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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic 1.87g in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Audirvana 1.5.5 in direct/integer mode, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, AURALiC Vega, Astell & Kern AK100 with RWA mod and 2 x 64GB cards
Cables: KingRex uArt split USB cable, AudioQuest Diamond Toslink
Headphones: Audeze LCD-2 and LCD-3, Sennheiser HD800,
AKG K702, beyerdynamic T1 and T5p all recabled by ALO Audio; HifiMan HE500 and HE6; Mad Dog; Aëdle VK1
Music sources:,,,
Room size: 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review component retail: $1.995
What do you get when you cross a klutz, a Taurus II and a Vega? Starting off like a bad joke, this is anything but a joke. Of any sort. That's because the correct answer is, an AURALiC Gemini 1000 or 2000. Separated by $1.000, 1 watt and balanced circuitry—the $995 version outputs 1000mW and runs its circuit single-ended—both Gemini twins combine a Klutz Design headphone stand with this 500+-part PCB tucked into their heat-shedding brass bases:

And before you ask, 'this' is a 24/384kHz capable XMOS driven asynchronous USB DAC with DXD and DSD128 happiness, Toslink input, input for Android mobile devices, SDXC memory card slot (currently limited to 256GB but the card format itself will eventually scale to 2TB), analog volume control executed as a horizontal wheel called niceness, discrete class A output devices, LEDs for sample rate and input confirmation and 2-watt go juice for the costlier model. Common to both are five available 5-coat lacquer colors for the body (white, yellow, red, blue and black) and polished chrome or gold for the base on the 2000 and a Titanium grey for the 1000. Both also sport 6.3mm and 4-pin XLR headphone outputs.

Shorter than one foot but weighing a confident 6.2lbs, it's factual to state that the Geminis take integration to a new level and thereby usher in a new product category. Their sculptural appearance and small size make them mobile enough to end up on a bluesy porch or balcony. Conversely they might take up permanent residence on the executive desk or penthouse night stand. Even power consumption is a low light-bulb type 15 and 20w respectively and less than 1w in standby for Brussels okay.

To stick with this quite inspired high-performance lifestyle theme, I contacted our domestic Stereotec dealer in Ulster via his webshop and bought AudioQuest's very best Diamond Toslink cable with 280 fused-silica quartz fibers in a 0.75m length. That's because my RWA-modded Astell & Kern sports one of those Mac-typical 3.5mm combo analog/digital ports. They merely require a small adaptor to access their light mode. The flash-memory based AK100 is a superior transport to the iPod—I own three 160GB Classics to know—and would be my high-resolution portable source of choice for the Gemini 2000 aside from the usual iMac. Within minutes of placing my cable order online I got a call from Stereotec's owner. He asked about AURALiC because he was considering becoming a dealer for them. Synchronicity. He too had seen the Gemini announcements as soon as they broke. After getting over the initial 'April's fool' reaction he too concluded that it really was one smoooking idea. I agree wholeheartedly.

I actually think the Gemini all-in-one headphone stand cum DAC cum amp or headfi dock could be a real bridge builder. It's the type of product the Sharper Image mail-order house of yore might have carried. It's utterly non-geeky to appeal to lovers of stylish luxury appliances. It looks nothing like a hifi component, much less multiple components. And it gives you a place to hang your weary hat - er, headphone when you're done. But it also packs serious hifi engineering from a team that's delivered to us a steady stream of globally accoladed products over a surprisingly brief period.

Something or someone is seriously cooking in the AURALiC kitchen. The two Wangs are on fire. Just don't tell 'em to put it out! The Gemini gestation surprises even more since Xuanqian Wang only had the idea at CES 2013 and 8 months later the idea had already materialized in two finalized products.

Details of the motherboard's underside and the nicely machined empty brass shell are from Tyll Hertsens' video of his CanJam 2013 visit with Xuanqian Wang at RMAF on