HECO Aurora 1000 Floorstanding Loudspeaker Measurements & Conclusion
The HECO Aurora 1000 towers were measured in free-air at a height of 4 feet at a 2-meter distance from the microphone, with the microphone raised to a 7.5’ elevation that was level with and aimed at the tweeter center. The measurements were gated at 8-milliseconds. In this time window, some resolution is lost below 400 Hz and accuracy is completely lost below 200 Hz. Measurements have been smoothed at a 1/12 octave resolution.
The above graphs depict the Aurora 1000 tower’s direct-axis and horizontal dispersion out to a 90-degree angle in five-degree increments. Information on how to interpret these graphs can be read in our loudspeaker measurement article. This is an astonishingly good response and pretty much holds a +/-2dB window near the on-axis angle. It’s a neutral speaker with no serious problems on or off-axis. In fact, the off-axis responses are remarkably good, and there are no evident crossover problems or driver directivity mismatches. The tweeter does beam a bit at very high frequencies, but that happens too far off-axis and too high in frequency to be audible for the vast majority of listeners. There is a slight 2dB bump at around 600Hz, but that is a very mild artifact that also isn’t going to color the sound very much. All in all, this is a fantastic showing for a loudspeaker of this price point. I’ve tested a good number of much more expensive speakers that would be very hard-pressed indeed to match this performance.
The above polar map shows the same information in the preceding graphs but depicts it in a way that can offer new insight regarding these speakers’ behavior. Instead of using individual raised lines to illustrate amplitude, polar maps use color to portray amplitude, and this allows the use of a purely angle/frequency axis perspective. The advantage of these graphs is they can let us see broader trends of the speaker’s dispersion behavior more easily. More information about interpreting this graph can be read in our loudspeaker measurement article.
Here we see the Aurora 1000 maintains a pretty even dispersion out to nearly 10kHz which, again, is an extremely impressive showing for a large tower of its modest pricing. We get very good coverage out to a 70-degree angle off-axis, so these speakers cover a very wide area with a neutral, balanced sound. As mentioned above, we do see the tweeter start to beam a bit above that point, but that is characteristic of dome tweeters when not loaded in waveguides. Even despite the beaming, we still see a strong even response out to 15kHz at a 30-degree angle, so the beaming behavior of this tweeter is relatively mild compared to other dome tweeters. Maybe there is something to that “Fluktus” tweeter faceplate after all? There is some slight waist-banding (where dispersion tightens across a narrow frequency range) just above 1kHz, but it is almost too mild to be worth mentioning; in fact, I only bring it up just to have something else to comment about, since this is such a good overall measurement set.
The above graph is a sampling of some of the vertical angle responses at and around the on-axis angle. Negative degrees indicate angles below the tweeter, positive angles indicate angles above the tweeter, and zero degrees is level with the tweeter. The flattest overall response occurs on-axis, but the rest of the vertical angles shown here hold a very good response. What this graph tells us is that this speaker is relatively forgiving of listening heights that are not exactly level with the tweeter. This is unusual for a loudspeaker with such large drivers. In our previous discussion of the bass driver placement, I mentioned that the bass drivers could have been placed on the bottom of the front baffle instead of the middle, and that would have negated ground bounce cancellation. However, such a change in the driver placement might possibly have made the Aurora 1000s much less forgiving for different listening heights on the vertical axis. This is another very good showing, and we can see that you do not need to have your head fixed in a vice for the exact same altitude as the tweeter in order to get hit with a good sound. This speaker should sound good for higher or lower seating positions.
The above graph shows the Aurora 1000’s low-frequency response captured using groundplane measurements (where the speaker and microphone are on the ground at a 2-meter distance in a wide-open area). This is an interesting response. What we see here is an overdamped port response that holds an approximate 12dB/octave slope down to the port tuning frequency. Some manufacturers do this not to use ports to increase bass output but rather to reduce distortion generated by large excursions of the bass driver. At around port-generated frequency output, back pressure produced by the port restricts travel of the woofer so that it is hardly even moving at the resonant frequency of the port. An advantage of this is that the voice coil is in a very comfortable and controlled position within the magnetic field of the motor at such a deep frequency, so any non-linear output is extremely low. I wouldn’t guess that these bass drivers have tremendous excursion ability, so this is probably an intelligent strategy. The Aurora 1000s could produce a nice, punchy, controlled bass but I wouldn’t exactly describe it as thunderous. I think many people would be quite happy with the bass that they deliver. However, home theater aficionados and electronic bass music fiends will probably want to complement these speakers with some subs.
The above graphs show the electrical behavior of the Aurora 1000. HECO’s spec is pretty ambiguous and not very meaningful: “Impedance: 4 - 8 ohms.” I think that spec is there to reassure less-informed consumers who are looking for a matching impedance spec with whatever receiver or amplifier they own. In that sense, it is useful since although these are four-ohm speakers, they are not a tough electrical load otherwise. The impedance minima occur at 4 ohms around 100Hz but not with a very steep phase angle. Most AVRs should be able to drive these just fine, although I wouldn’t rock really hard for an extended time on an entry-level AVR with an electrical load like this.
