Theoretically, the thing that should matter most when it comes to a hifi system is the sound, right? Well, yes, obviously. But I would be lying if I said it was only the sound that mattered, and I’m not just talking Spousal Acceptance Factor. If I’m spending hefty amounts of cash, I would prefer it if it looked at least half as good as it sounded. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this.
A brief glance at the photographs accompanying this report will tell you that AURALiC accomplishes this handily. This is good-looking kit. The Vega DAC ($3,500) and Aries streamer ($1,500), the Taurus Pre ($2,100) and the Merak mono block amplifiers ($5,000/pair) all seem of a piece, with their sleek matte silver casework and razor-sharp gold-on-black readout screens. There is nothing that says “I cobbled this together from haunting garage sales and Craigslist” about this system. Not that there’s anything WRONG with that, mind — but let’s admit it, occasionally there’s something a bit appealing about a rack of stuff that all clearly goes together.
Alright, the AURALiC gear is good-looking. But so’s a lot of gear. This is where Richard Colburn, AURALiC’s VP of sales and marketing, really earns his keep. See, it’s hard to make much of anything look good in a convention hotel that’s seen better days, and frankly, too few exhibitors even try. Plop down your speakers on the stained carpeting, put a couple ferns next to the rack, and call it a day. I tend to feel that if I’m considering spending the financial equivalent of a couple years of college tuition, the folks trying to sell me on it should put a little effort in. Put up a banner or some good-looking signage so that your name is actually in the photos. Control the environment with lighting. Tidy things up a little so it doesn’t feel like an estate sale. This is relatively simple stuff, but it’s surprising how many exhibitors forgo even the most simple set dressing. Walking into a room like AURALiC, it really can make all the difference, just giving the gear — and by extension the customer — a little bit of respect.
All that respect isn’t worth much if things don’t sound good, of course, which is why I’m happy to report that this room sounded superb. The AURALiC system was playing very, very nicely with a pair of YG Acoustics Carmel loudspeakers ($18,000). Depending on the rest of the chain, YG speakers in general can sometimes sound a bit overly precise to my ears, but the combination was working very well, and instead sounded very clear and inviting, echoing the look of the room.