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Krakow Sonic Society ⸜ Meeting № 143


Founded in 2010, Estonian company ESTELON is known worldwide. Its uniquely shaped loudspeakers are one of the highlights of audio shows, where they win multiple awards and prizes. The company's founder and chief designer, Mr. ALFRED VASSILKOV, came to Krakow with its latest and also most affordable Aura speakers.

KRAKOW ⸜ Poland


Introduction and transcription from tape WOJCIECH PACUŁA
translation Marek Dyba
images Tomasz Lechowski, “High Fidelity”

Sonic Society

February 1, 2024

KRAKOW SONIC SOCIETY is an informal group of music lovers, audiophiles, friends, meeting to learn something new about audio products, recordings, music, etc. The idea for KSS was born in 2005, although its roots go back several years. It is its 143rd meeting.

CALLING 17,500 EUR SPEAKERS "affordable" may seem like a gross exaggeration. After all, it is, at the exchange rate of January 4th 2024, almost 76,000 zlotys! In the high-end, however, everything is contextual, and price most so. And that's because, although the next on the price list, and so far the „entry-level” one, the YB Mk II already costs 23,300 euros, and for the top-of-the-line Extreme Mk II Limited Edition model one has to pay 212,000 euros, or 920,000 Polish zlotys. And that's twelve times as much.


NEXT MONTH YOU will have a chance to read a test of these speakers, prepared by Marek Dyba. So let's just remind you of the most important information about the new Estelon speakers. One of the outstanding features of the AURA is its distinctive shape, which not only serves an aesthetic function, but also an acoustic one. Its advanced surface geometry provides it with properties that, in the manufacturer's words, "allow for a three-dimensional soundscape." The lack of parallel walls means that only pure and unemotional sound "comes out of the drivers."

⸜ Mr. ALFRED VASSILKOV, left, and Mr. ILIAS KOUTROMANOS, center, receive honorary certificates of the Krakow Sonic Society from yours truly (right)

The press release reads:

AURA is more than just a speaker; it's a work of art that combines form and function to deliver an unparalleled sound experience. It is available in white and black finishes, and the included magnetic grille makes it a distinctive interior accent with its exceptionally elegant design. AURA is sure to be a game changer in the audio world!

→ , accessed: 24.01.2024.

These speakers were designed with the acoustics of real-world rooms in mind, rather than for maximum on-axis frequency response. Aura is a three-way system, operating in a closed enclosure. The 26-millimeter (1″) Scan-Speak Illuminator tweeter with textile dome features a symmetrical drive system, providing, the manufacturer says, exceptional sound quality and linearity, whether the music is played at high or low volume. The speaker is said to excel in speed and high resolution. The curvature of the enclosure, along with the tweeter waveguide, eliminates, it reads, the negative effects of wave reflections, so that "the directivity of the speaker is uniform and broad." The tweeter waveguide has a complex elliptical shape and is finely tuned to fit this particular Scan-Speak driver.

Satori's 130mm (5″) woofer uses a membrane made from Egyptian papyrus to "achieve clarity and seamless sound delivery." The ventilated, aerodynamic cast-aluminum housing provides optimal strength and low compression. The driver has a soft, low-damping rubber suspension, and its neodymium drive system is optimized for low distortion. The 250mm woofer is from SB Acoustics.

The Auras offer a bandwidth of 35 Hz to 25 kHz, and although their sensitivity is a high - 90 dB/2.83 V, the 4-ohm nominal impedance can drop to 2 Ω, and that at 58 Hz. Thus, a high-powered amplifier is required to drive them, but especially one that can handle low impedance well. There are two color choices: black or white, both with black grilles as standard.


| A few simple words

owner, chief designer

FIRST, I WOULD LIKE TO TELL YOU that we are in the speaker business and we came to the Krakow Sonic Society meeting because we like music. And we like it a lot. For some people, listening to music is a hobby, for some it's a job. We combine the two - for us it's both a way of life, of making money, and a hobby.

⸜ Mr ALFRED VASSILKOV at Krakow Sonic Society meeting

I would like to emphasize this, because it makes us, just like that, happy people. For me personally, this is important, because having designed speakers for forty years, every day I get up to work with enthusiasm and energy. I have a very good team that works with me and that brings positive emotions to our work, which translates into our relationships with clients. It's such an oasis in the modern world.

