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AURALiC VEGA - C.A.S.H. Award From Computer Audiophile

ҧǢ   ͺ    discovery hifi forum -> Audiophile Equipment
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: 25 Feb 2008
ͺ: 1166
: BKK. Thailand

ͺͺ: Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:51 pm    ͧ: AURALiC VEGA - C.A.S.H. Award From Computer Audiophile ͺҧͤ

Auralic's Vega - A Rising Star

Astronomers have called Vega "arguably the next most important star in the sky after the Sun." I'm not sure what other writers have called the Auralic Vega but I call it arguably the best DAC under $3,500. The Vega's stellar sonic character enabled me to listen to an over four hour playlist from start to finish without interruption. Not only did the Vega hold my attention for the entire time, but the sound had a grip on me like a drug. I didn't want to do anything other than listen to music through the Auralic Vega. I'm grateful I can set aside a four hour block of time to do nothing but listen to music. However, some components make these listening sessions harder than walking my one year old daughter through a toy store. The Vega was a serious joy to listen through in a much different way than the Luxman DA-06 DAC or the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Series 2. The Luxman is a feast of flavors and spices layered on one's favorite music. The Alpha is as neutral as the day is long with the slightest amount of thinness in the top frequencies. The Vega has a tonal richness to it somewhere between the rich Meitner MA-1 and the neutral Alpha DAC.


The Auralic Vega is a must audition component for readers seeking a DAC that does it all and does it all well for less than $3,500. The Vega's rich tone combined with a terrific transparency make it a DAC for both serious and all day listening. After spending hours on end with the Vega I didn't suffer one ounce of listener fatigue. I also didn't think about its internal components and how they operate because the Vega simply played everything in my library. It's nice that the Vega is built to a high standard with excellent internal components. A peek under the hood reveals an incredibly clean design that's eye candy for enthusiasts. It's even better than the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Sound quality and flawless operation of the Auralic Vega are the main reasons this DAC is better than the competition.

Chris Connaker, Computer Audiophile
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: 25 Feb 2008
ͺ: 1166
: BKK. Thailand

ͺͺ: Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:45 pm    ͧ: ͺҧͤ

Auralic Vega: my review from Computer Audiophile

Current System description

DIY computer running Win 7/64 with an Asus Xonar Essence soundcard SPDIF output. JRiver 17 Media Player.
Moon 300D DAC connected via XLR to a ModWright LS100 pre amp connected via XLR to a ModWright KWA100SE amplifier. Speakers are Thiel CS2.4 The Vegas Interconnects were RCAs. Ill explain later why I did not use XLR interconnects with the Vega.

Power up the Vega and you get a nice little welcome message. The digital display screen is beautiful with its amber colored fonts. I wont go through the interface as its really easy to learn. When I think of user friendly, this is what I usually imagine. You can navigate with either the big round dial on the Vega, or with the remote control that is provided. The later was what I used mostly. The display will show you the input selection (in my case USB) and sampling rate of the file currently playing. The display screen can be dimed or turned off if you prefer.

There are 4 clocks to choose from. Auto will let the Vega lock on the signal and choose the best possible clock. Coarse would be the best choice for jitter prone signals. Fine is the best option if your signal is not jitter prone. This was my standard, everyday choice. Exact was very drop off prone at any sampling rate greater than redbook CD (16/44). At this sampling rate though, it worked very well. The reason is found in the user manual: "For USB input, you will experience drop off on any computer without special optimization for music playback". My computer is used for many other applications than listening to music. I often surf the web or work during listening sessions. Could I hear a difference in sound quality between Fine and Exact? Not much, if at all.

Filters are a different game altogether and there are 4 for PCM files, apptly numbered 1, 2, 3, 4 and 2 for DSD file formats, you guessed it, named 5 & 6. For PCM, the difference between the filters is audible, although not that striking. After trying all the different modes with all kinds of music, I realized I prefered mode 1 over all the other ones for all types of music. A quick check of the user manual proved my ears weren't lying. As stated in the manual: "MODE 1 offers best measurement performance". For DSD, I prefered mode 5 over mode 6.

