Presenting Keith Johnson's dream reference monitor. For those of you who don't know, Keith Johnson is the head designer of Spectral Audio components. In addition he is the chief recording engineer for Reference Recordings. For decades Keith has dreamed of having a speaker that could really let him hear what he was recording without coloration. Plus it was essential that it be highly phase coherent and accurate in terms of time domain. An important part of the plan was to make it manageable in both size and weight such that it was practical to take it onsite to remote recording venues. With dimensions of 49"H x 12"W x 17"D, and a weight of 134 lbs each, this is goal has been achieved.
Finally after four years of intensive testing and development this breakthrough monitor is actually available. Now for the first time with this monitor one can hear what is truly on each recording as precisely as possible in a reasonably compact package.
For Spectral Audio, this breakthrough achievement in the realm of true to life monitors allows them to hear much more accurately exactly what their state-of-the-art electronics sound like. For them it is essential to have a high-speed, time domain accurate monitor that enables them to take the refinement of their components designs to a higher level. They now consider the Aurora to be an indispensable piece of test equipment for their listening evaluations. For them the Aurora is just as important an evaluation tool as their state-of-the-art oscilloscopes and other laboratory test gear are for doing highly technical and sophisticated measurements.
Manufactured by Avalon Acoustics to their exacting standards, the Aurora is available in a variety of finishes. Standard finishes are Birdseye Maple clear, Polychrome Light or Polychrome Dark. Premium finishes include Curly Maple, Quilted Cherry, Figured Walnut, etc. In addition you can choose from either a clear coat Satin or High Gloss finish.You're welcome to make an appointment to visit the store in order to audition this extraordinary achievement in accurate music reproduction.
Aurora Monitor introduction from Avalon
The Aurora Monitor is a full range reference transducer designed for use with Spectral Reference electronics. Its superlative tonal and spatial accuracy combined with recovery of the fine low-level detail, maximum possible resolution, transient speed, and exceptional dynamic contrast were our specific design goals. Accurate tracing of all waveform parameters, without exaggeration or artifact, is the hallmark of the Aurora Monitor; a transparent window into the heart of recorded music.
High-speed/broad-bandwidth amplification presents a unique set of challenges to optimization of transducer coupling. We have worked closely with the Spectral design team in identifying those specific technical issues which have been left unaddressed in dynamic transducer design and implementation.
Achieving the full potential of our system-oriented archetype will require meticulous set-up, including proper room acoustic treatment and careful attention to electrical system grounding. We did not create this novel approach for the casual listener, or the inexperienced. We recognize that the performance envelope of such a system will only be realized through skill and dedication.
The Aurora Monitor has been engineered and built to the highest standards in the audio industry. Handcrafted in Boulder, Colorado by dedicated craftsmen and technicians, each Aurora Monitor is measured and matched creating perfect symmetry and coherency. Before leaving the factory each pair of these masterpieces is subjected to a demanding array of quality control and testing procedures to ensure flawless and consistent performance. Neil Patel puts it thusly, "Our creations are a work of art in which we take great pride, designing and building each one exclusively here in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains."
Meticulous tracking of power response, amplitude response, phase response, and transient response for unparalleled ambience retrieval and natural tonality.
Purely pistonic wavefront generation with smooth open lobing characteristics.
Stored energy elimination (SEE) technoloby produces clear stable imaging and black backgrounds even under heavy SPL demands.
Entirely resistive and finite loading from 10Hz to 250KHz minimizing amplifier perturbation effects.
Advanced light weight driver diaphragm materials minimize energy storage and time-domain distortion.
Each driver individually tested and matched for optimum performance.
Smooth, wide polar response for superlative imaging capabilities.
Moderate impedance characteristics allows for ideal interface with any amplifier.
Crossover circuitry is hard-wired with surface-only conductors, elminating deleterious sonic effects of printed circuit boards.
Proprietary all-phase corssover topologies.
Careful crossover control of all magnetic field interaction.
Proprietary magnetics technology increases energy transfer and reduces noise floor.
Constrained-mode damping system absorbs cabinet vibrations.
Questions and Answers from Spectral about the Aurora
What is it?
