AURALiC VEGA D/A processor Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Analog Source: Linn Sondek LP12 turntable with Lingo power supply, Linn Ekos tonearm, Linn Arkiv B phono cartridge.
Digital Sources: Marantz Reference NA-11S1 media player; Ayre Acoustics C-5xeMP universal player; Apple 2.7GHz i7 Mac mini laptop running OS10.7, iTunes 10, Pure Music 1.89, Audirvana Plus 1.5.10, JRiver Media Center 19 for Mac; Benchmark DAC2 HGC, NAD M51 D/A converters; Ayre Acoustics QA-9 & Benchmark ADC1 USB A/D converters.
Preamplification: Channel D Seta L phono preamplifier, Pass Labs XP-30 line preamplifier.
Power Amplifiers: Pass Labs XA60.5, MBL Corona C15 (both monoblocks).
Loudspeakers: Vivid Giya G3, Wilson Audio Specialties Alexia.
Cables: Digital: DH Labs Silver Sonic, AES/EBU; AudioQuest Coffee, Belkin Gold USB; AudioQuest FireWire 400 (prototype); AudioQuest Diamond, Ethernet. Interconnect: AudioQuest Wild, Kubala-Sosna Elation! (balanced). Speaker: Kubala-Sosna Elation!. AC: Kubala-Sosna Elation!, XLO Reference 3, manufacturers' own.
Accessories: Audio Power Industries 116 Mk.II & PE-1, APC S-15 AC line conditioners (computers, hard drive); ASC Tube Traps, RPG Abffusor panels; Target TT-5 equipment racks; Ayre Acoustics Myrtle Blocks; Shunyata Research Dark Field cable elevators. AC power comes from two dedicated 20A circuits, each just 6' from breaker box.—John Atkinson

COMPANY INFO
Auralic (Beijing) Limited
US distributor: Auralic Americas, Inc.
12208 NE 104th Street
Vancouver, WA 98682
(360) 326-8879
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COMMENTS
Axiom05's picture

Because the maximum output voltage is the same for both the balanced and unbalanced outputs, does this mean the unit is not a balanced (differential) design?

John Atkinson's picture

Axiom05 wrote:
Because the maximum output voltage is the same for both the balanced and unbalanced outputs, does this mean the unit is not a balanced (differential) design?

No, the balanced and unbalanced outputs are based on separate circuits, so I assume the fact that the output level from both are the same was a design decision. I rechecked and confirmed that both the hot and cold phases of the balanced output jacks are active.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

sle's picture

Dear Mr Atkinson,

Thanks for this nice review of the Vega.

How would you compare it with the Marantz NA11S1 you seemed to enjoy a lot ?

I would be interested to upgrade my PSAUDIO NuWave by one of those two DACs 

John Atkinson's picture

sle wrote:
Thanks for this nice review of the Vega.

You're welcome.

sle wrote:
How would you compare it with the Marantz NA11S1 you seemed to enjoy a lot ?

Two very different products at the same price. The Auralic has the edge when it comes to ultimate sound quality - slightly better-defined lows, slightly better sense of space - but the Marantz has much more in the way of features. I could live with either.

One thing about the Auralic Vega that I noticed after my review was published is that with a very small number of recordings, there are occasional clicks with the volume control set to its maximum. These are recordings that, according to Pure Music's meters, have been mastered with many peaks reaching 0dBFS - what is happening is that the reconstructed analog signal waveform has occasional peaks between samples that are higher than the maximum recorded level, resulting in clipping.

Such recordings shouldn't exist becasue modern digital audio workstation programs have meters that reveal such inter-sample clipping. But not every mastering engineer is sufficiently careful.

The solution is easy: either reduce Pure Music's or the Vega's volume control by 1dB. Doing so doesn't affect sound quality.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

Lee T. Bruce's picture

Thank you for posting this review early (1-2 months early).  I was looking forward to this review but my February print issue never came.

Regadude's picture

Well, well, well! Within 2 days, JA and his main competitor TAS (with the Harley man, a former Stereophile protégé) both post a review of the same thingy!

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/auralic-vega-digital-audio-proc...

A friendly game of "one upmanship"? Or, a battle to the death? Game on!

I bet it was the same review sample! That means the Harley man now has your fingerprints JA (I assume you reviewed it first). 

John Atkinson's picture

Regadude wrote:
Within 2 days, JA and his main competitor TAS (with the Harley man, a former Stereophile protégé) both post a review of the same thingy!

Coincidence. Plus the TAS review, by Chris Martens, was posted on February 12 and the Stereophile review was posted on January 31.

Regadude wrote:
I bet it was the same review sample!

I know it wasn't. You'd lose the bet :-)

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

Regadude's picture

Wow! Them guys have 2 review units! I am impressed. Yup, I would have lost that bet. I thought most audio or video companies had 1 review unit, and that reviewers had to wait until the other reviewer was finished... 

Warmhatch's picture

Hi John, nice review of the Vega. Were your observations of the Vega primarily based on running the unit direct to your power amps (the Vega has digital attenuation) or with the Vega at full bore (ie, no attenuation of its output) through the line inputs of your analog preamp? In either case, balanced connections, I presume?

mav52's picture

Is the Vega's connectivity to say an AMP dependent on matching the input sensitivity of the AMP and the Vega's output. Some say the Vega is "hot"
Output Voltage:
4Vrms at Max. with dynamic-loss-free digital volume

AMP in question is the JOb225:
INPUT SENSITIVITY

Nominal level : 0.75 V.
Unbalanced only (RCA).
51k input impedance.

harbegg's picture

Hi, I was surprised to learn from Auralic's brief on filter modes that in mode 4, for sample rates of 44.1k, the response is down 3 db at 20kHz. This is confirmed by JA's measurements. Yet, in some reviews, even at red book sample rate, mode 4 was preferred. While I realize much goes in to producing good sound quality, I thought one of the great (early) virtues of digital was flat frequency response. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

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