Thus far, Hi-Fi+ has reviewed AURALiC’s TAURUS Mk II headphone amplifier/preamp (issue 105), VEGA Digital Audio Processor (issue 106), and TAURUS PRE balanced output, line-stage preamplifier/headphone amplifier (Issue 111). In this final instalment we take a careful look at the powerplants of the AURALiC family: namely, the MERAK hybrid class A/class D, 200W monoblock amplifiers.
The AURALiC MERAK came to our attention at the 2013 Munich High-End show, where they were used to drive YG Acoustics then-new Sonja 1.2 loudspeakers—speakers thought (perhaps with good reason) to be both demanding and somewhat finicky about associated amplification components. However, the MERAKs powered the Sonja 1.2s with obvious authority, ease, grace, and a welcome touch of sheer musicality.
The MERAK uses AURALiC’s distinctive ‘Hybrid Analog Amplify” technology—a circuit topology in which the front end of the amplifier uses the firm’s patented, signature ORFEO class A analogue amplification module to handle the voltage amplification workload, while the back end of the MERAK uses a low-impedance, high-speed switching amplifier module based on Hypex UcD (Universal class D) technology. AURALiC’s concept, of course, has been to take a ‘best-of-two-worlds’ approach in hopes of giving the MERAK the speed, detail, smoothness, bandwidth, and linearity of a pure class A amplifier, but also the power, efficiency, dynamic agility, and low-frequency control of a fine class D amplifier.
There are already some strong industry precedents for this conceptually appealing design approach. For example, astute readers might note that AURALiC’s design strategy in several respects parallels the design thinking we have seen from the French firm Devialet with its own widely applied ADH (‘Analog Digital Hybrid’) technology.