The Avantone MixCubes are reference monitors based on another product that’s been popular with mix engineers for decades. These small studio monitoring speakers are the newer active version of Avantone’s original passive MixCubes, which were first released in 2007. Both studio speakers were inspired by the Auratone 5C Sound Cube; a very popular secondary mix reference speaker.
The Auratone 5C is a passive speaker that dominated major studios around the world during the 1970s. It owed its popularity to its ability to highlight the midrange, revealing everything that needs to be improved in this section of the mix. It did an impressive job of assessing how mixes sound on bass-challenged real-world speaker systems, including televisions, computers, car stereos and many more. After the Auratone was discontinued, Avantone decided to not only reproduce a speaker very similar to the original Auratone, but also to create something better, resulting in the birth of the Avantone Passive MixCubes.
Features of the Avantone MixCubes monitoring speakers
The Avantone MixCubes are secondary monitors, which means they’re normally used in addition to a set of primary nearfield monitoring speakers. Hence, don’t think of them as a replacement for a quality set of nearfield or mid-field monitors, as their sealed box design with a single driver simply doesn’t reproduce the lower and higher frequencies adequately for main mix balancing tasks. What they do provide is a very useful secondary point of reference, making it fast and convenient to check how mixes are likely to translate to lower-quality audio equipment without leaving the studio. This sure beats having to test mixes in multiple locations, such as in cars, the home stereo, and television, it’s not hard to imagine the time-savings that can be achieved with the MixCubes in finalizing a mix.
While the original 5C Sound Cubes were made of 1/2” particleboard covered with a glue-on wood grain contact paper, Avantone chose to use thicker, denser 18mm MDF panels for the MixCubes because of its inherent low-resonance characteristics and high rigidity. The MixCubes also sport a more attractive look, thanks to its elegant Polyurethane high gloss “retro-cream” finish.
The MixCube’s driver is a 5.25” cone within a die-cast aluminum frame intended to exceed the performance of the original 5C. The paper cone is custom-designed and crafted using New Zealand pulp with mica fibers added for rigidity and lighter weight. The driver is powered by a 60W internal amplifier, which Avantone claims to have been designed from the ground up to rival the performance of much higher priced studio rack mount amps, quoted to produce just 0.005% total harmonic distortion.
There is a combo XLR on the MixCube that accepts a balanced XLR plug as well as a 1/4” 3-conductor balanced TRS or a 1/4” 2-conductor unbalanced TRS through a combo connector. There is also a variable control that adjusts the sensitivity of the signal that appears at the input. The adjustable gain range is from -30 to +6dB.
The Avantone Active MixCubes are designed to be full-range powered mini-reference monitors that can give any listener the ability to hear what their mixes sound like. It has the focused sound that the 5C came to be known for, except the MixCubes are actually more focused and less nasal than the 5C. With regard to balancing the main mix, the MixCubes are pretty much unrivaled, and it’d be hard to find another speaker on the market that can perform as well. The cleanliness of the sound is also very impressive, with practically inaudible distortion. Like the 5C that came before them, the MixCubes are extremely revealing and will really highlight areas of your mix that need work.
As the user will want to switch between MixCubes and their primary studio monitoring speakers regularly, it would be nice if such switching functionality would be incorporated into the speaker itself. However, this feature is not included with the MixCubes and an external solution needs to be considered. It is also worth noting that MixCubes are commonly used by engineers in both mono (where only one speaker is purchased) and stereo configurations. In regard to mono mixes, it would be nice to have two inputs and a mixing circuit within the MixCube, saving some of the effort that owners go to in order to configure passive summing mixers and the like in order to do this. While larger studios may already have all of the above functionality, the smaller studio is likely to need it on installation and this adds additional costs.
It’s not hard to find comments on some web forums that suggest using other cheap hi-fi or computer speakers to perform the role of the MixCubes. However, these lower cost speakers simply do not provide the same level of clarity and the low-distortion that make this studio monitoring speaker so attractive. It’s always tempting to try to save money, however the old adage continues to ring true; you get what you pay for. When you consider the performance of this speaker in relation to its price and the benefits offered, we believe it offers excellent value for money (as do the many happy MixCube owners).
|Driver||5.25” cast aluminum|
|Frequency Response||90Hz – 17KHz|
|Max Peak SPL||104dB|
|Input Impedance (Ohms)||8 Ohms|
|Power||external power adaptor|
|Weight||7.13 Lbs. (3.23 kg)|
The Avantone MixCubes do a splendid job as a secondary set of monitor speakers to ensure your mixes will translate well onto low-price audio equipment. If you’re serious about mix engineering, already have an excellent pair of primary studio monitors, and want to take your mixes to the next level, then consider putting the MixCubes on your shopping list.
Do you already have the Avantone MixCubes? Feel free to tell us what you think below!
The MixCubes perfectly complement existing studio monitoring speakers and help you to better understand how your mixes may translate when played on low-cost audio equipment.
- Convenient way to check your mix
- Great for balancing midrange
- Clean and focused sound
- Can require additional hardware to allow for easy monitor switching and mono operation