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Price (in Poland): from 17 500 EUR/pair

Kukermiidi 6 Tallinn 11216


Provided for the test by: NAUTILUS Dystrybucja


text by MAREK DYBA
images by Estelon | Marek Dyba (photo a)

No 238

March 1, 2024

ESTELON is an Estonian audio manufacturer founded in 2010, specializing in designing and manufacturing loudspeakers. From the very beginning, the company has been targeting the most demanding customers developing products of exceptional form, luxurious workmanship, and top-notch sound. We are testing the entry-level model, AURA.

THERE ARE ONLY FEW AUDIO BRANDS I can name as those that stuck in my mind already after the very first contact with them. Estelon belongs to this group, despite the fact that I’ve never hosted any of their products in my system before. Moreover, all auditions (up to a certain point - more on that in a moment) led me to the same conclusion regarding what Estelon has to offer: a unique appearance, perfect workmanship, and very high-quality sound. But not "mine". After all, trying to be as objective as possible in audio, one has to distinguish between the class of sound, in the case of the Estelons non-delectably high, and whether and how much one likes it. The two may or may not coincide at all.

The very first contact and listening to the brand's speakers in the showroom of the distributor (at the time) led me to the conclusions indicated above. A new brand from a country not necessarily particularly known for making high-quality speakers looking like the proverbial "million dollars", costing a lot, but actually offering sound of a very high quality. Despite the fact, that it was just the beginning of the brand. Subsequent meetings at various shows confirmed this first assessment.

That's why the presentation of the Aura model at the recent Munich High End 2023 Show was sort of a surprise to me (and not only me - just check a number of reports from the show) (for more see → HERE). Not because Estelon surprised us with some new, unexpectedly ugly, poorly made, or poorly performing speakers, but because the new, smallest (floor-standing) and cheapest model in the range delighted me and many other people with its sound. And that happened at the show where, after all, nothing performs up to its true potential.

Delight is a rather strong term, as it was difficult to assess the sound of this or any other component/system reliably due to the show’s conditions. So let's say instead, that it was a highly positive surprise, resulting in a lasting curiosity, because this model, unlike other ones I’d heard before, seemed to offer "my" sound. It impressed me so much that when I met the head of the Polish distributor, Mr. Robert Szklarz, while still there in Munich, I immediately declared my desire to test the Aura as soon as it was available in Poland. I couldn’t shake the desire to get to know this model better hence every time I spoke to the Nautilus crew I kept asking them about the availability of AURA.

I would like to remind you that recently a meeting of the Krakow Sonic Society was dedicated to these speakers, and the guest was Mr. ALFRED VASSILKOV, founder and chief designer of Estelon (more → HERE). At the time, I planned to go to Krakow and participate in it, but unfortunately, I couldn’t make it. Nonetheless, from the report, it seems that the Society members, quite unlike them, were remarkably unanimous in their positive assessment of these speakers. If you have not read the article so far please do so, preferably before continuing to read this text, as you will find quite a bit of information about the history of Mr. Vassilkov and Estelon that I will not repeat here.


ESTELON AURA IS THE LEAST EXPENSIVE model in the brand's offer. Or the cheapest, which still by no means means means cheap. As I mentioned earlier, the Estonian company has been targeting the upper end of the audio market since its inception. Suffice it to note that the price of their top model, the Extreme MK II, starts at 212,000 euros. Auras in basic white color will set you back "only" 17,500 Euros (there are 6 finish colors available as of today, and the most expensive one is already 22 kEUR), which is barely a fraction of the price of the flagship. It's still a considerable cost though, which must be followed by an adequate class of sound for the product to be competitive in the market. That's what I was hoping to assess. The speakers are also interesting because, as the manufacturer says, they were designed with "normal" rooms in mind, not acoustically adapted rooms that most music lovers simply don't have at their disposal.

Let's start with the basics (although the manufacturer is not one to share too many details, so don't expect much more than the bare minimum). Aura is a medium-sized floor-standing passive, three-way, four-driver model, with drivers operating in a closed cabinet (!). Visually stunning, they impress with their original curved shape and lightweight body. The fact that only two not too large woofers (more on that in a moment) and a tweeter are visible only adds to the visual lightness of this design.

