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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
27" iMac with 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 16GB 1.333MHz RAM, 2TB hard disc, 256GB SSD drive, ADM Radeon HD 6970M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, PureMusic 1.82 in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM and AIFF files up to 24/192; Antelope Audio Zodiac Gold/Voltikus, April Music Eximus DP1, Esoteric/APL Hifi UX1/NWO-M
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright LS-100 with Synergy Hifi tubes, Esoteric C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X
Amplifier: FirstWatt S2 [on loan], ModWright KWA-100SE
Speakers: Audiomanufacture Boenicke B10
Headfi amplifiers: ModWright LS-100, April Music Eximus DP1, Schiit Lyr, Burson Audio HA-160
Headfi speakers: Audez'e LCD-2, Sennheiser HD-800, Beyerdynamic T1 and T5p, AKG K-702 (all ALO Audio rewired, T5p also with balanced option), HifiMan HE5LE & HE6
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Audio Event, Entreq USB cables
Stands: 2 x ASI HeartSong 3-tier, 2 x ASI HeartSong amp stand
Powerline conditioning: 1 x GigaWatt PF2, 1 x Furutech RTP-6
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size: 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review component: $1.799

29 November 2011 13:02
. "Our new Taurus headphone is now in production. This headphone amplifier was deliberately designed to power perfectly every single dynamic headphone on the market including the notorious HifiMan HE6. We will ship this new model to our distributors and end users in January 2012 just after the New Year holidays. I will send you a final review unit around the 10th of the month to let you follow up on your review* of our ARK MX+ converter and use both in combination.

* For some company background please refer to this article. - Ed

"Here is a photo of the prototype's innards without the AFN402 mains transformer shield. I personally prefer the Taurus to our ARK MX+ because we could build a truly great headphone amplifier for this price whilst for a DAC at our target price we could only build a good converter." - 王轩骞 Wang Xuanqian

The Taurus makes from 1 watt into 600Ω to 4.5 watts into 32Ω. Fully balanced, it sports RCA + XLR i/o ports selectable on the fly. The outputs parallel as headphone jacks and line level. The RCA/XLR paths may be crossed. Entering one way and exiting the other is legit. The design's potted Orfeo modules were inspired by Rupert Neve's classic analog mixing console. "The principle is to pack a mass of small signal parts with the most linear characteristics through a thermal balancing procedure, then bias the output transistors into high class A for open loop distortion below 0.001% to share the same warm and natural sound with the Neve 8078."

The specs for AURALiC's input buffer are impressive. There's >130dB dynamic range with output noise below 2uV. Input impedance is a high 100KΩ/200KΩ on RCA/XLR respectively. This supports even valve-buffered digital sources. Claimed frequency response is 3Hz-300kHz ±3dB or 20Hz-20kHz ±0.1dB. THD is a claimed <0.002% (20Hz-20KHz at rated output). Crosstalk is given as <-80dB at 1kHz. Output power into headphones varies for RCA and XLR. In the former mode—abbreviated STD on the front panel—the most efficient power transfer occurs into 32Ω for a whopping 4500mW. For BAL the same power manifests into the four times higher 120Ω impedance. There standard mode makes the same 1200mW which balanced makes into 32Ω. Think second crisscross.

Into 300/600Ω balanced mode squarely quadruples over single-ended mode. Those figures are thus 500/2000mW and 250/1000mW. Input sensitivity and maximum input voltage prior to overload are 2Vrms and 6Vrms. Power dissipation is 50 watts. Being at least x 10 the rated output, this reflects class A bias. Dimensions are 11 x 9 x 2.6' WxDxH (33 x 23 x 6.5cm). Weight is 12 lbs/5.3kg.