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HECO Speakers Comparison and Overview
At Audio Advice, it is just in our DNA to be on the lookout for new products. This overview on German-made Heco speakers comes from our founder, who has always had a passion for testing and evaluating new gear.
We do have to admit we have an affinity for companies that have proven the test of time. There is nothing worse than bringing in a new product that actually performs well, but the company had some kind of issue with knowing how to run a successful business that led them to go under. We then have no way to offer support on the product which we just hate.
Early in 2021, we were doing a little virtual looking around in lieu of actually physically attending the January CES show due to COVID, and we came across a very old German brand that had never been sold in the United States. The tech they were using for their speakers was pretty interesting.
Actually, the thing that caught our eye was the fact they had gone back and found old speaker drivers from the early days of HiFi that were used in some great speakers of the time. They had analyzed how these performed and found in some areas they measured as good, if not better than most current speakers. The company had then injected some new tech into those designs and came up with something pretty special. The fact this brand was looking at vintage designs really appealed to our nostalgic side so we decided to ask for some samples.
A couple of samples came in and made their way to our founder for evaluation. One of the bookshelf speakers turned out to be very musical with far more deep bass than you would expect from a medium-sized bookshelf speaker. They also had a stupendous three-dimensional presentation. Build quality was very top-notch as you would expect from German engineering. The funny thing was, we had some confusion on the selling price of each vs a pair. We were evaluating them based on what we thought was the price per speaker and thought they were great for that price. When we found out, no, that was actually the price for a pair, we decided to become a dealer for these great German speakers.
You’ve probably guessed by the title, the brand is HECO, and we would like to tell you about the tech they use in all of their speakers, then go over some of the models that will be making their way to the United States for the first time.
Technology All HECO Speakers Share
HECO was founded in 1949 by a group of German engineers. All of their products are 100% designed and engineered in Germany, then made in Asia.
HECO Fluktus Tweeter
HECO’s Fluktus tweeter is quite unique. Their engineers set out years ago to come up with a high-frequency driver that had the positive characteristics of a horn loaded driver with even dispersion across all frequencies. Horn loaded high-frequency drivers usually have a big advantage of controlled directivity which reduces side wall reflections. However, some of them vary in how the sound is dispersed over the entire range they cover.
The HECO engineers envisioned a tweeter flange that was actually multiple horns within the same structure. Another positive thing we found about the engineers at HECO is the fact they use all the best modern tools available in their design, then do listening tests. When you have a company that uses extensive Klippel laser analysis, you know they are the real deal!
The result of their efforts is the Fluktus tweeter and we have to say, we have not seen anything like it on the market. Their measurements prove it does have a more even dispersion pattern than a tweeter with a conventional waveguide. Another benefit is an increase in sensitivity, which means most HECO speakers are pretty easy to drive with a modest amp. HECO shows this tweeter extending about beyond 42K in frequency response which gives the highs it produces a very open, effortless, sweet character.
HECO Kraft Paper Cones
The material they came up with for the midrange and woofer drivers is equally unique. In today’s world, we see all kinds of exotic materials being used for midrange and bass drivers. HECO went back to the Golden Age of stereo and rounded up some classic drivers from Goodmans, Pioneer, Jensen, Klagfilm and more. These drivers were sold to many other speaker manufacturers and wound up in many of the classic speakers of the day that were loved by music lovers. The one common trait they shared was they were all made from super high quality paper for the cone material.
HECO measured these drivers and found the damping and magnetic field force was more symmetrical than many current day exotic drivers. This led them to wonder how you could take this classic design and apply modern tech to it.
The whole process they came up with is pretty neat. You may know that paper is made from wood pulp. HECO sources their wood pulp from renewable North European and Canadian pine trees. They have come up with a specification so the resulting material will be lightweight yet super strong. HECO takes German made wool fibers that are about ¼” to ½” long and adds these to the pulp mixture to improve the damping characteristics of the cone.
After the wool fibers are added, water and specially developed chemical substances are added and the whole blend gets run through an old school machine they call “The Dutchman” which twists the fibers perfectly to produce a light-weight, rigid and well damped paper cone.
This whole process makes their paper cones cost over 10 times more than a conventional paper cone, but the result is a driver material that performs incredibly well! A great cone does you no good if the rest of the structure is not up to snuff. This is where HECO applies science to create midrange and bass drivers that both measure and perform as well if not better than anything out there.
They use a Klippel laser scanning vibrometer system to come up with the ideal magnetic force and damping characteristics for each type of driver. Funny enough, guess where these uber high end Klippel measurement machines are made? You guessed it, Germany!