CABINET • The cabinets of all Estelon speakers are made of composites, nevertheless, as the designer said during the aforementioned meeting in Krakow, in the case of Aura a slightly different, thermoformable material was used. White is its natural color and hence this version is the cheapest, while others are slightly more expensive.

The only two flat elements of the cabinet are the top plate (angled, however, in relation to the base) and the gently backward-sloping front. Both have original shapes, as the former resembles a swimming cap (i.e., it is straight only on the side that connects to the front), and the latter is wider at the top and decidedly narrower at the bottom (although the entire cabinet is wider at the bottom). One gets the impression that the upper part of the front is wider solely to accommodate the aforementioned three drivers.

The shape of the enclosure is not just for aesthetics, as its curvature, along with the tweeter waveguide, eliminates the negative effects of sound wave reflections, according to the manufacturer, so that the speaker's "directivity is uniform and broad." The tweeter waveguide has a complex elliptical shape and is finely tuned to fit this particular Scan-Speak driver.

DRIVERS • I referred to the two midrange drivers as bass- midrange drivers, because they reproduce a bandwidth from 2.1 kHz at the top all the way down to 77 Hz at the bottom. Thus, they do not perform the role typical of midrange drivers. In this arrangement, a 26-millimeter (or 1-inch) tweeter is placed between two 130-mm mid-(low-mid)-range drivers. The former is a Scan-Speak Illuminator with a symmetrical drive system. They all operate in a closed chamber.

The 130mm woofers are Satori products using membranes made from Egyptian papyrus. They feature a vented, aerodynamic cast-aluminum enclosure for optimal strength and low compression. The drivers have soft, low-damping rubber suspension, and their neodymium drive system is optimized for low distortion. All, already mentioned, drivers are positioned quite high in the front baffle, and with the additional components provided by the distributor (Acoustic Revive brass and quartz discs and quartz platforms) it was the lower mid-woofer, rather than the tweeter, that was at the height of my ears.

As I mentioned before, the front is the only flat wall (plus the top plate), and the rest is... round. The front panel can be so narrow also because the 250 mm Faital paper-diaphragm bass driver is installed in the base of the speaker, with its diaphragm facing downward. Like the other drivers, it operates in a (separate) closed chamber, which necessarily has to be slightly larger than its diameter. That's why the lower part of the cabinet is noticeably wider than the slender "neck".

The later description came from the fact that my better half, who ignores 95% of the equipment that comes in for testing, this time after entering the room said: "Wow! Beautiful swans". With a different color finish the associations might have been different, but the white, Auras have something, grace perhaps, of those beautiful birds in them. Let's also add that the original shape of the cabinets provides optimal working conditions for the drivers also due to the higher rigidity of the whole structure than would be the case if it were assembled with flat baffles. It is thanks to all these well-thought-out elements that the new Estelon loudspeakers are expected to offer high-end sound even in "normal" rooms.

BASE • The bass woofer "shooting" downward required the designers to take care of its distance from the floor. The speakers were therefore placed on custom bases, and these do not contact the entire surface of the cabinet, but only through 4 "feet", or rather tabs protruding from the cabinet. The bases themselves are also not flat, but curved upward, and they have holes cut out in them that correspond roughly to the diameter of the bass speakers so the latter „shot” towards the floor rather than the base.

Bases are placed on adjustable spikes normally placed on metal washers protecting the floor supplied by the manufacturer. Only that, as I already mentioned, the Polish distributor always takes care about the best possible presentation of his products, so after his own tests he decided that the original steel washers are better replaced by Acoustic Revive brass ones, the latter set on quartz pads of the same brand, and the whole thing additionally on a quartz platform of the same origin.

SPEAKER CONNECTORS • It's worth knowing that the speaker terminals (single ones) are located at the back, close to the floor and these are Cardas terminals, which by design are intended for spades. Bananas can be screwed in there, but this is not an optimal solution. The proximity to the floor is a plus when using heavy speaker cables, as they don't put their weight on the speaker terminals. The internal wiring, on the other hand, is a product of the Kubala-Sosna brand. The speakers are also equipped with black magnetic grilles that match the shape of the front.

Another important piece of information is that the nominal impedance of the Aura model is 4 ohm, although it drops to 2 ohm at 58 Hz. The latter fact suggests that despite the claimed quite high efficiency of 90 dB, the Estonian speakers should be paired with powerful amplifiers preferably solid-state ones, as most tube amplifiers do not tolerate such impedance drops very well.


