What’s an Aurora? Who is it for? What can it do? How does it sound? Does it make a good soundbar for the average person looking for quality and convenience in a home theater setting?
All of these answers and more, comin’ up!
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Table of Contents
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Build & Accessories
We’ll start with build, which continues iFi’s impeccable run of rock solid products. This mammoth, Japanese architecture inspired all in one Bluetooth Sound System outputs 320mW of power and comes in at a whopping 33 lbs.!!
Yes, you heard me correctly. Thirty. Three. Pounds. Seriously, you could use this puppy to break out of a mental institution if the opportunity presented itself.
On the front, there’s an OLED interface. To the right is a Russian made 6N3P tube visible through the unit’s window. This takes the low level analog signal provided by Aurora’s DAC circuitry, and boosts it to unimaginable levels.
iFi utilizes a chip based around ESS’ renowned 32-bit Sabre DAC family, and adds gain in preparation for further amplification, imbuing the sound with pure tonality, open imaging and natural fluidity.
iFi calls this their “PureEmotion” proprietary amp technology.
Yeah, I was moved to tears. What of it?
Below the screen are 3 rows of LED illuminated touch screen style buttons, with each row separated by a strip of bamboo.
The first row contains a button for illumination, 2 more for signal processing, and a mute button. The second row is for your various connections, and the third row contains a power button and volume slider. Use your finger to slide or just touch any of the lights to increase or decrease.
iFi provides a remote with all of these same functions, which is much more convenient for sedentary couch potatoes. For me, all of the buttons work, save for a couple. The volume + and – both work thankfully, but the Play/Pause and scroll buttons do not. I’m still having to select the track, and play/pause inside my phone or PC.
The window style bamboo slats encasing the drivers wrap around the entirety of the unit, with a triangular aluminum frame elevating it off of whatever surface it happens to be on.
If you’re a conspiracy theorist, you’ll probably love this thing, because triangles and sh**.
It’s pyramid structure and clean lines are striking. You won’t be able to ignore it, and I think that was the idea.
iFi provides rubber feet inside the package to keep it from scratching surfaces, and there are 4 main drivers: 2 on the front, and 2 on the side, which are 4.5″ (120mm) each and made from coated long-fiber paper. There is also a pair of 1.1” (28mm) silk dome tweeters on each of the front corners, covering frequencies from 8kHz to 35kHz.
On the underside you’ll see a pair of 4.5” x 8” passive bass radiators, with diaphragms consisting of a carbon, iron and ethylene-vinyl acetate composite. This well damped material basically ensures that the correct frequencies are obtained from the diaphragm, essentially resulting in an eargasm for you, the listener.
The Aurora would likely make a great centerpiece in Patrick Bateman’s living room, playing Huey Lewis and the News.
This all in one Goliath can do basically anything. It even brewed me a cup of coffee this morning.
Aided by ART, or Automatic Room Tailoring, the Aurora optimizes the sound based on the dimensions of your room. Yes, that’s right.
Whatever room you happen to be in, the Aurora tailors the sound to fit that specific space and dimensions. Really neat! There’s also the SoundSpace feature which we’ll get to in a bit.
On the back, there’s a plethora of options at your disposal.
We’ve got an optical input, a coaxial input, USB and Ethernet connections, as well as RCA Inputs and a 3.5mm auxiliary input.
There’s even a slot for audio stored on micro SDHC cards.
I personally used this unit 5 different ways:
- The first way is a simple Bluetooth connection. It supports Hi-res Bluetooth audio via aptX/aptXHD/LDAC/HWA/AAC for you Apple nerds. Just power the unit on and search for the device inside your phone’s settings. It should show up as “iFi Hi-Res Audio.” One minor gripe I have is that all iFi devices show up as the same thing. I’m not sure if it’s my phone, but I would encourage them to have all devices aptly named (as FiiO does) to avoid confusion when there are many devices with the same exact name. This happens on my PC as well. Anyways, once it’s paired, just play music from your favorite apps and shut up! Heheh. I used both Tidal and Spotify. Keep in mind you cannot stream MQA over Bluetooth.
- The second way was a simple connection from my phone into the auxiliary port via 3.5mm interconnect. This is nice, but you won’t be able to really change tracks without getting up unless your aux cable is super long. The quality also isn’t quite as good.
- The third way was a simple connection from my PS4’s optical output into the input on the Aurora. This is also really easy, and would make a great simple home theater set up as well. I watch movies through Netflix this way, as well as play games.
- The fourth way is somewhat imaginative. I put my laptop close by and used a 3.5mm interconnect to couple a DragonFly Red with the Aurora using it’s line input. Super cool!
- The fifth way was via wired connection from my router. That’s right, you can hook this baby up and stream music from your laptop, which for all intents and purposes, functions as a wireless unit. Just run your ethernet cable from your router into the back of the Aurora where the port is. I used Spotify with this method. I tried it with Tidal, but it didn’t seem to work. If you’re reading this and know how to get it fired up with an internet connection, let me know down in the comments!!
