Auris Audio is a high-end audio company which have seemingly burst into the scene from the depths of obscurity. Founded in 2013, by Milomir Trosic, the brand focuses on meticulously in-house crafted amps, pre-amps and DACs designed to be paired with some of the best transducers. Just looking at their devices, it is clear that Auris Audio’s attention to detail and use of quality components are second-to-none. With each device being hand-made in an in-house facility near the city of Krusevac in Servia, the boutique wooden offerings evoke a certain charm especially when combined with new old stock (NOS) vacuum tubes.
This review shall be focusing on their new Auris Audio Nirvana tube amplifier which was designed to drive a whole plethora of headphones from low to very high impedance. The word nirvana can be described as the ‘highest state that someone can attain, a state of enlightenment’ and represents the Serbian company’s aim to bring consumers one step closer to audio bliss. As with their top model, the Nirvana is a powerful amplifier which outputs 6.5W of pure class A per channel. The amp also makes use of EL34 tubes in a single ended configuration and the E88CC as driver tubes. Notable for their use in British guitar amps the EL34 tubes are said to have a classic ‘British Sound’ with strong midrange performance as well as an open and extended frequency spectrum. At a price of $5799, however, the amp does not come cheap and represents a significant investment for those wishing for the very best in audio performance.
Auris Audio’s Nirvana is extremely well-packed as is to be expected from a product of its price. It arrives in a large cardboard box with heavy foam inserts with everything nicely protected. Included within is the amplifier itself, with a new purposefully designed black metallic box for the linear power supply. This is a departure from the previous wooden and leather combo power supply which served as a ‘stack’ for the main amplifier design. Mr. Trosic decided to opt for this new black metallic version due to the ease of manufacturing and space-saving potential.
Also included is an umbilical cable allowing users to connect the main amplifier to the power supply, a user manual, tubes (2 x EL34 & 1 x E18CC), a pair of white gloves for handling the tubes and a warranty card.
The Auris amplifier stands out amongst the crowd of new amplifier designs with its retro-classic inspired vibe. The company have opted for a wood and leather combination for a premium look; consumers have the choice of a black, red or brown leather (with the latter two representing the limited edition version of the amp). Compared to the previous iteration of the Nirvana, the new one features a more elegant glass design separating the tube components from the front dials. This adds a further touch of class and refinement next to the grill version of the previous design. The wood along with the leather is perfectly assembled with no imperfections seen. It is clear to see that Auris Audio have a keen eye for detail and the meticulously crafted amp is one of many examples of their hard work and dedication for world-class quality.
Build & Features
The Auris Audio Nirvana hosts two backlit volume unit meters which add to the retro feel of the amp. The units glow an orange hue when powered up which match the color of the tubes. In the center, there is a single-ended 6.35 mm output and a balanced 4-pin XLR output. Next to these is the power button which has great tactile feedback when pressing to power the device on. Overall, the front panel is aesthetically pleasing with the black leather panel which contrasts nicely with the lighter wooden backdrop.
The rear of the device hosts two pair of RCA inputs and a single pair of balanced outputs. On the far right of the device is the power port which connects to a linear power supply via the umbilical cable provided.
Auris audio have opted to place the main dials on the top of the device which aids the front panel’s minimalist design. The first dial allows users to select from a range of impendences to match the transducer of their choice and goes from 30 ohms all the way to 600 ohms. This allows the amplifier to work well with a plethora of headphones including the hard to drive 600 ohm Beyerdynamic DT 990 headphones. The next is the volume dial and third is the input selector. Behind the dials are the three tubes protected by a single piece of transparent glass and finally two large transformers at the back of the device.
The Auris Audio Nirvana makes use of high-quality components which Milomir Trosic claims is part of the recipe for a great tube design along with the transformers and power supply. In Nirvana’s case, the power supply has been externalised into an aluminum chassis linear power supply with 110/220 V selector. The transformers are manually wound on double C core and manufactured in-house with strictly defined requirements. The great benefit of this in-house facility is Auris’ ability to source and test equipment with their audio engineers to match their standards. As mentioned, the amp is powered by the iconic EL34 common pentode amp which Mr. Trosic has chosen for their classic British sound as well as the idea that a lot of music has been recorded with this very musical tube amp.
The DAC used for the purpose of testing is Schiit Yggdrasil 2 Analog DAC with the stock EL34 tubes provided.
Starting from the outset, the Nirvana is a very musical amp that offers top-tier levels of resolution, dynamics and micro-detailing coupled with some even harmonic distortion to provide an immensely pleasurable audio experience.
What immediately stands out is the staging with sonic projections cast far out in both width and height allowing for superior laying and instrument separation. Part of the hallmark of a great amplifier is the ability to lose oneself in the music and forget the need to analyse various components of a track. The Nirvana does just this and more with its ability to drive my whole headphone collection with ease superimposed with a sublime sound signature.
Compared to MicroZOTL2.0, the Nirvana offers greater levels of stereo separation with a grander presence compared to the former’s more focused delineation of sound. While the Nirvana infuses a warmer and more euphonic tonality, the MicroZOTL2.0 leans to a more liquid and analytical sound. Of the two, the Nirvana offers a more immersive listening experience with a musical tonality without compromising on details and leading-edge transients.
Bass is presented with boundless extension, texturing and detail while maintaining good slam and impact. While not as fast as solid-state amplifiers, the Nirvana conveys authoritative bass lines with heft and clarity. Midrange is portrayed with liveliness and warmth while retaining excellent layering and depth. High frequencies share the same timbre with exquisite extension, detailing and attack without sibilance and glare.
Compared to the dual golden CMA800R Questyle Amps which capitalise on current mode amplification to resemble tube technology, the Nirvana sound airier with better three-dimensionality. The CMA800R amps, on the other hand, offer more of an analytical sound with shorter decay and faster speed as is to be expected from solid-state amplifiers.
The Auris Nirvana pairs extremely well with all headphones thrown at it. Given its ability to impedance-match, the overall background is dead silent with no noise. Particularly admirable were the pairings to HiFiMAN’s Susvara & ZMF’s Verite Open headphones where music transcended into an almost speaker-like bliss. One thing worth mentioning would be that this amp does output a lot of power and would not be suitable for sensitive IEMs where hiss predominates even with the lowest impedance setting.
Overall then, the Auris Nirvana offers outstanding quality of sound with a euphonic timbre and large soundstage. Build quality is nothing short of world-class and while not the cheapest of offerings, the Nirvana extracts the best out of any transducer thrown at it. It is impressive to see the offering of impedance matching which allows the amp to be very versatile while also providing both single-ended and balanced connections. Perhaps the inclusion of pre-amplifier capabilities would heighten the appeal. Nevertheless, the Nirvana offers an insight into a magical sound where headphones seem to disappear and music just remains. With that said, the Auris Nirvana is highly recommended for those seeking for a musical sound with perfect balance, harmony and impeccable dimensionality to get the best out of existing gear.
Auris Audio Nirvana