HOW WE LISTENED • Estelons Aura played in my reference system supported by a few „foreign” components. The analog track remained unchanged and it was composed of J.Sikora Standard Max turntable with KV12 and KV12 Max arms of the same brand. The latter used an Air Tight PC-3 cartridge, and the signal from it was amplified by a GrandiNote Celio Mk IV phono preamplifier. The signal from the phono stage to the Circle Labs P-300 line-level preamp was sent using Bastanis Imperial RCA interconnect.

The second source was my D/A Converter, LampizatOr Pacific 2 receiving signal from my custom server supported, however, by an additional element, namely a novelty from JCAT, a high-end clock for the top USB XE card of the same brand using JCAT’s ULTIMO Power Supply. These components are (at least for now) foreign in my system, but since the sound was simply even better with it, so there was no reason to unplug it.

The second additional component was the Ayon Audio CD-35 HF SACD player, well known to our readers, which I borrowed (on the occasion of this test) to listen to some SACD discs. It served me both as a player and as a transport, sending signal via Siltech Classic Legend 880D digital cable to Pacific 2.

The P-300 was connected to the M-200 power amplifier using the latest addition to my reference setup, namely KBL Sound Himalaya II balanced interconnect. In my system and most tests I used Soyaton Benchmark speaker cable, but my pair is terminated with bananas, which was not the optimal choice in this case (it is possible to connect them to Cardas terminals, but the bananas are sort of "crushed" in it, and the connection is not that good, two reasons to avoid using it in this particular case). Therefore, during the test I also used Siltech Classic Legend 880L speaker cables.

The alternative to the Circle Labs two-box amplifier was Ayon Audio's powerful tube integrated, Triton EVO delivered by the distributor simultaneously for another test. Yet the distributor encouraged me to give it a try also with AURA, saying that this tube beast was not afraid of the impedance drop to 2 Ω. And so I did try this setup as well.

THERE IS A SAYING CLAIMING that the longer we wait for something that arouses our desire, the sweeter the reward when the moment of fulfillment comes. Please note that I mean all cravings, not just the ones you thought of :).

As I mentioned earlier, I have been waiting for Auras actually since last May, that is, when I listened to them in Munich. In a word - a long time. The aforementioned folk wisdom forgets to tell you that expectations grow with time, at least in some cases. This was the case here, as memory can be unreliable. I mainly remembered that I liked them very much at the time, but actually how they sounded, I couldn't remember anymore. Certainly, however, really good - otherwise I wouldn't have pestered Nautilus so much about providing a pair for the test, would I? Well, that's right! So my expectations were high, very high.

Let me return for a moment to what I wrote about earlier, namely the fact that every other Estelon model I listened to sounded very good, even excellent, but it was not "my" sound. Why? Most of their speakers were based (from the beginning) on Accuton ceramic (or diamond) drivers, which are not among my favorites. Their performance is extremely precise, detailed, but for the most part (the exception for me are the Marten designs, for example) dry, passionless, analytical, in a word, rather more like audiophiles like them than music lovers, if you know what I mean. The Auras in Munich played differently. It was a sound more focused on fluidity, coherence, saturation, and emotion, rather than detail and surgical precision. And that's why I liked them so much.

Giving the Auras time to recover from the trip from Krakow, for the first few days they only accompanied me to other activities. When I finally got down to listening, still not that ultimate, critical listening yet, but already with my attention focused on the sound coming from the speakers, I first played a few new (to me) and some well-known albums. This was necessary, if only to determine the final positioning of the speakers. From the beginning, they stood a little farther away from the wall behind them than is usually the case, and they were also pointed almost straight ahead, almost without any toe-in. Listening to, for example, KINGA GŁYK's new album Real Life, however, I decided that they needed to be re-positioned. Ultimately, for most of the time, they were slightly (yet noticeably less than with most speakers, including my own) toed-in. For me that was the best setting in my room.