Ways 4 and 5 definitely yielded the best sound. It’s not even close. There’s a crazy hum that this thing achieves when hooked up optimally. It must be heard to believe.
Frankly I’m shocked that a unit this small in stature can pump out so much power. No doubt this thing can party if called upon to do so.
You can even go full wireless via your router, but that requires an app and I heard it was a headache, plus I’m too lazy to mess with it. With a wire from my router, I basically have a wireless connection already because I can sit on the couch and play music from my laptop. At night, I simply switch over to optical and use my PS4.
This thing is incredible. I can’t really max it out because I live in an apartment, but whoaa Nelly, this bad boy will blow you away for sure.
Soundstage really opens up via the DragonFly Red and Ethernet method coupled with the SoundSpace feature, to the point where it sort of actually sounds like you’re in a live setting, sort of. Don’t get too pumped up friend. You’re still sitting on the couch. Even so, you’ll start to hear sounds in all directions, wondering if it’s the music or something else.
Even via Bluetooth, the Soundstage is pretty incredible here.
On Mulherin, Dijon’s – On Me, I could have sworn the whistling sound in the beginning of the track was coming from the dog park on the first story right outside my window. I live on the second floor. I rewound the track and sure enough, it came from the song.
Here are only some of the songs I listened to. I only added the ones I was really feeling, plus there are a lot I still need to add. I have been listening with the Aurora for a few months now, so there are a lot of songs I listened to when the Playlist wasn’t yet created.
From their website, iFi says: SoundSpace® delivers a room-filling sound and gives music a sense of scale and space you wouldn’t expect from an all-in-one system.
This is absolutely true. No hype. No BS. I really did hear the difference! It may not actually feel like you’re in a live setting, but it’s getting there. Just turn the lights off at night, kick back and relax homie.
If you want to use the ART feature, just hold down the icon on your remote that looks like a cube. ”ART” will appear in the upper left of the screen.
If you want to use SoundSpace, hold it again and it will switch to Audiophile mode. Now press once more to enter SoundSpace. “SSpace” will appear in the upper left corner of the screen.
SoundSpace is most certainly the most ideal for the small apartment I live in. Audiophile Mode (no enhancements) would be good for a properly optimized, professional type of set up.
This process of tailoring the sound to your room involves ASP, or Analog Signal Processing, and combined with their ART feature results in SoundSpace, which adjusts the channel output at specific frequencies.
Whether utilizing NAS (Network Attached Storage), Airplay, or streaming audio through any of the following: Spotify/Apple Music/Amazon Music/Tidal HiFi/Deezer, etc., the Aurora’s got you covered homie!
This thing just sounds good. I personally love it with bass heavier music like Indie Pop, EDM and the like, but it sounds fantastic with Jazz too. The low end, which reaches all the way down to 27Hz, has a really natural rumble when used over your network’s connection through Spotify, and the overall response is gorgeous. Using the TrueBass button was a blast. Bass heads will love the slam and clarity this thing exudes.
It’s not going to sound quite as good over Bluetooth, but that’s to be expected. At times music through Tidal may cut out randomly, but Spotify seems to be more stable in this regard. This is no fault of the Aurora.
What I love most about this unit is that it’s really simple and intuitive. I’m up and running within seconds, with no headache or delay, and I’ve got a bunch of options available. The initial power up takes a bit longer than I would like, but that’s a minor gripe at the end of the day.
So, is purchasing an Aurora a “sound” decision?
Well my friend, that depends. If you’re looking for an all in one solution for your home theater and are willing to invest in an amazing product, that’s a resounding yes. If you’re a geek like Brian from Breakfast Club, it will be a no.
Uh, you know, I can answer that right now, sir. You know, that’d be “no.” “No” for me, ’cause..
“Sit down Johnson.”
“Thank you, sir.”
You can do basically anything with this thing given all of its connections. Whether you’re using a console, Smart T.V., BluRay Player, your phone, your PC, anything that has RCA or line outputs, the possibilities are endless, really. The fact that I could use it with my DragonFly Red was really cool, and made a huge difference in sound vs. that of Bluetooth.
What are you waiting for? If you’re in an apartment like me, and need something compact, convenient, versatile, with amazing sound and a plethora of options at your disposal, you owe it to yourself to give it a gander:
Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this iFi Aurora Review, and are better equipped to make a purchasing decision!
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Could you see yourself with an Aurora? Why or why not? I would love to hear your thoughts. Until next time..
All the best and God bless,
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Gaming & Film
- Theater like sound in a really small package
- Great sound enhancement options
- Extremely versatile. Put it anywhere!
- Plenty of connection options
- They could have added in all the cables needed (Optical, RCA, Line etc.)