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HECO Aurora 30A Subwoofer Review

by April 17, 2024
HECO Aurora 30A

HECO Aurora 30A

  • Product Name: Aurora 30A
  • Manufacturer: HECO
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Review Date: April 17, 2024 14:00
  • MSRP: $ 700 ($366 sale price)
  • Frequency Range: 20 - 150Hz
  • Woofer: 12” (300mm)
  • Enclosure: Rear Vented, MDF
  • Amplifier: 125/250 watts RMS/Peak, class AB
  • Dimensions with Feet: H: 18.3” W: 13.7” D: 17.5”
  • Weight: 43 lbs. (19.5kg)
  • Finish Options: Ebony Black, Ivory White
  • Warranty: 5 years / 2 years electronics


  • Decent mid-bass punch
  • Small size for its class
  • Tasteful industrial design


  • Runs into high distortion when pushed hard


HECO’s Aurora series has put out some outstanding performance at affordable prices, at least for the two loudspeakers that we have reviewed so far (Aurora 300 review and Aurora 1000 review). In those reviews, the Aurora speakers went straight to the top of our recommended speakers given the stupendous performance for the price. We decided to see if that value carried on to their Aurora 30A subwoofer, which is also competitively priced, especially at its frequent on-sale price of $500. So what does HECO deliver in the subwoofer realm for such a reasonable cost? Let’s dig in to find out…

Deal Promotion: Audio Advice is currently running a SALE on the HECO Aurora 30A for $366 (FREE Shipping) making this an insane deal and bumping our value rating from a 3 to a 4.5.

HECO Aurora 30A Packing and Appearance

The 30A arrived packed in a thick cardboard box. The packing material was styrofoam, and many of the styrofoam blocks were broken. It’s a wonder that the subwoofer survived intact. I do hope HECO will start using polyethylene foam or at least higher-quality styrofoam as packing material one of these days. I know it is a lot more expensive than styrofoam, but it is much better at absorbing shock. 

30A grille4   30A 5

As affordable subs go, the Aurora 30A does look quite good. I received the “ebony black” finish, which has a satin black front baffle and top panel and an ebony wood veneer side paneling. The wood veneer is a vinyl imitation, of course, but not a bad one and not an obvious imitation unless examined very closely. The cone is a fairly normal-looking black unit with a convex dustcap. It’s the same kind of cone material used in HECO’s other speakers, so would make a good visual match for those who care. It can be hidden by a grille that covers much of the front baffle. The biggest aesthetic advantage of the 30A is its size. As ported 12-inchers go, it is certainly on the smaller side, and that makes it a lot more palatable for many situations, especially where spouse approval factor is a major concern. Its tastefully conservative styling should enable it to fit into a wide range of decors.

HECO Aurora 30A Design Analysis

30A coneThe Aurora 30A isn’t a tremendously complex subwoofer, so any design analysis wouldn’t be lengthy. We have a ported enclosure with a 12” driver powered by a 125-watt RMS amp. Let’s dig a bit deeper by talking about the driver. The 30A driver uses the same paper cone that the rest of HECO’s speakers do. The cone is attached to a stamped-steel basket by way of a half-roll surround and Nomex spider. The motor’s magnet has a 5 ½” diameter with a 1 ¼” thickness, and venting is done through the pole piece. It doesn’t look like a massively overbuilt high-excursion driver, but many of the pertinent values for driver performance wouldn’t be visible at a glance. On the whole, it looks commensurate with the cost of the sub.

The 125-watt amp is a class-A/B design, and it uses a fairly large transformer and some big capacitors as well as a beefy heatsink. It’s a bit old school in these days of class-D plate amps with DSP, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 125-watt RMS seems a bit weak given the price point of this sub, but there is more to amplifiers than just a wattage spec. Also, Class AB amps with a linear power supply tend to have more dynamic headroom then their Class D counterparts with SMPS. Kudos to HECO for honestly stating the spec, since they could have inflated it and no one would be the wiser. And even with its amplification spec, that doesn’t describe how the power is delivered, how it is sustained, how reliable the unit is, or noise floor or thermal characteristics, among other aspects of operation. As far as loudness goes, the sensitivity of the driver has a whole lot more say in that respect than the raw wattage from the amp. A high-sensitivity driver can blaze with 125 watts. We would have to look at the end performance before making judgments here. Amp controls are pretty basic with a volume knob, a low-pass filter knob going from 50Hz to 150Hz, a 0-180 degree phase switch, an on/auto-on switch, and a power switch. Connectivity is comprised of left and right RCA inputs. For calibration with a receiver or processor, be sure to set the low-pass filter at its maximum frequency of 150Hz since there is no filter bypass.

