AURALiC Vega G2.2 Streaming DAC | REVIEW

auralic vega

Sometimes you get caught up in looking for the next big thing. You buy great equipment, enjoy it for a while, and then an itch comes along and the only way to scratch it is to make a change. Most of the time these changes are positive. You are moving the needle forward in your audiophile journey and sometimes the moves are more lateral. You didn’t really upgrade, you simply made a change. When this happens to me, the piece of equipment that I replaced sticks in my mind. Sometimes it fades but once in a while it stays front and center, reminding you that maybe you made a mistake. I have only had one product do this to me, however, and it was the AURALiC Vega G2.

The Vega G2 was my first flagship DAC. It was the first piece of audio equipment I had ever owned over $3,000 and, candidly, it was perfect. The software was stable and performed incredibly well.

Words and Photos by Sam Rosen

Its integrated analog coil latched relay volume control was unheard of on a DAC, especially at that price point, and AURALiC’s proprietary digital filter implementation made the ESS 9018 DAC chip sound nothing like any other ESS implementation, which in my book was a good thing.

Why did I end up making a change from the AURALiC? Simple. I didn’t think my first high end purchase could possibly be as right as it was. Clearly, as I got more experience and upgraded my surrounding equipment, I thought I should update the DAC as well. Off went the Vega G2, and in went the Chord Hugo TT2, then the Chord Dave, then the Chord Dave + M Scaler, and finally the dCS Rossini. Along the way I auditioned and spent significant time with other DAC manufacturers’ flagship products as well. What was I chasing? We will get to that.

back panel

The AURALiC Vega G2.2

I have always had a good relationship with AURALiC. I have reviewed several of their products and I have owned the Vega G2, the Leo GX, and the Aries G1. Each was remarkable in its own right. The case work is exquisite, and while it has been said many times before, their products feel and work more like an Apple product than a high-end audio product. Believe you me, that is the biggest compliment I can give any company in this space. Their software is stable, well thought out, and easy to use. I have had only great interactions with their support staff and when I do come across software bugs, they seem to be addressed very quickly.

When I saw that the Vega G2.2 had been announced, it brought back fond memories of my original Vega G2. I was curious what improvements would be found two generations later, and honestly I really wanted to know how it stacked up against what I have been listening to lately. After my original Vega G2, every DAC that I ultimately chose to own were proprietary FPGA implementations, and none used off-the-shelf chip-based DACs.

AURALiC’s Fusion DAC was particularly interesting to me. The Fusion DAC uses an off the shelf DAC chip to perform the very last step in the digital to analog conversion process (the actual transformation into the analog wave form), but every other feature of the DAC chip has been disabled and bypassed. The digital filters are AURALiCs own implementation, with the usual precise, smooth, dynamic, and balanced filter choices. Clocking is handled by a 60 Femtosecond clock, and the Tesla G3 digital processing platform provides caching for incoming digital signals and direct memory access to minimize/holistically remove jitter.

All these things come together, according to AURALiC, and deliver all of the performance of a completely proprietary implementation without the massive R&D cost associated with a proprietary implementation. To be clear, AURALiC has clearly invested in R&D, the difference is that this product is priced at $7,899, which while expensive is comparatively reasonable–especially if it performs as well as the likes of Chord and dCS.

When the Vega G2.2 arrived I opened the box, and it felt like a bit of a homecoming. There was the Vega G2.2, and as I lifted out of the box I was reminded that just because their DAC is smaller then a full sized component, that does not mean it is light. The case work is superb, and while I loved the original chassis of the Vega G2 (a seamless chassis machined out of a single block of aluminum), the new chassis is built just as well. The seams fit together perfectly, and you could probably convince me that the case is still a single block of aluminum–it is built that well. Within the Vega G2.2 is a second chassis, all copper, meant to shield the internal electronics from any type of interference. This dual chassis concept is incredibly smart, and I wish more manufactures would think about this as the background of the AURALiC Vega G2.2 is dead silent in a very noticeable way.

