Auris Euterpe Tube AMP/DAC Review

Auris over the last few years has made a significant impact on the personal audio community with world-class reference products. The Headonia, a 2A3  triode tube headphone amp with sensational musicality set the bar higher for companies by offering a high level of musicality and accurate tonality. Winning numerous industry awards including the Editor Choice Product of the Year award from Headphone.Guru.

The Nirvana followed the Headonia and offered listeners another breathtaking reference amplifier, unlike the Headonia which was a single chassis. Auris implemented a separate power supply in the Nirvana and in and used the same wood and leather design with the chassis.

The EL 34 tube is used with the Nirvana and as with the Headonia can drive any headphones currently in production. The Nirvana again achieved critical acclaim from both listeners and press and took home another Product of the Year Award for Auris.

When Miki talked to me while he was creating the Euterpe he discussed the many challenges he was facing in bringing the product to market. He wanted to create a product that would be more affordable and accessible without comprising the sound or build quality. The challenge was to build a tube amplifier/DAC that would excite listeners and still maintain Auris’s high standards in presenting the best in sound and musicality.

He wanted to reach a more affordable market for his products and his goal was to offer a product that would include a reference caliber DAC in addition to a full tube circuit and a wood chassis. He set his goals to produce the Euterpe for under $2000. The challenge was huge and risky because the hand-built design and production in Serbia were not inexpensive but he had a vision and after more than two years his dream came to fruition and the Euterpe was born.

Design

The Euterpe is a pentode ultra-linear tube design that uses two unique tubes that were often used in tube radio designs. The  PL 95 tube is a beam power tube that is designed for low noise, inexpensive and readily available in quantity. The ECC 81 is a 12 AT7 type used in many high-quality preamps for its tonality, low noise, and transparency.

 The Euterpe has a single on/off switch in the front and also has a selectable impedance switch that allows the listener to use low or high impedance headphones. The low setting is set at 40 Ohms and the high setting at 150 Ohms

The Sabre DAC chip used is the highly regarded ESS 9018 which can convert DSD64, DSD128, and PC max at 32 bit/384kHZ. ESS DACs are known for their inner detail retrieval, transparency, and musicality.

The output transformer is coupled with a Mundorf capacitor after the preamp tube. The driver tube ECC 81 can also be swapped with at ECC 82 if needed for using lower impedance and sensitive headphones. The supplied NOS EI Yugoslavia tubes are included in the package.

EI was known for creating exceptional tubes and became a casualty of the conflict in Yugoslavia when the factory was bombed but fortunately, these tubes are still in good supply and readily available for $3.99 on eBay and good tube resellers. The ECC81 also referred to as a 12 AT7 can also be easily found in either current production or NOS for old fashioned tube fanatics like myself.

The asynchronous SXS DAC allows the use of portable digital devices, PC, Mac, and portable tablets or players. The unit has both USB and RCA inputs and offers a single 6.3MM stereo jack as well as a pair of RCA pre-amp outputs. The single-ended design includes a unique chassis design that allows you to use it with a headphone on top and serves as a stand when the amp is not in use. The front turn on switch is an easy on and off and has a self-start which has a blinking amber light that will stop when the amp is ready for play.

The separate included power supply has a switch in the rear to turn it on and off. The Euterpe also has a preamp which can be used in a HiFi system to drive amplifiers and work as the centerpiece to make your system come alive. Priced at $1699.

Listening

Setting up the Auris Euterpe was not complicated and it took hardly any time to get up running. The amplifier/DAC comes in a well-packed box with styrofoam. Simply remove the unit from the box and you find the tubes already-in-place installed. Connecting the power supply to the Euterpe and using an Audioquest Chocolate interconnect from my IMac to the Euterpe it was plug and play.

Roon immediately recognized the Euterpe and was now ready for me to run through my library of over 15,000 albums and also stream high-resolution music from Qobuz and Tidal.

Using the Grado  PS 2000E on the low impedance the Euterpe sounded good right out of the box. The sound was neither warm nor bright offering a well-balanced sound while listening to J.S. Ondara’s “American Dream” off of “Tales of America”, streaming from Qobuz. This exceptional track had an excellent midrange and J.S. Ondara’s vocal had clarity and presence. The guitar had a good body definition with Ondar playing it masterfully.

