AURALiC Polaris Music System

Where the Musical Fidelity is a product of England, and the Sony from Japan, can this Chinese system compete with the two big name products given it's heritage?

The AURALiC Polaris Music System like the Sony HAP-S1 and the Musical Fidelity Encore 225, is an all in one music system requiring only the addition of speakers to be able to start playing music. Where the Musical Fidelity is a product of England, and the Sony from Japan, can this Chinese system compete with the two big name products given it’s heritage?

While it is true many big name manufacturers are building much of their product in China these days, there is one massive difference between them and AURALiC: Western manufacturers move production to China NOT to provide customers with a better made product (that is never the goal), instead it is to be able to build the products more cheaply, enhancing profits. AURALiC on the other, being a Chinese manufacturer, and knowing their products have to compete in a global market with well known brands, simply have to build their products to a high standard if they have a chance at all, and that is exactly what they do.

With that out of the way, let’s dive in. So, as I said, like the Musical Fidelity Encore 225 and the Sony HAP-S1, the AURALiC Polaris is a complete music system, with built in hard drive to store your high res music, it has 2 x line level inputs for other courses plus all the usual DAC inputs such as optical, coaxial, USB and unusually an AES/EBU XLR input. Of course speaker out terminals make an appearance on the back along with an Ethernet connection if you choose to forgo the wireless setup, for which there are two antennae.

Like it’s peers, the AURALiC Polaris has apps available for IOS to control the entire system, sadly there does not appear to be an app for those with Android devices. The Lightning DS  app as it is known, is a very well designed app that shows many other companies how it should be done, but some of the real smarts of this system lay within.

For starters, the DAC uses a FEMTO clock for precise timing, and is capable of handling PCM signals to 32bit/384kHz and DSD streaming at quad rates to DSD256. As well, it can playback form the internal drive just about any file format. It is clear AURALiC intend for their customers not to be found wanting in this department. The AURALiC is not a closed loop either, it is also Roon ready.

Unique to the AURALiC Polaris is the ability to stream quad rate DSD and PCM files up 32bit/384kHz via a wireless network using their proprietary Lightning Streaming technology, so transferring these large files for playback from your NAS will work. Of course you could always opt for the internal hard drive option and make the Polaris a complete stand alone solution, either way, the Polaris has your needs covered.

Amplification in the Polaris is Class D all the way, it has to be to pack this much power into such a small box. The irony of course is the ‘limited’ frequency response of Class D amplifiers, which is 20Hz-20kHz, not exactly high resolution, but few will ever hear the lack of extension beyond 20kHz, after all, we humans can only hear to 20kHz at birth, as adults, forget about it.

In listening tests the AURALiC Polaris Music System offers a very pure, and immediate sound. Where the Musical Fidelity is on the warmer side, the AURALiC Polaris is more lean, precise, and perhaps for some, a little sterile, but always musical too. This is one very mighty performer, in one very compact package.

AURALiC Polaris Specifications:

  • Power output into 4 ohms: 180 watts per channel
  • Power output into 8 ohms: 120 watts per channel
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • THD: 0.01
  • Weight: 4.5kg
  • Dimensions: 330 × 260 × 65 mm

Why you want the AURALiC Polaris:

The AURALiC Polaris Music System is an incredibly attractive proposition. If you can get your head around buying a Chinese developed and manufactured product for what is not an insignificant amount of money, then what you will experience is a truly spectacular system. This is not the result of some overnight project in a back office, it is a thoroughly well sorted product with an equally well sorted app for playback control. Buy it over the Sony HAP-S1 if you want more power yes, buy it over the Musical Fidelity for the better user interface of the app, and a more pure representation of your music. Highly recommended.

9.5 Design

9.5 Features

8.5 DAC

8.5 Amplifier

9.5 Music Server

How we rate the AURALiC Polaris Music System

9.1
Tags from the story