Music has always been important to me. As a child, I often listened to my father play the accordion - and he was really very good at it. He used to give evening concerts and it was amazing - pure emotion. I think that was the moment that determined where I am today. I then started listening to music on the radio, a tube radio of course, with a magic eye, etc. I don't remember the brand of the first receiver, but the second was Estonia. These were the best radios at the time.

The next step was obvious: I took the radio apart to see what was inside. After graduation from school I had to choose what I was going to do next, and I decided to study electroacoustics. I took up studies at St. Petersburg Polytechnic, then-Leningrad, and realized that there was not much information and research about this field in the context of loudspeakers. So I started modifying speakers for friends and worked for a while at a scientific institute.

But it was not a good time - the time of Brezhnev, then Andropov and the omnipresent KGB. Since I am half Estonian and half Russian, I moved to Tallinn. Estonia was part of the Soviet Union, but there was more freedom there - everyone remembered that it was an independent country before World War II, even if for a short time. Therefore, there was a different atmosphere in Tallinn than in Russia.

At the time, I received a job offer from a design office preparing designs for the company responsible for the Estonia radio I mentioned earlier. The idea was to develop a completely new department that would deal with high-end electronics and speakers. The problem was that in the USSR the basis of work was standards, which were not allowed to change. Only numbers mattered, and sound quality was there in last place. For me it was abnormal, but I worked on it as best as I could. At that time I prepared a lot of, in my opinion, very good speakers.

Fortunately, the Soviet Union ceased to exist, and although that door closed for me, another one opened. At that time I listened to a lot of, quite inexpensive, Pioneer, Sony, etc. speakers. And while the Estonia speakers were really good, I was amazed at how much musicality there was in these small, inexpensive boxes from Japan. So I started learning all over again how to build sound.

It was an interesting time for me, as large companies were falling and new ones were being created in their place. And it was with them that I undertook R&D cooperation, based on the research laboratory I had created. At that time I built many different models of speakers for many different companies. Somewhere around 2000, however, I decided to prepare speakers for my own brand. I started traveling to major audio shows around the world to see what the high-end world was all about.

Since I had developed already more than a hundred models of speakers that went into production, I thought I had a good basis for preparing something special. At the time, I worked for an installation company and had experience of how speakers work in real rooms. Five years before Estelon came into being, I started accumulating my ideas and began working on new designs. The most important thing for me was to determine what compromises are necessary to achieve a high-end sound.

This new project was a secret, I did it after work and not in the lab, but in my basement. I didn't want anyone to find out about my ideas before I had a finished product. But what kind of product? - First and foremost, these were to be speakers that work in classical rooms. So it was a matter of choosing the parameters in such a way that the music sounded good, even if the measurements were not perfect.

In a room, sound waves behave in two ways - lows differently and mids and highs differently. The lows, up to 100 Hz, are longer than the dimensions of the room, so the room acts as a compressor. They interfere with each other, create resonances, etc. I also had to take into account that at the Schroeder frequency the compression turns into reflections. This is why our woofers are placed close to the floor, and the crossover cuts their bandwidth below 100 Hz. We help ourselves this way by being close to the floor, and the speakers are also somewhat less sensitive to positioning.

The second thing is related to the collapse and bending of the waves. That's why the top of this speaker has curved sides - exactly like in our logo. The tweeter should have a minimum of surface area around it, and the midrange needs some, but not much. The idea was to make the other drivers work in better conditions. By eliminating sharp edges, we eliminated changes in acoustic impedance around the speakers. And thus changes in energy propagation.

Each edge generates frequencies with different directional characteristics, as if they were different transducers. Our shape guarantees a much more uniform radiation of energy in the room. These complex reflections cause a temporal blurring of the signal, and thus disturb the precision of the soundstage, reducing the focus of the sound. By eliminating wave deflections, we get a more even filling of the room with space, not only on the listening axis, but in its various locations.

