Aurorus Audio - Borealis & Australis

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by gandhisfist, Apr 2, 2019.

  1. gandhisfist

    gandhisfist Aurorus Audio - MoT

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    We've gotten several reports of issues regarding the nitinol rods in our headband assembly failing. We suspect this is due to a combination of factors including the bend radius and the sufficient heating of the rods in the forming process. We are currently working on a revision to the shape as well as working with our vendor to ensure that future rods don't have these reliability issues.

    As such we are halting production/shipment of any more units until we have resolved this issue with our supplier. If your rods fail, please contact us for replacements.

    Once we receive the revised rods, all purchasers will have the option to either have rods shipped to them free of charge or to send their headphones to us (at their cost) to have the rods replaced and shipped back (at our cost). This includes ALL current owners.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2020
  2. mokobigbro

    mokobigbro Rando

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    Looking forward to try this headphone.

    Borealis seems like the headphone I would really love to work with. I found out about this through this thread:
    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...neutral-headphones-reviews-measurements.7278/

    I'm currently using Neumann NDH20 and Audeze LCD4 for mixing and mastering.

    Previously, I'm using HD600, HD800S, HD820 and also Sony MDR-CD900ST.

    I hope the issue with the headband can be quickly resolved.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2020
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  3. dematted

    dematted Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    The Aurorus Borealis - a Preliminary Review.

    Introduction

    The Aurora Borealis is a headphone I have been anticipating for some time. As a fan of both the HD 6x0 and the Focal line of headphones, I was eagerly hoping that this headphone could combine the best of both worlds, fusing together the dynamics, excitement, and drive of the Focal line with the timbre and naturalness of the HD 6x0 series. My expectations have largely been met, though not without some caveats.

    Before proceeding with my review, let me say a bit about myself. I'm pretty new to the audiophile world, and have only listened to a limited selection of headphones (The Focal line, the HD 6x0 line, the HD 800, and the Aeolus and Auteur). Additionally, I know the creators of the Borealis, so that very well might be coloring my impressions. Most importantly, though, I only was able to test the Borealis on relatively low-end source-gear thus far: Magni 3+, CTH, and the Lyr3 with the Bifrost 2 and Modi 3. Because of this, I've titled this a "preliminary" review - I want to see how the Borealis fares on the Bryston BHA-1 before giving any final verdict. For now, though, here are my thoughts. Instead of breaking up my review into strengths and weaknesses, I've decided to try to simply write up my impressions as an integrated whole.

    The Review

    The Borealis' most evident strength is the sheer naturalness of its presentation. Percussion instruments in particular have a visceral, tactile feel that I have not heard on any other headphone. The timbre of most instruments feels more real and more present than on any other headphone that I have heard thus far, though it does lag the HD 6x0 series somewhat in vocals. Vocals are not presented poorly, per se, but there is not the same intimacy and nuance to the vocals as there is in the HD 6x0 series.

    Another strength is dynamics. Large changes in volume-level are easily discerned, and smaller ones are also fairly evident. I do not think that the macrodynamics are quite up to par with the Focal line, but they do not leave much to be desired. However, although the dynamics are quite strong, large-scale changes in dynamics are not rendered with quite the same excitement and "oomph" of the Focal line, likely because of the transient response and decay of the Borealis. Its worth delving further into this, because these are, for me, the defining characteristics of the headphone.

    To put things quite simply, musical notes tend to linger on for a bit longer than usual on the Borealis. Though the cutting-edge of the music is well-represented, the nuances and layers that each note leaves behind is more evident than on most other headphones (save maybe the ZMF's with lighter woods). This has mixed effects. On the one hand, the Borealis presents more sheer musical information than almost any other headphone I have heard so far. More "plankton" is available to the listener, and for those chasing after ultimate detail, I think this will be an excellent headphone. On the other hand, the variety of musical information presented lends the soundscape a somewhat congested feel. Because each note of the music is allowed to linger onwards, sharp, dynamic breaks in a song can sound somewhat blurred, even if the overall dynamics are excellent. Probably adding to this effect is the fact that the “images” of each instrument are quite large, meaning that complex pieces are presented with some haziness and imprecision in the imaging at times.

    To offer a point of comparison: when I am listening to classical piano pieces on the Focal Clear, I am able to more readily discern each individual note's precise location in the soundscape, and each note also sounds more sharply delineated. At the same time, though, the instrument itself sounds less like an actual piano: the impact, reverb, and tactile feel of the piano itself is much more present on the Borealis. The Borealis can fool me into thinking I am really listening to a Piano, even if at times the sharper edges of treble notes pop out more on the Clear. This isn't to say that the Clear actually has more detail: of that, I'm not sure. But the detail, particularly in the treble, tends to "pop out" more on the Clear. The sound of a violin is crisper (to some, perhaps more "brittle"), whereas on the Borealis the sound tends to be rounder and more weighty.

