Note: measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceWhen I received a pair of Estelon Aura loudspeakers for review in the middle of last year, I proceeded to cover them in my “System One” column confident it would be sufficient for all I’d need to say. That writeup, which was published last November, earned the Aura a 2023 Product of the Year award for Aesthetics and Sound. After the article was published and the award presented, however, I had some misgivings. I felt that the Aura deserved a fuller, traditional equipment review that focused less on the speaker’s appearance and more on its technical details, measurements, and, most important, its sound. There’s far more to this accomplished loudspeaker than my original article presented.


Cabinet finish and style

When the Aura was introduced in early 2023, for $19,900 a pair (all prices in USD), it was available in just one finish: the natural matte-white color of the proprietary mineral-filled composite its cabinet and plinth are made of. That is still the standard finish. But earlier this year, Estelon began offering five optional finishes for the Aura: Black Gloss ($22,900/pair), Iron Grey ($22,900/pair), Starlight ($24,900/pair), Horizon Blue ($24,100/pair), and Amber Elegance ($24,400/pair).

As I recount in my editorial this month, in early March I visited Estelon in Tallinn, Estonia, and had the pleasure of seeing in person the Aura in its different finishes. Looking at them side by side, I was pondering whether I’d opt for one of the painted finishes if I were to purchase a pair or go with the standard white for its elegance, simplicity, and durability. I know I wouldn’t choose the Black Gloss finish. I’m not a fan of black speakers. I probably wouldn’t go with the Iron Grey finish either: it’s almost the same shade of gray as my car—it would feel like having my car parked in my living room. My two videographers liked the Horizon Blue finish, a very nice shade of blue. I was drawn to the Starlight (light gold) and Amber Elegance (orangey red) finishes, the former for how nicely it would complement many decors, the latter for its visual “pop.” But I still like the basic white.


The composite used for the cabinet and plinth is interesting—rock-hard and extremely stiff, very smooth, and very durable. I was tempted to get my car keys and test that durability in the traditional way . . . Tapping the cabinet surface with a fingernail instead, I could tell by the sound it won’t easily scratch or chip. Of course, with painted surfaces, it’s the durability of the paint that matters, not that of the substrate, and paint is not very durable.

The Aura’s cabinet is essentially a tall, statuesque conical frustum: a gracefully arced body with a flat front baffle that gently tapers off toward the base, an edged spine at the back, and an inclined, subtly concave top (which in planform resembles a bishop’s hat). It is 10.5″ wide and 13.5″ deep at the base, 8.5″ wide at the top. While at the Estelon factory, I was privy to the building process of the Aura and noted the wall thickness of its cabinet, about 0.75″. It is a sealed-cabinet design.

The magnetically attachable black-cloth grille mirrors the geometry of the tapered baffle. When the original matte-white Aura was introduced and shown with the black grille on, some people commented that it looked a bit like Sony’s stock-white PlayStation 5—and it does. Luckily, the Aura’s plinth is white, not black like the PS5’s base. Were it black, the Aura’s style would surely have looked like a knockoff. In fact, the tapered baffle design first appeared on Estelon’s flagship Extreme in 2014, when it was introduced. A few years later, in 2019, it also graced the Forza, just below the Extreme, when that speaker came out. Since the PS5 was only released in 2020, the Aura’s resemblance to it is purely coincidental.

The plinth—a structural and acoustical element

The Aura’s cabinet is propped up by an arched plinth on floor spikes (supplied), which serves two important functions: it provides a stable base for the tall Aura, and it allows the 10″ paper-cone woofer (made by Italy’s Faital), which is mounted face-down at the bottom of the cabinet, to radiate omnidirectionally through a coincident opening. (If you tip the speaker back and look underneath, you’ll see the driver through this circular cutout in the plinth.) To allow the woofer to radiate more freely, the cabinet is raised off the plinth by short, stout tabs that leave narrow slots where the two meet. Estelon has always set the woofer (or woofers) of its floorstanding speakers low, but the Aura is the first to be armed with a low, down-firing woofer. The resulting form of loading allows flexible placement of the speaker in the listening room, Alfred Vassilkov, Estelon’s founder and chief designer, explained. Setting up the Auras in my listening room was certainly a snap.