On the front of the Vega G2.2 is a beautiful screen, flush mounted with glass. It can be configured to stay off, stay on, display album art, text, or a combination of both art and text. The screen quality was noticeably better then I remembered it. My Vega G2 suffered from quite a bit of light bleed, where the Vega G2.2 looks much more uniform. Album artwork pops off the screen and colors are beautifully saturated. I personally configure the screen to show album art only, and to turn off after 10 minutes of inactivity. This keeps the artwork up when listening, but makes the DAC appear off when I am not listening to anything.

There are two headphone jacks and volume knob on the front of the DAC. I love this volume knob. I know that is an incredibly silly statement, but nevertheless it is true, and I am going to tell you why. The volume knob is not only the perfect size and shape, when you turn the volume knob it has the perfect amount of tactile resistance and click. It feels more like you are turning a really fine-tuned stepped attenuator than a digital volume control. With each degree of turn you can hear the coil latched relays firing in the Vega G2.2 adjusting the devices analog volume control.

The volume knob can also click in, and its ability to be pressed like a button allows you to navigate to the menu on the device’s screen. However, the good news is that if you want to configure your DAC, you can simply use the Lightning DS app, or the DACs built in web consoles to configure the DAC. There is no need to navigate the menus on the device itself unless you want to.

Spinning the Vega G2.2 around, you have AES, Digital Coaxial (RCA), Toslink, HDMI eARC, USB, and network in. All of these are galvanically isolated. The HDMI eARC is a new feature for the Vega G2.2 and as of this review it is not active yet, but I look forward to testing this out in my audio room with a projector. I can imagine a world where a 2 channel system that needs to double as a family room TV could simply have a Vega G2.2 as the sole brains of the system.

You also have a few other inputs and outputs that we have not talked about yet. The first I want to draw your attention to is the analog in. Yes, that is right, this DAC has an analog input. Now the Vega G2.2 does not digitize this analog input; instead it is simply directed through the internal analog pre-amp and exceptional analog volume control. What this means is that the Vega G2.2 could be connected to a high-end phono stage, and you could share the built in analog pre-amp between your reference digital system (the Vega G2.2 itself) and a reference analog system of your choosing. To be clear, this analog input is a line level input so you have to bring your own phono stage if you want to add a record player–but at this price-point I think most would bring their own anyway. At the same time I wish AURALiC had integrated their basic MM/MC phono stage found in the Altair, for simplicity.

What’s left on the back are the analog outputs, one set of balanced, and one set of singled-ended outputs, and two sets of propriety AURALiC I/O. The first is the lighting link system. This allows you to connect the Vega G2.2 to the other products in the AURALiC stack like the Sirius up-sampler or the Aries G2.2 streamer. The last piece of I/O is the master clock input. This allows you to connect the Vega G2.2 to the Leo GX master clock. With these additional ports AURALiC has made it possible to upgrade your Vega G2.2 with a dedicated streamer, up-sampler and external clock, allowing it to grow with your system.

Now you might say, “I thought the AURALiC Vega G2.2 has a network input, so why would I add an Aries G2.2 to my Vega G2.2?” That could be a review in and of itself, but the simplest answer is the Aries G2.2 has several features such as built-in parametric EQ, a wireless option, and the ability to act as a CD player, which makes it worth the additional cost. In my opinion if you are just streaming music from Roon or a service like Qobuz, the built-in steamer in the Vega G2.2 is more than enough.

auralic vega

Setting up the AURALiC Vega G2.2 and Listening Impressions

The AURALiC Vega G2.2 was placed into the following system. All components have had at least 200 hours of play time:

DAC: AURALiC Vega G2.2
Source: Roon CORE
Amplifiers: ampsandsound Black Pearl, ampsandsound Zion Monoblocks
Subwoofer: Zu Audio Undertone MK III
Power Conditioner: PS Audio P12
Speakers: Zu Audio Soul 6
Cabling: Wireworld, Wywires

After inserting the AURALiC Vega G2.2 into the system and ensuing the analog output was set to 6 volts, I got the network connected to the network and the Vega G2.2 quickly appeared as a Roon endpoint. Once enabled, and after 200 hours of burn in, I sat back, set the filter to “smooth” and got ready to listen.

Turning on Maggie Roger’s album Heard It In A Past Life, the thing that struck me about the Vega G2.2 right away was that it was as if someone grabbed a TV’s sharpness control and turned it up. Compared to my previous DAC, the soundstage jumped into focus with greater separation of each instrument. At first I thought this would be fatiguing, but as time passed I realized that the Vega G2.2. was simply presenting more detail and had a better handling of space within the recording. The stage itself was more forward, but it was also deeper and wider.

It also presented a sound signature that commanded attention, and throughout my listening sessions I would simply forget to take notes. I was too caught up in the music. Going back to my previous DAC confirmed my suspicions, that while its presentation was excellent in its own right it was ultimately much more defuse and softer then the AURALiC Vega G2.2. For me, the most incredible thing was getting the exciting and clear presentation without the usual sibilance that comes with it.

Tonally, the AURALiC Vega G2.2 was excellent. Listening to Paul McCartney’s Egypt Station album, the backing instruments seemed to jump forward into the room. The string section, in particular, was incredibly believable since I had a sense of the weight of each instrument. The texture that the Vega G2.2 was able to extract also came through in St. Vincent’s “Pills.” What is usually an incredibly chaotic song became much more articulate. It never lost the energy, but the Vega G2.2 brought an order to the presentation that allowed me to better appreciate the nuances of the composition in a way I simply was not able to in the past.

The Vega G2.2 never had any issues driving my amplifiers. This is true for my single ended 300B as well as my push-pull ampsandsound Zion Monoblocks (Citation Vs). As analog pre-amp, the class A ORFEO modules really delivered a clean, controlled, and powerful analog signal. This was true whether I was streaming or listening to my record collection on the analog in.

sam rosen system

Lighting DS

While I tend to use Roon as that is how I stream music throughout my entire home, AURALiC has their Lighting DS platform as well. You can use it to connect to traditional streaming services such as Qobuz or Tidal. You can also stream things to it via airplay or Spotify connect. You can even connect it to a network share, and stream from the network share to your Vega G2.2.

The app itself is very good, and it does a great job of bringing your music together. I personally think streaming through Lightning DS actually sounds a little better than streaming directly through Roon. To be clear, I did not notice this until going back and forth between the two. If you plan to use Roon, the good news is that the AURALiC Vega G2.2 works perfectly as a Roon endpoint. If you do not have Roon, you can be excited about having one of the best streaming implementations built into your Vega G2.2 for free. The iPhone and iPad apps are really exceptional and the fact that they come with the Vega G2.2 and do not require any additional monthly payments is really quite lovely in a world where everyone is trying to charge you a monthly fee.

auralic vega

Wrapping up

At the beginning of this review, I said that I had been searching for something as I bought other DACs. The honest answer is that I was searching for the sound the AURALiC Vega G2 gave me. What I found with the AURALiC Vega G2.2 was everything I loved about the original, but simply more of it, more detail, more space, more realism. The upgrades between the G2 and G2.2 are substantial to my audio memory, so substantial that I preferred it to a DAC that cost 5x more. The Vega G2.2 is my new reference DAC. I purchased my review sample, and I highly recommend it regardless of price point.

Thank you, AURALiC, for reminding me how much I truly loved your products, and how much those products allow me to enjoy my music.

pta reviewers choice

About Sam Rosen 2 Articles
Product Manager who loves to listen to music and connect with people in his spare time.


  1. Interesting and informative review. I can only add that the addition of an Auralic Aries G1.1 was a shock for me. Roon Nucleus+ to Aries G1.1 to Holo May DAC has really elevated all aspects of digital replay in my system.

  2. “…I preferred it to a DAC that cost 5x more. The Vega G2.2 is my new reference DAC”

    Are you serious that the DAC in G2.2 is better than dCS Rossini?! WOW?!

  3. I love my Auralic Aries G1 ($1500 used). It completed my audio system. It can do so much, but I found that simply using the dynamic setting is perfect for my system. I love the Lightning DS app and not needing Roon. The app sounds noticeably better than Tidal Connect.

  4. Good review thanks. You say: “With each degree of turn you can hear the coil latched relays firing in the Vega G2.2 adjusting the devices analog volume control.” I wonder if there were others like myself also wondering how this is a good thing or maybe it just needs some additional context.

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