The complex shape of our speakers is also intended to improve the rigidity of the cabinet - they are much stiffer than loudspeakers with flat cutoffs. And don't forget that we also reduce the resonances, so-called standing waves, that arise inside. Putting all these ideas together we got exactly the shape we see. This is the logical culmination of my search.

Let me add, that in order to build this type of housing we had to develop our own technologies. To use them, we found a company that specializes in this. It took us some time, but in the end we got satisfactory results.

In the Aura model, we have changed the cabinet material slightly. Now there is a thermoformable material, this is our first model made this way. The white color is its own color. In a little while, the black color will be available, and then all others from the RAL palette. AW



FOR THE MEETING with the Krakow Sonic Society, the speakers were brought by the head of the company himself, Mr. ALFRED VASSILKOV, who was accompanied by Mr. ILIAS KOUTROMANOS, director of marketing and sales. Asked by me what language they communicate in - Mr. Vassilkov is of half-Estonian and half-Russian descent living in Estonia, and Mr. Koutromanos is Greek - they answered in unison that they mainly speak English, but also some Greek and Russian. And mostly in the language of music :)

The listening took place at Tomek Folta, one of the meeting hosts. There are two sound sources in his audio system: an Aurender N20 file transport, working with an Ayon Audio Stratos DAC, and a Transrotor Alto TMD turntable. The meeting was divided into two parts - in the first we listened to files, and in the second to LPs. The comments are about the first part, and the second part, after a few adjustments to the speaker setup, was summarized by Tomek Wiśniewski and Julek Soja.

1 ˺ MARI BOINE, Crowded Street of Blues
2 ˺ DOMINIC MILLER, Clandestin
3 ˺ TILL BRÖNNER, A Thousand Kisses Deep
5 ˺ STEVEN WILSON, Economies of Scale
6 ˺ PETER GABRIEL, Panopticon (Dark-Side Mix)

→ LPs
1 ˺ DARIA ZE ŚLĄSKA Daria Ze Śląska Tu Była, Jazzboy Records JB054LP, 180 g LP ⸜ 2023.
2 ˺ ANDREAS VOLLENWEIDER, Caverna Magica (...Under The Tree - In The Cave...), CBS 25 265, „Halfspeed Mastered”, LP ⸜ 1982/1983.

3 ˺ DIANA KRALL, This Dream Of You, Verve Records 602507445416, TEST PRESS 2 x 180 g LP (2020).
4 ˺ DIRE STRAITS, Brothers in Arms, Vertigo/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab MFSL 2-441, „Special Limited Edition # 3000”, 2 x 45 RPM, 180 g LP (1985/2015).
5 ˺ GEORGE MICHAEL, Faith, Epic EPC 460000 1, LP ⸜ 1987.
6 ˺ TOMASZ PAUSZEK, Lo-Fi Lo-Ve, Audio Anatomy, 2 x 180 g LP ⸜ 2017.

The speakers were driven by the Accuphase P-7300 power amplifier. It puts out a conservative 125 watts at 8 ohm, but as much as 500 watts at 2 and also "supports" a 1 ohm load, guaranteeing 800 watts (musical power) at the time. The Estelon loudspeakers stood in exactly the same place where the Dynaudio Confidence C-4 Signature loudspeakers are seen every day. During the intermission, the Estelon gentlemen raised - using spikes - the front panel of the speakers to tilt them slightly.

Session I

DAMIAN • I always have the same problem - we usually listen to music I don't know. Today's session was no different. But nevertheless, I immediately heard something that surprised me. I'm familiar with the tweeter and midrange drivers used in this model, but this was the first time I heard something from them that I didn't know they could do, something completely new. Maybe it's because the system at Tomek's is better than the one I use to listen to my designs. But I guess it's just as important that they simply work under truly optimal conditions.

The sound, including the bass - and the bass was spectacular - was strong, dense, but also fast. I also heard very good dynamics and sound separation. The high quality of this sound struck me from the very beginning - when we played the first song I checked something on my phone and immediately looked at the speakers. And that means I heard something good. This is my first, general impression.

I won't speak separately about individual parts of the band, because the speakers sounded amazingly coherent, cohesive and dense. And - let me repeat - fast. This is something I look for in speakers, and this is "my" type of sound - excellent speakers.