The woofer operates mostly below 80Hz. Higher frequencies are handled by two 5″ SB Acoustics Satori midrange-woofers and a 1″ Scan-Speak Illuminator soft-dome tweeter set in between within a shallow waveguide formed into the baffle. The Aura is a three-way design; the two midrange-woofers cover the same frequency range. The crossover point between the tweeter and midrange drivers isn’t indicated in Estelon’s literature, but based on our measurements, it seems to be at about 2kHz. Nominal impedance is specified at 4 ohms, with a 2-ohm minimum at 58Hz, which is quite low (more on this below). The Aura’s sensitivity is rated at 90dB (2.83V/m), and its overall frequency response is specified as 35Hz to 25kHz (deviation unspecified).

The Aura’s internal wiring is from the US company Kubala-Sosna. Its binding posts are the CPBS connectors from Cardas. The CPBS (Cardas Patented Binding Post) is a clever one-piece unit with a single knob for clamping spades or bare wire. It can also accept banana plugs but only very narrow ones. You’d need to drill out the plastic guide holes to accommodate beefy bananas—an unsavory proposition.

Amp matching and setup

For my “System One” report, I set up the Auras along one of the short walls of my living room, which measures about 14′ × 18′. I kept them there for this review. Positioned for optimal sound in this room, they stood 8′ apart, tweeter center to tweeter center, their binding posts 20″ from the front wall. The Auras have a wide, even dispersion pattern, as I describe below, and needed no toe-in.


Initially, I powered the Auras with the Marantz Model 40n integrated amplifier ($2499; reviewed in August 2022) and the Kinki Studio EX-M1+ integrated amplifier ($2998; reviewed in December 2020). I later stepped up to the Simaudio Moon 791 streaming preamplifier ($16,000; reviewed in December 2023) and the 761 power amplifier ($14,000), which is rated at 200Wpc into 8 ohms, 400Wpc into 4 ohms. Surprisingly, when I went from the 40n to the EX-M1+, despite the latter’s higher output power—215Wpc into 8 ohms or 400Wpc into 4 ohms versus 70Wpc into 8 ohms or 100Wpc into 4 ohms—I heard no real improvement in overall sound quality or bass performance. (On the test bench, I should mention, the EX-M1+, as measured, didn’t quite live up to its power claims; the 40n, by its measurements, did.)

I suspect this has to do with the amplifiers’ ability to handle difficult speaker loads; that is, to supply enough current at frequencies where impedance is low. Our measurements show that whereas in the frequency range above 80Hz the Aura’s impedance is mostly greater than 4 ohms, a relatively easy load to drive for most amps, below 80Hz its impedance is less than 4 ohms (hitting that 2-ohm minimum around 58Hz, where the specs say it does). This can be challenging for an amplifier, and the 40n, though not as powerful as the EX-M1+, must have been able to handle this challenge equally well. In the end, the Simaudio equipment proved to be the best match, the biggest improvement being an increased bass power. Nevertheless, I did much of my critical listening with the 40n. The Auras sounded great with this amp, and unlike the Moon gear, its price should be well within reach for many prospective buyers. Since the EX-M1+ offered no improvement in sound over the 40n—it only allowed the speakers to play louder—and since it lacks a DAC, streaming options, and phono stage, features the 40n does have, I used it only for an initial assessment.


A set of QED XT25 speaker cables connected the Auras with the Marantz 40n; Nirvana S-L cables connected the Moon 761. My Pro-Ject Audio Systems X1 turntable was connected to the amplifier employed with its stock Connect it E interconnect. A pair of XLO DNA balanced cables connected the 791 to the 761. Stock power cords connected the 40n and Moon components to a Shunyata Research PS8 power distributor, which was connected to a wall outlet with a Shunyata Research Venom HC power cord. Digital music was streamed from Tidal via the HEOS platform built into the 40n or through Roon running on my Asus laptop, feeding the Roon Ready 791 wirelessly.

Soundly punched by Mike Tyson

When the Aura was introduced and I first saw its pictures, I was distrustful of its driver configuration, a tweeter nestled between two midrange-woofers (an MTM design in audiophile speak). There have been reports over the years of “midrange lobing” issues with this type of configuration. In some situations, the two midrange (or midrange-woofer) drivers work well together; in others, they sum unfavorably, sounding worse than a speaker with the same tweeter and just one of those drivers would. In the past, whenever I listened to this type of speakers, I found that for optimal sound I had to keep my head fixed dead-center between them at just the right height as if in a vise. Any departure from that sweet spot would result in tonal anomalies, a collapse of the soundstage, and a lack of clarity.


