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To enable their ambitious S/N spec, AURALiC began by fighting AC line noise with a Schaffner FN 402 line filter from Thailand. Under its hood tuck a 0.1uF and two 2.2uF capacitors, two 10mH inductors and one 1Mohm resistor. In the same vicinity also live a Chinese Omron relay and a small BingZi transformer for the standby circuit. Vital volume control is via a quality RK27-type Alps pot from Japan. There are 4 x 4700uf and 2 x 6800uF Elna power supply capacitors and two more of the latter 25V variety close to the Alps potentiometer. The line outputs are switched with a Japanese Takamisawa relay. The headphone outputs are DC-coupled from the Orfeo modules "to avoid capacitor-induced THD whilst driving headphones. The pre-outs meanwhile are AC-coupled by 220uF caps which can not be seen as they are beneath the heatsink of Orfeo modules."

"The tiny cylinder-type resistors on the PCB are MELF units of very high quality and superior to chip-type SMD resistors when handling large signals as are commonly seen in headphone and power amplifiers. Like in the ARK MX+, the entire PCB is a 4-layer structure which we believe has never been used in a headphone amplifier before. This ensures the extremely low S/N ratio of the Taurus. The main transformer shield is made from our AFN402 material to avoid any possible noise from the power transformer even though it already is an ultra low-noise type. Our engineers really made great efforts to reduce noise on all fronts and create performance as good as from an outboard power supply. They even went beyond that. As a result the Taurus is extremely quiet for having so much power in such a compact chassis with an integrated rather than external PSU."

The Orfeo output modules which the prototype still showed off in proudly gleaming potted containers since grew an outsized heatsink roof. This presumably optimizes the thermal exchange to prevent the modules from running hotter than intended. The power toroid's primary and secondary leads couple to the board via push-on connectors. My EU unit showed a jumpered insert in the 230V slot.

This looked to be easily moved over to the 115V slot for on-the-spot US conversion. In toto the PCB execution with very tiny SMD parts appeared impeccable and the few flying leads between front panel controls and black mother board were kept as short as possible.

The cover with its slotted vents benefits from two centrally affixed vibration attenuating sheets which add mass loading to what for its dimensions already is a quite heavy box. Three flat footers round out the amenities. During a quick check on vital signs before tucking the machine away for preconditioning, the combination of ARK MX+/Taurus in XLR connection proved indeed utterly silent even with the volume fully opened. I didn't use 120dB IEMs of course but my usual arsenal of Audez'e LCD-2, Beyerdynamic T5p, Sennheiser HD800, AKG K702 and HifiMan fullsizers couldn't sniff out one lone speck of noise. The notorious HE6 began withering my pink bits at high noon even in lower-output BAL mode. This meant plenty of headroom for those hardier—or harder—of hearing even with the toughest load currently going. It automatically classified the Taurus as one of the more powerful headphone amps on the scene. The advertised 'Neve warmth' from the Orfeo output modules was just as obvious. Quite different to tube warmth which derives from THD and incurs minor blurring, this warmth neither affected clarity nor subjective mass. Minor transient gentleness without timing errors seemed a better initial fix which I wanted to hone down on better during the extended audition.