Showing with Piega loudspeakers and AudioQuest cables, AURALiC front man Xuanqian Wang was demoing his new combo DAC-streamer, the $1,900 Altair. Altair is a combo of the Aries and VEGA, in a more affordable, streamlined, packaging.
Some sacrifices had to be made, but Xuanqian here was being practical — there’s really only so much space in the box. But, that said, expect a linear PSU and full support for up to 4xDSD and DXD formats. Femto clocks and the “flex filter mode” are included, as is space for a 2.5″ hard drive for local storage/playback, but WiFi and Ethernet connectivity is included too. And yes, you can get your Altair in silver or black.
What’s new? A couple of things. First up is Memory Player, coming in the next version of firmware (v4). Memory Player uses local RAM (1G in the Altair, but varies by platform) to “rip” the file from your NAS or streaming service (like Tidal) to avoid jitter or interrupts before clocking data directly into the DAC. Pre-fetch grabs the next file in series for continuous sweetness.
Also new is the Auralic account. This opt-on service delivers post-sale service, warranty, newsletter and voucher for add-ons, like a free Tidal subscription. Privacy nuts should be happy — info is minimal and user-controlled.
Also new/coming: Zone Mode. Wanna go multi-system? Like your AV receiver! Now you can.
What’s coming? An Altair integrated. A top-of-the-line Aries streamer (with new tech Xuanqian was giggling about). A whole new line of products — think “flagship”. New Lightning DS for iPad and desktop (Windows and Mac). New music discovery and recommendation service.