We do see some small ripples in the response here, and these are cabinet resonances. It’s a large speaker, and while there are three window-pane braces, the side panels are not tremendously thick which is a necessary sacrifice in order to make the speaker affordable. The audibility of panel resonances has always been questionable, and in my view manufacturers have often taken to extreme measures in order to strengthen the cabinet. The good news is that it is very easy and inexpensive as a DIY project for anyone who would want to add further rigidity and stiffness to the enclosure. Gluing in additional braces or adding mass to the panels would help here, as well as adding serious stuffing in the enclosure such as shredded denim insulation on top of an adhesive bitumen layer to damp internal pressure waves.
We can tell from the dip in the low-frequency impedance curve saddle that the port tuning frequency looks to be about 30Hz or perhaps just a tad below. The peaks of the saddle have nearly the same height, and that informs us that the resonant frequency of the bass drivers is not that different from that of the enclosure, so it is a relatively balanced system.
I measured the sensitivity to be 90.9dB for 2.83v at 1 meter, which is a bit below HECO’s 93dB sensitivity spec. Even so, 90.9 (let's call it 91 dB) makes the Aurora 1000s a bit above average in sensitivity, and you don’t need a monster amp to get these things loud. A hundred watts should be capable of pushing it to pretty darn loud levels, 110dB at one meter anechoically, and that is quite a bit louder than most people would ever listen to.
The HECO Aurora 1000 is a surprising speaker. It is not an expensive speaker, and when I received it, it didn’t feel or look expensive. It was relatively lightweight for a large speaker, the packing used Styrofoam which can often be an indication of cost-cutting, and the speaker had elements about it that made it seem like it was trying to seem like a higher-end product than it really was. The faux-wood vinyl veneer wasn’t very convincing, multiple plastic components were painted to appear otherwise, the woofers looked like budget paper cones, and the “Fluktus” tweeter design seemed like marketing gibberish for a nonsense design element. Since I had never even heard of HECO despite their claims of being a 70-year-old German brand, my guess was that it was someone co-opting an old, trusted name for a quick buck. To be honest, I was expecting something akin to a ‘white van special,’ in other words, a cheaply-made speaker pretending to be high-end for a massive markup.
However, when I first powered the speakers up, I thought that the speaker didn’t sound half bad or at least any problems it had were not immediately evident. I was thinking perhaps I would encounter their flaws when I sat down to give them a closer listen. And when I did give them a close listen, nothing leapt out as being wrong or off in any conspicuous way that I could readily identify. I remember thinking, “Are these speakers actually OK or am I losing my hearing?” I enjoyed listening to anything that I threw at them, contrary to the impression I took from some of their design qualities. And then I was stunned when I took the first measurements of them; I thought “these can’t be that good?!” But the measurements backed up what I was hearing - these speakers are legitimately good performers.
I have to admit to making a judgment about a loudspeaker before even hearing it, obviously not a great move for an audio equipment reviewer. In this particular case, I am absolutely delighted to have been shown to be wrong. The HECO Aurora 1000s are terrific speakers, especially when considering their cost. They are not perfect speakers, and as was mentioned, some aspects of their build quality and appearance seem like merely the lowest-cost way of getting that aspect done. The enclosure might benefit from thicker panels or better internal damping. Also, despite their large size and dual 8” bass drivers, they don’t really excel at powerful deep bass; they can produce some deep bass but not like a subwoofer can.
Whoever was in charge of the Aurora 1000s decided to make a genuinely good loudspeaker out of fairly humble components. No single part of these speakers looks especially advanced or exceptional. The key to their performance is how everything was put together. In other words, this is a product of serious engineering. It has great balance: every area is at least good. Like they say in golf, it’s not the achievement of eagles and holes-in-one that win the tournament. It’s the avoidance of disastrous double bogeys that carries the day. The Aurora 1000s do nothing bad and they do some things extremely well.
In the audio world, someone once said that it costs just as much to make a bad loudspeaker as it does a good one, and thankfully someone at HECO cared enough to make sure the modest cost of these ingredients added up to a good sound instead of a middling one. The Aurora 1000s have accurate tonality, a wide dynamic range, excellent dispersion behavior, good sensitivity, and a reasonable electrical loading for amplifiers. It’s not expensive, yet is a true high-fidelity loudspeaker. I had not heard of HECO before, but they are certainly on my radar now, and I am looking forward to seeing if their other speakers can match the sound quality and value of the Aurora 1000s.
The Heco Aurora 1000s are available in the USA from our channel partner Audio Advice.
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Recent Forum Posts:
Eric Myers, post: 1559287, member: 98737
Maybe…who knows really. Sure am having a lot of fun jamming out on them!
Well now I really doubt you can tell (let alone did any actual convincing comparisons)….but glad you're enjoying the speakers
ps enjoy the rocking out!