The Aurora is a precision reference monitor loudspeaker for critical recording and audio applications. It is a floor standing three-way point source design utilizing state-of-the-art high-speed transducer and crossover technologies.
Why was it created?
Today’s high-end loudspeakers still (in varying degrees) are designed subjectively as musical instruments in their own right and not entirely as neutral and colorless transducers. Top high-end speakers have strong, defined characteristics which dominate their reproduction of recordings.No commercially available loudspeaker currently made can provide the extreme accuracy and linearity required by Keith Johnson in recording and post-production work for his state-of-the-art recordings. No available loudspeaker offers the resolution and time domain accuracy required for critical components and circuit analysis by Spectral engineers. The Aurora program was designed to create a master reference transducer for these exacting requirements.
What were the objectives for the Aurora Monitor?We set out to develop the most accurate, uncolored transducer with the lowest possible noise and distortion using the finest materials and components available.
Today’s conventional high-end loudspeakers are usually developed to perform satisfactorily with a wide range of amplifier design and technologies. Various performance compromises are an inevitable result of this generic engineering approach.
Conversely, the Aurora Monitor was developed specifically for use I the high-performance, high-speed Spectral components system. It was designed to resolve the high signal resolution of Spectral components and exploit their unique fast-settling circuit architecture. This optimized system approach can yield superior accuracy and highly refined and sophisticated sonics.One of the ambitions of the Aurora project is to offer a compact, internationally sized loudspeaker that can fit in ordinary rooms, but present large-scale acoustical music (symphony orchestra) with extreme clarity and ultra-low distortion with realistic scale and minimal dynamic compression. Perhaps one of the ‘Holy Grails’ in audio.
We recognize that the finest large high-end speakers do meet some of these criteria but lack the ultimate precision and resolution to complete the task faithfully. The Aurora should be a small, coherent point source at heart while emulating the drive and physicality of a much larger loudspeaker when required.
In order to match the unique speed and resolution of the Spectral components, Aurora must have dramatically lower distortion than existing high-end speakers. Transient response in particular and step-response must resemble that of state-of-the-art amplifiers with minimal energy storage and extreme deep settling.
How was this achieved?
Over the course of a four year period, a series of reference monitor designs were engineered by Neil Patel based on a design brief by Keith Johnson A total of four different loudspeaker designs were developed to explore various cabinet, transducer and crossover approaches and sent to Spectral for extensive measurement and listening analysis. These speaker prototypes progressed from the initial monitor one design through monitor tow and monitor three to the finished monitor four design known today as the PM4. The PM4 design is the basis for the final Aurora reference monitor. The Aurora is essentially a more sophisticated, specialized version of the Avalon PM4.Why did Neil Patel and Keith Johnson create the Aurora?
Neil Patel and Keith Johnson have worked together several times over the years on high-end loudspeakers and both designers have unique experience and knowledge. In our view, the design partnership between Neil and Keith brings together two of the most creative and talented minds in audio today on a common challenge. The Aurora project brings together one of the industry’s most innovative and creative loudspeaker designers with one of the world’s foremost recording engineers and the chief designer of all Spectral components.
What is the history of Avalon / Spectral design?
Experienced high-enders will recognize that this is not the first time Avalon and Spectral have worked together to create specialized loudspeakers, the Aurora project is only the most recent.The fist design partnership was in the 1980’s to develop a high-speed three-way loudspeaker for Spectral dealers. The Radian HC was developed as part of the 2C3D program with the Bruce Brisson of MIT and Art Noxon of Acoustic Sciences. The Radian HC and the 2C3D program were a great success for Spectral dealers with clarity and dimension unmatched by competing systems. In the 1990’s Avalon and Spectral combined forces again to design and offer the most advanced and sophisticated transducer of the day. Keith Johnson had been experimenting for several years with new technology drivers employing new diaphragm materials for his own custom recording monitors. His experience with the unique cabinet and crossover requirements for these drivers again required the design and production experience of Neil Patel to bring to reality. The resulting Eidolon floor-standing loudspeaker, produced by Avalon, achieved resolution and transient accuracy unmatched by any other speaker of the day. What had been seemingly unsolvable problems in driver resonance and unmeasurable artifacts was solved by the brilliant designers. The breakthrough performance of the Eidolon technology has been the basis for the superiority of the Avalon / Spectral system approach to this day, with superior loudspeakers such as the Avalon Isis and Saga achieving remarkable sonic sophistication.
