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Found in countless studios around the world, Auratone’s Super Sound Cube has been a secret weapon of mixing engineers for decades. A compact monitor with a single 4.5” driver, the 5C delivers a revealing, honest midrange that has long been used to understand how mixes will translate to full-range systems. To celebrate the release of the new 5C Active Super Sound Cube reference monitors ($749.00), we’re taking a look back at the history of these iconic monitors. Read on to learn more about Auratone’s 50-year legacy and the philosophy behind the brand’s design.
Designed in the 1950s, the Super Sound Cube was the brainchild of California’s Jack Wilson, who started the company in his garage in Chula Vista. With a simple yet bold midrange-forward design, the Super Sound Cube became ubiquitous in studios both large and small within the decades following its release. Using the 5C’s brutally honest midrange, an engineer could trust that their mix would translate well to less-flattering speaker systems. A look at the tag on a vintage Auaratone speaker often reveals the phrase, “Recording monitors for the real world,” and that seemed to be precisely what mix engineers used it for most—to check how their mixes would sound in the “real world.”
Finding fame in the 1970s and 80s, the 5C started popping up in studios large and small, offering a peek at what mixes might sound like on car radios or mono TV sets of the era. Classic names like Bruce Swedien and Quincy Jones are famed supporters of the Super Sound Cube.
Even today, the 5C can be found in studios all around the world—from world-class control rooms to modest home studios. Spawning later variations like the 5S and 5RC (both utilizing the same speaker, just in different housings), the Super Sound Cube has withstood the test of time for more than 50 years. With their unapologetic push in the midrange, the 5C’s have helped generations of engineers carve out mixes where even the most sensitive frequencies translate seamlessly.
Today, Auratone is still family-owned. Years ago, Jack Wilson passed the company down to his grandson Alex, who moved the company from California to Nashville, where Arautone makes their modern 5C’s in-house to ensure performance is just like the vintage designs. After receiving a TEC Award in 2016, the classic Sound Cube began to see a resurgence.
In today’s world, people spend much of their listening time on devices like smartphones and laptop speakers, and it’s really made a strong case for the use of 5C’s again. Once again, engineers have a need to reference tracks on full-range speakers, where the low end and midrange will be presented differently than in traditional studio settings. The way an Auratone asserts the sensitive midrange frequencies, engineers continue to find use in referencing tracks on the 5C, which helps them predict the listening experience on the various devices people use today.
A quick look at the modern 5C will show that not much has changed from the original design. Equipped with a reproduction of the original 4.5” driver (manufactured here in the US), the 5C delivers a frequency response of 80 Hz - 15 kHz, offering a revealing view of the midrange in your mix. The perfect companion to traditional two or three-way monitors, a single Sound Cube makes it easy to ensure your mixes will translate to any system. Available in both passive and active designs, it’s easier than ever to integrate the trusty Sound Cube into your mixing setup.
More than 50 years after they were first introduced, the Auratone 5C Super Sound Cube remains an essential tool for modern mixers. From the custom-built drivers to the sealed MDF cabinet, the 5C is fully-made in the USA and scrutinized to perfection by the team in Nashville. Praise from distinguished names like Tom Elmhirst and Royer Labs President Rick Perrotta echoes the fact that the 5C continues to deliver on its signature sound, giving engineers insight into their mixes just like it has for years.
Regardless of genre or project, the Auratone 5C continues to be a concise and reliable option for mix engineers to peek into the final listening environment of their songs, which is just as common a concern today as it was in the 1970s.
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