    As far as tonality goes, the Borealis is not a dark headphone, though it is not a bright headphone either. I would say its pretty close to neutral: for those looking for a darker headphone along the lines of the HD 650, the Borealis will probably disappoint. In fact, playing the Borealis through my Lyr 3 with the stock JJ 6SN7 tube and the modi 3, it sounded somewhat bright. But I think this is largely due to the source gear.

    Conclusion

    It’s quite possible that my complaints about the Borealis can largely be alleviated with source gear. I’m quite aware that I’m not using the gear that is recommended for the Borealis (A high-end Solid state amp, like the Bryston BHA-1, and a Soekris dac), so my judgements might be more reflective of the source gear I’m using than the borealis itself.

    And in fact, even if the various caveats I have had so far aren't fixable with superior source gear, this is still probably the best headphone under $1000 dollars for a listener who prioritizes detail (particularly micro-detail), timbre, and dynamics. Though there are certain headphones that do certain things better (The Clear has better dynamics, the HD 6x0 series better vocal timbre, the open-backed ZMF’s like the Auteur and Verite a better soundstage), the Borealis manages to do many things exceptionally well. Indeed, if you can put up with the imaging issues, slower decay, and poorly defined soundstage this headphone might be “End-game” for you.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2020
  4. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    For someone new to the audiophile world, you sure know how to convey what you hear in writing!

    Well done :)
     
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  5. dac2800

    dac2800 Rando

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    Wow. That's all I've got. I've been spending the past days auditioning alternative DACs (Schiit Gungnir Multibit and Yggdrasil A1 vs. my current Modi Multibit card). FOr consistency's sake, all the initial listening was done on the headphones I am most familiar with - AQ Nighthawk Carbons. I already knew I detest the HD600 and HD800s, so wasn't sure about the Borealis. I WANT THEM. It's like a giant veil was lifted. I'm still evaluating, but there is a great balance of detail and clarity without being overly clinical (for lack of a better word). My ears and my terms aren't sophisticated enough to get into the details, but suffice it to say they are just NICE. It will take hours more to evaluate the comfort, but my COVID-hair probably helps w the padding. (Of course, I'm also coming from what I think are the most comfortable headphones in existence.) I cannot wait until the guys are back in production, and look forward to a little pad rolling.
     
  6. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    Any updates on the behind the scenes stuff? Will they be sticking with the same general headband system?
     
  7. gandhisfist

    gandhisfist Aurorus Audio - MoT

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    We are currently testing some modified rods from our manufacturer and the tests look promising. Hope to have new rods soon (not really sure what the timeline will be with the shipping delays we are experiencing). We will be sticking with the same general system of using nitinol rods with modifications to make them more reliable.
     
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  8. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    What about the seat belt?
     
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  9. gandhisfist

    gandhisfist Aurorus Audio - MoT

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    That will remain the same.
     
  10. spoony

    spoony Spooky

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    It's for your safety.
     
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  11. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    @gandhisfist when the updated models are out, will you allow a tour of them again? I really want to hear the Borealis.
     
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  12. gandhisfist

    gandhisfist Aurorus Audio - MoT

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    Yes, we will continue touring once the rod updates are made. We are being cautious and in communication with the SBAF loaner administrators on how to handle the tour with COVID -19 concerns.
     
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  13. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    Now that we're seeing a little more movement on this thread I'll give some impressions of Australis I've reserved since the headband issues popped up. Full disclosure, I pulled the headband and yokes off of my LCD-2Cs and installed the cups. Pretty simple.

    Also, I picked these up because I wanted a closed back HP that sounded like HD6xx with better bass. These are the answer to that question for the under $1k bracket, imho.

    Subjective Impressions:

    First off, pad rolling. I don't have a huge library of pads to f- with, but trying out some ZMF Perforated Suede and Universe, neither were an improvement on the stock pads. ZMF pads turned things tizzy and way too zippy in the mid treble.

    With stock pads, and thru "low grade" iPhone into Magni3 Plus, the first thing that strikes me as notable is the immediacy and upper midrange palpability. In this chain, it's about attack and decay. Human voices sound a little hyper-immediate, but never to the point of sibilant ESSSS-grating. Bass response has great texture, but lacks just a dB or two of heft.

