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Inside too the Taurus has got it. That's because its not insignificant sticker looks at the sonically and conceptually world-famous Neve 8078 mixing console. This tank of a mixer (on whose sliders which ran hot as fresh steak your scribe was once allowed to work for half a year) sets a standard to this very day for purist analog sound endowed with humanity. And it's still accompanied by top-class measurements and extreme suppression of undesirable noise. AURALiC's 'Orfeo' class-A output module is based on this Rupert Neve circuit and also shows up in the Vega. AURALiC describe it as a tightly packed cluster of highly linear top quality parts which are biased very hot to suppress distortion below 0.001%. Tech specs for the Taurus could thus do double duty in a high-end recording studio. How so? 20-20 response flat-lines within maximally 1/10th of a decibel, dynamic range exceeds 130dB and channel separation is better than 80dB. Holà! A quick sideways glance at the Audeze and the LCD-3 (this according to German importer Carsten Hicking of Higoto) nets a reduction of moving mass with even thinner foil membranes than the LCD-2. And now all hands on deck. I kicked off with CD, tapping my Audiolab 8200CDQ's coaxial S/PDIF with the Vega which fed the Taurus via XLR.

First up was the opener from Talk Talk's Spirit of Eden. And the news were good. It really can be massive fun to listen to headphones. "The Rainbow" sports a monster array of instruments and sound makers: percussion with suspended snare carpet, multiple guitars, assorted shakers and rattlers, fat bass, some organ sounds, the throaty voice of Mark Hollis and much more. Our testers played it most quicksilvery with fantastic macro and micro dynamics . Most surprising to me, the typical spatial compression or squeeze of the headfi experience was mostly lifted. What developed was a true soundstage illusion, albeit less in front of my head and more to the sides and behind. Whilst bass and vocals still anchored centrally in my brain, the organ sounds arose about 1½ hand widths beyond my left ear.

Fascinating! I quickly changed horses and plugged the Audeze into my not bad Audiolab ¼" jack. Audibly different! The staging illusions collapsed a bit, images packed more tightly and even the guitars sounded a bit sharper and more artificial. Let's mount our horse from terra firma with Peter Tosh's "Johnny B. Goode". Such Reggae lives and dies on 'da basz mon': fundamental bad-ass big punchy bass or the party's over. Here too our trio didn't miss a beat. Au contraire. The Taurus bull had real reserves. Headbangers are served with a snappy salute even over the power-hungrier LCD-3. Cranked fully open the sound remained crystalline and pure and the bass potent and dynamically agile. Two Reggae thumbs way up.

Swapping in the Audiolab showed how it ran out of steam quicker. The deck made a valiant effort but at the highest levels caved in with mild distortion and overall compromised signal. Even attainable max SPL were lower. Rather more interesting to me was something else. I'd listened to the Audiolab for a bit and thought to myself, "lookie here, there's even a piano in the mix". Back on the Taurus I had to correct myself. "It's really a Yamaha CP-80 (an electrical concert piano without which Simple Minds wouldn't exist)." This proved how even at silly levels and under heavy bass attacks our review trio resolved it cleanly and didn't lose track of the nuances. Things were tonally squeaky clean but on dynamic steroids and of shocking detail density.