30A rear panel   30A amp

The enclosure is made from MDF and uses 1” thick front and top panels, and ⅝” thick side panels. The sides are lined with acoustic stuffing. There isn’t any interior bracing to speak of; perhaps HECO didn’t think it was necessary since the enclosure is relatively small. And it is a small sub for a ported 12”. Having such a small enclosure is going to inevitably reduce deep bass performance. There are two rear-mounted ports that have an 8 ¾” length with a 2 ¾” diameter. Both ends of the ports are flared. The feet are some large rubber circles that HECO terms the ‘Extended Surface Dampers;’ while I think that name for their feet is a bit much, they look to be fine for their task.   

The overall design suggests that this is a sub that sacrifices deep bass in favor of a small enclosure. This is not an unreasonable trade-off since so few people have room for a large subwoofer. We can’t expect extremely deep bass, but we can hope for very competent performance within its bandwidth. Let’s see how that plays on in some real-world use…

HECO Aurora 30A Listening Sessions

The best placement for a single sub in my room gives me a relatively flat response for an un-EQ’d single subwoofer, with a window of +/- 4 dB from 25 Hz to 100 Hz with no broad dips in important ranges. This location trades low-end room gain for a relatively flat response, a worthwhile trade for my tastes. The receiver used was a Marantz AV7705. The crossover was set to 80Hz. The speakers used were some Ellis 1802G custom bookshelf speakers.

As always, I will note here that since room acoustics have a huge effect on low frequencies, the way these subwoofers sound in my room at my listening position is not necessarily going to be the way they sound anywhere else for anyone else, so readers would do well to keep that in mind, and not just for this subwoofer in this review but for any subwoofer in any review.

Music Listening

The pipe organ is one of the very few acoustic instruments that can play deep bass loudly so I always include some pipe organ listening into every subwoofer review. For this review, I selected “Iain Quinn Play American Organ Works,” which does what it says on the tin. The Welsh organist and distinguished musical scholar Iain Quinn plays a selection of American works for the organ. Some of the pieces are quite popular by the likes of Aaron Copeland and Samuel Barber, but some are also virtually unknown and receive their first recording in this album. The device used to perform these pieces is the Coventry Cathedral Organ, an immense instrument with ninety-five draw stops and over five thousand pipes. Quinn does not shy away from deep bass, and this album dives into subwoofer range bands frequently. I streamed it from Qobuz in a 96kpbs/24-bit resolution.

The HECO Aurora 30A sub delivered an enjoyable experience.

While there is a lot of deep bass on this album, there isn’t a lot of bombast, and the 30A sub did a fine job of recreating the scale and power of the Coventry Cathedral Organ. The 30A was able to convey most of the weight of the bass notes of this installation and helped to give my family room the sound of a cathedral. However, I do think that some of the deepest notes were being short-changed just a bit in output, although that may have been my own expectation bias at work. In my room, the 30A maintained a strong response below 40Hz and then rolled off steadily below that point with usable bass down to around 30Hz. That is good enough to fully catch most of the bass in many pipe organ recordings but not all. However, the pipe organs that dig below 30Hz are not that common, and the music compositions that call for those very deep notes are also uncommon. So even though the 30A is not the deepest-digging sub I have ever encountered, it is still sufficient for most pipe organ tracks. That being said, in my opinion, the ideal subwoofer for pipe organs should maintain a flat in-room response down to 16Hz; the 30A does not do that, but many other subs aren’t able to achieve that either. To accomplish that, a large sub is necessary. Loud deep bass cannot be produced from a small device, at least with current loudspeaker technology. While I don’t think that the 30A was able to fully deliver the magnitude of “Iain Quinn Play American Organ Works,” it did deliver an enjoyable experience nonetheless. Hardcore organ aficionados will want something with more deep bass prowess, but most listeners would be fine with the sound that the 30A produced for this recording.