The great news is they do not reserve this tech for just their best speakers. The Fluktus tweeter and Kraft paper cones are used in all of their models. This means not only do they all perform well, but you can easily mix and match for multi-channel home theater applications.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the models HECO will be bringing to the United States. With most of Eurpeans living in smaller spaces, Dolby Atmos is not as popular as it is in the US. HECO, like many European speaker companies, does not have any options for Dolby Atmos. Their models focus more on great stereo listening and well matched 5.1 channel home theater systems.
HECO’s Ambient speakers are all designed to be mounted on a wall to take up minimal space. They can be used as a stereo pair, as a stereo pair with a subwoofer, as surround speakers for home theater, and one model can be used either vertically or horizontally as an LCR wall-mounted speaker.
All of the models come in black or white and each one comes with three different colored grills- a very light grey, black, and a classic dark grey linen look grill. So you have plenty of options to make them fit well with your environment.
The neat part is, even though these models are very inexpensive, they use all of the tech we just wrote about.
HECO Ambient 11F On-Wall Speakers
The smallest model in the Ambient series is pretty tiny, using a 4” Kraft paper cone woofer with the 1.2” Fluktus tweeter. The sealed cabinet on the Ambient 11F is constructed of .59” MDF and is very solidly made. It is only about 12” by 7” with a depth of about 3 ¾”. They come with keyhole mounting brackets on the rear which push the cabinet off the wall about ½” which cleverly gives you room to access the recessed 5 way binding posts.
With such a small cabinet though, they do not go that deep into the bass region. For full range music listening, you would want to add a subwoofer.
However, these are perfect for wall mounted surround speakers you can pair with all of the larger models for a matched 5.1 system.
HECO Ambient 22F On-Wall Speakers
The Ambient 22F moves up to a 5” woofer in a much larger cabinet that is roughly 12” wide by 17” tall and 4” deep. The cabinet is not only larger, but of a bass reflex design with a front firing port which not only gives them more bass punch, but improves their sensitivity.
For small spaces, these provide pretty rich sound in a very small package that takes up no floor space. A pair of these could also be used for even fuller range wall mounted surrounds for home theater.
HECO Ambient 44F 2-Way, Dual 5” On-Wall Speaker
The largest Ambient model, the Ambient 44F, is almost 30” tall and 12” wide with the same 4” depth as the other two. These have dual 5” Kraft cone drivers mounted above and below the Fluktus tweeter.
This means they can be used as an on wall stereo speaker or as LCR speakers on either side of a TV and one below the TV as a center channel.
The 44F reaches down really low into the bass region, rivaling some floor standing speakers. They are also very easy to drive with a sensitivity of 90dB. If you use these as LCR’s you’ll also be very pleased with how musical they sound for your stereo listening side of things.
Aurora is a more conventional range with a mix of bookshelf speakers, tower speakers, a center channel, and subwoofer.
These all have a cabinet design that is not only very unique, but quite beautiful. The baffle the speakers mount to is made of a very inert material and to make it even more solid, it is shaped into an “L” that not only covers the front of the speaker, but the top. This one piece baffle is then finished with a silk matte black or ivory lacquer paint. The sides and rear panel appear to be recessed in behind this baffle and are either a dark or light colored wood finish. This look is really great and something we have never seen on another speaker.
The cabinets on all of the models are made of almost 1” think (.94”) MDF with extensive internal bracing. The rear binding posts are also more solid than you would normally expect to see for this price range. HECO also uses a very dead PVC material on the inside back of the cabinet to reduce resonance even more.
We found all of these very easy to drive as all of them are at least 89 dB or better from a sensitivity standpoint. These did require some pretty good pushing during their break in period to come to life. We felt it took almost 100 hours of continuous music to get the best results, so if you wind up with a pair of these, put your music streamer on repeat for a few days to quickly break them in.
HECO Aurora 200 Bookshelf Speakers
The smallest Aurora puts out a really big sound for its size with surprisingly deep bass too.
These are a 2 way bass reflex design with a 5” Kraft cone woofer and the 1.2” Fluktus tweeter.
The Aurora 200 is one heck of a bookshelf speaker. You will need to position them away from the back wall as they have a rear firing port, but if you put these on a good set of stands, they throw out a great soundstage. We just could not get over how much rich bass we heard from such a small box too.
Obviously, these would be great for stereo listening or paired up with the bigger towers as surround speakers.
