Star Polaris Auralic’s Review
Auralic has won many admirers for its sophisticated range of music streamers – and deservedly so. They are wellengineered, easy to set-up and operate and, most importantly, extremely detailed and clean sounding. I first came across the Auralic Aries wireless streaming bridge last year and was taken aback by how much more resolution it provided in my system when streaming highresolution material from my NAS drive. Then came the Altair – which replicated all the functions of the Aries but added a DAC and preamplifier to the equation. Now we have the Polaris – a device that boasts all the functionality of the Altair but also boasts a Class D amplifier with a claimed output of 120 Watts into 8 Ohms plus a moving magnet phonostage and the option to add 1TB of internal storage so it can be used as a music server. To put it simply this little box – just 6.5cm x 33cm x 26cm (H/W/ D) – is a do-it-all digital/analogue hub that makes other similar units look positively under-specified.
Digital inputs include AES/EBU, coaxial, Toslink (all S/PDIF) and USB for both computer and external mass storage devices. There’s an RJ45 gigabit ethernet connection, as well as tri-band wi-fi. File sizes up to 32bit/384kHz are supported by the well-regarded ESS Sabre 9018K2M DAC chip, as well as quad-rate DSD. There are two pairs of analogue inputs as well. On the streaming side it, rather naturally, supports UPnP/DLNA to read music from a home computer, Bluetooth to play from a ‘phone and Tidal, Qobuz, Roon, Apple AirPlay and Songcast streaming services, plus internet radio. Put simply, all you need to do is connect it to your source and add a pair of loudspeakers. Specify the Polaris with optional internal storage and you don’t even need the source once you’ve transferred your music collection over.
This can be time consuming but once completed you can access all your music straight from the Auralic. Added to all this is the option to select any of four different filter modes to suit your taste. There’s Precise, Dynamic, Balance and Smooth (more of which later). Taken together, Polaris is a bit like the Swiss army knife of hi-fi. There’s a remote control but operation is best through Auralic’s Lightning DS app (iOS only at present) Roon – if you have it – or other, third party UPnP control software if accessing NAS drives. If you are an Apple iPhone/iPad user then the Lightning DS app is easy to use with a good, simple interface. It enables you to search your music by artist, album, song, composer, genre etc as well as creating playlists, seeing sample rates and a host of other features.
Source : HiFI World