Auris Nirvana – Tube Heaven for Headphones!!!!

Meeting Milomir Trosic last February at the NYC CanJam was exciting for me as I had heard the rumblings in the industry about the CEO who was designing some of the best tube electronics in the world, in Serbia. The anticipation was rewarded when I spent considerable time listening to the Auris products and talking with Milomir was enlightening.

Milomir agreed to send me the Headonia amplifier. The 2A3 masterpiece really captured me with its liquid transparency and its ability to drive headphones easily and what was most exciting for me about the Headonia was it totally made headphones disappear and offered one of the most exciting soundstages that I had ever experienced in any tube amplifier.  The 2A3 design was a masterpiece and strong contender for product of the year.

The Headonia had everything that I look for in a world-class amplifier and was one of the very best tube amplifiers I had the opportunity to review. The sound was dynamic and exciting. When Auris contacted me to work with the new Auris Nirvana I became excited and started to visualize memories of my experiences with the Headonia. The new design looked promising with EL34 tubes and single 12AU7W driver tube that had 6.5 watts available power to drive any current production dynamic or planar headphone.

The Nirvana arrived from Serbia and unboxing revealed a  striking black leather wrapped amplifier with a brown wood base.  The two-piece wood base design has a real retro look and fit perfectly in the corner of my desktop. Stunning to look at, even my wife Paula was impressed with the modern design,  it blended nicely on my desk. The two pieces looked at home and make for an exceptional conversation piece as well.

Design

The Auris Nirvana is a two-piece design that has a separate power supply which is attached to the main amplifier via a high quality supplied umbilical cord. The EL34 tubes used are Electro-Harmonix by New Sensor. The Tung-Sol 12AU7W are designed for low noise and sonics and are priced inexpensively. The tubes should last a minimum of 10,000 hours.

The amplifier, hand made in Serbia, is offered in either white or black. A single ended design, the Nirvana can put out 6.5 watts of class A power.  The output selector offers the user the choice to select the correct impedance for just about any dynamic or planar headphone on the planet except electrostatic designs.  The selector has options for 32, 80, 150, 300 and 600 Ohm, perfect for any current production headphone.

The specifications in detail are provided by Auris and subject to change.  Included below are complete specifications:

Product Specification

Tubes1 x ECC82, 2 x EL34
Amplifier ConfigurationSingle Ended
Input Sensitivity1.4V
Power output: max6.5W
Output Impedance32 Ohm/80 Ohm/150 Ohm/300 Ohm & 600 Ohm
Analog Inputs3 x Line
Dimensions (WxLxH) mm300x390x190
Weight (kg)11.8
Power supply Dimensions (WxLxH) mm300x390x95
Power supply Weight (kg)7.2
Remote controlNo
  

All parts were carefully selected by Milomir Trosic to provide the best musicality and sound. The high-quality hand made transformers and other parts provide the Nirvana exceptional musicality.

Setup

After carefully unboxing the Auris Nirvana, setup was fairly easy.  Connecting the power supply to the amplifier with the supplied umbilical cord was a snap.  Using a Nordost Blue Heaven Power Cord and connecting it to my reference Marantz SA10 with 3m Cardas Clear Interconnects allowed for the unit to sit on my desk.

The three supplied tubes included a pair of Electro-Harmonix current production EL34s and a Tung-Sol 12AU7W. New Sensor is making these fine tubes in Russia and has a reputation for good sound with excellent reliability.

Switching the amplifier on and letting it warm up was rapid. The back switch on the rear of the power supply is left on all time and the power button on the front of the power supply is easily turned on and off after usage. The amplifier never got hot, much like the Headonia, the chassis always remains cool to the touch and the tubes sit behind an open grate with all controls on the front of the amplifier. Dual VU meters add a cool touch to the design. Once everything was set up I let the amp run for about 30 minutes before I starting any listening and did not do any critical listening till I had heard the amp for about 50 hours.