    Listening thru more "advanced" amplification (Cavalli LC 1G), the Australis came alive in the bass response. Where Magni3 Plus lost composure with sub 40hz content, Cavalli LC seemed to deliver the sauce.

    Here's where things get interesting: The Australis scale like mad. Plugged into YggyA2->ECAf this setup is what I'd always hoped HD600 with some +6db boost at 30Hz would sound like, but never did. The incisiveness ratchets up two notches, and macrodynamics are simply startling. I'm being honest, some tracks have me ripping headphones off, wondering WTF WAS THAT? thinking it couldn't be in the recording. And then the bass drops, and it's like although the adults are still in the room, their pants are still flapping just a little. IOW, it's tasteful bass emphasis that has you wondering whether it's a boost (lower Hz) or a cut (higher Hz).

    Australis is like some disco pants on your professorial elbow-pads-and-houndstooth-jacket HD600 uptightness. Giggity. And go re-ead chapter 7 in the textbook 'cause it's on this week's quiz.

    Edit: Jamie xx In Colour on the Australis is just so freaking fun.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2020
  14. PacoTaco

    PacoTaco Friend

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    I forgot to bring this up, so thank you for reminding me.

    I tried out the Borealis with ZMF Universal Hybrid pads, and that mostly smoothed out the weird focal-mids and expanded the soundstage a bit. I didn't list to it very long though, so ymmv. I didn't need to fuck with the rods to get the clamp to stay consistent though, which was very nice.
     
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  15. Eudis Fernandes

    Eudis Fernandes Aurorus Audio - MoT

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    Safety Belt will remain. We are going to include a thicc animal free comfort pad that mounts to the seat belt. Everyone who purchased an Australis or Borealis will get one and all future purchases will include one. The pad is removable.

    We are looking at a protein leather or suede options.
     
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  16. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Could be helpful on the comfort. The initial impressions mostly stated that comfort sucks, and comfort is my #1 thing on a headphone.
     
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  17. tommytakis

    tommytakis Gear Cycler SoCal Edition

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    Borealis + Universe Hybrid pads are still my favorite alternate pads as it complements the stock pads very well. Slam/macrodynamics get dialed down a wee bit, but still slams when warranted compared to all the other pads I've tried. It also evens out the upper mids and pushes back the forwardness seen in Focal cans. If the upper mid dip bothered you from the stock pads, I think you'll like the Borealis + Uni Hybrid pads. It sounds very reminiscent of the Auteur for some reason w/ these pads. Cool thing is it projects the stage outward more than the stock pads. I was comparing this with a modded HD800S and tbh it wasn't that far behind. Imaging is not as precise as HD800S, but had comparative width/depth I think.

    These are my super amateur/noob measurements from miniDSP EARS with HEQ Comp. (I'm too dumb to figure out how to apply the SBAF comp LOL) Just wanted to share this for comparative purposes. **The 5k dip seems to an artifact that seems to show in all of my measurements.
    [​IMG]
    I'll also include JAR650 vs. Borealis stock vs Borealis hybrid for comparisons
    [​IMG]
     
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  18. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Offering my 0.02 that in some climates and for some people's skin protein leather may require frequent changing. Suede will pick up loads of oil and ick, but some may personally prefer that, even when getting preowned, to more fake leather flaking off and accidentally getting inhaled, haha.

    Replacement might be easy, sure, but then ecological ramifications of disposing of PU leather straps may add up over time.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
  19. Eudis Fernandes

    Eudis Fernandes Aurorus Audio - MoT

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    One of the positives that has me considering Suede is that its washable to some extent. Ideally we want to offer various options, but might have to offer one first and others later down the road.

    One thing to note is that we are looking at actual protein leather and also PU leather which should be more resistant to natural human oils compared to PU. Protein isn't vegan tho
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
  20. dac2800

    dac2800 Rando

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    I'm glad to hear that you are taking steps to address comfort. IMO Eudis and Gandhisfist did a great job with the sound on the Borealis.

    At least for me, however, they felt a little heavy - as though the earcups were hanging on my ears (I don't think they were) because the suspension could have been supporting more of the weight (I don't know that it wasn't - it is just how it felt). This made the cups feel small (which I don't believe they are, and my ears aren't that big). If anyone else experienced this feeling, I'd appreciate their sharing how they addressed this. I'm hoping to pull the trigger once production is back up, and am trying to get ahead of the curve on this. TIA.

    Note: I recognize I'm coming from very comfortable and light headphones, which may well be biasing my comfort impressions. (I have AQ Nighthawk Carbons).
     

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