HiFiandMusicSource.com, reviewing independently, and self-funded, for nearly eight years now has introduced a new awards system. Following my recent run of outstanding pieces of HiFi equipment from the likes of Rega, Meze, and Auralic, I thought it was time to start awarding some stars for the fun of it, and first out of the blocks is the five-star Auralic Vega G1.
It is outstanding, for me, because it is just doing one or two things really really well. The streaming bit and the DAC bit are both perfect. Streaming means connectivity and a decent App and the DAC bit means processing it to analogue, cleanly, for output. Added to this are clean lines and two headphone outputs and we are in the outstanding territory. It is absolutely right in the outstanding award, notwithstanding the price, but you get what you pay for, don’t you?
Let’s have a look then at the individual awards and how they are going to sit.
These products are going to be less about price and only about HiFi.
Another thing I’m thinking of is that these products must compliment my ‘HiFi Heaven’ journey, this is me trying to find my ultimate HiFi system, so definitely no price consideration!
I won’t go back through my posts but other Outstanding products I’ve heard and seen in the last few years will include, without thinking too hard, the Rega Osiris integrated amp, the Rega P8 with the Aura phono stage, and probably the Rega Isis CD player. I’m bound to add the Focal Sopra No.2s in here which were one of the highlights of my HiFi life, driven by a NAP 250 DR. I would also include, the Focal Utopia headphones and/or the Meze Empyrean headphones.
Cables wise, I’m likely to think of the Atlas Mavros cables I’m fortunate to have, both speaker and interconnector. While I think about it, the Atlas EOS DD power leads go in here too. That’s an outstanding (geddit!) start anyway.
If I get hold of one, I have a feeling the Moon 780D v2 is going in here, without prejudging things of course!
Therefore an outstanding system could look like this:
Streaming DAC – Auralic Vega G1
Amplifier – integrated, Rega Osiris
Turntable – Rega Planar 8, with an Aura phone stage (no price consideration remember)
CD – Oppo 205 BDP (but unfortunately they’ve stopped making these), so a Rega Isis
Speakers – Focal Sopra No.2 (electric orange)
Headphones – Focal Utopia, maybe with a Benchmark Headphone amp, I have one for review on the way?
With no budget, I think that would sound pretty good to me, emphasis on me, not necessarily you.
This category will include those bits of equipment that are still amazing but are not quite there, probably for little reason. Immediately coming to mind are my wonderful JERN 14DS cast iron with REL T/5i subwoofer. The combination is frankly still incredible and this combination is my reference/standard listening setup. The Jern speakers are completely pinpoint detail perfect but they need the REL to support the lower end (by design). So for me, they are highly recommended, and you would need a listen before you commit. Another factor in this category and part of the Jern 14 story is the price point and this is included in this award.
Other Highly recommended products include the recent Bluesound Node 2i, the pocket battleship Rega Brio. They would go together perfectly, I suspect, and for the price of those two, what a place to start, just plug in a Planar 3 and your HiFi journey could get off to a flier.
Another HiFi journey could begin with the amazing Moon 390 steaming preamplifier and this is definitely in this category, at a different price point, of course.
Although there should be more of a price consideration in here I would highly recommend the GIK Acoustics sound panels as they have certainly added value to my listening space.
In other areas of HIFI, the new Meze 99 Neos headphones are going in here for fabulous sound reproduction, comfort, and a ridiculously low price tag when I’ve completed the review.
If you’re after a highly recommended headphone amplifier, look no further than the Moon 230HAD.
A Highly Recommended system, that might just be a fraction more affordable therefore, could look like this:
Streaming DAC – Bluesound Node 2i
Amplifier – Rega Brio or an Elicit-R
Turntable – Rega Planar 3 Moon LP110 phone stage
CD – no sure, I’ve not done many CD Players
Speakers – Jern 14 DS with REL 5i
Headphones – Meze 99 Neo with a Moon 230HD amplifier (a bit over the top and anyway should probably be in the outstanding list).
Again this system is for my ears and I’m getting a bit evangelical on the Jern thing, I suspect.
Here, recommended products are those that will give you good performance at the price you select, but you are always going to have to have a listen yourself.
I’ll start with the Escape P9 Bluetooth tower, patio hardware of the highest order.
Other recommended products I can think of would include the A&K SE100s, great sound, too expensive for me but great, nonetheless.
You’re getting the idea now, these products are just really ‘good’ products that deliver and you probably can’t go wrong. Don’t worry about them being only two stars, this is good technology that will get you sorted and won’t fall to bits in two minutes. For example the Focal Sparks, wireless in-ears are are just really good. I wear them every day doing exercise and they are just doing a good job.
Finally, these products are nice bits of tech, they warrant a star at least and a look if you’re in this space. Springing to mind is the Yamaha MusicCast range, good solid and they work, nice price and not Sonos. Also nice, all of the Tibo stuff I’ve had recently, the Kameleon 6 is a great Bluetooth bit of kit as is the Sphere 2.
I’ve not gone through my whole website here and of course, I can only rate what I’ve heard but it will be a bit of fun in the coming period, trying not to award five stars every two reviews! Likely!