AURALiC VEGA G1 community streaming DAC
by Alan Sircom
I’ll be the primary to confess it – Hello-Fi+ has coated a number of AURALiC merchandise in recent times. Although that is my first evaluation of the model’s merchandise, virtually each product the corporate has made has discovered its method onto the pages of this journal. Having had no direct private expertise of the product (save for temporary publicity at exhibits) and seeing each different reviewer who touches the product seemingly turning right into a swivel-eyed loon for the model, I assumed it time to wave round some Editorial privilege. What’s AURALiC’s magic trick?
Our most up-to-date evaluation mixed the VEGA G2 streaming DAC with the brand new LEO GX clock in Concern 164. OK, calling the LEO GX a ‘clock’ is editorial understatement on a grand scale, however this assessment piqued my curiosity on a few ranges. Most notably, nevertheless, the G2 assessment fascinated due to the existence of the VEGA G1 examined right here. You see, at first look, each on paper and within the flesh, the variations between the G1 and G2 are minimal in every thing however worth. Scratch the floor in fact and issues start to look a bit totally different. However how totally different in the actual world and do these variations matter… these have been the questions that made me name for the AURALiC VEGA G1.
The obvious visible distinction between the 2 gamers is the transfer from a black knob within the G2 to a silver one within the G1. Issues get clearer minimize to the rear of the 2 as a result of the G2 includes a pair of AURALiC’s personal Lightning connectors, a clock enter and a set of stereo RCA sockets for an analogue line enter – all of that are absent within the extra pared-back G1. The instances, nevertheless, are noticeably totally different (a minimum of when positioned side-by-side). They’re the identical measurement and weight, however the G2 makes use of AURALiC’s Unity chassis hewn out of a single piece of aluminium, and this sits on particular sprung ft. Whereas the G1 makes use of the identical grade of aluminium, the cupboard is made from piece elements bolted collectively, and sits on plastic ft with out the springy suspension system. Actually shut visible inspection exhibits these variations, and at every level, every thing suggests the G2 is best. This can be a delicate however essential distinction, akin to good tailoring; the G1 is sort of a well-cut made to measure go well with you may put on to nail that interview, however the G2 is that bespoke Savile Row go well with during which you bought married.
Underneath that exterior, issues do start to diverge, though not as a lot as you may anticipate and it’s nonetheless clear that is each inch an AURALiC product. The headline variations are ►
“The VEGA G1 may simply occupy the right sweet-spot for this-and- the-next era audio.”
► that the G1 makes use of its personal customized analogue quantity management, the place the G2 makes use of the chipset’s inner digital quantity, and the absence of galvanic isolation throughout the rear connections. These are pretty vital modifications and are greatest regarded as being within the order of magnitude of the distinction between a 12 and an 18 yr previous single malt! The absence of Lightning Hyperlink connectors additionally makes utilizing the ARIES fashions to create a full ‘belt and braces’ Lightning Server system barely much less ‘plug and play’, and also you miss out on a number of the ‘Rolls-Royce’ parts of the AURALiC streaming system (file sampling charges, for instance). Nevertheless, what’s nice is extra what the 2 share quite than what they lack: the G1 and G2 each use AURALiC’s Tesla digital platform, and each can utilise the Lightning DS app that controls the whole lot AURALiC. Tesla is the core processing engine, constructed round a Quad-Core A9 chip, 1GB of reminiscence, and 4GB of storage. Put merely, the 2 share a lot of the identical circuitry… there’s simply extra of it within the G2. Wi-fi connectivity (akin to AirPlay and Bluetooth) are usually not supported. The G1 is not any slouch although. It makes use of the corporate’s personal Orfeo Class A modules; these are operational amplifiers impressed by Rupert Neve’s 8078 analogue mixing console circuit design – a design thought-about by many within the recording studio world a console sans pareil. An audio product that options output levels that try and recreate that circuit put AURALiC up there with the perfect.
