SoundStage! PRODUCTS OF THE YEAR 2015

FLOW


Innovation in Design: Aurender Flow headphone DAC-amplifier

www.soundstageultra.com

To see the Flow ($1295) is to want one. The readout in the middle of the volume dial is what Devialet’s remote should have been but wasn’t. Alas, I’m not a headphone listener, so I can’t justify buying a Flow just to play with its volume wheel. But if I were a headphone user, I’d call the folks at Aurender posthaste. This is just the coolest headphone amp I’ve ever seen. Oh, and Brent Butterworth says it sounds great, too.

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Innovation in Design: Aurender Flow headphone DAC-amplifier

www.soundstagehifi.com

Although a compelling marketing campaign can have you thinking that what’s being touted is “new,” any given year sees very few hi-fi products that actually are substantively new in their operation, technology, sound quality, or features -- almost everything is a variation on a well-worn theme. This makes it a bit trickier to pick a winner for our Innovation in Design award -- there’s less to choose from. But the opening paragraph of Brent Butterworth’s SoundStage! Xperience review of the Aurender Flow made this year’s selection a good bit easier: “In a recent column, I complained about the rapid growth in the number of lookalike headphone amps that are little more than a DAC-amp chip stuffed into an extruded-aluminum box. The Aurender Flow ($1295 USD) is the exact opposite: a product that represents a major rethinking of what people -- specifically, audiophiles -- need in a headphone amp.”

Obviously, there was something new here -- and I’m not surprised that it was Aurender that created it. Several years ago, the company was the first to produce really well-thought-out, highly intuitive music servers with truly innovative features. Aurender made other server makers look like amateurs. I think it’s in their corporate DNA to create products that are fresh and new.

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