Variations on America   Charme

Another instrument that frequently lays into deep bass is the double bass. When plucked, it is a great instrument for exhibiting a sound system’s capabilities in deep bass on account of the very quick attacks and mutes, so sloppy bass reproduction gets exposed quickly. Toward this end, I selected “Charme” by acclaimed bassist Pierre Bousseguet. This 1998 jazz recording puts Boussegeut’s double bass at front and center, but it does have accompaniment with percussion and piano. It presents a very clear and full recording of a plucked double bass and so stands as a good test of a subwoofer’s transient competency. I found and streamed this album on Qobuz.

In taking the time to sit down with this album, I was reminded what a fun listen it is. The first track is a knockout, not just for Bousseguet’s double bass playing but also for Alvin Queen on drums and Herve Sellin’s piano playing. The 30A reproduced the rhythm of the double bass nicely and delineated its rapid notation with no problem. The attacks of the plucks and the halting of the mutes didn’t have any lag that I could detect. Queen’s bass drum was also good for exhibiting the transient character of the sub, and the thump of its strike didn’t linger any longer than what sounded natural. A track that beautifully exhibits Bousseguet’s extraordinary talent is “Body and Soul,” which sees his double bass mirroring the complex melody of the piano, and the 30A executed this track very well. The following track, “Greg’s Approach,” put more emphasis on percussion, and the multiple drum solos in that recording were given a potent low end by the 30A. But all of the tracks had such top-shelf artistry that I can’t believe this album isn’t better known. Jazz lovers should do themselves a favor and give “Charme” a listen, and when they do, they should be sure their audio system’s bass is as competent as what I heard from the 30A subwoofer for the full effect of the double bass sound. 

I always take the time to listen to something from the dark ambient genre since it also tends to plunge into deep bass more than most types of music, and the album I used for this review was “Three Days of Darkness” by Innfallen. This is a 2009 release that reaches down into deep bass even more than most dark ambient albums. It paints a grim picture of a forbidding world and is as apt a soundtrack for a hellscape as has ever been produced. As ambient music, the bass is not ‘in-your-face,” but it plunges into very deep frequencies and is ever-present in a variety of forms.

The 30A reproduced the rhythm of the double bass nicely and delineated its rapid notation with no problem.

The album begins with a reverberant soundscape supported by a slowly pulsating drone, and the 30A nicely articulated the subtle rippling effects of the drone. A subsequent track used a rumbling sound like an earthquake, and the crunches and low-frequency creaks were vividly depicted by the subwoofer. We also run into what sounded like an enormous factory with giant alien machinery laboring in some unknown process, and the cyclical grinding noises were supplied with a real sense of heft and mass by the 30A. The aural worlds suggested by Innfallen were given corporeality by the tactile bass provided by the 30A, and this heightened the immersiveness of these soundscapes. It’s possible that some deep bass was missing given the 30Hz usable extension I was getting from the sub in my room, but, if so, I wasn’t noticing its absence. Dark ambient is one of the few genres that can dig down to infrasonic frequencies, but even this bass-heavy music type doesn’t plunge to those extreme depths that often. Whatever the Aurora 30A subwoofer might have missed with this music wasn’t a huge loss, in my opinion, and I think it acquitted itself nicely for “Three Days of Darkness.”

Three Days of Darkness   Emergent Lifeforms

To see how well the 30A could take some punishment, I selected Ternion’s “Emergent Lifeforms,” an EP of four heavy-duty tracks in the dubstep genre. This 2023 release pushes bass to extremes and will drive any sound system to the breaking point at high enough drive levels. The music is dark and tumultuous, but the inventive sounds and compositions that Ternion finds make it eminently listenable and a high cut above typical dubstep. It deserves to be listened to on a good sound system at a high level; would the 30A do this EP justice?

