When I first walked into the Auralic + YG Acoustics room at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, admittedly a little anxiety washed over me. However, I’ll go into why later. For now, let’s talk about Auralic, a brand I (and we at Part Time Audiophile) have descent experience with. Auralic has been impressing the members of our team for a years now, and more recently of note, a lot of press writers around the industry with the debut of their G Series DACs and streamers. One misconception I see floating out there is that the the entire G Series was an update to existing models of similar name, this is not true. The G Series is a from-the-bottom-up, holistically new product line developed to compete at the highest levels of digital audio management and playback systems.
My previous experience with the new G Series has been limited to the DAC and streamer only. So upon walking into a room with YG Acoustics speakers flanking a generous stack of Auralic equipment, I had reservations. But again, more on that later. Newest to the lineup of Auralic electronics is the LEO GX Reference Master Clock ($7,899 USD) which does PCM 44.1khz to 384khz, up to DSD 512, and has jitter specs 500 times less than an 82fs femto clock (measured 1hz – 10hz). The clock is of the Rubidium atomic-clock referencing type, a temperature controlled SC cut crystal oscillator. Dual low-noise internal power supplies, there is optical isolation control between the control and clock circuits, along with EMI-shielding from their “Unity Chassis.”
Okay, stepping back for a second, these are the kinds of specs and performance promises made by the big-boys in high-end digital. We all know the names, so no need to name them. But dig around your manuals (and white papers if you can find them) and do some comparisons between the fine details.
Further up the system I encountered the ARIES G2 Streamer and VEGA G2 DAC, along with two mysterious mono-block amplifiers of which the room sheet labeled them as “MEREK’s” but gave no price. I inquired further with confusion only to find that these were in-fact a “non-existent concept of unspeakable prototype boxes” — and that this conversation never happened. What I can tell you is that when the music got to rolling and thumping, the Kubala-Sosna cables tying everything together were grinning just as hard as I was.
I know the YG Acoustics speakers are great, but I also know they are finicky. I’ve heard them at other audio shows over the years, and in some of those moments, if the electronics were not a state-of-the-art example, to put it best there would be issues. To be honest, the Hailey 1.2 — along with others from the YG brand — can sound sterile, cold, dry, and less than alive when paired with the wrong electronics. Even more odd is that sometimes these “wrong electronics” come from pedigree brands and legendary designers. It’s safe to say, the YG Acoustics don’t always play well with others, but when they do — it means you’ve done something exceptionally right with choosing the associated equipment.
Today is the first time I’ve heard the YG Acoustics Hailey 1.2’s on electronics costing less than $150K where sonically things didn’t turn out “less than stellar”, — if fact, this Auralic pairing of electronics actually sounds damn good, maybe even great. When you take into account that the entire rack of Auralic electronics comes in at only one-fifth of the electronics price used in systems I’ve previously heard that, were at times worrisome. Today really speaks to two key issues in hi-fi. 1) Money can’t buy you love or the promise of great sound. 2) Auralic has decidedly proven they belong in a strata of sonic consideration that doesn’t solely revolve around their affordable price point. Auralic performance insists that we include them in the conversation with electronics from some of the more esoterically priced competition on the market.
Streaming Spotify Connect or MQA, you’d be positively convinced that the lively texture and animation imbued throughout the music — from the VEGA G2 Streaming DAC and LEO GX Reference Master Clock combination — was verging on organic, ultimately harmonious and acutely surreal. Brilliant showing.
– ARIES G2 Streaming Transporter ($3,899 USD)
– VEGA G2 Streaming DAC ($5,699 USD)
– LEO GX Reference Master Clock ($7,899 USD)
– Concept Prototype Mono-block Amplifiers (Price N/A)
– Hailey 1.2 Loudspeakers ($42,800 pr USD)
– Cables / System Total ($15,600 USD)
– Rack / SLAB 3L in African Wenge/Zebra ($3,100 USD)