Whom was the Aurora created for?
The Aurora was created as a reference transducer for Keith Johnson and a development tool for Spectral engineers. These requirements have shaped its abilities and design focus. Due to its extreme precision and relentless accuracy, audiophiles expecting characteristics familiar in conventional high-end speakers will probably not be comfortable with Aurora. Today’s popular high-end speakers do not have the resolution, time-structure and extreme low distortion of Aurora. But today’s popular high-end speakers will continue to be a better choice for those who prioritize listening ease with limited recordings from mediocre sources. But for those who recognize the poor recordings will always be common, reproducing good recordings to the limits of our technology should be our main concern.
We believe the natural beauty of fine recordings, both analog and digital, should be truthfully resolve without exaggeration, artifact or euphonic enhancement. No filters. We believe this non-filtered approach best respects the recording, the artist, and stands the test of time.
Do I want a monitor loudspeaker for my music system?
This is an excellent question and one that can only be answered after serious listening. The Aurora is the first and foremost a precision grade reference monitor for making critical sonic judgments during the process of recording and post-production playback. By definition, accuracy and truthfulness in reproduction is the overriding priority of this loudspeaker. It can add nothing to the recording. It can subtract nothing.
Aurora does not have the euphonic tonal balance and over damped high-frequency response necessary to allow many audiophiles to cope with today’s bright, compressed recordings and poor sound room acoustics. It is ruler flat from 22Hz to 50KHz +/- 1db nom. Unlike other high-end loudspeakers, there is no premature roll-off in the highs and no false warmth in the midrange and upper bass to compensate for common recording flaws and distortions. Aurora is designed to reproduce the recording, not make it pretty. But with fine recordings, musical instruments and voices will sound naturally authentic and vividly life-like and real in their original acoustic space as the artist and recording engineer intended.
What Spectral system was Aurora designed for?We developed the Aurora for use in the Spectral Reference Standard component system and the reference standard amplifiers were used almost exclusively in the development of the speaker. By determining the specific component environment early in development, the designers were able to create a remarkable amplifier/speaker synergy. Using the high powered, high-speed output capability of the monaural reference amplifiers, the designers were able to control and regulate the loudspeaker drivers much as you might in an active powered loudspeaker. Speed restrictions of driver movement inherent in conventional driver and crossover damping have been removed to allow the speaker to be driven without ‘speed limits’. The result is astonishing transient attack and release combined with deep settling silence and unmatched resolution of low-level details.
1" Concave Pure Diamond Tweeter
3 1/2" Concave Ceramic Dome Midrange
11” Nomex Kevlar Composite Cone Woofer
4 Ohms Nominal
22Hz to 50KHz +/- 1db nomRecommended Amplifier Power
200 to 500 WattsSpeaker Wire Terminals
Two position Binding PostDimensions49" H
17" D125 cm H
30 cm W
43 cm D
Weight - each134 Pounds
Temperature StabilizationFirst allow the speaker an extended period of time in order to fully achieve room temperature both externally and internally.Break-inThe break-in process will occur naturally as music is played through the system. To reduce the time required, it is recommended that the system be played continuously, using either a digital source in the repeat mode or an FM broadcast signal or digital streaming. The recommended break-in process is as follows:
Initial warm-up: 6 hours of quiet music
Extended break-in: 300 hours of loud and dynamic source material (e.g. Tangerine Dream, Optical Race, RCA 2042-2-P).
During the break-in period, the sonic properties of your Aurora Monitors may undergo several gradual shifts as the various components break-in at different rates. It is therefore suggested that the fine-tuning of the system be delayed until after the break-in period is completed.
During the final phases of the break-in period, the sonic image will open up, the sound stage will gain specificity, the bass control and impact will increase, and the overall sound will have a more relaxed, involving presentation.
Please note that all of the information and specifications provided herein are subject to change.