By next email, I learnt about parallel advances to Alain's tweeter. Changes to its motor increased efficiency to 102dB. Seeing how matching such an extreme part to more standard mid or bass drivers forces a designer to pad down the tweeter a lot, I asked about the true benefits. "Making a 102dB tweeter without compression chamber gives us a part which works with all large Onken-style and high-efficiency systems. The big issue of compression chambers is their phase problem caused by high pressures between chamber and membrane. This distorts the music signal. Having an ultra-light membrane in a horn is the ideal solution for realistic treble. Very high efficiency also considerably reduces distortion then drives up dynamic contrast to get us closer to live music. With my 215mm, 235mm and 285mm mid/woofers I actually manage 98-99dB efficiency. I now attenuate my new tweeter with an autoformer by just 3dB. The other advantage of the tweeter's new drive system is the extra octave of bandwidth. This allows for broader filter adjustments. My 285mm driver for example can now cut at 2kHz which nicely improves its performance. And finally, I'm planning on an OEM version of this tweeter which other manufacturers or DIYers can use." Using proprietary drivers not found elsewhere is another part of Aurai's recipe. The less efficient Z165 tangoes with the existing tweeter in single or dual play. If one orders the twinned horns, there's a new switch to de/activate the rear tweeter depending on mood and music material. "This connects in phase for bipole radiation and to give us this soft fluidity. But sometimes we want to listen more analytically. I do with Jazz, Pop and mono recordings. So the idea is to let the listener tailor this aspect." When I pointed out that his webmaster had erroneously marked the rear tweeter's polarity dipole, it tripped a light. "I'll install a three-pole switch instead and you'll have the option for dipole, bipole or monopole radiation." La Révolution. It's still brewing.

Aurae art from Eva Oceguera's Pinterest page

Here's one of my loaners from Antoine's bench: back-to-back tweeters, 3-pole toggle switch, high-gloss pearl lacquer, WBT copper binding posts, Rike cap and Jensen wax coil. I didn't know what finish les pieds would arrive in: matching paint, black paint, natural wood? A buyer can obviously specify preference. I'd let Aurai surprise me. This was their show. The photo simply shows depth which a generic stand's top plate won't match. One could still center it but it'd probably look funky. Best go with the intended supports; or something comparable from the Harbeth/Spendor camp as long as height is correct. "Nous sommes partis avec l'idee d'une patine bronze pour le blanc nacré." Google Translator rendered this as playing with the idea of a bronze patina for the loaner stands to go with the speakers' ivory lacquer. Unsaid, it'd show off Antoine's finishing chops. My reply was monosyllabic. "Géniale." Which left coinage. "La version que tu vas recevoir, Z165 laque nacree high gloss double tw, pieds include, total cost €6'600 ht depart usine." As reviewed so with stands, €6.6K ex VAT, factory direct.

"Perfection is sexy. At three meters we get this ideal phase and a natural pressure gradient. We use the very best of Rike's capacitors. Because small orders for it got too expensive, we bought the entire stock." As a labor-of lover with factory-direct sales, Alain gets to do otherwise unreasonable things. The right shopper will appreciate it. Others will drift to more styled boxes, the very latest in hi-tech composite drivers and happily pay extra for marketing and dealer privileges. Different positioning, sales strategies and engineering priorities cater to specific audiences. Know thyself to parse the lot then map your own path. It looks to me that a slightly rebellious counter-mainstream attitude is probably mandatory to even consider dancing with the ancient wind nymphs which lurk behind this brand name.

"Antoine and I have done extensive listening. We prefer the in-phase dual tweeter version to dipole HF radiation and two tweeters to one. We have very clean measurements and most pleasurable sonics to feel that this project aims significantly higher than our earlier M3 and M5 monitors. We believe that the Z165 is our best compact speaker to date. The rationale for the entire Z range responds to the finding that top satellites that reproduce 50/60Hz plus a high-quality sub are the most elegant and flexible solution for enjoying music in the home. We look forward to your analysis." If that begged your question about an Aurai sub, "I made passive subs for the Zero series. I experimented with a 4th-order isobaric passive design which I liked. Of course one still needs electronic assets. There are lots of good active subs to market to not need me to make another with generic plate electronics." Spoken like a captain who knows how to best steer his competency.

As these shop pix show, going copper tone for the stands was an excellent call, too. Perhaps some of their tan would rub off on this paleantologist? It's really the study of fossils. And to some denizens of the 21st century, passive monitors and their users are fossils already. It's because fully DSP-controlled speakers like the Kii III or Buchardt A700 point to a different future very much in the present already. That too must be acknowledged. Doing separates plus subwoofers creates higher box count and expense. But many of us still roll that way; including looking much farther back in time to solutions of the Altec and Western Electric era re-executed by today's designers.

That's where Alain shops for inspiration and guidance when he designs his own drivers. If you didn't know, at its peak Western Electric ran a work force of 45'000. Back in 2023, the rear tweeter's three toggle positions are left = dipole, center = off, right = bipole. Time for my DB Schenker freight to ring the door bell.