Review: Auris Audio HA2-SE – Perfection

Sound

 

As I already mentioned, the two DACs I mostly used with the Auris HA2-SE are the Violectric V850 and the AK380 (as source/DAC). I always prefer the DAC to be very detailed and neutral sounding so that the amp has most impact on the end sound.

After powering on the HA2-SE and letting the tubes heat up for about 30 to 60 minutes (for best performance) they first thing you hear is absolutely nothing. Silence. No tube noises, no noisy background. Turn the volume all the way up, nothing. Change the impedance selector, nothing. 16Ω, 32Ω, 250Ω or 300 Ω: it doesn’t matter. The Auris Audio HA2-SE is always hum and noise free, at all times. Also with the by Auris chosen stock tubes. Silence is beautiful, silence wins golden medals.

There of course is a difference between the stock tubes and the tubes I rolled in (see above) and it mostly is the ECC82 tube that will influence the amplifier’s sound most. The upgraded tube set made the sound stage wider and deeper, the detail higher and slightly increased the smoothness. My OTL topology LaFigaro 339 – depending on the tube sets used – can be a very warm and smooth sounding amplifier but the HA2-SE never comes closed to this sound signature. The Auris is cleaner, more transparent and precise, more dynamic and dare I say, more neutral.

Ever since the first time I listened to the HA2-SE at Canjam Europe last year, I’ve been in love with this amplifier. The last time an amplifier blew me away like this was when I discovered the above mentioned 339, and we all know that was quite a while ago. If you’re looking for an amplifier that adds bass, warms up the sound or overanalyzes it, this amp isn’t the one for you. The HA2-SE sounds signature is near perfect. It gives you all the detail in a clean and clear way but it makes it all sound effortless and natural but above all, very musical. Speed and attack is very good and reminds me of the Woo Audio WA2, it of course isn’t like let’s say an Auralic solid state amp but it has the tube richness and tube flavor written all over it. Labelling the Auris HA2-SE as a smooth amplifier wouldn’t be right but the typical tube warmth is there, and gorgeously so. The tube smoothness doesn’t overpower but it sits just right, perfectly balanced.

The HA2-SE doesn’t really emphasize any particular part of the sound and it’s a very balanced and correct sounding amplifier in that regard. The layering from bottom to top is exemplary; bass is well defined, tight but with good impact. The mids are spacious and rich, clean and musical and treble is energetic and clear. I haven’t found a single inear or full sized headphone that didn’t sound perfect on this Serbian gem. Another advantage is that you can slightly tune the sound to your liking using the impedance selector on the back. By playing with the settings you will hear the sound get a little tighter, or smoother or more upfront. You can use it just how you like.

Musical, transparent, rich, precise and dynamic. Those are all terms that come into mind when listening to this well-hidden masterpiece. As a reviewer, I get to listen to a lot of gear but the Auris HA2-SE pleases me so much that I bought the amplifier from Auris. Some readers will probably comment that this review is way too positive but I can only say this: “Buy one, use it with all your headphones and a good source, and then we’ll talk again”. Negative points? Recommendations? Yes, you’ll find them in the conclusion. More listening/sound impressions? Keep reading.

Ear- and Headphones

The old-school Audeze LCD-2.1 dates back to the era where Fazer was only a type of bicycle. The orthodynamic LCD2.1 was the headphone that introduced a lot of people to a new level of sound. On the HA2-SE it is dead silent even with the volume maxed out. The LCD2 sounds tight, has a perfectly black background and makes me relive the time when it just came out. Great bass, awesome mids and easy to like treble. I don’t like the LCD2 with just any amplifier but the Auris surely makes it sound at its best. The Hifiman HE-1000 V2 sounds more balanced and linear and it – looking at technical aspects – outperforms the LCD2.1 in every way. You get heaps of detail with great layering, extended treble and an overall more forward (not brighter) sound signature. I personally prefer the V2 on a slightly warmer sounding amplifier. Differently said, I prefer the V1 over V2’s sound signature. The V1 & Auris combo just is more my thing.

Sennheiser’s original HD800 is one of the most discussed headphones. Some say it’s easy to drive, others say it’s one of the most difficult amps to drive and get the sound right. I’m more in the second camp, although several amps have positively surprised me before. The Auris Audio HA2-SE (again dead silent) makes the HD800 very detailed/layered and the treble very lively. Bass body and impact is great and the mids are layered and rich but they don’t sound as warm as on most of my OTL amps. If you’re not into the HD800’s treble or analytical style than I’m afraid this isn’t the combination you’re looking for. If you however do appreciate this HD800 characteristic and you want transparency and detail, then the Auris will make the HD800 sing. I personally prefer the HD800 on a warmer sounding amplifier but the HA2-SE simply is transparent, clear and detailed. It won’t make your HD800 sound fuller or softer but it will add a layer of tube smoothness compared to a solid state amp. If warmer is what you’re after than the Hifiman Edition X V2 matches better with the Auris HA2-SE as that simply is in its nature with a full bodied and easygoing sound. Bass with the Auris amp is to die for: perfect impact and great layering. The mids are very musical and rich and treble is detailed yet smooth. The V2 is hard not to like and this amp makes it sound its very best. A great combo and the Edition X V2 really deserves that “Best of 2016” award.