Listening

Jane Monheit’s album the “Songbook Sessions: a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald” is well recorded and the sultry songstress has a seductive and articulate voice. Setting the Grado PS2000E to the 32 ohm setting on the Nirvana, I was ready to start listening: immediately noticeable was the incredible detail that the Nirvana was extracting on “All Too Soon”. I could hear the trumpet solo with exceptional clarity and the soundstage was three dimensional and offered a pinpoint image of the stage with the musicians each in their own space. This track has excellent percussion and I could hear the acoustic bass with excellent texture and the treble was sweet with exceptional clarity with what seemed to be endless extension in the upper region.

“Somebody Loves Me” opens with a drum, cymbal and high hat. I could visualize the space as the stick gently touched the cymbal and the bongo in the song had the musician’s hands hitting the skin and I could hear all the detail come to life. The sound was so convincing, once again the Grado PS2000E and Auris Nirvana were able to extract the detail with amazingly lifelike sound.

Switching to the Audeze LCD 4 and playing the master recording from “Love is here to Stay” with Tony Bennett and Diana Krall, on “My One and Only”I could hear Diana’s piano with inner detail and the tonality of the instrument was exceptional. The bass player was located slightly to the left in a defined space.  Tony Bennett’s vocal was exceptional and sounded articulate and Diana Krall vocal while singing on “My One and Only” was seductive with amazing clarity. The synergy of the two vocalists was sensational and the track sounded as if you were in a small jazz club.

The LCD4’s apparent synergy was outstanding, I was treated to a new level of performance from the LCD4. The dual VU Meters on the amp were moving but never came close to the red or caused any clipping, the LCD4 stepped up considerably with the Nirvana. I had a big smile on my face while listening with the LCD4. The Nirvana was able to get the most musicality from this outstanding transducer and it was as if I had never heard the LCD4 before, it had more of everything with an expanded soundstage and exceptional musicality exhibiting both a wider and deeper soundstage. The bass was explosive and the musicality considerably stepped up to another level of realism.

The Hifiman Susvara is a difficult headphone to drive and when it is underpowered it does not sound nearly as good as when a powerful amplifier drives them. When driven properly the Susvara is one of the finest headphones in the world.

Plugging it into the Nirvana, I started with “Reference Recordings I” by Emiel Scholsberg and hit the play button and immediately said Wow! The Susvara came to life and sounded like it never had before, on any other amplifier that I had in my system previously. The soundstage expanded and was wide and deep and the transparency, man it was so alive and good and as with the other headphones used previously, the Nirvana was magical delivering its massive power into the Susvara and getting the most out of their transparency.

 “Improvisation”, the second track, the guitar and drummer work in synergy. I could hear the drum sticks hitting the cymbals had excellent and what seemed like endless decay into the room. The kick drum was powerful and the guitar work was exceptional. The bass guitar had excellent texture and the performance showcased the Nirvana and Susvara as being able to recreate the room where it was recorded exceptionally. The eight-minute track was exceptionally reproduced, I felt at times that I was actually there in the venue at the live performance. The Susvara disappeared and once again I felt as if I was hearing this headphone for the first time. Pure Magic!

Curious about the dynamics I conjured up my torture disc, “COPLAND” on Reference Recordings and played “Fanfare for the Common Man”. Many amps have clipped and fallen apart trying to reproduce the Fanfare. Usually, powerful amplification is needed to get the most out of this disc and the Nirvana would be challenged while driving the Susvara with this large scale recording.

I hit the play button and the orchestra was layered and spread out and the Susvara and Nirvana together were easily sailing through this track. So I cranked up the volume (devilishly smiling) and the dual VU meters starting dancing and tipping the red line but never once did the Nirvana clip when driving the Susvara. The Nirvana power felt as if it was endless and the Susvara was reproducing the Fanfare easily.

The  Fanfare finale started and the massive whack of the tympani started to rattle my brain, the sound was layered and lifelike and the Susvara was explosive with the Nirvana delivering massive power into the transducer and the explosive climax was all intact and once again I thought I was hearing the Susvara for the first time.  The Auris Nirvana once again rose to the occasion and delivered a stellar performance.

The Hifiman He1000 V2 is much easier to drive than the Susvara but, also requires excellent amplification for it to sounds it best. The V2 scales up with powerful amplifiers and the soundstage expands making it an excellent listening experience for large scale dynamic recordings.