“Torch Song had no sibilance in the vocals and I could hear Ondar’s guitar cleary with inner body detail and the tonality of the instrument was accurate and sounded lifelike.

Image result for js ondara tales of america

Ondara, a native Kenyon, now based in Minnesota was telling a story in these songs and the Euterpe was able to capture all the magic and create a musical journey into Onadara’s storytelling. The vocal presentation was articulate and brought the passion that the artist was looking to convey with the song a lyrical masterpiece,

Listening to “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman Reimagined” consumed me with the performance by Pink. The superstar female artist brought life to the song and her masterful articulation gave this song beauty.

The soundstage during this performance was typical for Auris amplification. The stage was wide and deep and had the orchestra layered. Pink was set in the center of the stage and the imaging was spectacular. Located in her own space with excellent separation from the orchestra the Euterpe created a layered soundstage where I could hear the beautiful music but never lost the imaging of Pink’s exquisite delivery.

 The Audio Technica ATH AX5000 is a 420-ohm headphone that can prove challenging to amplifiers. Setting the impedance switch to high (150 ohms) and putting on Eliane Elias’ Baby Come to Me from her new “Love Stories” album, showcased the Euterpe’s ability to adjust to the high impedance of the ATH AX5000. The tune was beautiful and the soundstage exceptional.

I could hear Eliane in a defined space with air and away from the orchestra. The piano was beautiful and the extraction of inner detail was exceptional. The layered soundstage revealed Euterpe’s ability to recreate recording space and the instrumentation of the large orchestration was well defined in space and made Eliane vocals come to life.

The Euterpe and LCD 4 were synergistically in tune using the high impedance setting while playing the RCA shaded dog recording of Van Cliburn performing “Beethoven Piano Concerto # 5”. Cliburn’s ability to extract everything out of his Steinway was incredible and I could hear the inner keys softly being played and the decay of the notes vividly.

The sound the Euterpe and the LCD 4 were working together in perfect harmony. The pairing was exceptional and Cliburn’s magical sound was the showcase. If you want to hear the classical piano played by a master you need to listen to this recording and performance.

The piano keys were magical and Cliburn’s performance may be one of, if not the best I have ever heard of anyone performing this concerto.  The musicality was exceptional and the performance was so mystical and the beauty of the composition was exceptional and the speed of the Euterpe was evident and necessary to deliver this performance.

Image result for cliburn beethoven w concerto 5

The Euterpe was up to the challenge and presented a layered wide soundstage with each section of the orchestra in its own space and the Euterpe and LCD 4 disappeared; leaving me with a wide soundstage with the Chicago Symphony at the forefront with Fritz Reiner conducting. The sensational sound captured my imagination and I felt as if I was in the first row of the hall listening to one of the world’s greatest ever performances by Cliburn and Reiner. 

The Grado HF3 is a $399  headphone designed for the Headfi.org community with a percentage of the proceeds going towards a charity and it felt right at home with the Euterpe. Switching the setting back to low impedance, once again the sensational Euterpe delivered and really rocked while playing“Come together” from “Abbey Road” by the Beatles.

The Beatles - Abbey Road (Remastered) (Vinyl)

Wanting to test how quiet the Euterpe would be while listening to a sensitive in-ear monitor, I selected the Noble Khan and once again the Euterpe did not disappoint with its delivery. The sound from various recordings was outstanding. The Khan created an out of the head experience and had my attention. Noticeably silent and free from noise, but always dynamic and musical, the Khan is a serious product that simply makes music.

I heard no tube noise and the Euterpe was silent and musical. The black background while using the sensitive Khan made me appreciate the versatility of this little amplifier and appreciate what it could do and left me wondering if there any fault in the unit. The Euterpe was silent and had a black background with this sensitive IEM. The only thing I heard was music delivered with conviction and the sound was excellent and again a good match for listeners who want to use IEM’s.

The Focal Stellia is my reference closed headphone that is easy to drive but benefits from good amplification and sources. The Stellia has the ability to recreate the venue space in recordings better than most headphones I have auditioned.

If you want to hear a concert hall and the actual room acoustics, the Stellia will recreate the space and the venue and really put the listener in the room. Using the Stellia I selected another recording that is challenging and many amps have failed while trying to reproduce the finale on Eric Kunzel’s “1812 Overture” on Telarc.

