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This review first appeared in the January 2014 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of AURALiC/Audeze
in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or AURALiC or Audeze- Ed.

Reviewer: Jochen Reinecke
Sources: 160GB iPod Classic 5 with Pure i-20 dock; Pro-Ject Xpression III w. Ortofon OM 30 Super; Audiolab 8200CDQ, BMC Audio PureDAC, Marantz SA 7003
Amplification: Audiolab 8200CDQ and Dynavox TPR-2 preamps, Trends Audio TA-10.2 SE and Yarland FV-34C III integrateds, Abacus Ampollo power amp
Loudspeakers: Neat Momentum 4i monitor, Nubert nuBox 101 w. AW 441 subwoofer, DIY transmission line with F120A widebander
Cables: Goldkabel Profi, Ortofon SPK 500, Real Cable OFC 400
Review component retail: Taurus MkII €1'798, Vega €3'298, LCD-3 €1'995

Oy veh!
If you've read some of my reviews in the past, you already know. I'm not a diehard headfi freak. Oh no. I like my music not just in the cochlea but in the gut. Not tickle but pow. And I thrive on a well-sorted deep soundstage which headphones aren't very good at. But there are advantages too. One can let 'er rip at ungodly hours without pissing off the neighbours. And for just that my workhorse Ultrasone Pro900 do a perfect job. Working at the mixing console too justifies headphones. Trying to cleanly mix a brass quartet could be easier that way. Of course there are other methods too. In Berlin's Bit studio where I earned my first euros we had a rig dubbed Killersound. That was a pair of €3/ea. Korean wideband car speakers fitted with two flicker LEDs. If the balance was right over those, you were in the clear. And that's the end of grandpa's war stories. Where were we? Right, headphones. Where are my bifocals?

Knowing of my unrepentant headfi ambivalence, my publishers put together a little care package to provoke my hot ears into a road to Damascus moment. Enter the Audeze LCD-3 cans, AURALiC's DAC/preamp Vega and the matching Taurus MkII headphone amp all sourced from German distributor Audionext. The complete set slams €7'000 smackers on a hifi counter. Would you have declined such an ambitious meal on the free? Already colleague Sebastian Eilzer's review of the LCD-2 in October 2011 had had very complimentary things to say on the subject. Oy veh?

By now of course the Vega was an exceedingly well-known quantity reviewed very highly by all the usual suspects. The next-gen Taurus meanwhile was of more current vintage, hence our notion to test it with a statement-level headphone. I'll thus focus on those two components and only make a small detour into Vega land. But just the deck. The star of that name is 25 light years away.

Tech. Step closer. Check out the Taurus. The first thing to notice is AURALiC's typical half size of 33cm width. If that conjures up no clear reference, a typical Ultra notebook will dock atop just about perfectly. Around front the Taurus has two headfi ports, a classical 6.3mm and a 4-pin XLR for symmetrically cabled headphones with discrete rather than shared channel grounds. Somehow the name Taurus fits. One thinks of a bull, two horns and one head. And this dual philosophy permeates the entire machine. Around back we get both RCA and XLR inputs and—to spill the beans early because this machine is also a brilliant preamp—matching outputs. To keep signal flow sorted between two inputs and four outputs, frontal controls direct your desired traffic. The input button selects between XLR and RCA so both can be permanently cabled up. The output button determines whether all outputs are live simultaneously (STD) or just the balanced ones (BAL). From this arises one necessity. If you do the preamp tango with the Taurus, unplug your headphones. Otherwise volumes that might be appropriate for the big rig could blow up a high-efficiency can. That's because this machine can dispatch a mighty 4.5 watts into 32Ω. Shazam.