HECO Aurora 300 Bookshelf Speakers
The big difference between the Aurora 300 and 200 is woofer and cabinet size. These are about 14” tall, 8” wide and almost 12” deep. The larger woofer and extra cabinet size enables them to reach even deeper into the lower frequencies. These are definitely designed for a stand though. Where you could put the Aurora 200 on a bookshelf with a little room to move it out for some port clearance, you need a good stand for the Aurora 300 with its rear firing port and extra depth. The Aurora 300 also gets its rear speaker connection upgraded to dual binding posts for bi-wiring.
We found the Aurora 200 to image a bit better, as we expected, most very small, great, bookshelf speakers when set up right image like crazy. However, our heads were shaking at how much bass these speakers put out.
For smaller rooms, these will be all you need for a very full sound that is also silky smooth. In most environments, the Aurora 200 would probably be a better surround speaker as it is shallower by about 3”, but if you have the space, these work great with either of the towers for surrounds.
HECO Aurora 700 Floorstanding Speakers
When you look at the Aurora 700, you will probably think it sells for twice as much as it actually does.
The Aurora 700 is a true 3-way design using a 6 ½” Kraft cone midrange driver coupled with dual 6 ½” Kraft cone woofers and paired up with the great Fluktus tweeter.
These stand almost 44” tall, just under 8” wide and a little over 12” deep. There are dual rear ports for this bass reflex design and 2 five way binding posts on the rear for biwiring.
The cabinet has extensive cross bracing internally with a frame on the bottom that extends out beyond the speaker for extra stability. You can mount either cups or spikes to the frame for improved performance.
The Aurora 700 can be easily driven with a modestly powered amp as their sensitivity is 92 dB. But they have no problem handling a big power amp with a max rating of almost 400 watts of dynamic power handling.
Both the Aurora 700 and 1000 are super dynamic loudspeakers. You’ll easily hear subtle dynamic changes with these. Due to the narrow cabinet, they also image quite well if you spend some time setting them up.
HECO Aurora 1000 Floorstanding SpeakerThe top of the line Aurora 1000 is all about more bass impact. Everything is the same except the bass drivers are upgraded to dual 8” Kraft cone models. The cabinet moves up to 4’ tall with more width than the Aurora 700. Sensitivity is 93 dB, which is just super high for a speaker like this.
You will want help positioning these as they weigh about 60 pounds. There is no question, these are incredibly dynamic with the ability to reach down almost to 20 Hz. That is just astonishing for a pair of speakers that cost what they do!
HECO Aurora Center 30 Center Channel Speaker
The one center channel in the Aurora line uses two 5” Kraft cone midrange/bass drivers with the same 1.2” Fluktus tweeter. The design is bass reflex with a rear mounted port.
We think HECO priced the Aurora Center 30 too cheaply for the performance it offers. It not only mates up perfectly with the Aurora models, but sounds amazing for the money. You’ll easily hear subtle details in the soundtrack that pull you into the film.
Our only complaint to HECO about their center channels is that we wished they had taken their 6 ½’ midrange/woofer and made a bigger center channel using it. We feel that would be an even better match for the two towers. Of course, HECO pointed out to us you could always get the center channel from the Celan series which is just that with even more high tech going on.
HECO Aurora Sub 30A Subwoofer
The Aurora Sub 30A Subwoofer uses a very stiff 12” long throw Kraft cone driver. Normally at this price range, we would expect to see an 8” or 10” driver, but you get a 12” woofer here which can really deliver.
There are two large rear mounted ports above the amp module. Most subwoofers in this price category use a Class D amp to save some $$, but HECO uses a real Class AB power amp to drive the sub. The rear controls let you adjust crossover frequency, phase, and level.
Are there better subwoofers out there? You bet. But wow, for the money the Sub 30A costs, it is a stunner with fast bass that does not sound like a lot of those one note subs at this price point.
Celan Revolution Series
To music lovers in Europe, Celan is almost a household name as this model series has been around for generations. The new Revolution version is the 4th revision of this classic speaker series.
All of the Celan Revolution speakers take things to the next level from the Aurora models. They all have a much more elaborate cabinet design. The front baffle is curved with both sides tapering towards a much skinnier back side. This type of design greatly reduces internal resonances. HECO does not stop there as the top also tapers up from the front, giving the speaker a taller back. In a pretty neat touch, they embed the HECO logo on the top of the back.
We were really impressed with the binding posts HECO used on these models. Not only are they fully bi-wire capable, they have an option to tie into a different connector for the tweeter which has a slightly different slope on the tweeter. This connection boosts the tweeter output slightly by about 2 dB for rooms that may be a bit too dead from heavy drapes and furniture.