I began my audition of the Auras with the Marantz Model 40n. Much to my surprise, when I dropped the needle on Fleetwood Mac’s “Second Hand News,” from Rumours (LP, Warner Bros. BSK 3010), that midrange-lobing issue I had anticipated did not manifest itself. When I moved away from the sweet spot a little, the soundstage didn’t collapse and the tonal balance didn’t change. Everything was still fine when I moved even farther, whether I was sitting down or standing up. This demonstrated two of the Aura’s great strengths: a wide-open, expansive sound and a remarkably consistent tonal balance that was independent of the listening position. Sure, the highs were most prominent right on axis, with my ears at the height of the tweeters; but otherwise, the tonal balance changed very little as I moved around. It was mostly the soundstage and imaging that suffered. But this is stereo, after all. Precise imaging is largely confined to the sweet spot (or thereabouts). Of all the MTM-type speakers I’ve heard, the Aura has been the least restrictive by far of deviation from the optimal listening position. Had I not been aware of the Aura’s MTM driver configuration (and had the grilles had been on), I would never have guessed it.

“Dreams,” the next track on Rumours, demonstrated another of the Aura’s strengths: its bass performance. Even when driven by the Model 40n, the Auras were delivering bass with aplomb down to their specified 35Hz low end. When Mick Fleetwood strikes his kick drum or John McVie plucks his bass guitar, I sensed real power. I had that strong sense with other recordings as well. By convention, a speaker that bottoms out at 35Hz is not considered full range; to earn that distinction, a speaker must reach down to 20Hz, the very bottom of the audioband. By this criterion, the Aura is not a full-range speaker. But the weight and force of the bass I heard from the Auras in my listening room was impressive, something I did not expect from such svelte, refined-looking speakers.


Still, swapping in the Simaudio Moon gear improved things. The bass didn’t get any deeper, but it became viscerally forceful. When Mick Fleetwood strikes that kick drum hard at the beginning of “Dreams,” it was now like a punch from Mike Tyson. In my December article I wrote, “I can’t imagine anyone feeling the need for a subwoofer with these speakers.” Months later, I still believe that—unless you absolutely crave that 20Hz rumble. What impressed me most about the Auras’ bass, however, wasn’t its forcefulness but rather how well balanced it was with the midrange and high frequencies. To me, bass-level balance can be a dealbreaker, particularly with a floorstanding speaker. As I point out in my editorial, if the level of bass is too low relative to the mids and highs, even a large speaker can sound anemic; if it is too high, it can overshadow the higher frequencies. In my experience with high-end hi-fi speakers, the level of bass is more often too low than too high.

Bass-level relationship

I started thinking about what I now call “bass-level relationship” while auditioning the now-discontinued Magico V2 and S5 floorstanders. I found both wanting in bass output relative to their midrange and high-frequency outputs. In the case of the S5, in particular, the lightweight bass made that very large speaker sound much smaller. When Jason Thorpe ran into a similar issue with the YG Acoustics Peaks Ascent loudspeakers he recently reviewed for SoundStage! Ultra, I knew what the likely problem was. It’s an important story worth telling.


The Ascent retails for only $100 less for a pair than the Aura, and it too is a three-way sealed design that uses a low-mounted woofer (one slightly smaller than the Aura’s, at 8.75″). In some ways, it’s a direct competitor to the Aura, though it doesn’t look nearly as nice. When Jason set up the Ascents and began listening to them, he found he just couldn’t get the bass output he had expected from them. Other speakers of similar size he auditioned in that listening room delivered ample bass, including a pair of Estelon XB Mk IIs, which he previously reviewed for Ultra, and the Estelon YB speakers, which he owns. To get to the bottom of it, I took one of the speakers to be measured in the anechoic chamber at Canada’s National Research Council (where we’ve measured speakers since 1999). The resulting set of measurements confirmed what I suspected all along: the Ascent produced too little bass relative to the frequencies above. When I measured the Aura—on the same day, in the same chamber—I obtained a very different frequency profile. Jason and I managed to ameliorate this deficiency in the Ascent to some degree by leveraging room gain. We repositioned the speakers close to the respective corners of the listening room. (Placing them closer to the front wall but away from the corners provided insufficient bass reinforcement.) One shouldn’t have to resort to room gain to attain tonal balance, of course, and a speaker that requires this kind of maneuvering is inherently flawed. We got satisfactory sound from the Ascents in the end, and I left with renewed appreciation for the Aura for maintaining tonal balance throughout its frequency range.

