pl | en



Manufacturer: AURORA SOUND Co., Ltd.
Price (when reviewed):
from 21990 to 30 760 PLN, depending on selected options

Contact: AURORA SOUND Co., Ltd.
Rojuman III 102, Rojuman III 102
76-4 Tsukaoka-cho, Asahi-ku, Yokohama
241-0805 JAPAN


Provided for test by: AUDIO ATELIER


translation Marek Dyba
images Piksel Studio/Bartosz Łuczak | „High Fidelity”

No 229

June 1, 2023

AURORASOUND is a Japanese company founded in 2010 by Mr. SHINOBU KARAKI. Its lineup includes line preamplifiers and amplifiers, as well as a headphone amplifier, but above all phono preamplifiers. Currently, there are three devices of this type, and we are testing the middle one, the ViDA model in the new Mk II version.


HE ViDA Mk II PHONOSTAGE from Aurorasound is designed to work with MC and MM cartridges. It was produced in Japan by a specialist in his field - more on that in a moment. And it is a product whose appearance has something about it that calms me down.

The combination of an aluminum front, a large, illuminated power switch and a wooden housing, with a characteristic frame protruding from the front panel, refers to the 1960s and 1970s, and to products from Marantz, McIntosh, Denon, Lake, etc. It is obvious. However, what Leben did in their products, and what Aurorasound does, is something more. As if its products were a micro-cosmos that needs nothing from the outside, products perfectly consistent internally. By contrast, many audio products look incomplete.

It is all the more interesting that this Japanese company offers mainly semiconductor devices, and if they are tube devices, then with an output stage of this type, but with a solid-state input. Not only is the ViDA Mk Ii not tube-based, it's not even solid-state: it's based on integrated circuits. A heresy, one may say.

To be honest, it doesn’t matter to me. For many, many years, my system has included the RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC phono preamplifier, and one of the best devices of this type I've heard is the top model of this company, The Big Phono, awarded by the editors of and "High Fidelity" with the STATEMENT In High Fidelity award (test → HERE). Their common feature are integrated circuits as signal amplifiers. Because the secret of the audio universe, to which we all have access, is this: the thing is not in the technology, although it is important, but in how it will be used.


THE Mk II IN THE NAME OF THE DEVICE indicates that it is a new version of a preexisting product. The ViDA (Vinyl Disc Amplifier) model was introduced in 2011, so twelve years have passed since its premiere. In audio, that's a lot of time. This means that the first design was completely thought out and in a given price range it was impossible to introduce changes that would translate into a significant improvement in sound, functionality or both at once.

And this project is based on a slightly different circuit than usual - in the ViDA we find a correction circuit called RLC. In an interview that Mr. SHINOBU KARAKI gave to Marek Dyba on the occasion of the test of the first version of the preamplifier, he said that "the advantage of the LCR circuit is its musicality, as well as high resolution and low harmonic distortion in the low frequency range". According to him, the sound of the LCR system is exceptionally stable in the full frequency range, without nervousness in the treble and without weakening of the midrange (more → HERE).

The LCR correction circuit has a very low gain, which translates into lower noise. In its input there is a coil and then capacitors and resistors. Circuits of this type used to be built with tubes, but then you need many matching transformers because the inductor in the LCR system has an impedance of 600 Ω. As the head of Aurorasound said:

So there is a 600-ohm step-up transformer, then another transformer, LCR transformer, power transformer, chokes ... even 10 transformers in total. Some positively crazy enthusiasts who make devices for themselves like such large projects. It's just that using transistors you can create a small LCR system that will fit in a small package, and its costs will be quite reasonable. Therefore I believe that semiconductors are the right choice for phono preamplifiers based on LCR circuits.

In this case, "semiconductors" should be read as "integrated circuits", because Mr. Karaki is a specialist in this field. For 29 years, he worked for the Japanese branch of Texas Instruments dealing primarily with digital audio. After retiring early, he returned to his youthful passions - building audio devices and learning to play the guitar. The advantage of transistors is - according to him - their physical properties: frequency response, harmonic distortion level, signal-to-noise ratio. In terms of each of these parameters, transistors are, he added, "at least 10 times better than tubes". We don't have to agree with it, but respect the opinion of a specialist - it's worth it.

˻ FEATURES ˺ ViDA Mk II is a phono preamplifier designed to work with MM and MC cartridges. For the former it offers a gain of 65 dB, and for the latter 40 dB. The output voltage is 2V for RCA jacks and 4V for XLR. As you can see, there are two outputs, balanced and unbalanced; the latter is optional.