The aforementioned album by our Polish talented bassist was admittedly a new purchase, but I’d had the opportunity to listen to many of the tracks live end of last year during her Warsaw concert. I truly enjoyed listening to the coherent, smooth presentation of strong, punctual bass, one that made my feet tap the rhythm. I also loved the high energy of the playing that characterizes both, many of the tracks on the album and the way Kinga and her band perform. Nevertheless, because the recording quality of this album doesn't quite meet audiophile standards, I definitely heard more of the tested speakers' capabilities only with the next album, namely Mongolian Chant by ISAO SUZUKI & NEW FAMILY. This 40+ year old recording definitely better demonstrated the wide range of abilities of the Aura model.

The first thing that impressed me in this album’s presentation by Auras was the spatiality of the sound, and above all the depth of the stage and separation of its layers. Not only did the Estonian loudspeakers faithfully, maintaining proportions, positioned large instruments on the stage, but they also provided differentiation allowing me to observe not only those playing in the foreground, but also those located further away. And all this was done without the hyper-precision of the more expensive Estelon models, rather with the help of richness, mass, plasticity than with perfectly delineated, perfectly separated contours. The master's performance on the bass, both big and piccolo, did not disappoint, it was lively, powerful, and natural. The double bass is one of those instruments that (for me!) often sounds too hard and dry on ceramic drivers, but it wasn’t the case with these Estelons.

The paper cone drivers of the tested speakers, backed by an exceptional enclosure and the entire audio track, of course, combined the best qualities of the instrument serving fast, hard-strung, and fast-damped strings when needed, and soft, colorful, properly enhanced by the wood and long-decaying strings when that was needed to convey musicians intentions. The sound of the instrument was juicy, yet tight, and the decay phase was as long as needed in any given moment. The wide range of brass instruments sounded as natural as the bass. On the one hand, they played sharply and aggressively at times, on the other hand, their sound was adequately weighted and filled, and when necessary also a bit dull and delicate.

The Auras conveyed the vast amount of information contained in the recordings, assembling them, however, into a seamless, coherent whole, weaving from them plastic, colorful, extremely natural images. It wasn’t so easy with them to extract every detail and look at it closely, as is the case with ceramic and diamond drivers, but the pleasure and naturalness of the sound coming from them was (again, I emphasize, in my opinion!) greater.

That's exactly what I wrote down in the notes I started keeping with Suzuki, while listening to BALDYCH and MOŻDŻER's new release entitled Passacaglia. The sound of the latter's piano was, on the one hand, strong, deep, going very low at times, and on the other hand it was open, sonorous, and when needed extremely delicate, almost silky. The former's violin, on the other hand, played with a fabulously colorful, even dense sound, although it too could at times impress with its controlled sharpness of tone and the tight hardness of the plucked strings. Together, these two instruments created a beautiful, coherent, completely immersive story, I couldn’t help but listen to the very last note. This recording was realized in such a way that gave the speakers a chance to show off their ability to render a lot of air around the instruments as well as reverb, which significantly enhanced the impression of realism and close contact with the performers.

An evening session with MOZART's Symphonies 38-41 performed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Sir Charles Mackerras reminded me why I like high-efficiency speakers so much. Thanks to this attribute, the Auras, even when listening quite quietly, even to such complex, dynamic music, were able to provide me with enough information to fully appreciate the genius of the composer and the class of the performers. The orchestra, although it’s "only" chamber music, played with flair, in a very energetic and dynamic way. Everything on the big stage was correctly arranged, had its definite place and the presentation was skilfully organized.

Like with blues or rock recordings, at times my feet would start moving and my hands would take to conducting (despite the fact, that I know nothing about it, for the record). Usually, listening to music in the evening, I sit relaxed in my chair, emotionally preparing to rest. This time, the degree of engagement with the music was just as great as it is with „normal” listening to more "entertaining" music at more "fun" volume levels. And that's a very, very good sign, I thought.

That's why the next day I reached for the same album again, but this time much earlier. Yes, I have to admit that when I listened to the Symphonies at an earlier hour and turned the volume up, the energy, scale, and momentum of this music appeared even greater, which by the way pushed me to test my neighbors' patience, as I gradually increased the volume looking for the moment when either the amplifier or I would start to give up. It turned out that the first one was me. I still listened to these symphonies louder than I am accustomed to, because the high volume level with Mr. Vassilkov's speakers was not tiring, which is the vice of many other speakers (or rather systems). With the aforementioned "gains" from higher volume levels, what remained constant was the fact that when listening quietly, nothing of the overwhelming wealth of information from the recording escaped me, because the Auras were able to show it all.

