Here’s a look at the ALTAIR G1.1, from HF&MS favourite Auralic who seem hell-bent on delivering the purest audio streaming experience. Auralic offers a range of streaming solutions that culminate in a performance centred high end streaming DAC, the VEGA G2.1; there is also a pure streaming transport, called ARIES and there is this ALTAIR which is the more affordable ‘one-box’ streaming solution for digital music with analogue output.
Each product has the option of different chassis solutions, the G2.1 range features Auralic’s high-grade aluminium chassis that features an internal copper enclosure for maximum noise and RF reduction, as well as a high mass base with sprung feet. This G1.1 update on the G1 is built on learning points from the G2.1 series of products.
Auralic also offers the LEO GX.1 which is an external reference master clock in the range and the SIRIUS G2.1 up sampling processor.
The G1.1 update to the ALTAIR features the high-mass base from the award-winning G2.1 series products. This base plate is satin silver which improves the overall aesthetic and provides extra vibration damping for enhanced performance. As well as this the ALTAIR G1.1 now supports AirPlay 2, further expanding the streaming solutions offered by Auralic. There is also the option of buying an internal SSD storage solution to store music inside the device.
The ALTAIR G1.1 digital audio streamer has an improved Femto clock over the G1 and it also has an upgraded built-in headphone amplifier.
Inputs to the ALTAIR G1.1 are AES, USB B, COAX and TOSLink. There is a Bluetooth platform and a USB-A connection at the back that could be used to rip or play CDs should you desire. The ALTAIR has all of the streaming options you could wish for including Qobuz, Tidal, Spotify, Amazon, etc. It has ROONReady status as well. The full streaming specification is here.
Network connectivity is via Ethernet or WiFi and the outputs are all analogue, both balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA out are available.
All of the Auralic products, in my experience, have been faultless in terms of connectivity and audio quality and the build quality has always reflected this. There is a reassuring weight to the ALTAIR G1.1 and the anodized aluminium case in matte black is a delight, though still ‘fingerprinty’. On the front facia there is a selection knob for menu management and input, streaming and volume control, to the left is the single 6.35mm headphone output.
The new ALTAIR G1.1 weighs in at 7.4kg and it is slightly slimline than standard HiFi separates at 34cm x 32cm x 8cm (W x D x H).
The ALTAIR G1.1 is priced at £2699.
Less is more. This ALTAIR G1.1 is plugged analogue out into the passive Moor Amps Angel preamplifier which is in turn connected to the Moor Amps Angel 6 power amplifier with Tellurium Q Ultra Black II XLR cables. I’m using Atlas Ailsa interconnects to the preamplifier from the ALTAIR, and I’m using a Vertere Redline power cable into the Auralic.
There are also Atlas EOS DD power cables to the amplifiers. In turn, these three power cables are plugged into an Atlas Eos Modular 2.5 Power Distribution Block, every little helps. The Angel 6 is driving a pair of absolutely beautiful Kudos Titan 505 loudspeakers in the new liquid amber finish. The system is very revealing indeed. I also have here a Naim Uniti Serve library with nearly 2,000 CDs in WAV format.
The 4-inch screen, with 300ppi, is crystal clear and displays all the album artwork and other streaming details…
I have the ALTAIR G1.1 on a granite block for additional isolation from the floor. The solid silver base is classy and commands attention over and above the pre and power amplifiers. The 4-inch screen, with 300ppi, is crystal clear and displays all the album artwork and other streaming details, depending on the input.
Menu management is simple with the matching satin silver selector knob to the right that manages inputs and other streaming settings if the iPad is not handy. It is all very intuitive and easy to manage. I’ve been on fixed output to the preamplifier for most of the review period, but this selector can manage volume control if chosen.
the Lightning DS App is faultless and one of the top music management interfaces out there
I’ve had the ALTAIR hard-wired for the review period for ease of use. iPad control with the Lightning DS App is faultless and one of the top music management interfaces out there, in my experience.
USB B laptop input
Connecting my XPS laptop to the ALTAIR is desperately simple. Open Qobuz (or Tidal, etc.) and select Audio output as ALTAIR and you’re away with full fat 192kHz/24-bit HiRes output. I have an Atlas Mavros USB-A to B cable with their GRUN earthing system so my signal path is pretty clean to the ALTAIR. There is no particular reason to think this, however, I feel a more satisfying bass response with the streamed output from the laptop, for example with Coldplay’s Everglow opening (Qobuz FLAC 24-bit, 96kHz), than from the internally streamed source. This really makes no sense at all as the source path is a lot more complicated than the internal one. Nonetheless, that’s my reality and Solisfar’s heavy Her Fall from Grace (Qobuz FLAC 24-bit, 48kHz) in the Vega G2.1 playlist only serves to reinforce my favoured low-end appreciation.
Naim Uniti Serve
Accessibility is fast, the library indexed quickly, and it is… faultless
The slightly dodgy (in network connectivity terms) Naim Uniti Serve was found quickly by the ALTAIR and has been excellent with the Lightning OS App on the iPad. Accessibility is fast, the library indexed quickly, and it is, yet again, faultless.
I used the USB-A backup of the Naim library into the rear USB-A input to the ALTAIR, and this also indexed and worked perfectly.
The Bluetooth interaction seems to be brilliant with my Android Pixel 6 Pro. I was able to excitedly listen to Ryan Adams’ cover of Springsteen’s Nebraska as soon as I had the download on my phone. Seemingly, Nebraska is where Ryan Adams started his musical journey; he wasn’t the only one. This recording is available as a free download at PaxAm here (as of January 2023).
Streaming with the iPad
As mentioned, the Lightning DS App makes Qobuz and Tidal a delight to get lost in. Turning to the Auralic Vega G2.1 playlist on Qobuz, review favourite Helplessness Blues (Qobuz FLAC 24-bit, 96kHz) has the space and layering I always listen for and the Titan loudspeakers deliver with a crispness and ease that I find second to none in recent years. This playlist is centred around resolution and detail, for example, Idle Moments, (Qobuz FLAC 24-bit, 192kHz), soundstage with April Skies (Qobuz FLAC 16-bit, 44.1kHz) and pure musicality and rhythm from the whole of Ryan Adams’ Gold (Qobuz FLAC 24-bit, 96kHz). All moments with this ALTAIR feel particularly warm and efficient working during the day becomes an issue the longer it stays here.
…this level of headphone performance obviates the need for a dedicated headphone amplifier
The headphone output is always excellent with Auralic and there is no suggestion here that they’ve forgotten what to do. Inserting the headphones into the 6.35mm output jack does not cut the analogue output so you need to turn off your amplifier and, in my case select variable volume in the menu system so as not to blow your ears off. The thinking here with Auralic is to keep the signal path to the headphone output as clean as possible. There is nothing not to like about the headphone output and the T+A Solitaire T headphones in passive mode are outstanding here as are the new release Meze Audio 109 Pros. Indeed this level of headphone performance obviates the need for a dedicated headphone amplifier unless you’re listening at the very highest level.
the ALTAIR G1.1… is outstanding in all aspects and it is not out of place in this exceptional two-channel system
Yes, this is a very special two-channel stereo setup and the Kudos Titans are clearly revelling in the clean source on offer and the effortless Moor Amps amplification. What is also very clear is the ALTAIR G1.1 ‘entry level’ equipment which is outstanding in all aspects and it is not out of place in this exceptional two-channel system. After what has been a generous loan period over the Christmas break, my notes reflect faultless operation over the period, network stability and repeated high-end performance where I have not heard a note out of place.
High-quality streaming solution
Ease of Use
For a permanent loan!
Full details are on the company’s site.