I remember when AURALiC first appeared on the international scene. It was back in the good ole, bad ole days at the CES in Las Vegas, when streaming was fairly new to the audio world. The first AURALiC was an ARIES network bridge; a streamer without a DAC. it looked great in a compact case with a distinctive wavy shape that seemed pretty radical at the time. I was a little disappointed to find that the case was plastic but that did make the first ARIES relatively affordable. Today AURALiC have realised that the audio market has fairly conservative tastes and prefers machined aluminium, preferably in black, hence the appearance of its G series of components.
There are two tiers (not that sort) of G; there’s G1 at the relatively affordable end and G2 at the top. It’s the latter that has received an overhaul hence the .1 suffix. The first G2 models had casework that was machined from solid aluminium, an expensive and time consuming process that made it difficult to achieve a consistent anodised colour finish. For G2.1, AURALiC has changed the casework to a more sophisticated alternative that still uses machined parts such as the fascia, but goes to greater lengths to isolate the electronics from the world outside. It is essentially a case within a case design with aluminium exterior and a separate copper case enclosing the active components.
The copper acts as a shield to electromagnetic and radio frequency interference, which is the invisible noise that surrounds us and undermines the sound quality of digital electronics in particular. Every time you reduce this type of apparently inaudible noise in a digital system you can hear more low level detail, reducing this noise floor exposes the quietest elements of the music and makes for a more open and relaxed sound. The other problem area that tends to affect digital clocks among other things is vibration, a crystal clock oscillates at very high frequencies and external vibration can negatively affect the accuracy of that oscillation. Understanding this, AURALiC has come up with spring isolation in the feet of the G2.1 series components; they’ve gone for an elaborate arrangement of six springs in each foot that form a relatively stiff overall support but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
The VEGA G2.1 is essentially a digital to analogue converter but it confuses the uninitiated by incorporating a streaming engine among its roster of features. However, it’s not as fully featured as an ARIES which is AURALiC’s dedicated network bridge/streamer. What this means is that it doesn’t have Lightning Server software onboard and that reduces its compatibility with music servers. I use an Innuos Zenith SE server and couldn’t persuade the two to play nice without abandoning the Lightning control app and using Roon. It would work with a Melco server however. It has many of the other features found in the ARIES including on-device playlists, memory caching and gapless playback, for those wanting to dip a toe into streaming it’s a pretty good place to start.