The Dana Lazuliwas on the V2 and plugged into the Nirvana and after testing the first three output switches I settled on the 32 ohm setting to listen to classical music and selected some really dynamic recordings.

“2L The Nordic Sound” has some outstanding classical recordings. The Mozart Violin Concerto NO 4 in D Major” had the violin sounding sweet with excellent tonality. The Nirvana once again was able to showcase the soundstage of  HiFiman HE1000 V2.  The dynamic range of the music was outstanding with excellent layering of the orchestra and the violinist had his own space with air and the listening experience was special. Closing my eyes I could visualize the entire orchestra layered in sections and the violin tonality was special without any glare or harshness and the music kept flowing. The orchestra was fully engaged with the music making this an outstanding listening experience for the listener.

Final thoughts

Milomir Trosic continues to amaze me with his magical designs. What I look for in an amplifier is for it to neither add nor subtract from the music and to just get out of the way and never call attention to itself. The Auris Nirvana after many hours of usage in my system is one of the finest amps I have experienced in personal audio with its ability to make every headphone significantly step up in performance and completely disappear.

Rarely do you find an amplifier that acts like a musical instrument and is completely not invasive. Many lesser amps miss the mark with deficiency in one of the spectrums and add electronic sound to the music.  The Auris Nirvana had some of the best tonality I have heard in a tube amplifier and was faultless in its delivery of non-compromised music. The Nirvana always made me feel like I was listening to live music. The treble was exceptional and sounded crisp and alive. There never was any harshness and the extension was at times unbelievable with endless musicality.

The speed of the Nirvana was apparent, especially when playing the Copland album with the Susvara. The notoriously difficult Susvara was tamed and had the speed and power to deliver one of the finest finales I have experienced on the “Fanfare for the Common Man”. The Susvara delivered explosive tympani whacks and the speed of the transducer was able to deliver the performance without any difficulties and provided me with a memorable experience.

Recordings with acoustic bass came alive with exceptional texture of the instrument with inner detail. I could hear the body of the instrument and the tonality was exceptional.   The Nirvana let me distinguish between an acoustic bass and cello easily. Female vocalists were seductive and captivating, though the Nirvana never discriminated and presented male vocals as well as female vocalist.

No matter what genre of music I was listening to, the Nirvana always delivered non-compromised musicality. Whether I was listening to a choir or a heavy metal band the Nirvana always came prepared and delivered exceptional performances and made the music come to life.

Never before have I heard any product so balanced and musical for headphone listening. The Nirvana is a magical and fault-free instrument that has the ability to make headphones disappear and leave you with only the music. The fact that it can drive any dynamic headphone and step up performance considerably made listening sessions a rewarding and memorable experience.

The stock supplied tubes were so good and carefully selected I chose not to do any tube rolling.   Tube rollers will be happy to know that the EL34 and 12AU7 tubes are available in abundance. The Genalex KT77 can also be used and at some point, I may decide to roll them in but for now, the stock performance is so magical why mess with greatness.

If you’re looking for a musical instrument to deliver the maximum performance or you are seeking or lusting for a product that will make you feel as if you are in heaven, look no further than the Auris Nirvana. If you own reference headphones, you owe it to yourself to audition the Nirvana and see what they really sound like. The ability to step up performance and get out of the way makes this a magical instrument designed to provide the listener a lifetime of musical greatness.

The Nirvana will stay with me as my new reference amplifier for my personal and professional listening. If you want to hear a true musical and magical experience you need to audition this amazing performer and perhaps as I discovered this just may be the musical heaven you’ve been searching for. Is this as good as it gets? For me, this was one of the best musical instruments in my listening room this year or any other year and together with the Headonia a strong contender for product of the year. Magnificently designed the Nirvana continues making me hear what is now possible in high-end audio. The Nirvana has made me feel like heaven is in the here and now. Highly Recommended.

http://aurisaudio.rs/en/products/headphone-amplifiers/nirvana

Price: $5250 USD

Headphones

Audeze LCD4

Hifiman Susvara

Hifiman HE1000 V2

Grado PS2000E

Cables

Cardas Clear

Moon Silver Dragons

Dana Lazuli

Nordost Heimdall and Blue Heaven

Audioquest Wind and Black Mamba

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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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