On the front panel there are stereo/mono switches, a subsonic filter (below 20 Hz), a switch that changes the input impedance and a choice between the type of cartridge and the input. A very large, illuminated "mute" switch catches the eye. Now, according to the manufacturer, it is a high-end element from Japan, better than in the previous version, disconnecting the signal without any "click" in the speakers. On the back we find rhodium-plated RCA inputs and outputs (XLR are gold-plated), a switch that activates the "degausse" circuit and a load impedance selection knob. The latter is a novelty, previously we had constant impedance for MM and MC cartridges. Now there is a choice between: 12, 47, 120, 240 and 1000 ohms.

The gain modules are also new, borrowed from the more expensive ViDA Supreme. Because the circuit board was also redesigned, better components could be used. All these changes translated into a drastic reduction of distortion, from 0.025% to 0.012%, and - as it turns out - a different sound. What's more, new elements are not to age, so they are to serve us for a longer time.

The preamplifier can be ordered with various additional options, as in the first version. We have already talked about various load impedances (this module is called VI-6, and costs 2990 PLN) and the XLR output (this one is called XLRO, 3490 PLN). It is also possible to add XLR inputs (PLN 1190), but without the symmetrizing circuit. The next one is the possibility to change the input impedance for MM cartridges (MM-3, PLN 1990), and the last one is a better cable connecting the power supply with the preamplifier (SPC, PLN 2290). The device with all these optional features was delivered for the test, and its total price was PLN 30,760. In the listening test, we devoted a separate section to comparing the two power cables.


˻ HOW WE LISTENED ˺ The ViDA Mk II preamplifier was tested in the "High Fidelity" reference system. The records were played on the Well Tempered Lab Amadeus Jr. turntable (test → HERE) with the Charisma Audio cartridge, connected to the preamplifier using Luna Cables Blue interconnect with Orange ground cable. The preamplifier's power supply was connected to the mains using the Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version cable.

The ViDA Mk II was compared to my long-term reference, the RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC phono preamplifier. It was a multiple comparison in A/B/A and B/A/B sequences, with A and B known.

» RECORD USED FOR THE TEST ⸜ a selection

⸜ BRENDAN PERRY, Ark, Cooking Vinyl/Vinyl 180 VIN180LP040, 2 x 180 g (2011).
⸜ SADE, Stronger Than Pride, Epic/Sony Music/Audio Fidelity AFZLP 159, Numbered Edition № 0033, 180g LP (1988/2014).
⸜ THELONIOUS MONK & JOHN COLTRANE, Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane, Jazzland/Analogue Productions, 180 g LP (1961/1998) w: THELONIOUS MONK, The Riverside Tenor Sessions, Analogue Production APJ-037, Numbered Edition № 1543/2500, 6 x 180 g LP (1998).
⸜ THE ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO, The Spiritual, Freedom/ORG Music RGM-2121, „Record Store Day 2019”, Limited Edition, 180 g RED WAX LP (1972/2019), more → HERE.


WE ARE USED to associate the size of audio devices with the scale of sound. It is clear. The larger the amplifier's power supply, the more instantaneous power it has, and thus the more energy it is able to transmit. The larger the bass driver in a large cabinet, the lower the bass can go, which improves the size of the virtual sources, the stage, but also the precision of the treble.

The case of the preamplifier we are testing is different. Its small, one could say its "pocket" body does not correspond to the stereotype. Its sound is big and intense. Although I finished the test with this album, so I should list it last, the impression it left me was superimposed on all listening sessions. We are talking about BRENDAN PERRY's Ark, released in 2011 as a solo album by the male side of the Dead Can Dance duo.

Recorded in analog, on a 24-track Studer 822A tape recorder, it has an incredible momentum, which is largely due to the very vigilant mastering of Aidan Foley at Masterlabs. Together with a very low, strong bass, we get a huge space, often going beyond the outer edges of the loudspeakers, and from time to time with sounds also coming from the sides. The Japanese preamplifier played it in a warm, dense and - that's what I mean - "wide" way. In audio, we use this term to describe the left-right axis of the sound stage, but in pro circles it means something else: "wide" sound is sound with energy, dense, large, stretched in all directions, dynamic and saturated with layers.

And that's how the Ark sounded with ViDA Mk II. The vocalist was moved slightly closer to the listening position, but didn't lose the power and depth he was recorded with. The album was recorded in Perry's private studio, QUIVVY STUDIO, an old, deconsecrated church built in 1855. It is a large space with stone walls and a wooden ceiling (more → HERE). There is no shortage of space in it, which can be heard perfectly on the album.

The low, flawless bass in Wintersun was delivered with the required "kick" and extended down very low. This is how it should sound like, which many preamplifiers, usually tube ones, "don't understand". It's a digital recording, so it's easy to over emphasize the attack and slam. The Japanese device did not do that, i.e. it retained a dense sound "core" and did not distort the signal’s leading edge, it was neither too sharp nor too bright.

