AURALiC announce POLARIS streaming amplifier w/ MM phono

All for one, one for all. Not the Three Musketeers but AURALiC’s latest product line extension. In the seventies, integrated amplifiers added a bonus phono stage, in the noughties a DAC. Nowadays, as we’ve seen with Devialet, Vinnie Rossi, Micromega and Moon by Simaudio, we get the kitchen sink.

And so it goes with AURALiC’s all new super integrated – POLARIS (US$3799). Inside a Vega-sized chassis and available in silver and black, we spy streamer, server, DAC, MM phono stage, pre-amplifier and loudspeaker amplifier.

I exchanged emails with AURALiC CEO Xuanqian Wang in order to dig a little deeper than the press release.

The DAC supports playback of Quad-Rate DSD and PCM up to 32Bit/384K and comes loaded with (the ARIES Mini’s) user selectable filters and Femto data clocking. Digital inputs include AES/EBU, Coaxial, Toslink, USB and Wifi/Ethernet-fuelled digital audio streamer.

Predictably, POLARIS’ streamer mainlines AURALiC’s Lightning DS platform, one that offers gapless, bit-perfect, memory-cached playback from: cloud streaming services (Tidal, Qobuz); network shares (Open Home, UPnP, Roon Ready), connected USB drives (front and rear ports) and an (optional) internal drive. Like the ARIES Mini, POLARIS can accommodate a 2.5” SSD in its undercarriage for full standalone server functionality.

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Then come a couple of surprises.

Firstly, each of POLARIS’ two analogue inputs can be configured in-software (with echoes of Devialet) as pre-amplifier output, line-level input or MM phono input. On this Wang says, “The MM phono stage is pure analogue with the RIAA curve applied in the analogue domain. However, every analogue input is digitised to DSD256 so we can utilise POLARIS’ Hybrid Volume Control.”

Hybrid volume control? Yessir. Attenuation that operates in the analogue domain for the larger steps and in the digital domain for the in-between, smaller steps.

Quoth the press release: “The analogue attenuators reduce the signal level in 12dB steps whilst the DAC’s internal digital volume control handles small amounts of volume change within each step. By using this technology, the DAC chip always operates in the best performance range, bringing much lower distortion, better dynamic range and high sound quality at low volume levels.”

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For loudspeaker drive, AURALiC have gone with Hypex UCD180 modules that net 120wpc into 8 Ohms and 180wpc into 4 Ohms. That’s plenty powerful for a pair of ELAC UB5 or KEF LS50.

This isn’t the end of POLARIS’ introduction. We’ll interviewing Xuanqian Wang about his new baby as it debuts at RMAF 2016 this coming weekend. Hang tight for that video coverage and show-based photos.

Further information: AURALiC

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Written by John H. Darko

John lives in Berlin, Germany. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also a very occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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9 Comments

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  1. Seems like a fine way to end the search for good sound, don’t you think? Competes very favorably with SimAudio Neo Ace and has a beefier amplifier too, if I remember correctly.

    I can’t afford either of these, but it helps to know what’s out there

  2. Versatile simplicity offered by the creators of a renowned DAC. The Auralic, Simaudio, and Vinnie Rossi products all seem pretty appealing.

  3. Now we just need Lyngdorf to release Phono and Stream module for their TDAI-2170 and we have great options to choose from!

    They had nice remote controllable phono module for their Millennium ADC so the know how is there.
    I hope that they will do it!

  4. John:

    Can you tell us if the Polaris has the same type of amp as the Merak: “The heart of MERAK is AURALiC Hybrid Analog Amplify technology. By joint using it with ORFEO Class A output module, input isolation transformer, linear power supply and several latest technologies, AURALiC has successfully brought the design essence of analog age back to life.”

    Or does it just have the UCD class D module?

    AURALiC has been great about bring their high-end technology into more affordable products, but I wonder if they have in this case.

    Thanks!

    • Far as I can tell, they use the UCD180 modules which are old. They should have waited for the new NC122MP. Early reports are saying the new Hypex modules are miles ahead.

      There isn’t a linear supply in that little box.

    • I hit up Xuanxian Wang, CEO of AURALiC, for this answer: “The POLARIS does not use our Hybrid Analog Amplify technology and also no ORFEO class A module, due to space and cost limitation.”

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