I was prepared to be a bit underwhelmed by the 30A when firing up this EP since the sub was a smallish 12” only powered by a 125-watt amp, but from the first track onward, I found it surprisingly ass-kicking. In fact, the first track was so killer that I immediately replayed it after I listened to the EP, and the 30A’s sound helped to make it enjoyable. The 30A brought some real punch to the kick drums and serious grunt to the basslines. It was able to get fairly loud too. I decided to see how loud it could get without murdering my speakers and my ears, so I shut off the speaker amp and cranked the sub amp. The sub could get surprisingly loud, but it was also able to be pushed into some pretty heavy distortion. However, the distortion occurred at levels no small ported 12” should be expected to be driven. The 30A didn’t seem to have an electronic limiter to prevent it from running into heavy distortion like many other modern subwoofers have. But used within reason, I don’t think this is a big deal since the sub can still stay clean at pretty high SPLs, likely louder than a normal person would ever drive it. “Emergent Lifeforms” was a blast to hear, and the 30A gave an unexpectedly tactile presentation. While there would be tracks out there with bass too low for the 30A to catch, I think for the most part that electronic bass music lovers will enjoy the sound of the 30A.

Movie Watching

The 30A brought some real punch to the kick drums and serious grunt to the basslines.

To see what the 30A could do with a conventional action movie sound mix, I watched “Extraction 2” on Netflix. I hadn’t seen it yet, but I had recently seen the first one which impressed me with its sheer body count and level of mayhem. The trailer promised plenty of subwoofer fodder with blazing guns and explosions and assorted pandamonium. Would the sequel maintain the original’s penchant for gratuitous violence? One can only hope…

“Extraction 2” certainly delivered the goods regarding action scenes, and the 30A subwoofer helped to bring these set pieces to life. The first action scene was an absolute doozy where our hero had to rescue a family out of an Eastern European prison, and things did not go as planned. An ensuing car chase gave the 30A a chance to shine with various bass-heavy moments involving RPGs, attack choppers, car crashes, and gunfights galore. The 30A subwoofer gave all of these elements a nice level of thunder, especially the climactic train derailment. The subsequent action scene involved a gunfight in a parking garage, and a multitude of grenade explosions filled my listening room with the roar of the subwoofer.

Further on, there was a brutal fistfight in the weight room of a fitness club, and the 30A sub allowed me to feel each punch and body blow as it happened. The action finale had our hero rapidly shooting an M32 grenade launcher which blew up a group of aircraft, and all of that carnage was exuberantly imparted by the sub. Given the 30A doesn’t do much below 30Hz, it was hard for me to tell what it might have missed, but it still made “Extraction 2” an enjoyable viewing that brought some real oomph to its amazingly well-staged action scenes

To see what the 30A could do with a sound mix of a more fantastical nature, I watched the 2022 Norwegian monster movie “Troll.” In this fantasy epic, a gigantic troll is awakened in a Norwegian mountain and makes its way to Oslo while destroying everything in its path. An eclectic group of people must band together to stop the giant before it reaches the city and kills thousands. I hadn’t seen “Troll” yet but any movie with giant monsters on a rampage is bound to be a feast for subwoofers.

Extraction 2  Troll

“Troll” turned out to be a well-made and fun movie, and the 30A subwoofer helped to make the giant monster a reality. Deep bass was frequent and plentiful. Massive deep bass came to the fore when the titular creature emerged from the construction project tunnel in a spectacular fashion. The movie had an homage to Jurassic Park’s liquid vibrating with approaching footsteps, perhaps the most famous deep bass scene in movie history, and the 30A gave each stomp a thunderous rumble. Later on, Norway’s military tries to take down the troll with shoulder-mounted missiles, attack helicopters, artillery, and tanks. Of course, true to giant monster movie tradition, none of this works and only serves to enrage the creature. The whole sequence is an extravaganza of LFE, and the 30A issued a lively report of all the mayhem. While the 30A did bring plenty of rumble to the proceedings, it probably didn’t deliver all of the deep bass that the movie had to offer. However, as we said before, the subs that could bring out near-infrasonic bass would necessarily larger. The 30A trades low-frequency extension for size, a not unreasonable bargain considering what most people prioritize for their homes. It’s not a subwoofer I would use for a dedicated home theater, but for a living room system where the sub cannot be large or unsightly, the 30A does deliver a satisfying bass sound. “Troll” was a fun viewing and listening experience, and within its range, the 30A gave a solid account of the low-frequency content of this movie. Most people would be quite happy with the sound it can produce and wouldn’t be bothered by the lack of extremely low bass frequencies.

