Aurai Z Series Loudspeakers With Stands. $13,100 Delivered (Standard Finishes)
- Tweek Geek Speek Review (long)
Aurai Audio of France
Aurai Audio is a passion project of Alain Pratali. His ideas and work have been followed closely by Srajan Ebaen over the years, and that is where I began following him as well. Aurai is a small French boutique manufacturer with unique ideas. Using magnets to control high frequency output instead of capacitors in the signal path is but one idea Alain implements in his speaker "recipes". I think of Alain as a master chef, and his loudspeakers are slow food of ultra high quality ingredients combined to produce a memorable experience for the senses. They produce a very limited amount of speakers per year. This keeps quality high and ensures their value will hold.
We love these speakers. So much so that we make only a small commission for each sale. A fourth of a typical dealer mark up, but to our ears, the sound of these speakers goes beyond a commercial endeavor, to a labor of love. Aurai loudspeakers sells directly to customers. We enable US based audiophiles an opportunity to hear these without having to travel to France. Make an appointment to listen to either the 165 or 215, and if you decide to purchase you will order your speakers through Aurai with us helping facilitate your order choices. You NEED to hear these if you are looking for loudspeakers. Everyone who comes to our studio and hears them is amazed at the sound and value the Aurai speakers represent. We simply want to share our discovery with fellow music lovers. We could make a lot more profit selling another brand, but our hearts wouldn't be in it.
- High efficiency (96dB)
- Proprietary dipole horn high frequency driver
- 215mm Supravox paper cone driver
- Tapered quarter wave tube bass alignment
- Open baffle sound
- Superb construction - Birch ply cabinetry
- Premium Crossover parts
- Holographic disappearing act
- Incredible midrange and HF performance
- Sixmoons (Lieutenant)
The Z Series loudspeakers from Aurai are the latest design from Alian Pratali's passion project. They continue to use what works so well in Aurai's Classic Series, but add to their performance in some very unique ways. The Z Series loudspeakers share the same low mass, custom tuned HF driver in a machined Delrin horn that earned Aurai so much praise. Like the Classic Series, the Z Series are constructed out of 24mm thick Finnish Birch plywood instead of MDF. This offers greater stiffness and control over resonances than MDF. The Smaller enclosure and "open back" nature of the Z215 is also more resistant to the colorations of a wood box. Last, they share the same high quality wiring, binding posts and internal components as the award winning Classic Series.
"First impressions? "What an incredible tweeter!"...This was one hellaciously fast and responsive HF unit. It dug deep into the finest upper harmonics...This unknown French tweeter was superior to the far heavier but famous Mundorf AMT in our regular monitors. It was superior to the inverted ceramid Accuton dome in our Albedo Aptica Two-way towers. It most reminded me of a Raal ribbon, albeit with a higher energy density and more color...I thought this dome tweeter to be second only to Michael Borreson's high-tech, ultra-costly ribbon which I'd heard in this room the year prior..." - Srajan, Sixmoons
Where the Z Series differs from the Classic is the use of a Supravox 215mm full range driver tuned to be used as a midrange that covers 80hz to 3500hz. The Supravox is loaded in what is called a TQWT, or Tapered Quarter Wave Tube that is open at the back of the enclosure. This is also why the enclosure on the Z215 is so deep. The TQWT gives the Z215 a boxless, open baffle type sound that covers the full range of the human voice. There are also gains in efficiency made with the Supravox driver.
Aurai's TQWT, or Tapered Quarter Wave Tube (where the black screen is).
The Z Series horn loaded high frequency driver sits atop the enclosure rather than mounted on the front baffle. It is fully exposed so as to minimize diffraction effects. There is also a dipole option for the HF driver that puts two of them back to back. The dipole option creates a more full range dipole effect, and a more spacious presentation overall.
I have compared the Aurai to the QLN Prestige 5. Both speakers have phenomenal imaging and soundstaging. No surprise since they are both time aligned designs. The Aurai has the big edge on efficiency being 96dB, a full 6dB more than the QLN. The QLN is a full range speaker with prodigious bass output, no need for a sub. The Aurai won't go below around 70hz without help. The QLN's can be more difficult to place in a room because of their full range capability. The Aurai are great for more difficult rooms bass-wise. One can optimize placement of the main speaker, and optimize placement of a separate subwoofer. Tonally, the Aurai seem to cast the image more forward, and have an energy to the sound that is absolutely addictive. As one customer put it "they have the speed of electrostats with better dynamics". The QLN has a presentation that is further back and more relaxed. The QLN is more forgiving, but slightly less exciting dynamically. I could live and be happy with either.
- Time-aligned proprietary polymer dome in ellipsoidal horn developed by Alain Pratali
- 215mm Supravox
The Z215 is designed to be mounted on the included stands and run with a high quality subwoofer. It has all of the advantages of a monitor: A small box and front baffle profile that is more impervious to coloration, diffraction effects results in a better "disappearing act". This is a good start, add to that proper time alignment of the drivers, Ultra high quality parts in the signal path and again the open back of the enclosure not forcing energy back on to the woofer cone.
The Z215 ships directly from France in a single "bomb proof" crate. The cost of shipping typically runs $1500.
Specialty finishes are available upon request. The standard finishes are satin cherry wood rosewood veneers.
"...It brings us full circle to my earlier comments about next-level resolution. Compared to our usual transducers which include Audio Physic Codex and German Physiks HRS-120, Lieutenant dug down deeper into a tone's harmonic layers. This wasn't about so-called 'big-tone'a la 6SN7 triodes. That's fatter thus slower and darker. Lieutenant was trim and muscular but with that inside-out harmonic radiance a bit like charisma. This was a quick sound which still managed to do a heavy tractor's tilling job. It turns soil to get parts not usually exposed up to the surface.Dark nutrient-rich earth sees the sunlight and darkness coexist. It's a lyrical way of describing a sound that was both fully developed and fast..." - Srajan, Sixmoons.com
In general, 2-4 dipole servo or sealed box subwoofers are recommended. This is a fast, resolving speaker that deserves fast, resolving bass. Our highest recommendation goes to the GR Research Sealed Servo Subwoofer Kits. These require assembly, and they offer some of the best bass you will ever hear. They do require some space around them. Next would be high quality sealed subwoofers, like the KEF KF92. The KEF with it's dual opposing 9" drivers is quite impressive with the Aurai's. One or two will do, depending on the size of your room.
A Word on Amplification
With the relatively high efficiency of the Z series, one might be tempted to try low wattage tube amplifiers. That is certainly possible. I however love headroom and the ability to on occasion play at louder levels. For this my go-to integrateds are the Modwright KWH225i or the Audio Hungary X200. The Modwright is a bit more extended and sparkly on top, with a tightly focused image and smaller soundstage. The Qualiton x200 has a gorgeous midrange with a wider soundstage, slightly softer top end, and less focused imaging.
Frequency response at 1 meter
- 285mm Driver Version
- Frequency Response: 80Hz-20kHz
- Sensitivity: 96dB
- Width: 12.25 inches
- Height: 16.25 inches
- Depth: 21.625 inches