In fact, if anything, I'd say the ViDA Mk II has a penchant for romantic play. In the sense that the treble is smooth, almost silky with it. One could say that the sound is a bit warm, but that's probably not the point. The midrange is open, and the bass is active and has "character". So it was with the voice and bass on Perry's album, so did SADE from Stronger Than Pride, an album said to be an ultra-smooth mix of soul, funk and world music, sounded like. Compass Point Studios (Nassau, Bahamas), where it was recorded, was the place where many great albums were made, for example AC/DC’s Back in Black.

The Audio Fidelity reissue released in 2014, with the signal remastered in a full analog path from analog "master" tapes, is quite soft in itself, there is not too much dynamics here. The preamplifier did not deepen this effect, it is not a device of this type. It also did not withdraw the upper treble enough to make it audible. In fact, it played this record very "empathically", as if guessing its sonic dimension, fitting it with its own character.

As before, with the Sade travel noise was minimal, and pops&cracks were almost absent. That's part of the character I'm talking about. It seems that there is no warming of the sound here, for example by withdrawing the treble, or by emphasizing part of the midrange. And it can be heard in a similar way, because the device perfectly copes with the attack of instruments and sounds from the top of the band. It slightly extinguishes it, which makes the timbre open, we have high dynamics, and yet the presentation is very "physiological", i.e. dense and pleasant. In this way, you can listen to music for hours without fatigue on the one hand and boredom on the other.

| Aurorasound SPC-VIDA
DC power cable

WE KNOW HOW IMPORTANT is the power supply in audio devices. We spend a lot of money for power cables, replace them, select them, etc. Despite this, we pay much less attention to the cables connecting power supplies with the devices they supply, assuming that direct voltage (DC), which is delivered with them, has a lower "weight". It does not. This is why one of the most important "upgrades" in the Nordost QRT system was the new cables running from the power supply (more → HERE) and why it is worth replacing the power cable in Lumin file players.

The change, which should be obvious, was also audible with the ViDA Mk II preamplifier. The sound with a better cable was deeper, both in terms of soundstage and timbre. What I said about bringing the background closer was much less emphasized with it. In fact the stage was much deeper with it. We will not lose either dynamics or openness. Changing the cable deepens the impression of "warmth" emanating from the speakers, even though the sound seems more resolving and selective. The instruments also have better defined contours and bodies are more three-dimensional.

This is a great upgrade and I think the ViDA Mk II should be sold with this cable.

THE TESTED PREAMPLIFIER, apart from the ability to adapt to a specific record, also has a unique ability to organize the sound. Both Perry and Sade, and later the excellent collaboration of THELONIOUS MONK and JOHN COLTRANE from the Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane, each time it was pure pleasure to listen to how the instruments are spread out in panorama or - as in the case of the latter record - also on the listening axis (the album contains both mono and stereo recordings). It's a slow but dense sound.

I think it's not a coincidence that this is what Ethan Hunt asks about when in the Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation movie he enters a music store and uses a turntable with optical readout and a vinyl record with optical image and sound recording, he establishes contact with his agency – or so he thinks (dir. Christopher McQuarrie, 2015). You must remember this dialogue, don't you? Let me remind you, just in case:

Record Store Girl: We're closing now.
Ethan Hunt: I won't take much time.
Record Store Girl: Are you looking for something specific?
Ethan Hunt: Something rare.
Record Store Girl: Let me guess... Classic?
Ethan Hunt: Jazz.
Record Store Girl: Saxophone?
Ethan Hunt: Coltrane.
Record Store Girl: Piano?
Ethan Hunt: Monk.
Record Store Girl: Shadow Wilson on double bass.
Ethan Hunt: Shadow Wilson played drums.
Record Store Girl: You know why...they called him Shadow?
Ethan Hunt: Because he had a soft strike.
Record Store Girl: You're in luck, I've got the first release.
Record Store Girl: It's really you... I heard about you. It's hard to believe...

It's not a precise description of the album as Art Blakey (A3, B2) played drums on two tracks, but that's just the poetics of the film. The Nameless Record Store Girl, played by Hermione Corfield, unfortunately dies, which sets off a whole sequence of events.

But to the point - it's an album with recordings from three different sessions, a bit of a "compilation". However, the ViDA Mk II preamplifier showed it in a way, in which one could feel the "calm of the master", it did not lose the differences, but did not deepen them either. It also showed mastery of playing, strong cymbals in front of us and a large piano. The latter did not have a very clear sound and it was audible as if it was limited in frequency range, and yet "sitting" well in the mix. Everything was smooth, fluid, but also effortless with the reviewed device. It does not compress the sound, does not choke it and does not sterilize it. It is pure, timbre-dense sound with many layers and flavors. But never too aggressive.