HECO Aurora 30A Measurements & Analysis


30A outdoor testing

Testing on the HECO Aurora 30A was conducted with the microphone facing the woofer at a 1-meter distance with measurements scaled back to a 2-meter distance by subtracting 6dB. The temperature was recorded at 60F degrees with 90% humidity. The subwoofer’s gain was set to maximum, the phase was set to zero, and the low pass filters were set to maximum.

30A frequency response3 

The above graph shows the measured frequency responses for the HECO Aurora 30A subwoofer. This isn’t the ruler flat response we see with many DSP’d subs, but that isn’t really a big deal in practice. When placed in a typical room, the acoustics mangle the response of any sub. The 30A doesn’t exhibit a tremendous amount of bandwidth, but it gets the job done. If I had to assign a +/-3dB window to this graph, it might be 35Hz to 110Hz. The roll-off on both ends are somewhat gradual, so usable bandwidth will be outside of this range. As mentioned before, I was getting usable bass in my room down to 30Hz, although it was not as strong as the bass that the 30A could produce at 40Hz and above.

30A CEA-2010 table 

The above CEA-2010 measurements are short-term bursts that show the subwoofer’s clean peak SPL before heavy distortion sets in. Our measurements have been referenced to 2-meter RMS, which is 9dB down from the standard requirement for the measurements to be shown at 1-meter peak. However most publicly available CEA-2010 measurements are shown at 2-meter RMS, so we followed that convention.

Bassaaholic smallThe 30A’s burst test SPLs are mostly in line with other $500 subs I have measured, albeit with somewhat less deep bass output below 40Hz, not a surprise given its design. What is surprising is that the 30A is distortion-limited at every frequency. I would guess that the 30A driver doesn’t have a tremendous amount of linear excursion, although some of this distortion may stem from clipping at some stage in the amp. The distortion that was produced during testing was very audible. It should be kept in mind that this testing nears the maximum output limits of the sub, so these large quantities of distortion are not at all present at nominal listening levels. This is what happens when you push the sub to its limits. At lower levels, the 30A produces fairly clean bass. The 30A does attain some pretty respectable mid-bass output, although it is marred by significant distortion quantities. Nonetheless, the sub averages above 110dB from 50Hz and above, and that does pack a punch, as I found out in my listening. One note about these burst test measurements: the port-generated output is fully represented here since I rotated the sub 180 degrees and used the highest numbers that side of the sub produced, which was significantly higher in the port-generated bandwidth, of course. The 30A earns a Bassaholics ‘Small’ Room Rating since it misses the performance targets for 25Hz and 31.5Hz by our criteria. However, its punch at 40Hz and above means it could handle larger rooms if you aren’t worried about deep bass.

30A compression sweeps

Testing for long-term output compression was done by first conducting a 20-second sweep tone where 50Hz hit 90 dB with the subwoofer 1 meter from the microphone (graph has been scaled to 2 meters for easy comparison with our other review measurements). We then conduct further 20-second sweeps by raising the gain by 5dB until no more output could be wrung out of the subwoofer. These tests show us the long-term continuous headroom that the subwoofer is capable of.

Due to the design of this sub, it is difficult to fully capture all of the acoustic energy of the 30A with a single measurement position. This is because the ports are on the opposite end of the sub from the woofer. This separates these acoustically radiating points by distance and also by the directivity of sound (the bass emitted by subwoofers isn’t totally omnidirectional contrary to popular belief). This measurement was taken at 1 meter from the front of the sub, and in this arrangement, we are missing a substantial amount of port output. Outside of the underrepresented port output, the long-term mid-bass output produced by the 30A is substantial and manages to touch 110dB which is not something any of our other $500 subs could do (with one freakish exception). One oddity of this graph is some low-end output that picks up below port tuning at the higher drive levels. I would guess this is from the system overriding any high-pass filters in place. While output is greatly attenuated below port-tuning, it doesn’t quite drop like a rock off of a cliff. I wouldn’t be surprised if some users had some unexpectedly deep bass from room gain from this effect. However, even with a massive amount of room gain, the deep bass will not have parity with mid-bass at 50Hz or above.

30A THD 

The 30A is not a sub I would use to chase deep bass.

