RMAF 2016: AURALiC sighting by stars, Polaris and Altair


AURALiC has a reputation for over-performing and under-charging customers (a trend I’d like to see a lot more of), and RMAF saw no major deviation from that line of thinking. You could say that they’ve charted a course and have been following it with dedication, persistence and tenacity.

As many of you no doubt know, the AURALiC brand launched their VEGA DAC some years ago to much acclaim — and, as we learned, that acclaim was very much deserved. They’ve branched out beyond the DAC (there are amps and preamps available, too), but it was the breach into high-end audio streaming that really saw them step away from the pack. Especially when they were able to bring that experience way down market.

If one were to plot out these stops along the celestial highway, one could be led to see a constellation of sorts, and while this is not why Polaris is more than a little interesting, it is a long way to go to make an analogy. Ahem.

Polaris is, pretty much, a Swiss Army knife. It takes many of the tried-and-true tech AURALiC has been toying with in separates, and … yes … integrates them into a single box. Polaris ($3,800US) is an integrated amp that features a wireless streamer, a music server, and a DAC. It’s all in there, baby. Prego.

All the features you want to see — gapless playback, support for up to DSD256 and PCM up to 384kHz, and yes, support for Tidal and Roon native to the platform (and a host of other features) — the 120 watts per channel (8Ω) is going to be more than enough to light up a very sweet consolidated system. Just add some Ryan Speakers (or even a turntable, because the darn thing has a moving magnet phono input!) and an iDevice to run the custom Lightning DS app, and you’re off to the races.

I’ve been wondering about designer Xuanqian Wang’s plans for the future for AURALiC, whether or not Polaris was going to be the new polestar, an inflection point for the company, with more and more products drifting closer and closer to that Affordable Audio segment. Not a bad move, if so, but apparently not — the upcoming AXPONA show may reveal a slightly different focus. Stay tuned.

Rocky Mountain Audio Festival coverage brought to you by Noble Audio. Visit them at https://nobleaudio.com/.

About Scot Hull 1039 Articles
Scot started all this back in 2009. He is currently the Publisher here at PTA, the Publisher at The Occasional Magazine, and the Executive Producer at The Occasional Podcast. There are way too many words about him over on the Contributors page.


  1. SS,

    Just one little point of note… Jay-Zed isn’t the only owner of Tidal Basin, right? Jack White, a couple kids from Arcade Fire, Chris Martin (um what’s my point)… so it’s not just the hip hop crowd. I mean, as far as we know, it’s not making any money. So it’s probably not putting cash in the owners’ pockets.

    Just a few thoughts. Keep bombusting and whatever you do, do NOT, EVER, let “facts” or “truth” get in your way.


    • Bill –

      The cultural philistine known as JayZ is the primary farce behind Tidal Basin and that is fact. I fully realize that other folk, some of whom are genuinely talented musicians, are a part of the Bowl. Damning me with faint praise by saying that I should NOT EVER let “facts” or “truth” get in my way is ridiculous.

      Obviously so many people subscribe to that service that my stand against it will not harm it one bit. But I care about what I spend my money on and so i will continue to refuse to subscribe and others, including you, are free to do as you so desire.

      May the Farce be with you.

      SS 😉

      • I just realized I cannot always convey what I want with the written word. I try to be humorous and come off sounding like my great aunts. Even the addition of a “smilie” and the “Farce Be With You” failed me. Or I simply am losing it…

        I am listening to Johnny Hartman right now so hopefully that will cure me. One of the finest vocalists ever. Apologies to all for my abject failure above.


  2. Scotτ- Huge fan of your.

    What are your inner thoughts about the AURALIC Vega 2 in 2017 and Aries 2? Do you see this as another game changer… or has AURENDER taken over this space?

    I am a current Vega owner and looking forward to the new model.

  3. So clever, SS! And so cheerfully ignorant!

    I don’t like most hip hop, but then again I don’t like most pop, classical, or jazz. MOST. But the good stuff, ah, there’s the rub. The transcendent, genius stuff — that’s the reason you listen! And this stuff exists in EVERY genre. Writing off entire swaths of creative endeavor is good way to miss being pleasantly surprised, or educated, or maybe even blown away by something you didn’t expect. Get some barbed wire Q-tips and open up your ears a bit. Learning something new is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but you have to be receptive and maybe even do a bit of work, because the good stuff is usually not the most popular stuff.

    As for Tidal, I’m relatively new to it and got it bundled with the amazing Auralic Aries Mini, but am so far quite impressed. They have a huge catalog of obscure and interesting jazz and other music from around the world, and I’m sure I have many years of digging around their archives ahead of me.

    If you don’t like Tidal’s owners, management, or marketing practices, that’s fine. And as with all streaming services there are issues around artist compensation that need to be addressed. But as a resource for discovering new music, they’re quite good. And you can sign up for a cheaper, compressed audio version if you just KNOW that uncompressed audio is a bunch of bunk and everyone who says otherwise is just doing so to make you and your ears feel insecure.

    So cheer up! It’s the holidays, nobody is strapping you to a chair and force-feeding you crappy music. You have a choice, and isn’t that great?

    • Hello nowave!

      My words are far from “ignorant”, cheerful or otherwise. They are not just words banded together in haphazard fashion, but rather (for the most part, LOL!) carefully crafted statements that speak to others who just want to listen to music without the usual ORD©. What pray tell, is “ORD©”?