Within the mild of the larger, higher G2, why ought to the VEGA G1 be so fascinating? As a result of the VEGA G1 simply may occupy the right sweet-spot for this-and-the-next era audio. The G2, for all it’s sonic and technical prowess, is greater in value as a result of it’s extra demanding to construct. It not solely has room for progress (with the LEO GX), however there’s virtually an expectation within the proprietor of a VEGA G2 that it’s step one on the large AURALiC ladder. The G1 locations no such calls for on the consumer or the system, and that’s its genius.
I’ve stayed away from describing the processes concerned in hooking up a community system lately; not as a result of they’re troublesome (if something, constructing a house community for audio is turning into simpler by the day), however as a result of individuals get the flawed concept. They see the method when it comes to quite a lot of steps and get involved and begin evaluating the method (unfavourably) to enjoying a CD. Nevertheless, when you break something down into its particular person steps, the duty turns into impossibly daunting: making toast, for instance, is a course of so difficult that it ought to solely be carried out by educated specialists. And AURALiC is on the pinnacle of that next- era know-how – utilizing it’s truly absurdly easy when arrange, however individuals see these three phrases and spiral.
So, right here’s the deal. The VEGA G1 is the product for these spiralling digital customers. Past its use as a streaming system, it’s – at first – a rattling good DAC. Use it with a CD and also you’ll get nice sound… and a pathway into at present’s on-line and native streaming if you end up prepared.
In case you are already there with streaming, inserting the VEGA G1 into your community pays dividends. This has all ►
► the necessary genetic code of its greater brother, and most of what isn’t on board isn’t very important for a lot of customers. Granted a G2 is best, however many staring down the distinction between ‘three and 1 / 4 grand’ and ‘5 and a half grand’ might be unable to make that leap. Positive, AURALiC’s Lightning Server know-how, the higher chassis, the right analogue quantity management, and the power to hook this to the complete Bridge-Streamer- Clock system of the G2 vary all minimize into performance, however all of them add up, too. This will get you a lot of the approach there when it comes to tech and spec and sound for a fraction of the price, and that makes the VEGA G1 actually necessary.
It’s essential sufficient that if I have been one of many huge names on this area, I’d be fearful about this product. Fearful not simply because it’s obtained a fantastic spec, however extra as a result of it truly sounds actually good. I discussed the absence of Lightning connectors, however the G1 is solely supported by the Lightning DS app, and this is a wonderful interface, particularly if used with Roon (the G1 is Roon Prepared), Tidal, and particularly Qobuz Studio. Whereas numerous listening was achieved via my native server by way of my wired community, a very good deal was made on-line, and each via the Lightning DS app. This works seamlessly each with the web providers and in controlling the G1. Configuration and set up is fuss free as long as your community is fairly strong and your pc hardware isn’t so previous that it’s programmed in Latin. Put it this manner, if you recognize what a NAS is, have one, and configured it your self with out having to succeed in for a fireplace extinguisher, you’re in all probability over- certified to put in the G1.
I’m saving one of the best till final right here, and that greatest is the sound you get from the G1. I’m not that troubled by the digital quantity management as a result of for a lot of the check, I ‘dimed’ the quantity management and ran it right into a system, slightly than use it as a preamp in its personal proper. The quantity management itself was principally used within the context of working the G1 as a headphone amp. Extra on that later.
This has a really high-grade sound. On first pay attention, you shortly realise you’re within the presence of one thing actually, actually good. The G1 manages to mix the inherently musical elements of many truly nice streamers with the type of element and dynamic vary that units the perfect aside from the merely good. A high-quality musical working example right here is the superb, if compressed, ‘Come Down’ by Anderson. Paak ►
“Bass is probably what the G1 does greatest. That… and all the opposite issues it does greatest, too!”
► from the Malibu album [ArtClub]. This can be a nice rap monitor with a superb bass line however is usually undermined by the thinness and compression inherent to the recording. The G1 doesn’t attempt to compensate for that compression; it simply provides you a lot info, and a lot musical enjoyment together with that info, you simply don’t care. You take heed to that high quality guitar sound, the actually tight hi-hat work, and the refrain schoolyard rapping, and the distorted enjoying of the Israeli nationwide anthem, Hatikvah, all through the monitor… and it makes you progress and smile.
