AURALiC’s VEGA Digital Audio Processor (£2,890) is a powerful and versatile digital-to-analogue converter that can also serve as a digital input-only, balanced output-capable preamplifier. Specifically, the VEGA supports all PCM files from 44.1 kHz/16-bit resolution on up to 384 kHz/32-bit resolution, whilst covering all sampling rate/word-depth combinations in between. Moreover, the VEGA is DXD and DSD compatible and can decode both DSD64 and DSD128 bitstreams via the DoP V1.1 data transmission protocol. In short, the VEGA is an ambitious, premium-quality DAC/preamp that aspires to top-tier performance. Does it reach this goal? I think it does as I will explain in this review, but first let’s first take a look at AURALiC’s company background and at the VEGA’s underlying technologies.
As mentioned in my recent Hi-Fi Plus review of the firm’s TAURUS MkII balanced headphone amplifier, AURALiC is a Hong Kong-based high-end audio electronics company co-founded in 2008 by President and CEO Xuanqian Wang and his business partner Yuan Wang. Xuanqian Wang has had formal training as an electrical and audio recording engineer and is an accomplished classical pianist, while Yuan Wang has a background in sociology and management science. The common denominator is that both men share a passion for music and sound quality, having met (where else?) at a musical event—the 2008 Festival of Waldbühne, Berlin. Not long thereafter, the men decided to launch AURALiC Ltd.
More so than many DACs in its price class, the VEGA is chockfull of advanced technical features, yet it is also informed by Xuanqian Wang’s thoroughgoing familiarity with classic analogue audio circuit designs. In practice, this means the VEGA is a modern-as-tomorrow DAC with stellar performance specifications, yet one that goes the extra mile not only to measure well, but to deliver sound that, first and foremost, holds true to the sound of live music. As we survey the VEGA’s rich set of technical features it is important to bear in mind that this is more a ‘music first’ design than it is a ‘technology über alles’ product.
As noted above, the VEGA is a 384 kHz/32-bit-capable DAC/digital preamp that is also DXD and DSD compatible. The VEGA provides five digital audio inputs: one AES/EBU, one Toslink, one USB input, and two coaxial S/PDIF inputs. In turn, the VEGA provides single-ended and balanced analogue outputs, with volume levels controlled by 100-step digital controller said not to compress dynamic range at all.