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Aurora Sound Vida Phono-stage – Review by PMAC

The phrase “never satisfied” crossed my mind many times during my Hi-Fi journey, always looking for the extra bit of performance that would enhance my listening experience. So, it was with this goal in mind that I embarked on my mission. A mission designed to leave me “completely satisfied”.

An Audio Note Io Gold cartridge started the process, followed by a new Kondo KSL-SFz SUT. So, next on the agenda? A better phono stage of course!

My existing Allnic H-1200 was none too shabby, but I wasn’t satisfied. Having read countless reviews extolling the virtues of the latest and greatest ‘stages, I was more confused than ever. Still, there was one unit on the horizon that had received very high praise from a few people on the ‘Wam whose opinions I respect.

Guy Sergeant of Pure Sound was the importer, and he soon confirmed the availability of an “Aurora Sound Vida” for a home demo. Unfortunately “Parcel-Horse” conspired to delay the arrival of the unit for an extra week, no matter, we were due to meet at a fellow wammers “Bake off” (a gathering of like minded audiophools, normally involving late nights, beer, spicy food and lots of top quality box swapping). This had the added advantage of removing any need for couriers from the transaction!

The Vida performed flawlessly at the bake-off, being fed by an Io1 and an SPU, via several high end SUT’s. Its own MC gain stage even handled the ultra-low output of the Io1 without being troubled, or indeed shown up by the more exotic separates available to play with that day. even when up against some that cost several times that of the Vida! However, that was in a very different system to my own, so my real opinion of it had to wait until I got home.

I soon had it “plumbed in” to my own system, in order to find out if it performed its magic as well as it had at the bake off.

First though, some technical facts about the Vida:

Features

MC and MM input Switch-able – Low or High impedance loading on MC input

LCR RIAA equalization network

Lundahl filter coils

Direct coupled circuit, no capacitors in signal path

‘Mute’ button

Cartridge degaussing facility

Mono / Stereo Switch

Switchable subsonic filter

External Power Supply

Input:

MC gain – 64dB – Compatibility: High – 10 – 100 Ω, Low – 0.6 – 10 Ω

MM gain – 39dB – 47kΩ

RIAA deviation: 10Hz – 20kHz, +/- 0.25dB

 

Now for the subjective bit!

From the off, the Vida demonstrated all of the qualities I had heard at the bake off. Vivid, rich tones, beautifully reproduced, without the slightest hint of grain or etched upper frequencies, often associated with solid state phono stages. Solid bass notes and captivating midrange shone out from a completely silent background. Vocals were a joy and acoustic music had that “right there” in the room sound. Particularly noticeable was the ability to separate individual backing singers on Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” from his iconic “Transformer” album. The intro to The Decemberist’s “Crane Wife” delivers fast bass notes and thumping drums in the background, yet the Vida handled them all, unfazed, separating each instrument yet maintaining a lovely coherent sound that belied its solid state design. One day, I really must check that there are no valves inside, such is the richness and smooth delivery of music that the Vida provides.

Aesthetically, the Vida is typically Japanese. Clean, simple lines with an attractive wood surround. Build quality is faultless and you somehow get the impression that it is simply going to work, forever!

Price is a ridiculously low £2,700 ……… Low, £2,700? Yes, without a doubt. This is a true “high-end” phono-stage, at middle of the road pricing. I genuinely doubt there is any worthwhile competition, even at twice the price of the Vida. For my tastes at least,

So, has it removed the “never satisfied” feeling? The answer is a resounding, yes. I am completely satisfied with the Vida! So much so, I bought one!

 

Contact Guy at Puresound

Discuss the review here

About James Palmer

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