JULIAN SOJA ⸜ Soyaton/KTS • I have to say that, like Damian I was impressed by this sound from the first second. We all know how well Tomek's system plays, so something this good catches your attention right away. But I've also never heard such a deep soundstage here before, such a three-dimensional performance. Tomek's Dynaudios are very good speakers, but just in this aspect the Estelons were much better.

On the other hand, I was a bit disappointed with the size of the bass. Knowing that they have a 10-inch woofer I expected more from them. But I completely agree with Damian that the bass was full, fantastically controlled, fast. With some tracks I had the impression that there was some sort of collapse in the woofer range, that a piece of the band was missing. The speakers went very low, but sometimes I missed the transition between lower and higher bass, which is probably an acoustical issue. Having said that, I will reiterate that I am very impressed with these speakers, I liked them very much.

TOMEK WIŚNIEWSKI • What first caught my attention was the 3D stage, very beautiful. The treble and its midrange were very nicely glued together. For the first time at Tomek’s, I heard such a good bass control, even though I like his Dynaudio. But there were also tracks where I found it a bit lacking - it didn't go as low and there wasn't the "meat" I know from the Dynaudio. It was a bit lacking for me.

Keep in mind that we are comparing the Estelons to an older version of the Dynaudio speakers, and in the new one the shape has also been improved, going in the direction of what Mr. Vassilkov mentioned. But even taking that into account, I liked the Auras very much, just for the stage, smoothness and meatiness of the bass. I know the more expensive Estelons, and there all that I missed here is there - but it's also a completely different price level.

MICHAŁ ⸜ Nautilus • I was surprised by the feeling of the "presence" of the sound that appeared before me, right from the first track. Without waiting for anything, just right away. I'm familiar with these speakers, albeit from a completely different system and room, so it's hard for me to compare, but I have a similar impression: these are speakers that play a bigger sound than they look, especially when it comes to bass.

I expected the meatiness we got here, but even without sitting in the best seat I was pleasantly surprised by the things Marcin already mentioned, that is, the coherence, the class of the lows, the depth of the stage and the 3D effect they created. I look forward to the second part of the meeting with curiosity.

TOMEK ⸜ KTS • For me this is a really special moment, because we really rarely listen to speakers other than Dynaudio at my place. My speakers are now eleven years old, and during that time I had the Consequence Ultimate Edition model at home for six months, but it didn’t work for me, I assume because I had no way to set them up properly.

So I'm very surprised at how well the Estelons played, even though we installed them at my place some twenty-eight hours ago. I really liked the highs and the three-dimensional stage that the speakers created. It's such a modern way for speakers to reproduce this bandwidth, very good indeed. It's a very pleasant but resolving playing.

As for bass - my speakers produce a lot of bass, maybe even - in this room - too much. This creates standing waves in different parts of the room, so changing the listening position even by half a meter gives completely different results in this respect. But, let me tell you, all of us here were satisfied with the class of their bass, we liked it. In contrast, the Estelons played low sound in such a way that there were no problems with it. No booming, nothing was agitated in the room.

Maybe more bass would be a nice addition, but it's not necessary. Speed, tightness, control and fill - I liked all of these things in the Auras very much.

ALFRED ⸜ Estelon • I think the problem is partly the room itself and partly the open door to the adjacent room. I would also place acoustic panels in several places, especially on the sides of the speakers. This would certainly help to control these problems. And raise the energy of the bass. At the moment the bass does not fill the room in a unified way, so after the break in I will raise the speakers a bit and move them slightly to see if that helps.

TOMEK • We tried setting them up in different places, but they still ended up where Dynaudio stand on a daily basis.

ALFRED • Which means, it is a problem of the surroundings of the speakers, not their location.

TOMEK KURSA ⸜ Audioform • Very, very good speakers. I agree with what Julek said earlier about inconsistent bass in some range. But other than that - great sound, everything is in its place.

ILIAS ⸜ Estelon • First of all, I would like to repeat what Alfred said about resonances and room mods - you can hear it. My impression is that the Auras need a little more space on the sides, or better acoustically prepared surfaces. But I liked the way they created a deep, three-dimensional soundstage and how big the sound was.