That splendid tonal balance was not perfectly neutral, but it was as neutral as I’d want it to be. Listening to female vocals, I could detect a slight emphasis in the upper midrange regardless of amplification. This bias, in the 1000Hz to 4000Hz range, both on- and off-axis, was also revealed in our measurements. But this isn’t a bad thing. Lana Del Rey’s wispy vocal on “White Dress,” the opening song on her Chemtrails Over the Country Club (16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC, Interscope / Polydor Records / Tidal), was perhaps a touch more prominent than usual, but it had dazzling immediacy and a wonderful clarity I did not sense with other speakers. A less obvious effect of the heightened upper midrange, albeit still noticeable, was on Stevie Nicks’s vocal in “Dreams.” With most systems, her voice seems buried in the mix. Through the Auras, however, with either amplifier, her voice was more present, and the whole song sounded a little more spacious in the midrange. Not all female vocals were boosted in this way, though. Tracy Chapman’s singing voice is a bit lower in pitch than Nicks’s and Del Rey’s. Playing “Fast Car” and “Baby Can I Hold You” for some friends one afternoon, from her eponymous debut album (16/44.1 FLAC, Elektra Records / Tidal), I was taken aback by how natural her voice sounded—it was as natural as I’ve ever heard it.


The Aura’s midrange emphasis was not evident on male vocals, but neither was there any recession. Bruce Cockburn’s voice on “Pacing the Cage,” for example, from The Charity of Night (16/44.1 FLAC, True North Records / Tidal), sounded perfectly natural, neither too prominent nor too relaxed; his acoustic guitar, though, was a little more spirited than I’m used to. Rob Wasserman’s bass on this track was deep, tight, and well controlled, which showed again how well the Auras reproduced bass in my listening room. Other male vocals sounded unbiased too. The Aura has proved to be a superbly voiced loudspeaker.


Although the Aura is Estelon’s entry-level speaker, it may well be its most important model yet: it offers Estelon’s signature styling and sound at a price point accessible to many serious audiophiles. Twenty grand is no pittance, but to put it in perspective, a pair of YBs, the next model up, costs $29,000, and a pair of Extremes tops out at $290,000! Considering Estelon’s other models, the Aura is a veritable bargain.


I wouldn’t look down on anyone buying a pair of Auras mostly for their looks—they truly are stunning. But along with their good looks, the Auras deliver sterling, even come reference-level sound quality. Admittedly, this is something I did not expect. My only recommendation to prospective buyers is to be sure to drive the Auras with a well-designed, sufficiently powerful amplifier that can handle low-impedance loads (ideally, one stable to 2 ohms). When carefully set up and properly driven, the Estelon Auras are musical wonders.

. . . Doug Schneider

Associated Equipment

  • Turntable: Pro-Ject Audio Systems X1 with Pick it S2 cartridge and Connect it E cable.
  • CD player: Pro-Ject Audio Systems CD Box S3.
  • Computer: Asus Zenbook UX303U running Windows 11 and Roon.
  • Integrated amplifiers: Marantz 40n, Kinki Studio EX-M1+.
  • Preamplifier: Simaudio Moon North Collection 791.
  • Amplifier: Simaudio Moon North Collection 761.
  • Speaker cables: QED XT25, Nirvana Audio S-L.
  • Interconnects: XLO DNA.
  • Power cord: Shunyata Research Venom HC.
  • Power distributor: Shunyata Research PS8.
  • Acoustical treatment:BXI Sound Absorber panels (20), Tönnen Sound panels.

Estelon Aura Loudspeaker
Price: $19,900–$25,400 per pair, depending on finish.
Warranty: Five years, parts and labor.

Alfred & Partners OÜ
Kukermiidi 6 Tallinn 11216
Phone: (+372) 661 0614