MnG Reviews - Avantone MixCubes: Great reference monitors for mid frequency clarity
A faithful yet modernised re-creation of the original reference speaker, the Auratone 5C or better known as the ‘horror-tone’
I was first made aware of the ‘grot box’ reference speakers while ogling studio pictures in magazines, blogs and on commercial studio websites. I thought why would they have such small, ugly, speakers mounted on the monitor bridge while they had huge impressive multi-driver speaker systems recessed into the walls? The answer came once I started to mix, I would be using mid-range active monitors that seemed to sound better the louder you pushed them. I’d get the mix sounding great and then go out and listen to it in the car on the way home, or on my laptop speakers. I was always disappointed with my mix, it always lost the vibe, intensity, and general good balance I was hearing back in the studio. Of course the answer was to start using reference speakers.
The Avantone MixCubes Active are a faithful yet modernised re-creation of the original reference speaker, the Auratone 5C or better known as the "horror-tone". Available in active and passive options, I have been using the active model for some years now and they have never let me down. I like the active model as they are very portable and easy to set up, no fuss straight out of the box. I find these monitors great for working on many genres of music but particularly pop and rock where it is so important to carve out some clarity in the mid frequencies.
Performance As you might expect from one 5-inch driver the sound reproduction is very mid frequency focussed, which is a great tool when using them as a reference monitor in conjunction with a more full bandwidth monitor set. They are excellent at letting you hear what is going on in the mid frequencies of your mix and help me to carve out space for instruments that are competing in this bandwidth. Masking of instruments with similar frequency range becomes glaringly obvious.
In use, the Avantones have helped me to balance vocals with guitars, keyboards, and other elements competing for space in the middle of the mix. They have highlighted defects in vocal recordings such as mouth noises and clicks that I hadn't heard on other speakers and I always switch to these monitors when doing final vocal automation rides to ensure the most important element of the mix is right where it needs to sit.
Notable Features and Build Quality
|5.25-inch speaker||Built in class A/B amplifier producing 60watts|
|Balanced input on dual XLR/TRS plug||Ground lift switch|
|Gain pot||External power supply|
|90Hz to 15kHz frequency response||Mic stand mount on underside|
Each speaker has its own external power supply and is small enough to hide well. They don’t get too warm and have a high quality cable feeding the speakers.
Ιt’s useful to have the dual XLR and TRS input plugs to match whatever setup you may already be running. The gain controls are useful to help match the level to your main monitors, at low volumes.
The build quality is excellent, the MDF surrounds feel really solid and have a good weight to them. The speaker cone and surround seems very tough and durable.
|Great detail in the mid-range for highlighting and masking problems||Difficult to see what value the gain pot is set to|
|Accurate sound reproduction at low volumes||Narrow frequency bandwidth may not be for everyone|
|Small footprint design / Portable|
|Excellent build quality|
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