Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How to Change the Sound of the Auralic Vega without Cords, Cables, or Tweaks

Auralic Vega

There is no question that the Auralic Vega is one of the best available DACs within it's price range. The multitude of reviews and awards reaveal this to be true time and again. The sound of this gem whether playing PCM or DSD recordings is lively, rich, full bodied with a wide and deep soundstage. 

We have covered how to tweak the Vega for maximum performance, but today I wanted to cover how to change the sound of the Auralic Vega without cords, cables, or tweaks.

What many audiophiles don't realize is that you can tailor the sound of the Vega to your system by using the filter modes. For PCM recordings, you have the choice of 4 filters, each with it's own unique sound.

From the Auralic Vega's owners manual:

1. MODE 1MODE 1 offers best measurement performance with flat frequency response well extended to treble. This mode has very small in-band ripple and best stop-band
attenuation performance. MODE 1 is best for the playback of orchestral music.

OUR COMMENT: I found Mode 1 to have plenty of sparkle and air. On good recordings, massed strings or layered vocals had a nice separation to them. On lesser recordings and streaming lossy music this could get a little edgy and fatiguing. 

2. MODE 2MODE 2 exhibits a gentler roll-off curve of frequencies; it maintains great in-band, stop-band performance while trades off small attenuation at treble. 

OUR COMMENT: Modes 2 and 3 deal with the issue of pre and post ringing, with the tradeoff being slightly rolled off high frequencies. Mode 2 is the less extreme filter of the two, exhibiting a slight softening. This was pleasing for lesser recordings and streaming of lossy music. On better recordings, the separation of instruments and vocals was a little less distinct.

3. MODE 3MODE 3 is designed to minimize the 'pre-ringing' and 'echo' effects. As a result, this mode sounds very smooth. However, due to the slow roll-off at high frequency, it may lose some details in treble for certain kinds of music. 

OUR COMMENT: Mode 3 proved to be the most satisfying when streaming music or listening to some old, thin recordings (Rush Moving Pictures comes to mind). It offered the most musical presentation, exhibiting width, depth and an organic nature to the music that kept me glued to my listening chair on recordings that normally left me reaching for the "off" button. On better recordings, There was a loss of air and subtle detail that you might not miss unless you were really listening without any other distractions.

4. MODE 4 (Default) - All filters in this mode are designed to optimize the subjective listening experience at maximum. By using minimum phase design, there is no 'pre-ringing' effect in this mode, the 'echo' effect is also been reduced as much as possible.

OUR COMMENT: This is our preferred listening mode. It seems to offer the best of all worlds. Resolution, air, great dynamics and best of all musicality.

CONCLUSION: The Auralic Vega is a versatile DAC that can adapt to whatever type of music you are playing through it. Whether streaming Pandora, listening to your favorite artists from the 80's (and the ear-bleedingly thin recordings of the era), or playing back high resolution PCM files, the Vega has a filter mode that will make your listening experience more enjoyable.

We offer in-home auditions of the Auralic Vega to audiophiles with no local dealer. Call us at 303-653-6341 for details.