The Altair from Auralic
Auralic has revealed its new Altair streaming DAC. The Altair can act as a home music center with more than 15 input sources. Its streaming options include network shared folder (NAS), USB drive, internal music storage (optional), uPnP/DLNA media server, Tidal, Qobuz streaming, internet radio, AirPlay, Bluetooth, Songcast, and RoonReady. The Altair’s digital inputs include: AES/EBU, coaxial, Toslink, USB device to computer, two USB host for storage and DAC, RJ45 gigabit ethernet, and 802.11b/g/n/ac tri-band Wi-Fi.
Xuanqian Wang, Auralic’s president and CEO, said: “The new Altair is both a high quality streamer and DAC, and was designed based on feedback from dealers for an exceptional yet convenient-to-operate digital source unit at an $1,800 to $2,000 price point.
“Some may consider this as a combination of Vega and Aries or the upgrade version of Aries Mini with digital input. However, the Altair is definitely a Line Extension, and not replacing the Aries Mini, or Auralic's award-winning Vega DAC or Aries Streamers—which represent the very highest level of sound quality.”
The Altair utilizes Auralic’s proprietary Lightning technology. Launched in 2014, Lightning supports DXD and quad-rate DSD playback through a Wi-Fi network. It also offers several gapless playback, on-device playlist, and multiple-room functions.
Memory Playback, the latest feature added to Lightning, allows the Altair to fetch and cache the entire track in its memory or system storage in advance to improve the sound quality, and also play locally without the need of network data transfer.
Using Lightning DS, users can also stream Tidal, Qobuz, or internet radio at any time. Altair’s AirPlay, Songcast, and Bluetooth functions provide alternative ways to stream music from Apple Music, Spotify, and other service providers through a smartphone or computer.
Altair’s streaming function, operated by Auralic’s Lightning DS control App, is available on iOS platforms right now, while OS X and Windows versions are still in development. It is also compatible with other third-party OpenHome or UPnP control software for playback.
Altair also works as a RoonReady endpoint to use with Roon software. The unit’s other inputs include AES/EBU, coaxial, Toslink, and USB connection to a computer working as a standalone USB DAC.
When purchasing an Altair from a dealer or Auralic, customers can add an optional 2.5-inch HDD or SSD for internal music storage, turning the Altair into a music server. DIY-ers can also install their own storage.
Cosmetically, the new Altair shares the same size enclosure as the Vega DAC, including a 512x64 pixels OLED display (although the content is different from the Vega). A headphone jack is located on the front panel.
The Altair has a MSRP of $1,900. Shipment will commence in June, following the Munich HIGHEND Show.