The cabinets themselves are well braced and made of 1” thick MDF, which makes for a very heavy speaker when you pick any of these up!
While these share the same type of design for the tweeter and midrange/bass drivers, they get the next level up in technology. The Fluktus tweeter in the Celan Revolution is made of higher quality materials with a 30 mm Polyfiber Compound Dome (PFC Dome), powerful double ferrite magnet system and new aluminium front plate with Fluktus geometry. The result is even sweeter sound with more high frequency extension. HECO specs this tweeter out at able to reproduce 52K, which is just amazing.
All of the midrange/woofer drivers have an aluminum die-cast basket with a special linearised magnet system. HECO developed a special dust cap for the Celan Revolution they call POC, which stands for Phase Optimization Cap. The surround is designed for a longer throw and the voice coil is bigger with higher power handling capacity.
Sensitivity is on the high range in these two, with even the bookshelf model being rated at a sensitivity of 90 dB.
HECO Celan Revolution 3 Bookshelf Speaker
Ok, this is the speaker that convinced us to become a HECO dealer. When we first set them up we were under the impression they were around $3,000 a pair based on how they sounded and how well made they were. Well, were we ever wrong on the price!
The Celan Revolution 3 is a 2 way bass reflex design using the better Fluktus tweeter with a 6 ½” midrange/woofer. The cabinet is just built like a tank. They are what we would consider mid-sized bookshelf speakers with a height of about 16” on the taller back side, about 10” wide and roughly 14” deep.
After setting these up and playing a tune or two, we were very impressed on how natural they sounded. But the thing that bowled us over was how accurate and deep the bass was for a bookshelf speaker. Everyone who heard these commented on how they could not believe how good the bass was for something this size.
We tested these with a variety of types of music and every time they floated a great image in front of us with no strain at all. These were used with everything — from some vintage tube gear we were playing with — to modern integrated amps. These were set up for quite a while so they were used for some amp comparisons we were doing and they revealed the differences between amps really well.
This is just one heck of a bookshelf speaker for the money!
HECO Celan Revolution 9 Floorstanding Speaker
The Celan Revolution 9 takes everything the 3 does great and puts it into a higher performing tower speaker. We love the look of the rounded side panels and angled top.
The cabinets are extremely well braced and weigh in at about 85 pounds, which shows how beefy and solid they are made. It sits on these aluminum cross braces that extend outside the speakers footprint. These have massive metal cone spikes that are height adjustable. We like the fact they come with two kinds of tips, one for solid floors with a rubber end and a pointed one for carpet. On the spikes they are about 50” tall.
Like with the Celan 3, the drivers are upgraded in the Revolution 9. They use the same tweeter as the Celan 3 in a 3 way design. There is a 6.5” HECO Kraft Cone midrange driver, coupled with dual 8” Kraft Cone woofers. The rear panel has dual ports with the nice bi-wire/bi-amp option and the +2 dB option for the tweeter.
With a sensitivity of 93 dB, they are very easy to drive, and could be used with low powered tube amps. They are capable of a high degree of resolution and will show off the benefits of a better amplifier.
We do recommend these for a larger space where you can pull them away from the rear and side walls. HECO states they go down to 19 Hz, but they do not list their 3 dB down point. We did not feel they went that low, but the bass they do produce is super fast and quite impactful.
This is another model that had us scratching our heads at how HECO packed so much speaker in for the price. You might think they should cost twice what they do when you compare the driver set and build quality to other speakers.
HECO Celan Revolution Center 4 Center Channel Speaker
The Celan Revolution Center 4 is the matching center channel for the other models. These have two of the 6 ½” midrange/bass drivers used in the Celan Revolution 3 with a single tweeter in the center of the cabinet. They have the same curved side, but the top of the cabinet does not angle up like the other Celan models.
There are two ports on the rear side so you will want to position these off the rear wall at least a foot for best performance.
HECO spent a lot of time tuning these to reveal subtle nuances in the human voice.
While HECO does not really have any Dolby Atmos options, if you want a high resolution two-channel system coupled with home theater, pairing the Revolution Center 4 with either the Celan Revolution 3 or 9 will fit the bill.
We hope this introduction to one of the oldest European speaker companies has opened your eyes and ears like ours were when we checked them out. For those of you close by we will be setting these up in our showrooms for you to experience. If you have any questions about HECO or anything home audio or home theater, feel free to chat with us online, email, call, or drop by one of our showrooms in Raleigh or Charlotte, NC.
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