      Obsessive-Repulsive Disorder™ So many frAudiophiles­® today strain at a bit but swallow the snake oil. These individuals have become so obsessed with the equipment that their behavior is downright repulsive. Hence, the clever term I gave said “disorder”, ORD©.

      I am cheerful. I enjoy music and the equipment that brings it to us all. But I refuse to lay claim to the canard that I can tell the difference in formats, equipment, cabling, etc., when I cannot. And in a genuine double-blind (frAudiophile® TriggerWord Alert!) I have little, if any, doubt that anyone can do so with any degree of consistency that would indicate they have golden ears. I like equipment that is beautiful to behold and while I will grant you that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, fugly is (or should be) universally rejected.

      Of course all this could mean nothing to you and you could be thinking, “SS, you can go £ sand”. And with that clever bit o’ phraseology I shall sign off for now. By the way, speakers are the most important part of a system. But I suspect you knew that…

      All the best to all of you.


  4. Nice. Very nice, indeed. But…Everyone I know has a big but, so let’s talk about this one, shall we?

    Why the hype about “Roon” and that pile of dross known as “Tidal”, especially so the latter which I refer to as “Tidal Bowl”. The only reason I didn’t buy a Auralic Aries Mini for my older brother is “Tidal Bowl” was included in the purchase price. FTN. I didn’t buy one for myself for the same reason with the added annoyance of no display. I would prefer a display. Color please. One that shows artwork as well as information. I don’t want to HAVE to use my phone for that.

    No then. Back to the big but…

    There are plenty of music services out there and I myself have Pandora One and SiriusXM while my older brother and his wife have Spotify. Here is the gist of my stand against Tidal Bowl. – I don’t think (not feeeeeeel) that anyone can hear a difference in so-called Hi-Rez. If you want to pay for it, fine. I do not. And Tidal Bowl is owned by cRap and Hippity Hop Arteests and as long as I can avoid ever giving those Cultural Philistines any of my hard earned money, I will.

    There is nothing worthy in the hate riddled “lyrics” of cRap and Hippity Hop. They are filled with misogyny, hatred of law enforcement, hatred of white people, the joy of rape, violence against any and every one and more. Why would I give that pig “Jay Z” my money when I disagree with him and others of his ilk on so many levels?

    And cRap and Hippity Hop are far from musical. Nothing musical about a 20 hertz “THUD”, is there? Nothing musical about stealing…oh, excuse me…”sampling” someone else’s work because you are a musical retard. Nothing musical about “AutoTune”. Nothing worthy about the entire industry. Anyone that defendes that Industry is a canard spewing politician of the “progressive” mold. Mold…that fits.

    Now then, prior to any ridiculous assertions by any that would vainly attempt to negate my words with their faux indignant squeals of “RACIST!” allow me to state that there is but ONE race and that being human. To squeal that accusation is to show yourself a pig of the Animal Farm Order.

    As for Roon? Well, I just don’t get it. It may well be good or even great but to pay (currently) $119 every year or lose your license to use Roon is ridiculous! Why not just buy JRiver and if you want to upgrade, do so? If not, don’t. Or use iTunes or Windows Media Player. Or if you are really weird, just give the goons at Roon $499 for a lifetime (theirs, not yours) subscription. FTN.

    I don’t want something for free, but neither do I desire to be held captive by Roon on a yearly basis. Give them $499 for a lifetime sub? No thank you. If they go belly up, you are out with nothing to show for your hard earned money. Simple. A chance I care not to take.

    And do not get me started on that farce known as MQA. Talk about the Emperor’s New Clothes set to music. 😉

    By the way, where’s the photos of a smiling Fremer?


    • SS and Co.,

      This is by far my favorite comment ever on this blog. I have no idea what it’s about… but it was amazing.

      I’m glad someone has drawn a hard line against hip hop, redefined race, rejected a component that isn’t what we wanted, and come up with a clever nickname for Tidal (in our house we call it “Tidal Basin” because it holds my money during low tide). As an aside, I totally get what SS is saying about phones. I don’t even want to use mine to make calls any more.

      In a word (or three) to my favorite one-t Scot, “Sign him up!” A weekly or even a monthly column by (the disturbingly named) “SS” would be required reading across the audiophilosphere!

      Just. Do. It.


      • Hi Bill.

        And thank you for the kind words along with your endorsement of my writing. I like to think that most writers are anything but and are in fact, typists. I want to write. I want to laugh and enjoy this hobby, not obsess over a perceived loss of a bit because of a supposed failing in some cable or whatnot that caused the Musicalifragelisticexpeallidociousness™ to be diminished. When I write I am trying to convey the emotion of my experience so that if I am fortunate, they will become yours. If only for a moment. Music is what we listen to, not equipment. I have commented elsewhere on this site on this because I truly enjoy music.

        As for the “SS”, they are my initials but if it is any comfort to people I am also a fan of the Camaro SS. I am an admirer of the Camaro, Mustang and the Challenger and so while “SS” are my initials they also reflect a part of me from my youth that has desired those particular cars.

        I like “TIdal Basin”! I came upon my term for the service when I thought cRap deserves to be flushed and the product Tidy Bowl came to mind. Phraseology is important to me.

        Thanks again!


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