Auralic Vega G1 Streaming DAC Review - HIFI AND MUSIC SOURCE

Auralic Vega G1 Streaming DAC Review - HIFI AND MUSIC SOURCE

July 01, 2019

This is my review of the excellent Auralic Vega G1. It is a streaming DAC, with digital volume control meaning you can output to power or integrated amplifier. Indeed, with a pair of active speakers, you’re in heaven, however, at this price and specification, we’re probably looking for a bit more than some high-end bookshelves (suggestions welcome!!).

The Auralic Vega G1 borrows a lot from the G2 which is Auralic’s very high-end DAC but the G1 is a bit cheaper without making many compromises. This Auralic Vega G1 has a composite anodized case, unlike the G2 that is machined from a single slab of Aluminum. The G1 has several G2 inputs removed, including the analogue input and options to have a lightning link that is designed to eliminate clock jitter and other timing issues. However, what is left is just perfect for streaming and converting your digital sources, USB or UPnP/DLNA media to an analogue output. Like the G2 there is a choice of XLR balanced or RCA unbalanced output.

 

The Auralic Vega G1 is controlled mainly through the Auralic Lightning DS iOS App. There are no Android applications still. The Lightning DS software is excellent and is Roon ready with native TIDAL and Qobuz Sublime+ streaming, AirPlay, Spotify Connect and Internet Radio. My 1st Generation iPad is just about able to keep up with App.

The music is displayed on the now familiar App and on the player itself with the artwork to the fore on a very nice 4-inch retina display screen.

At the front of the G1, there are two proper quarter inch headphone outputs.  I love this feature, apparently for continental couples listening in the loft.   What a great thought!  Notably, the headphones do not turn off speaker (interconnector) output so so just turn off your amplification source if you’re on headphones.   This basically makes for a purer signal path overall.

 

Quality

The Auralic Vega G1  is lovingly constructed.  The anodised case is perfect to the touch, though there are fingerprint issues, as with all nice bits of electronica.  There is a nice digital volume control and it doubles as a settings control knob at the front.  The settings menu is pretty comprehensive and is also adjustable in the App.

 

 

Performance

Set-up

I’ve been listening mainly with an XLR balanced output to a Micromega M150 and latterly with my old faithful but very excellent Roksan K2 integrated amplifier.  I’m using Atlas Mavros interconnectors to the Roksan K2 which is driving my own very wonderful Jern 14 DS cast iron speakers with QED Supremus speaker cable supported by a REL 5i subwoofer.  The G1 is connected to the router with my best ethernet cable.  I gather this may be a little too noisy electronically but it is the best I can do.

I listened to the headphone output with the still stunning Meze Empyreans, the now sadly out of production Oppo PM-2s ad the new Meze Neo 99s (review coming).

 

 

Resolution

The Auralic Vega G1 looks as clean as a whistle, and it sounds the same

 

The Auralic Vega G1 looks as clean as a whistle, and it sounds the same.  I often go to Ryan Adams’ “Rescue Blues live at the Carnegie Hall” for detail and the resolution is near as good as the vinyl on the Rega P8 with the Osiris amplifier.  It is that good.  A final listen to ‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Rodrigo y Gabriela confirms the stunning detail on offer.  If you’ve not listened to this track, or the album you should….. on an Auralic Vega G1!

I’ve just found myself listening to Nils Frahm’s “Ode”, you can hear him breathing in the recording and the hammers on the piano landing.   It is amazing, I gather this particular recording was made with the sides of the piano removed!  Incredible detail.

 

Soundstage

Mainly a function of the amplifier I guess but the G1 presents such a clean output to the amplifier, it is pretty hard for anything to muck the soundstage up from this fabulous streaming DAC.  Seriously.

Tonality

There a four filter Modes available in the Menu in the App or the Menu system you can easily navigate with the knob on the front.  I’ve set my filter now to Smooth from Precise with no real discernible change in tone but I feel a bit happier with the explanation in the menu system.  Maybe, this is a more ‘analogue setting’, who knows but it serves to illustrate there is much to play with and adjust here.  Tonally, the bass frequencies are comfortably presented in, for example, London Grammar’s ‘Rooting for You’ (04’10”), with Hannah Reids deep vocal, haunting the room.

Another perfect demonstration of vocals comes from the beautiful ‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen’ by Sam Cooke.  What a voice.

Dynamics/Rhythm

With a very analogue amplifier, the K2, dynamic tracks Like Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’ and ‘Tin Pan Alley’ are very neatly delivered and there are bags of Rhythm from the likes of ‘Telegraph Road’, that just bounces along.  Harking back to my Skrillex & Zomboy days, ‘Terror Squad’ bounces along wonderfully (explicit lyrics!) through my super fast Jern 14 speakers with the REL.  The G1 seems to cope with everything from Zomboy’s EDM back to Abba.

USB B

I’ve not had a play with the USB B input but I have no reason to doubt the results, based on all I’ve heard so far.

 

Headphone output

I’m finding the output from the headphones to be very good with both the Meze 99 Neo (32 Ohms, a couple of hundred pounds and review to follow) and the big Brother Empyreans.   Similarly, with a pair of Oppo PM-2s, planar magnetic and very easy to drive, the headphone output is perfectly acceptable.

Connecting a headphone in the jack does not mute the speakers (noted above) so I’m listening for best effect with the amplifier unplugged, very continental.

 

Overall

I’m delighted to say the first award from hifiandmusicsource.com is a five star “Outstanding” recommendation for this fabulous Auralic Vega G1

It is built beautifully, it looks great, it is clean and crisp, both sonically and aesthetically and it sounds amazing.  The App is great for built-in Tidal and Qobuz.  What’s not to like?

If I had one of these and the house was burning down, I would grab this first, then my best pair of headphones (whilst hustling the family out of course) and I would sit in my insurance paid mezzanine loft and listen to music all day whilst the house was being rebuilt.   If there was a matching clean looking balanced power amplifier we could be in Hi-Fi heaven here with the amazing Jern 14 speakers!

So good is this Auralic Vega G1 I have commissioned some artwork with my future recommendations.  My new rating system will be:

Nice (1 star)
Good (2 stars)
Recommended (3 stars)
Highly recommended (4 stars)
Outstanding (5 stars)

I’m delighted to say the first award from hifiandmusicsource.com is a five star “Outstanding” recommendation for this fabulous Auralic Vega G1.