Internally, SIRIUS G2’s hardware is controlled by AURALiC’s own TESLA G1 platform (used throughout AURALiC’s product line). This is met by what the company calls the Proteus G2 Co-Processing Platform, which comprises 512MB of DDR3 memory and custom code on a Xilinx FPGA chip, which delivers 740 DSP slices across more than 200,000 logic blocks. Factor in three power supplies, a flexible filter, dual galvanic isolation and femto clocks, all in AURALiC’s own Unity chassis used in across the G2/GX range, and it becomes clear why the AURALiC ARIES G2 is no simple upsampler.
I used the SIRIUS G2 with both a Melco N10 and a Naim UnitiCore as streaming front-ends, using the USB output from the Melco and the S/PDIF BNC digital output of the Naim. I output these to both the AURALiC VEGA G2 DAC and direct into the digital inputs of a Devialet Expert 240 and an old Wadia 121 Decoding Computer on its last legs. I also used it in the full AURALiC stack as described previously. Unfortunately, AURALiC came in as the Totaldac d1 went back, so I didn’t have a ladder DAC to play with.
In fact, the choice of DAC was immaterial, the improvements were universal, and compelling. They were universal in terms of music choice and in terms of decoders. It made music uniformly more analogue sounding; not in a ‘fake LP’ way, it just made music sound more visceral and real, with greater solidity, image separation, soundstage width, depth and even height and even more coherence, both in terms of frequency and timing. I mildly preferred keeping DSD as DSD and PCM as PCM, however.
Using SIRIUS G2 in a system means playing more music. That’s something of an audio reviewer cliché, but here it holds because music sounds more harmonious through the SIRIUS G2. Whatever the genre and wherever the source. I found a lot of good in boosting ripped CDs to higher-rate PCM. Whether it was beautifully-recorded audiophile fluff (River: The Joni Letters by Herbie Hancock on Verve) or angular Polish nu jazz ‘1958’ from the eponymous Skalpel album [Ninja Tune], the sound was just more approachable and understandable. Or, in the case of the title track of Conditions of My Parole by Puscifer [Puscifer Entertainment, via Tidal], more direct and frightening.
The traditional digital brightness and thinness that people associate with streaming begins to go away here. Interestingly, the more components you build into the AURALiC G2 stack, the more those criticisms of streaming became outdated and unfair. The graunch of guitars in the Puscifer track showed this in stark relief; the tone of the track takes on a truly malevolent disposition here, something it rarely does through Tidal.
Is there a downside? Sonically, I don’t think so. However, to get the best from the SIRIUS G2 does involve some fairly complex app-wrangling, matching the upsampler to your DAC’s performance and if you get technofear, terms like ‘Parallelize Sigma-Delta Modulator’ might send chills along your heatsinks. Everything is explained in multiple places, however, but you might feel the need to hand setting up over to an expert. That being said, it’s not complexity for its own sake, but digital matchmaking... almost like Tinder for DACs.