WOJCIECH PACUŁA ⸜ KTS • Are you satisfied with what you heard here?

ILIAS ⸜ Estelon • Yes – very much :)

ROBERT SZKLARZ ⸜ Nautilus • Whatever I say now, I will be acting to my detriment, because I am selling both Dynaudio and Estelon :) But I will say briefly that I really liked the quality of the treble and midrange. There was a very nice tonal balance. The only thing we can improve is the bass equalization. It seems to me that the speakers were played for too short a time to fully break-in. I think they will play a little better in a month. I would also lower the speakers, moving them slightly closer to the platform, to see what difference that would make.

But I was amazed by the depth of the stage - I've never heard anything like that here before. And, yes in general, these are very musical designs. They will play well in a small or large room - in Munich the room was about 70 sq. m., and yet the Auras filled it with sound.

DOMINIKA • I would like to draw your attention to the first and last track - MARIE BONE and PETER GABRIEL. At the time, I had the impression that this was probably not "my" sound. The upper part of the band was somehow not as good as expected. But with each successive track I enjoyed listening to them more and more and by the last one I finally felt and saw the depth of the stage and the beautiful separation of the instruments. I guess I had to get used to the new sound. As for me, the bass, which was mentioned so much, was very cool. From where I sat I didn't hear anything wrong with it.

And aesthetics of this design must be emphasized - for women such a design is much easier to accept than regular speakers, even Dynaudio’s. Looking at the Auras I would feel like owning them, because they are really beautiful. They „bought” me with this.

Session II

TOMEK WIŚNIEWSKI • In the second session, the speakers, for me, opened up in the lower registers and played coherently across the bandwidth, rather than as before, when the treble and midrange played in tandem, and the bass sometimes kept up with them, and sometimes was left somewhere behind. Because the bottom has to be controlled, but it should not be at the expense of its excessive weakening. Now the tonal balance was better, shifted slightly downward. Nothing was exaggerated. It was neutral. Here there was not a track where something was missing, although it there was no such a dose of energy as with the Dynaudio.

The vocals, the midrange, both in the male - Tony Bennett, and the female performance - Diana Krall, were nicely velvety to my ears, played in their registers. At the end they added Dire Straits to the track list, so that everyone left the meeting satisfied. These lightweight, small speakers did a great job in a sizable volume of Tomek's room. The shape and proportions with the center of gravity at the bottom will appeal to female partners, according to whom classic speakers often ruin the living room decor.

JULIAN • In general, the biggest difference came from the change in seating location - unfortunately, in the first row (where it's usually best) the bass was quite agitated. It was booming, humming, rumbling and buzzing. I thought it was after removing the pads and lowering the speakers to the floor, but Ilias told me that he heard exactly the same painful effects already before the break (and they subsided when he moved to the second row). In my opinion, we didn't manage to position these speakers optimally, and the Estelons (like other designs that play woofer down or have the bass-reflex facing down) are incredibly sensitive to this.

The second observation was a surprise at how easily the turntable showed the digital (otherwise excellent) its place. I don't think anyone doubted which sound was clearly superior. Probably a great selection of vinyl and perhaps a slightly inferior selection of files also contributed to this? Anyway, apart from the bass problems in the second part, the sound was simply superb - it retained sensational spatiality, stage depth, multiple layers, 3D effects and great, very precise localization of phantom images. The Analog added a slightly warmer, definitely more natural and organic midrange, better fill and also the mass and presence of the instruments in the room.


System used at the meeting

⸜ FILE TRANSPORT: Aurender N20; test → HERE
⸜ TURNTABLE: Transrotor ALTO TMD; test → HERE
⸜ PHONO PREAMPLIFIER: Phasemation EA-350
⸜ POWER AMPLIFIER: Accuphase P-7300; test → HERE
Speaker cable: Acrolink 7N-S8000 ANNIVERSARIO (2 x 3 m)
Analog interconnect XLR: Siltech Classic Legend 880i Oyaide Focus XLR
Digital interconnect AES/EBU: Acrolink 7N-DA2090 SPECIALE (1,5 m)
Phono interconnect: Siltech Classic Legend PHONO 680i