nose with the fact that there was, figuratively speaking, a subwoofer in the middle. There was no more bass. On the other hand, everything above the bass suddenly sounded much better, more tangible and more authentic. We moved closer to the imaginary sound stage, which had grown in all dimensions, and were able to enjoy more dynamics, precision and clarity.
Who would have thought it?
After this experience, I have to add to my comment from the earlier review. Back then I wrote in AUDIO 7/21: “The desire for the series’ optional subwoofer is unlikely to arise so quickly among pure music fans in small and medium-sized rooms.” Yes, this is still true from today’s perspective, if you look purely at the richness of the bass foundation and the level stability. After having tasted the extremely long-lasting, comprehensive sound refinement, I can recommend to any audiophile who is considering the stylish EC-Living series to listen to the subwoofer effect in this snappy three-way combination for themselves, at least in medium-sized rooms.
EC Living Tana SL2 + Sira L1 Set: conclusion & alternatives
High-end plus streaming versatility: The Electrocompaniet Tana Set clearly competes with concepts such as the KEF LS 50 Wireless 2 and the Piega Premium Wireless 301 Gen 2, which can also be combined with subwoofers. All three solutions perform at such a high level that no more expensive floorstanding speakers will be able to match them. Which one you choose ultimately depends less on any ratings, especially as the competitors from KEF and Piega have been reviewed without subwoofers. If you like it very direct, you’ll probably prefer the British speakers and fans of delicate ribbon tweeters will go for the Swiss. And if you like it particularly soft and really full, you are sure to fall in love with the Norwegians.
Technical data Electrocompaniet Tana SL2 + Sira L1 Set
- Manufacturer’s recommended retail price: 4,300 euros (Tana SL-2, Tana L-2: 3,200 euros; Sira L-1: 2,100 euros)
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 18 x 25 x 18 cm (Tana SL), 27.8 x 25.6 x 26 cm
- Weight: 7 kg (per speaker), 13 kg (subwoofer)
- Special features: optical input, coax digital, USB-A, Roon Ready, Airplay, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect
- More at: electrocompaniet.com