So when I listened to the THE ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO album entitled The Spiritual, I did not feel unsatisfied, neither when it came to the soundstage, nor the opening of the band, nor the dynamics. However, you need to know that the sound is so smooth that those who are looking for aggression in the sound, for example in terms of rock recordings with an emphasis on metal, may feel unsatisfied. The preamplifier does not accentuate the attack of the sound, but rather smooths it out. In the vast majority of cases this offers the effect of closeness and intimacy, but with nervous, dynamic sound it may seem too nice, too "polite".


JAPANESE PREAMPLIFIER guarantees long hours of beautiful listening experience. Beautiful, because it offers a lot of information and good dynamics, and at the same time incredibly natural. This is the sound that allows you to listen to music for a long time staying in focus and yet without any fatigue. It has everything that we love Japanese products for, namely the incredible attention to detail, but there is also a great sound with momentum.

This is a wonderful device that exceeds the limits between technologies, because it does not sound like solid-state or tube, but simply good. And looks great, which shouldn't be without significance, after all, we spend a lot of time with audio devices. So it's a shame to waste it on something ugly.


AURORASOUND ViDA Mk II is a small, good looking, and nicely made device. The preamplifier is divided into two parts - the amplifying circuit and the power supply, and the former looks really nice; the power supply on the other hand is solid and has a utilitarian, durable chassis. The front and back are made of aluminum plates, and the rest of the chassis is made of bent steel sheet. The wooden part of the housing slides on the outside of the metal body. It serves not only for decorative reasons, but also, together with really nice feet, is a part of the anti-vibration system.

» FRONT AND REAR On the front panel there are five toggle switches, pleasant to use, a large "Mute" button and a small purple power LED. "Mute" is illuminated in orange and has elements on the sides to prevent accidental activation. In this case, of course, it's unnecessary caution, but it makes a good impression.

On the back you can see very good RCA and XLR sockets. The former are rhodium-plated and the latter gold-plated. During the test of the first ViDA version, Marek Dyba asked the designer about this choice, to which Mr. Karaki replied: "Rhodium plating is a very solid solution, it prevents oxidation and ensures excellent signal conduction. The same connectors are used on all Aurorasound products.” Also on the back there is a "Degauss" switch, a socket for the power supply and an impedance switch - there are six positions to choose from.

» INSIDE It is a dual-mono design, with a common power supply. The electronic circuit is divided into several boards screwed to the "base" board, occupying the entire center. In the input there are Omron relays, and behind them large coils from the Swedish company Lundahl, which are part of the correction circuit. Next to it are Wima capacitors and precise Dale-looking resistors. On the gold-plated plates at the back there is the proper amplification circuit, featuring integrated circuits with a small heat sink.

The signal from them is sent to the next board, where there are circuits with an output buffer, symmetrizing the signal for the XLR outputs. The symmetrizing circuit uses Burr Brown OPA 604 integrated circuits and again the same, precise resistors. The load resistance is changed with a precise switch from the Japanese company NKK and, again, through precise resistors soldered to a small plate on which the switch was mounted.

The whole thing looks very neat and professionally made. There is nothing missing in this "picture".

» POWER SUPPLY The power supply housing is made of aluminum, and of ready-made profiles. On the front there is a power switch with an LED diode, and on the back there is an IEC socket and a splendid screwed multi-pin socket made in Japan.

Next to the IEC socket you can see an anti-noise filter inside. The voltage is converted to a lower one in a toroidal transformer, and the mains ripple is smoothed out in six large, great, Nichicon Muse capacitors. Voltage stabilization is handled by two Burr Brown integrated circuits. The whole thing stands on glued pieces of rubber - I would prefer to see the same feet as in the preamplifier itself.

Technical specifications (according to the manufacturer):

Type: semiconductor-based phonostage for MM/MC cartridges
Inputs: 2 pairs of RCA
output: 1 pair RCA + 1 pair XLR (optional)
Input impedance:
• standard: 10 and 100 Ω → MC, 47 kΩ → MM
• optional: 12, 47, 120, 240 and 1000 → MC, 47 kΩ → MM
RIAA deviation: +/– 0,25 dB, 10 Hz–20 kHz
THD: 0.015% for MC (A-weighted)
Dimensions (H x D x W):
• preamplifier: 100 × 260 × 250 mm
• power supply: 70 × 114 × 200 mm
Weight: 2.8 + 1.4 kg


Reference system 2022

1) Loudspeakers: HARBETH M40.1 |REVIEW|
2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

  • HARMONIX TU-666M "BeauTone" MILLION MAESTRO 20th Anniversary Edition |REVIEW|


Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC