AuralicAURALiC . . . 
. . . was founded in Beijing, in 2008, by Xuanqian Wang and Yuan Wang. Xuanqian Wang trained as a professional engineer in both electronics and recording engineering, and also started playing piano at age four, while Yuan Wang studied sociology and management science in the US, before returning to China to start a company that manufactured precision instruments.

The two met at a music festival in Berlin; their shared love of music and the “relentless pursuit of superior sound quality” inspired them to design and manufacture audiophile products. (From here on, I refer to the company and its product as Auralic and Vega—Stereophile‘s style is to reserve the all-caps treatment for actual acronyms and initialisms, and the capitalization and inverted camel-capping usage that Auralic has adopted looks too much like shouting in print.)

The Vega The elegant-looking Vega ($3499) is housed in a slim, brushed-aluminum enclosure. The front panel is dominated by a wide, rectangular, yellow-on-black OLED display, to its right a domed knob and a red LED. The rear panel offers single-ended and balanced outputs, respectively on RCAs and XLRs, and five digital inputs: transformer-coupled AES/EBU on an XLR (the default), two transformer-coupled coaxial S/PDIF on RCAs, one optical S/PDIF on TosLink, and a high-speed USB2.0 port.

The AES/EBU and S/PDIF inputs handle 16- and 24-bit data with sample rates up to 192kHz; the USB port also operates with sample rates of 352.8 and 384kHz, and will accept DSD64 (2.8224MHz) and DSD128 (5.6448MHz) data using the DoP v1.1 protocol. No driver is required for correct operation with Mac OS10.6.4 onward; Windows users need to install the supplied driver (detailed instructions are included in the excellent manuel).