After the orchestral phase, I finally reached for the vocals, this time choosing a file server as the source, simply because it was easier for me to search for good tracks by different artists and more comprehensively test the capabilities of the tested speakers. Among them, for example, were several tracks sung by CHRIS CORNELL. As is my way, I focused primarily (which is not to say exclusively) on acoustic and live tracks. Imagine, Nothing Compares 2 U, but also the rocking (electric version of) Black Hole Sun quickly showed me how brilliantly the speakers in question were able to render the vocals with all their unique characteristics, the singer's charisma, texture, timbre, and the readability of the sung text was exceptional as well. The Auras brilliantly built the atmosphere of each recording and kept me engaged from the first note to the very last.

Another showcase of how incredibly well these speakers convey human voices was STEVEN TYLER singing Pink, and then (from the solo acoustic album) Janie's Got a Gun and Piece of My Heart. I could hear perfectly both the distinctive hoarseness of his vocals and how exquisitely well he controls his voice even, or perhaps especially then, when he starts "screaming", as only Steven can do. And since the music was captivating on its own, and with Auras I had nothing to complain about, I ended up listening to the entire album We're All Somebody From Somewhere and followed it with two more by AEROSMITH.

The latter, even if, as is usually the case with rock, recorded at most „just well”, showed me once again that this model of Estelons allows one to tick off probably all items on the audiophile list of "must-have features". For it's not only about an excellent midrange, because there's also great PRAT (pace, rhythm, and timing), there's deep, saturated, dense, colorful, and well-controlled (at least with Circle Labs and Ayon) bass and open, sonorous, juicy treble. And it all comes together in an exceptionally coherent, smooth and natural-sounding whole.

And, importantly for lovers of non-audiophile releases, Auras do not focus on exposing the weaker sides of recordings, although they do not hide them either. They place them, as it were, next to the music allowing the listener to focus on the latter and the emotions it holds and brings. And that’s the way to do it!


WHILE I KEEP REPEATING THAT AUDIO SHOWS are not the right place to assess the sound of the products on display, from time to time what I hear, due to experience and probably some intuition as well, tells me that a particular product is worth a closer look (or not).

Estelon Auras caught my eye already upon first encounter, and now, after spending some time with them in my room I can confirm that everything checked out with the first impression. They are not only stunning-looking (and this despite the fact that form and materials still serve a function here) and perfectly-made, but also excellent sounding speakers. They are versatile because they will play in rooms of a dozen or so, but also 50-60 m2. They will play virtually any kind of music, unless 20 Hz, or super-hard, contoured bass is necessary, because the latter does not go so super-low and its prime qualities are rather juiciness and perfect timbre than absolute contour.

The speakers don't need super-powerful amplifiers either, although you need to keep in mind the impedance that drops to 2 ohms, which eliminates many tube amplifiers. Their form factor will help you convince family members (and perhaps no convincing will even be needed) that they could perfectly complement and perhaps even beautify the living room. And music lovers will be delighted by the sophistication, resolution, spatiality, plasticity and expressiveness of their presentation.

The huge amount of information reproduced by the Estelons woven into a smooth, coherent, clean and energetic whole will satisfy even picky music lovers. For these are speakers just for listening to music, enjoying it, and having a highly satisfying experience - they do it simply perfectly!

Technical specifications (according to the manufacturer):

Design: 3-way
Frequency range: 35-25 000 Hz
Sensitivity: 90 dB
Nominal impedance: 4 Ω
Cabinet: closed, composite
Drivers: 25 mm Scan-Speak tweeter, 2 x 130 mm midrange woofers with Egyptian parirus diaphragm, 250 mm paper-diaphragm woofers
Crossover points: 77 Hz and 2.1 kHz
Speaker terminals: single
Recommended amplifier output: >30 watts
Dimensions (H x W x D): 1366 x 384 x 367 mm
Weight: 34 kg/pc.

THIS TEST HAS BEEN DESIGNED ACCORDING TO THE GUIDELINES adopted by the Association of International Audiophile Publications, an international audio press association concerned with ethical and professional standards in our industry, of which HIGH FIDELITY is a founding member. More about the association and its constituent titles → HERE.

Reference system 2024

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2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

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Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
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Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

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Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


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Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC