Headphones in Florida: Moon Audio, Auris, Aurender, Chord, Audeze

A friend had advised me to go listen to the single-ended Auris Nirvana IV headphone amplifier ($5700), deeming it "in some ways" an improvement over Auris's beloved Headonia model. Mission accepted.

I found the Nirvana IV in the Moon Audio room, where Moon founder and CEO Drew Baird set me up with Audeze LCD-5 headphones, the successor to the (heavier) LCD-4s that I occasionally still rock if my poor neck can bear it. Associated equipment consisted of an Aurender ACS10 streamer ($6500) and the iconic Chord Qutest DAC ($2125). Cables were Moon Audio's own Black Dragons; tubes were ElectroHarmonix EL34s flanked by a Tung-Sol ECC82.

Auris says that its double-C-core transformers are wound in-house, by hand, and that the elevated performance of the Nirvana IV is due in part to high-quality internal components by the likes of Wima, Mundorf, and Rubicon.

I took a shine to the whole setup as soon as I instructed the iPad-based Aurender app to launch Art Blakey's "Kozo's Waltz." The perfectly-in-sync double horns—Lee Morgan's trumpet and Wayne Shorter's tenor sax—glided and bopped with all the requisite swoon and blattiness, never hardening or turning bitey.

Björk's rendition of "Like Someone In Love" melted my heart (but then, it almost always does). "Sometimes the things I do astound me," she lilted adorably. Me too, I thought, meaning both her art and the easy, non-showy confidence with which the Auris illuminated it.