It’s a pity in a means that the monitor is so thinly recorded, as a result of it has a superb bass line, and bass is probably what the G1 does greatest. That… and all the opposite issues it does greatest too! Bass is certainly the G1 ’s most spectacular weapon in its musical arsenal. Right here, I moved between classical and rock; I’m enjoying Beethoven’s ‘Ode To Pleasure’ from the Ninth Symphony [Von Karajan, Berlin Phil, DG] prefer it’s going out of style in the intervening time and the G1 conveys all of the power and drive of that piece, together with the majesty of the timpani and choir, main as much as that monumental crescendo. The G1 permits the music freedom to actually give it some beans, and you end up enjoying it at Def Con 1 ranges, air conducting because the home windows shake… 5 doorways away. In the meantime, shifting over to Jeff Wayne’s Musical Model of the Struggle of the Worlds [Columbia] is actually fascinating. Not solely does the resonance of Richard Burton’s voice shine by way of, however the G1 can also be detailed sufficient to spotlight simply precisely how drunk he’s on every take. The mixture of his stentorian (and principally half-cut) tones coupled with some actually chunky analogue voltage- managed oscillator drift from some bat-crazy synthesiser sounds confirmed the depth and the readability of the VEGA G1 completely, and its inherent musicality shone via as this album led inexorably, tragically, to enjoying some Wakeman- period Sure, with much more drifty Moog synths. I’m not pleased with that specific sojourn into widdly-wee prog, nevertheless!
Lastly, the G1 ’s headphone amplifier. To a sure extent AURALiC reduce its tooth within the private audio area, so maybe it’s no shock the VEGA G1 has a superb headphone part, however maybe what makes it so good is how nicely balanced and the way properly it tracks the sound high quality by means of the road degree outputs. Like these outputs, the VEGA G1 ’s headphone stage is dynamic, clear, detailed, and possessed of fantastic bass; deep: highly effective, pacey, and meaty. If there’s a remark to be made right here, it’s extra a sin of omission – I’d like to see a balanced headphone output right here instead of one of many two 6.35mm headphone jacks.
The G1 not being a G2 solely manifests as compared. In day-to-day use, the VEGA G1 is a perfect community streaming gadget that places many truly good rival merchandise to disgrace. It’s extraordinarily properly constructed, sounds exceptionally good, and performs good with most merchandise it’s more likely to be hooked to. I began this investigation to see what all of the fuss was about, and now I’m studying from the AURALiC Fanatic’s Handbook. The corporate actually does reside as much as the hype, as anybody who provides the VEGA (G2 or G1) a critical pay attention will attest. In truth, they could properly say one of many notes I made whereas listening to the AURALiC VEGA G1 – Bloody hell… this factor’s good!
Sort: Streaming DAC preamplifier THD: <zero.00016%, balanced <zero.00015%
Dynamic Vary: single ended >124dB, balanced >127dB
Streaming Inputs: Community shared folder, uPnP/DLNA Media Server, TIDAL and Qobuz streaming, Web Radio, Songcast (restricted)
Digital Inputs: AES/EBU, Coaxial, Toslink, USB B, RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet
Supported File Codecs: AAC, AIFF, ALAC, APE, DFF, DSF, FLAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, WV and WMA Supported Digital Codecs: PCM from 44.1kHz to 384kHz in 32Bit, DSD64, DSD 128, DSD256, DSD512 Output Voltage: 4Vrms at 0dBFS (XLR), 2Vrms at OdBFS (RCA)
Management Software program: Lightning DS for iOS, RC-1 distant handset, OpenHome suitable, UPnP suitable management software program, Roon Prepared
Dimensions WxHxD: 340 x 80 x 320mm Weight: 7kg
Producer: AURALiC Ltd.
Distributor: AURALiC Europe Tel: +44(zero) 7590 106105 URL: auralic.com