The above graphs show the corresponding total harmonic distortion to the long-term output graphs. Essentially, they depict how linear the subwoofer remains for the corresponding drive level seen in the long-term sweeps. The quantity being measured is how much of the subwoofer’s output is distortion and is shown here as a percentage.

It is easy to see that at high drive levels, the 30A can incur lots of distortion. That shouldn’t cause anyone to overlook the very low distortion at nominal levels. At a steady 90dB, there is barely any distortion above 40Hz, mostly hovering around 1%. Push it harder and it does start to increase, but even the 100dB sweep will not exceed 5% above 45Hz. After that level, distortion does become significant, going from 10% to well over 20% on average in mid-bass when the 30A is pushed hard. This is very loud, as we noted before, touching 110dB around 60Hz, and few people would be driving this sub that hard. Moving on to deep bass, that clearly isn’t this sub’s forte.  At moderate loudness levels, the 30A can dig down to 25Hz without much trouble, although its output is rolling off fast below 30Hz, and I could barely hear anything below 30hz in my room. At higher drive levels, distortion really takes off at 40Hz and below. The 30A is not a sub I would use to chase deep bass.

I went back to watch some very demanding bass content to see how this distortion audibly manifests in some real-world use. One scene that I threw on was the “Pods Rising” scene from the 2005 “War of the Worlds.” The distortion wasn’t obvious but it was there in a thickness of bass in some of the harder low-frequency moments. Mostly the 30A didn’t even try to reproduce the deeper bass of this scene. The same was true for other scenes that I tested, and the sub didn’t run into any blatant distortion unless I cranked it to absurd levels. It largely just omitted playback of bass spectra below its operating range. It was easy to hear in pure tone sine signals, but in actual content, it was not as obvious.

30A 2nd harmonic

30A 3rd harmonic

The above graphs depict measurements of the constituent harmonics from the long-term output sweeps and are what the total harmonic distortion measurements are composed of for the 2nd and 3rd harmonics. These individual harmonics can give us a clue as to what might be the cause of some quirk or non-linearity. We are only showing the 2nd and 3rd here because they more or less reflect the higher even-order and odd-order behaviors, although higher-order harmonics tend to be much further down as a percentage of distortion compared to the second and third.

At low levels, the 30A has almost no odd-order distortion products and a mild level of even-order distortion. I would guess that the distortion at these levels is mostly from inductance. A shorting ring might lower that, but the audible difference for such minute amounts of distortion isn’t likely to be worth the cost. Distortion really starts to blow up in the last 10dB, especially in the odd-order harmonics. Here the driver is running into the limits of its linear throw, likely reaching the edges of where the magnetic field exerts control over the voice coil. Below this drive level, the coil is in its happy place, at least above 40Hz. I should say that in this scenario, the sound of the distortion that the 30A produced was unusual and not like any sub I have tested. It modulated the signal to sound almost like a musical instrument effects processor. It’s not exactly something desirable for the purposes of fidelity, but it had an interesting sound.

30A group delay 2

Group delay is the measurement of how much time it takes for individual frequency bands of an input signal to be produced by the speaker. It can indicate that some frequency components are developing slower than others or are taking longer to decay. It is generally thought that 1.5 sound cycles are needed for group delay to be audible at bass frequencies, although there is an argument that group delay should remain under 20ms to be completely unnoticeable, but that is likely meant for mid and upper bass frequencies.

The 30A puts up a good showing; a bit better than I expected given its relatively high tuning frequency. Group delay stays largely under one cycle until 20Hz. I didn’t notice any lag or latency in my time listening to it. Group delay might rocket up below 20Hz, but that is a region with very little output, so it doesn’t make a difference. There just isn’t much to say or complain about in this metric. The 30A does just fine in time domain performance and won’t be the cause of sloppy bass or significant overhang.

