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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
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Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 switch, Sonnet Pasithea DAC; Active filter: icOn Gradient Box 2; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos, Goldmund/Job 225 on subwoofer; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox; Phones: HifiMan Susvara, Meze 109 Pro; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf + sound|kaos DSUB15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Qualio IQ [on loan] Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: Shanling M3 Ultra into Soundaware D300Ref SD transport to Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe; Preamp/filter: Vinnie Rossie L2 Signature and icOn 4th-order/80Hz; Amplifier: Enleum AMP-23R; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini or Acelec Model One + Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF, Akiko Audio Corelli; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; Headamp/DAC: iFi iDSD Pro Signature; Headphones: Final D-8000; Active speakers: DMAX SC5
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl Dp5 transport; DAC: Auralic Vega; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a; Active DSP speakers: Fram Midi 120
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m
Review component retail: €17'500/pr
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Stoned. Stone-faced. Having real stones. Rolling stones. Despite this being their entry-level floorstander, the lot fits the Aura from Estonia's speaker house of Estelon. It's still stone-faced by using the firm's signature thermoformed composite, a type of synthetic stone à la Krion, HiMacs & Co. It's still rectilinearly stoned by refusing parallel walls and mostly abandoning boring straight lines in favor of curves. With a downfiring 10" woofer from Italy's pro-audio driver house Faital in a sealed 35Hz alignment, even Mick Jagger's band should happily pound away with timing tighter than ringy ports. The tech term Helmholtz resonator betrays their actual MO. As far as having stones? The jury on that is still out until an actual first date. For now we ought to mention that unlike other Estelons, Aura goes decidedly soft on diaphragms. Here those are a 1" soft-dome ScanSpeak Illuminator in an elliptical waveguide; twinned 5" SB Acoustic Satori papyrus cones bracketing the tweeter in an MTM array; and that papery woofer whose fixed radiation resistance adds an acoustical 80Hz low-pass function atop the electrical 2nd-order filter. Now that gets by with a smaller inductor for superior timing. By not shopping their usual supplier Thiel & Partner better known as Accuton—those Germans of the very dear hard ceramic and even harder diamond membranes—Aura's bill of materials stays happier to not sacrifice the firm's trademark stony facade and (shudder) adopt ubiquitous MDF instead.
When this Aurora Estonianis flickered across my computer's monitor screen, I dispatched an immediate review solicit. I'd stayed clear of ringing Estelon's bell sooner only because their pricing mostly flies right over my bailiwick. I find most their models best suited to the Jonathan Valin, Jeff Fritz and Roy Gregory of our space. They possess the necessary familiarity and experience with our hobby's more rarefied leagues. On size, weight and sticker meanwhile, Aura breaks new ground. Suddenly I'm far more comfortable playing there myself. Their Ilias Koutromanos responded within minutes with a "we too are interested" then "I'm putting a note down for it" commitment. When I asked when, "off the top of my head I'd say autumn, possibly October. It's a little hard to predict sales over the next 3-4 months but towards the end of the year we should have some spare pairs to assign to reviewers. Normally we expect our business partners to handle this but since we want to put extra effort into entering the UK/Irish territory, we should be willing to move on with a review that's coordinated directly by us."
The obvious implication is that Ireland's wider neighbors of Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain and Sweden which enjoy existing Estelon dealers shall manage far sooner reviews than us. They need merely loan their press fully broken-in paid-for store demonstrators. I'll have to live vicariously until the UK (cough) comes around. Why eager anticipation? Because Estelon's fabulous reputation here packs into just 136cm height on a petite 38x37cm footprint and only 34kg of attendant mass. That's outright svelte for a catalogue whose flagship weighs 250kg and scales from 177cm to just over 2 meters. Yet despite being the entry into the floorstanding world of Estelon, their sexy form factoring has taken no hits I can spot anywhere in the photos. In my book all that's plenty of solid reason to anticipate hard. Until there's satisfaction to be had: Sláinte! For now I'll cull from Estelon's tech notes. "Room dimensions and their characteristics have a significant effect on the listening experience. In typical rooms, the longest distance between reflective surfaces is shorter than sub 100Hz wavelengths. The pressure at these bass frequencies modulates equally in all directions to make woofer localization impossible. This allowed us to separate ours from the head array and place it at the speaker's base to maximize very specific floor coupling and ease in-room placement. The same greater placement ease applies to our sealed-box loading.
"The complex shape of our mineral-loaded composite enclosure avoids parallel walls and in conjunction with a complex system of internal chambers and four cross braces is completely inert to avoid all macrodynamic compression effects and subtle blurring of microdynamics. We also exploit different natural and synthetic damping materials on the insides." Though Ilias explained that Estelon are typically tight-lipped about xovers, we do know of "custom OFC air-core inductors, supercapacitor-type caps and top wire-wound resistors all measured for perfect pairs then point-to-point wired. Aura's midranges high pass at a mix of 2nd/3rd-order slopes, low pass 3rd order and the tweeter high passes 2nd order. The terminals are Cardas."
… to be continued…
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