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Xuanqian Wang at the Melbourne 2013 show
In Europe a Klutz CanCan stands ~€400 tall. An AURALiC Vega wants €3.300. A matching Taurus II gets €1.700. That's €5.400 for the 3some. Add cables. True, the Castor and Pollux twins shave off features. And the electronics are only based on, not identical to their stable mates. But even the 2000's sticker is far lower than pursuing these separates. At €995 the Gemini 1000 would seem quite the bargain when being compared to the Swedish stand's normal price which does nothing but look pretty whilst cradling your cans.

On 'keep it real' we mention that the SDXC memory card relies on a connected laptop/PC to access its contents. Using either Gemini solo with a fully loaded card inserted won't yet get you sound. But you can certainly bring your snazzy headphone dock over to a friend and carry your favorite music on it. How to get at card-loaded tunes with a simple DAC has even put the Resonessence crew through hoops with their Invicta. LessLoss will have similar issues with their Laminar Streamer aka card-reading DAC. Unless there's a big display with nav controls.

I categorically carry no music on my work computer. I use a computer dedicated to just music for that. It's my separation of church and state. With the Gemini I'd simply run a USB cable to my HP work station, then select its card contents from my 27" screen without actually streaming anything from the computer. Neat. Of course most computers come with card slots. If not a cheap card reader is easily added. But now you're having the computer transfer actual music files. With AURALiC's solution you aren't. The computer is merely the hardwired 'remote'.

To remind yourself of the general math at work, give a final glance at AURALiC's sidewall rack in Las Vegas where Vega and Taurus II fronted the Merak monos into Vienna Acoustics speakers. It's a nice visualization of the miniaturization the Geminis accomplished. Obviously there was no room for a power supply in the brass base. That goes outboard and connects with an umbilical like a laptop. Those who wonder class A = heatsinks? appreciate why AURALiC went brass. It turns the entire disc into a heatsink. But 1 or 2 watts of class A aren't exactly anxiety issue on that count.

Audiophiles of course are conditioned to view anything styled attractively with suspicion. Andy Smith on John Darko's site opined that "this just seems like an utterly daft idea. Audiophiles love to mix and match components in the search for audio nirvana so this integrated solution won’t appeal to us unless of course aesthetics and interior design credibility override sonics." He went on to point out that "surely the pricing for this is way too high as a small integrated headphone amp/DAC and headphone stand can be acquired for far less than $1,000. Only an exceptionally well-heeled audiophile would pay $540 for a wooden painted headphone stand regardless of how aesthetically pleasing it appears. Moreover, will these products sound as sonically competent as the $823 Resonessence Concero HP or the $499 W4S uDAC-HD plus a less decorative yet functional headphone stand?"

Gan Solo chimed in with "the Gemini 2000 model costs about $500 more than a Fostex HP-A8 which is a damn good DSD-capable amp/preamp/DAC by most standards. The Gemini 2000 is also about a hundred bucks more than a Burson Conductor, another highly regarded amp/DAC. For that price the Gemini had better sound at least as good or better."

Why? Such comments overlook a basic fact. Those cited products already exist. Why bother making another one just like 'em? AURALiC's Geminis are for those who want something different and are prepared to pay an aesthetic surcharge to get it. B&O has built an entire empire around that. Horses for courses. Owning a Burson Conductor I could weigh in whether the Gemini 2000 was more lifestyle than performance. Or perhaps both?

With Audeze LCD-XC

"After feedback from CanJam, we worked on some improvements to delay first shipments. As a class A design the first version ran pretty hot since its base deliberately doubles as heat sink. We were asked to address this a bit so we added a signal detection circuit which shuts down the entire amp after 30 seconds of inaction. If you listen for more than two hours of course, the base still gets pretty hot." There'd be no safety issues if the circuit itself didn't overheat. Heat and class A are conjoined twins after all. The wooden stand of course might dislike getting too toasty and perhaps some taller footers could prevent the brass base from unduly heating up whatever it stood on?