HECO Aurora 30A Conclusion

Before bringing this review to a close, I will briefly go over the strengths and weaknesses of the product under review, and, as always, I will start with the weaknesses. While I enjoyed the 30A overall, it does have some weaknesses. That is to be expected since no sub at its low pricing could be perfect, but even for its price point, the 30A has some shortcomings relative to its competition (as well as some strengths). In my opinion, its chief weakness is the level of distortion that it can be driven to when pushed hard. Many other budget subs will surpass what is considered clean bass when pushed hard, but the 30A will go way past that point. If you want bass that will remain in check for the entirety of its dynamic range, the Aurora 30A is not for you. On the other hand, most people probably aren’t going to push it that hard. If you don’t intend to blast the sub hard, this won’t be a problem, but if you like to really crank the system once in a while, the 30As might add a little extra ‘seasoning’ to the output. And it should be mentioned that as high as the measured distortion could be for the 30A, in practice, it wasn’t as audible as one might expect, even at ‘spirited’ listening levels. 

30A 13 

HECO badge3Something else I wish it did a little better is having a more extended high-frequency response, but this is just a nitpick and not a big deal at all. The 30A doesn’t start rolling off until 90Hz, but I do wish it could have extended well over 100Hz so that a higher crossover frequency could have been used if desired. One of the advantages of a higher crossover is that there are some smaller stand-mount speakers that don’t quite extend all the way down to 100Hz, and trying to blend those speakers in with a sub that doesn’t quite make the reach to 100Hz may leave a hole in the response at a fairly important frequency range. Also, and I would consider this to be a greater advantage of higher-frequency subwoofer bandwidth, more room modes can be addressed by a multi-sub system when they are able to be crossed over at a higher frequency. Optimal placement of multiple subs can address acoustic problems of a room that a single sub can’t deal with, and the higher the frequency that the sub extends to, the more bandwidth can be addressed for these problems. But, like I said, I don’t see this as a major weakness, since very few users will have a multi-sub system using the 30A, and very few people will use a crossover point higher than the standard 80Hz anyway.

Something else I am critical of doesn’t have to do with the sub itself but the packing. Styrofoam isn’t a good enough packing material for a product like this. The 30A will probably survive a one-way trip through parcel delivery if the shipping isn’t particularly rough, but it will not stand up to multiple shipments. HECO really ought to redo the packing to use polyethylene foam.

With my gripes out of the way, let’s talk about the 30A’s strengths. From a performance perspective, its mid-bass dynamic range capability is pretty darn good. In testing, we can see that from 50Hz to 100Hz, it can average over 110dB in bursts and over 105dB continuously. Unfortunately, it doesn’t hit those numbers with squeaky clean output, but back down a few dB on the gain dial, and it will sound clean while still providing plenty of kick. The deep bass is OK when its size is considered; it doesn’t deliver as much deep bass as its similarly priced competitors ($500), but it isn’t as large as them either. You can’t expect deep bass from a ported sub with a small enclosure. Its time domain performance is fine and even exceeded my expectations, so buyers looking for a sub without much overhang or bloat have a good choice in the 30A.

30A hero6

Outside of its performance, the Aurora 30A has to be the nicest-looking sub in its price class. The fact that it is not huge helps a lot for the ‘spouse approval factor’ as well. If you want a modestly priced sub that looks nice and won’t be an eyesore, the 30A does that.

To sum up the HECO Aurora 30A subwoofer, it’s a fine little ported sub for its street price of $489. Its MSRP of $699 would be a tough sell, but I haven’t seen it actually sell for that amount. It will produce high-quality bass so long as it’s not driven to the edge of its performance envelope. It doesn’t do very deep bass, so it would not be a good candidate for a dedicated home theater room. However, as a living room sub that won’t eat up a lot of space or be an aesthetic blemish in the room, it does a good job. Greater performance can be had for the same pricing when a larger size is allowed, but if a bigger sub is not possible or desired, the 30A is a good choice for its combination of size, looks, and pricing.

Review Addendum Regarding the $366 Sale Price

The pricing of the Aurora 30A has temporarily dropped to $366 (shipped) from $519 previously that it held at the time of this review’s creation which does change the value proposition of this sub. At that pricing, it is extremely competitive with similarly priced subs since most of them use 8” to 10” woofers with smaller enclosures. There are some exceptions such as the Dayton Audio SUB-1500 (Dayton Audio Sub-1500 Review) and Monoprice SW-15. However, if you want a nicer-looking sub with decent performance and build quality, it’s going to be difficult to challenge the present pricing on the Aurora 30A. It is a lot more sub than most at $366.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
Bass ExtensionStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
About the author:
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James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

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