Now that you’ve installed your new subwoofer and networked ‘intelligent’ monitors, what else could you possibly need to add to your monitoring system? Some 5-inch, full-range mini-monitors, of course!
The standard single-driver, full-range studio monitor has always been the Auratone 5C. And today, it will be the Avantone Active Mixcubes from Avant Electronics. Referencing ‘real world’ playback has never been this cute … or this smart.
Studio, project studio, audio for broadcast, audio post, location/mobile truck use.
6.5-inches x 6.5-inches x 9.5-inches MDF cabinet with radiused edges; 5.25” New Zealand pulp and mica driver, 43 oz. magnets, die-cast aluminum frame; 35W Class A/B amp; 90 Hz – 17 kHz frequency range; 94 dB of output @ 1 watt/1 meter; Neutrik combo connector (accepting XLR, 1/4-inch TS or TRS) and RCA inputs; 7mm neoprene pad; magnetic shielding; Dacron acoustical stuffing; 5/8-inch mic stand mount.
$419 per pair
Avantone Active Mixcubes review
The popularity of the ubiquitous Auratone 5C rested in its ability to simulate playback as often heard by the end users (listeners) of our recordings. Let’s face it; even today, a lot of consumption is through devices with only a single (or pair of) full-range driver(s). Sans thumping lows and piercing highs, do your mixes translate to such bandwidth-limited playback?
Avant Electronics’ original non-powered Avantone Mixcubes upped the ante on the now-unavailable Auratone via beefed up cabinetry and components. Now the $419 (manufacturer direct per pair) Active Mixcubes take Auratone concept to its logical and thoroughly-modernized conclusion. The cabinets are solidly built and thought out with MDF construction, radiused edges, a polyurethane high-gloss “Butter-Cream” finish, a 7mm neoprene pad, magnetic shielding, Dacron acoustical stuffing and a 5/8-inch threaded insert for mic stand mounting. Input is provided on a Neutrik combo connector (accepting XLR, 1/4 inch TS or TRS) and an RCA input.
The driver is a 5.25” paper (New Zealand pulp and mica) design with 43 oz. magnets and a die-cast aluminum frame. Power is provided by a Class A/B amp delivering 35 watts RMS. Frequency response is listed as 90 Hz – 17 kHz, with 94 dB of output @ 1 watt/ 1 meter. The Active Mixcube is slightly larger than the Auratone, but still necessarily small (only 8.8 lbs) at 6.5-inches x 6.5-inches x 9.5-inches, including its eye-catching heat sinks.
Avantone Active Mixcubes In Use
I connected the alternate monitor outputs of my Soundcraft Ghost console to the Mixcubes with a pair of TRS cables, creating the ability to quickly A/B against my JBL LSR 4328s and their powered sub (with room mode correction). My first impression was oddly positive in that I was blown away by the external power supplies! These were large and heavy, in-line transformers (either 110 or 220 V), with a thick, shielded output cable and a threaded, metal connector on the monitor end — nice!
I cranked up the input trims with a flathead tweaker and got them balanced with my mains. This balancing required a little work, as one must focus on the volume of only the mids, not the bottom or top end, to judge average SPL between systems.
Upon completion, I was rewarded with the focused, no-frills sound that Auratones are loved for — except the Active Mixcubes are more focused and less nasal than I remember Auratones to be. I’m really praising the qualities of the midrange here; these are far more than “no bass” boxes, like many could expect. Without the mids being split up by crossovers and multiple drivers (and all the phase inaccuracies and distortion that result), these critical frequencies are trustworthy and honest, clearly affecting vocal and melodic instrument mix decisions.
I fiddled around with some old dialog tracks and found the Avantones immediately helpful; balancing voices was easier here than on my mains. I tried the Mixcubes on some pop mixes and found this process to be a good bit trickier, of course. I always compare my mixes on multiple monitors and headphones, but the addition of the Mixcubes has benefited my ‘vocal to backup vocal’ and ‘guitar to guitar (or keys)’ balances the most. I also found the Mixcubes helpful in balancing multiple tom toms, focusing on their attack and their middle, without fooling me with their boom.
Many people praise the value of using original Auratones to get ‘just enough’ kick and bass in their mix. This process will work on the Mixcubes as well; just dial in the kick on your mains and use the Mixcubes to check for mere audibility, not depth or fullness. Without changing the dialed-in bottom, a second EQ bump (higher in frequency) can be added for audibility, if needed.
Further, I carted the Mixcubes over to my local PBS affiliate (WTVI) to check them out ‘in their element;’ my judgments were confirmed. Perched atop WTVI’sStuder D-950 digital broadcast console, the engineer there surmised they “sound like Auratones” — mission accomplished.
The bottom line is that these Mixcubes have so much usefulness in so many atypical ways that most any studio could use a pair. Combine all this utility with a reasonable price, professional construction and an impressive five-year warranty, and these little Mixcubes don’t need to be so doggone cute to earn a spot in your nearfield. They’re smart, good looking and affordable … what a catch!
- Ideal second point of reference for full-range speaker playback
- Quality construction and thoughtful design
- Reasonably priced, visually attractive and portable
- Not adequate as a primary monitor
- Built-in limiter for protection would be nice
Active Mixcubes offer so much usefulness in so many atypical ways that most any studio could use a pair.
by Rob Tavaglione