In Vasily Petrenko & the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic performing Shostakovich Symphony #7 (FLAC 16/44), during the Allegretto, around the 7:15 mark, there is a very silent portion that lasts for about a minute: with the Moon, I was wondering if there was actually any music going on in the first 15 seconds. The Vega allowed me to hear all the detail, albeit in very low volume. I gave it good marks for dynamics. Symphonie n°7 Léningrad | Dmitry Shostakovich par Vasily Petrenko - Télécharger et écouter l'album

Robin Ticciati & the Scottish Chamber Orchestra performing Berloz's Les nuits d'ete (FLAC 24/192). On Villanelle, Karen Cargill's vois was rich and rounded, lacking the "shiny" edge the Moon gave it. The Vega really shined in presenting the Mezzo Soprano's voice. Linn Records - Berlioz: Les nuits d'ete

Bye Bye Black Bird from Patricia Barber's album Night Club (FLAC 16/44) is often heard at audio shows or whenever I go to local dealers to listen to demos. I had to try it with the Vega. Sure enough, the bass line that often gets muddled was very clearly defined and well sustained. Patricia's piano was very clear and a little more forward that what I remembered. Her voice was silky smooth and had an added liveliness and presence that I had never heard.

The percussions on Ard El Salam from Aziza Brahim's Mabruk (FLAC 24/44) album were just...oh wow! I felt like they were part of my listening room's natural accoustics. I could just reach out and touch them! Everything alse was very well placed in the soundstage, back front, left, right. Very impressive.Mabruk | Aziza Brahim - Télécharger et écouter l'album
Country Boy from John Lee Hooker's It serve you right to suffer (FLAC 24/96) album is often difficult for some systems that have trouble rendering some of the small details like the rythm guitar playing with the bass on the left hand side and some of the detail of Hooker's guitar. Here, I could grasp every subtle ittle detail. Hooker's guitar was also better defined than I've ever heard. I could sense his voice slightly moving further back as he sometimes moved away from the mic.

Bat for Lashes The Haunted Man (FLAC 16/44) album was a surprise. What is a very digital sounding album, with edges of brightness in the high pitched notes became became excitingly organic. On the song Lilies, at approx the 45 second mark, there is a heavy synthetiser line that breaks in. With the Moon, it was just like another synthetiser adding in its part. With the Vega, the synthetiser just stormed in and added such texture and vibration to the song you wouldn't believe this is the same track. Wow! This is probably the best example of how alive the Vega makes the music feel. The Haunted Man | Bat For Lashes - Télécharger et écouter l'album

On Kate Bush's 50 Words for Snow (FLAC 24/96) from the album of the same name, the percussions had lots of presence and the bass was lower and deeper than I have ever heard, all this, without loosing its detail & definition. On "Among Angels", the piano had wonderful impact and the decay was very lengthy. Kate's voice had a wondeful smoothness and a texture that was more "grainy" and less brilliant than her high pitched voice usually sounds like.

Stravinsky's Histoire du soldat (DSD 128) by Robert Mandell & Ars Nova is one of the most interesting sounding albums in my one terabyte collection. It's also my favorite music by the famous composer. It's a small scale classic piece that sounded wondeful and very airy and alive with a very well defined soundstage. Each intrument, was clearly located and the wind instruments so important in the piece, were perfectly recorded. Stravinsky-L'histoire Du Soldat / Respighi Rossiana 24/192 Resolution

Large orchestral works can often be difficult to reproduce. Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra's new album "Wagner Excerpts" (DSD 64) is very dense and loaded with large scale orchestrations. Quite a challenge for a DAC. Here, again, there was a smoothness and an easiness that made the Vega right at home reproducing all the details and giving some air around the usually dense wall of sound. This is only my second DSD album but from what I gather from forums around the web, the "air" around the instruments is a caracteristic of the DSD format. Wagner - Channel Classics Records

One thing never ceased to amaze me with the Vega. How it makes the redbook format (FLAC 16/44) sound so great. To the point it was often difficult to discern between HD files and redboook. I was in the purists camp of no oversampling. Keep the original signal as untouched as possible. The Vega changed my mind.

All in all, my experience with the Vega was great. The local dealer made me a good price on the demo unit he lended me. I'm impressed to the point I'll be keeping it. I was looking for a DAC in the $3-4K maximum range. I've listened to many DACs which I won't name as my objective is not to start a discussion on which is best. Many of them showed my Moon 300D had nothing to be ashamed of. Even after being on the market for almost 3 years, It still is a very good DAC amongst its peers. In fact, I could not find many DACs that sounded so much better as to justify the spending to replace it. However, there was one that outshined it, and the others in every aspect: the Auralic Vega.
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