Auratone clones on a budget

From time to time I am hanging around in a german recording board. It was there that I saw people build Auratone clones (aka “Auraclones”) for less than €30,- a pair. So I thought I would give it a try and build some of these myself.

The cheapest version of such a clone would be built out of  10mm foamcore board. However, I wanted something more durable and therefore decided to use 12mm MDF. For the acoustic filling I used the filling of a cheap pillow from Ikea. The most important aspect is probably which speaker (driver) you use. I decided to go with the Monacor SPP-110/8 because it fulfills all requirements and is easy to get here in Austria. The requirements are that there is no peak around 2kHz but rather in the 1kHz regime and that there is not too much of a peak in the 10kHz region. Other possible and much cheaper candidates would be the Pioneer A11EC80-02F or the Maplin L69AW. The latter two would cost around €8,- per piece while the Monacor is at €35,- per piece.

Other parts one needs are a speaker terminal, speaker cable and if you want to varnish your Auraclones some putty, primer and lacquer and of course some screws for the speaker and the terminal. Additionally some glue and pegs. I used a plate joiner and the appropriate pegs. But that’s totally up to you.

The dimensions of one Auraclone should be 16.5×16.5×15.3cm (height x width x depth), so you need to get your MDF cut into 4 pieces of 16.5×15.3cm for the sides, 4 pieces of 14.5×15.3cm for bottom and top surfaces and 4 pieces of 16.5×16.5cm for back and front surfaces.

material_auraclones

All 12 pieces of MDF needed for 2 Auraclones as well as a sketch of the speaker

In order to work properly I constructed a simple fence for the plate joiner. Just be sure to add the thickness of the MDF appropriately in order to have the pegs at the right place. Then the holes for the speaker are marked using a vernier caliper and cut out with a jigsaw. In the end I made sure the hole is exactly circular by grinding it with a cordless screwdriver.

Then everything is joined together using wood glue and fixed with screw clamps and weigths. After the glue dried sufficiently we can grind them.

A carpenter gave me the hint to exclusively treat the face of the MDF with the primer in a first run, then grind the parts and only then treat everything with primer and grind a second time. That should prevent the faces of the wood to absorb more laqcuer than the other parts and thus look differently. I found that this hint works quite well.

For grinding I used an oscillating sander with sanding papers 120 and 150 grains. Work was done outside because of the dust. I simply used the stand of my chopsaw and screw clamps. After grinding everything should be cleaned precisely to keep dust from mixing with the primer. I even wiped the parts with clear water before priming. Now is the time to use your putty, if necessary. Of course another round of sanding is needed afterwards. I even filled all the edges to get a perfect finish.

Then the parts are treated with primer twice using foam rollers. In between the two treatments I used steel wool Nr. 0 to polish the surface. Works very well.

After the primer is thoroughly dried I drew the holes for the speaker-screws. If you draw lines from opposite corners and place the speaker into its recess you should have it sit centered. The following pics show how that looks like on the primed speaker housing.

Furthermore, you need to fit the terminal for the speaker on the rear, drill holes and adjust accordingly.

Then everything ist painted twice (or even three times if you like). I used creme-white woodpaint and applied it with a foam roller. In between the surface is polished again with steel wool No. 00. Looks really nice.

After the paint dried sufficiently the last thing to do is soldering the driver to the terminal using a speaker-cable and put the filling into the speaker-housing. You can stuff the filling a little bit to obtain the right dampening. In the end the driver is mounted to the speaker housing using drive-in nuts and threaded screws.

Now’s the time to test the new Auraclones. Mine are connected to an Alesis RA500 Amplifier and sit on top of my NS10s.

IMG_0799

After hearing some test tracks I can say that the Auraclones sound quiet different than the NS10. So I’ve got 3 completely different points of view now, one being the EMES black tv, one the Yamaha NS10 and the third one the Auraclones. Great.

Speaking of costs the pair of  deluxe Auraclones that I built here came down to about €90,- when excluding shipping costs. That’s pretty good compared to the €440,- of the Auratone reissue. Building time was about 10 hours in total, so that’s not so bad either.

The Project was great fun for me and I am using my auraclones more and more at the beginning of a mix before switching to my main speakers, the EMES black tv. Special thanks to the guys of recording.de – especially Schlumpfpeter – for drawing my attention to the topic.

Maybe I was able to inspire you to build some Auraclones yourself. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you’ve got any questions. I’ll be very happy to help. And please let me know your thoughts on my build and how yours is going.

Thanks,
Markus

2 thoughts on “Auratone clones on a budget

  1. Nice one!
    Try to do a mix only on one speaker, with the mastersignal being converted into mono in your DAW. Do everything on this one speaker, especially EQ, reverb and compression.

    Always A/B with a perfect mix that matches your track and that you really like.

    After finishing the Mix, switch to the bigger speakers and see how your mix translates better than enything you have mixed before 🙂

    I am only using one of these speakers since a year, never made better mixes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for chiming in, Schlumpfpeter.

      That’s a great tip and I can actually second it, since I’ve been doing something like that for a while now and it really works.

      I’m starting a mix on the Auras all the time and set at least levels and panning on them, most of the time also the first moves on the EQ.
      For reverb I’m usually switching to my bigger EMES. And compression is a different topic in my case, since I adopted a kind of Brauer-style, where I am mixing directly into my compressors.

      Thanks!
      Markus

      Like

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