That orange button is the mute switch. It allows you to lower the needle in perfect silence, then activate the circuit once the needle is securely in the groove. This prevents nasty sounds or loud booms from the needle landing. From left to right, the five toggle switches are for the cartridge degauss option, mono/stereo, -6dB@20hz subsonic filter, MC/MM input and selection of high/low MC impedance. Under the logo sit two bright pink LEDs that indicate if the amp is powered on.

At the back we find rhodium-plated RCA inputs for an MC cartridge, two ground connections and the RCA inputs for an MM cartridge. Of course the latter input can also be used for MC in combination with a separate step-up transformer. When the frontal impedance selector switch is set to low, a rotary selector at the back can select from one of six input impedance settings. According to the MC cartridge's output impedance, this selector determines the best match. Options are 12Ω, 47, 120, 240, 410Ω and 1kΩ. For high output MC cartridges, the front toggle at high sets the input impedance at 5kΩ. As is common, the MM input impedance is fixed at 47kΩ. Next to the selector switch is one set of RCA outputs. At the bottom right sits the DC power supply 3-pin input. When one of the input terminals is not used, it can be shorted by means of two supplied plugs.

Following the proprietary umbilical power cord, we come to the power supply unit. Housed in a plain aluminium casing of 11 x 20 x 7cm (WxDxH), the front sports the expected mains switch with red indicator light whilst the back has the IEC receptacle and 3-pin DC output. All 3-pin connectors are of the industrial threaded kind. We think that the reason for the plain aluminium case of the power supply is that Aurorasound advise to have it as far away from the phono amplifier as possible. That likely means out of sight and so the umbilical cord is 80cm long. Why now pay for designer cosmetics with wooden casings?

From the included documentation we quote 64dB gain for moving coil and 39dB for moving magnet types. MC input noise is -138dbV. Across the 10Hz-20kHz bandwidth, RIAA deviation is ± 0.25dB. The same documentation makes a big deal of Karaki-San's RIAA correction circuit based on an LCR circuit without tubes. Swedish transformer supplier Lundahl was commissioned for the filter coils, the ‘L' in the LCR acronym. Each channel gets a 1.9H and 0.18H coil. This two-up approach proved best. The higher Henry coil is for the LF turn over, the second for HF roll off.

One of vinyl playback's characteristics are source signals so tiny, they need a very big boost to hand over to a normal preamplifier or integrated. Moving magnet cartridges have a slightly higher output than moving coils but still need a gain boost. Amplifying a very small signal many times over, in case of an MC output by 1'600, is prone to introducing noise. This noise can arise from power supplies, external sources, circuit layout and of course whatever parts are in the signal path. To achieve the lowest distortion figures possible, Aurorasound claim to have scoured the market for the best components available, to have identified and then used them. What they avoided like possum road kill were signal-path capacitors. There's just one cap should the subsonic filter be activated. Otherwise it's a DC-coupled affair.