The recording used real cannons in the finale and has caused many systems to fail when trying to reproduce the cannonballs. The system has to be fast and have the ability to stop and start quickly. The music flows fast and the synergy of all the gear has to be carefully selected to get it right. You need a good source and headphone to make this performance believable. There are many things happening with the orchestra, chorus and explosive dynamics with live cannonballs. Nailing this performance is difficult to get and I have seen many products over the years that could not reproduce it without a hitch and some even fail. When a recording comes with a warning label telling the users to be careful with your gear because the huge dynamics of the recording can damage your components you have to take it seriously. I love using difficult recordings like this to test the dynamics of a system and see if it makes the cut.

The Stellia is a great headphone to showcase what is possible with a system that can reproduce it in its entirety. The Euterpe’s excellent soundstage had the orchestra layering beautifully spaced out on the stage. I could hear the massive tympani whack in the opening showing conviction and speed in its delivery.

The Kiev Children’s Chorus was wonderful and spread out in the stage in their own space and the sound was exceptional. The children were in harmony an unison with the Pop’s and Kunzel was masterful in conducting this magnificent group of musicians to bring this performance to life.

The  Finale starts at 12:36 and the cannons rock your head with lightning-fast dynamics and the orchestras in full gear, the Euterpe was able to keep up with the speed and never collapsed during the massive finale with cannons and chimes and the chorus all in full steam. The last sounds of the explosions going off in the background were all masterfully reproduced without a hitch. It had me be up and moving about the room with its explosive dynamics and was a fantastic musical experience that is memorable. The Euterpe made the cut and never embarrassed itself or faultered. Wow!

Final Thoughts

Auris has been on a roll for the last 3 years by introducing world-class reference products in the personal audio community. The Auris Nirvana and Headonia are two of the finest tube amplifiers I have experienced in personal audio since starting my journey into headphone listening. Exciting for me was the opportunity to write about the Euterpe and see what is possible from a gifted designer who loves building products that are built to last and are known for their sound quality.

When Miki talked to me almost two years ago about Euterpe, I explained to him that a product under $2k would make sense in the community. I had felt there were not many tube amplifiers in that price range with a built-in high-quality DAC that was groundbreaking and many were built poorly.

The Euterpe has a beautiful midrange with excellent treble extension Using many recordings to test the high and low frequencies the Euterpe exceeded my expectations. The cymbals and horn sections were always musical and provided amazing instrument tonality.

While listening to classical music I was treated by being able to hear all sections of the orchestra in a well-defined soundstage. The layering of the orchestra in classical recordings was sensational and made the listening session an experience.

The Euterpe also matched up well using any headphones or IEM I threw at it and never faltered. Testing both low and high impedance headphones and sensitive IEM’s the Amp/DAC drives them easily. Many other headphone Amps/DAC’s I have used over the years with other similar designs had trouble driving all without compromise. Bravo for Auris for being able to create an all-around product that can achieve exceptional performance using many different headphones.

The midrange is exciting with articulate vocal presentation and a pristine treble that lets you enjoy recordings with cymbals, bells, triangles, and horns. The bass is fully textured and digs deep enough to satisfy most bass lovers.

The soundstage while using many different headphones or IEM’s was always stellar. Never did I miss anything in my favorite recording and was treated to memorable performances that always made listening easy and fatigue-free. The Euterpe soundstage is outstanding and the ability to recreate and make large scale dynamic recordings come to life was breathtaking.

The Euterpe is a world-class design that commands attention for both its beauty and the musicality it creates. The small blueprint design is easy to use in any room or office. Miki Trosic has successfully created a product for a competitive and affordable price that offers much of what you hear in the reference line at a much more affordable price. Bravo to the folks at Auris for introducing another amazing product that is a true all-around sonic masterpiece. Highly Recommended.

Manufacturer Website

Price: $1699

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Frank Iacone

Frank started his journey in high-end audio in 1978 and was quickly hooked. Frank’s passion for music and great sound reproduction is stronger than ever. His main focus is with high-end headphones and portable related gear. He is a regular Head-Fi.org contributor and is a co-founder of Headphone.Guru.

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