The Jomo Samba ciem is an extremely sensitive monitor and it does pick up some sound from the Auris. When music is playing however this isn’t audible anymore even on very low volumes. The Samba is a neutral and transparent monitor and the HA2-SE males it sound just like that. You get a very linear neutral sound with great detail, great layering and an excellent sound stage. Too bad this amp isn’t portable! The universal ProPhile 8 from Inear also is a neutral tuned monitor but the treble and bass switch allow you to tune the sound somewhat by boosting bass and treble a few dB. I myself absolutely loved it on the Auris with both boost switches turned on. Like the Jomo it however also picks up some noise and it is a little more audible than with the Samba. If you’re insensible to noise or listen at higher volumes this combination however will make you experience your music like never before. I doubt however that people will be buying this amplifier for using it with inears, but I did want to share these impressions just in case you end up using them with sensitive inear monitors.

End Words

The Auris Audio HA2-SE is an incredible amp. It sounds balanced and transparent with great clarity and precision. It’s clear to me this amplifier far outperforms its price, Auris Audio could easily charge double for this amp but I am glad they aren’t (yet).

The only downside to this amplifier is the fact that really sensitive inear monitors pick up some noise and with some you will even notice it when music is softly playing. With full sized headphones however, the Auris Audio HA2-SE is dead silent at all times. To be fair though, it is a full sized headphone amp.

The HA2-SE is a single ended amplifier and if I could suggest one thing to Auris Audio it would be to make a balanced version of this masterpiece. A lot of people got to know the LaFigaro 339 after I reviewed it and I hope the same will happen to the HA2-SE. Yes, this is in a different price range but man is this a great amplifier.

Review: Auris Audio HA2-SE – Perfection
4.6 (91.85%) 27 vote[s]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

44 Comments

  • Reply February 23, 2017

    Tibor

    WAU! GREAT! I hate you now, but I love you too…
    I´ll tell you if I buy it 😀

    • Reply February 24, 2017

      Lieven

      It really is an excellent amp, it even put the Violectric V281 in storage for now…

  • Reply February 24, 2017

    Peter

    Great review Lieven. Since you have heard both beyer amiron home with various amps and auris ha-2 se, which one – in your opinion – will sound better with amiron’s: auris or cayin? And cypher labs duet or maybe vorzuge? Thank you in advance.

    • Reply February 24, 2017

      Lieven

      Thanks. Of the tube amps, the Auris. Of the portable amps you will extremely pleased with either of those amps. I put them at the same level but Duet is fully balanced 😉

  • Reply February 24, 2017

    Peter

    Thank you very much for the answer Lieven.
    I got my amirons recently and as much as i like them, i got a feeling i might be missing something with my current amp/dac (concero hp). Auris looks really tempting then, especially now, when I am after an upgrade 😉
    Will take a closer look at both small form amps, as often i don’t want to power up my computer – just sit back/lay down and listen to the music.
    Have a nice day, greetings, Peter

  • Reply February 24, 2017

    Tibor

    Peter, try Feliks Audio Espressivo, I am looking that way + Beyer T90 to buy.
    This Auris is tempting, but without proper headphones is a no go. And I am not sure if I want to spend 3000 for Auris + Edition X v2.
    I really would like to, but I am the only maniac in our family…

  • Reply February 24, 2017

    Peter

    Thank you for the tip Tibor, will take a closer look at FA Espressivo.
    And i fully understand your dilema – i’m a gearhead too 😉

  • Reply February 25, 2017

    Mullordfan

    It is time to read Ha-1a mk2 review now.

    • Reply February 28, 2017

      Lieven

      next week!

      • Reply March 19, 2017

        MFAN

        Waiting for it.

  • Reply February 27, 2017

    Renoir

    Great review and waited for a long long time. Thanks Lieven.
    I’m really interest on ha2-se now.
    If compare it to Trafomatic the Head2, how do you think?
    These two also my target amp.

    • Reply March 25, 2017

      desik

      Also interested in that.

  • Reply March 6, 2017

    MATT

    Great review, congratulations. IEMs JH Layla costs the same as Auris HA2-SE + HifiMan Edition X V2. Can you briefly share your thoughts about sound quality of each, stage, details, smoothness, bass, … What option do you prefer in case of both paired with AK380 hi-res files? Thanks.

  • Reply March 12, 2017

    Ruihao

    Thanks for the review Lieven. I going to buy blind based on your review since there is no local distributor for the amp, but just wondering you figure which is the best DAC for the tube amp?

    • Reply March 13, 2017

      Lieven

      Something clean, detailed and to the analytical side. Think ess sabre chips

    • Reply March 13, 2017

      Lieven

      And you won’t regret it. It is sublime

  • Reply March 15, 2017

    Michel I

    Hello Lieven,
    A real love story …
    Woo Audio WA22 or this one? What do you think?

    • Reply March 15, 2017

      Lieven

      Both excellent. Need balanced? In Europe the choice is easy

  • Reply March 16, 2017

    Michel I

    I like balanced, but I don’t really need it. What is your easy choice in Europe?
    Regards,
    M

    • Reply March 16, 2017

      Lieven

      When buying from woo you have expensive shipping from the US. Shipping it back in case of issues blows and you will have to pay quite some Moortown taxes. On top of that the amps aren’t CE certified BUT they are great. Auris comes from Serbia but is practically Europe. It arrived in 3 days with hardly any taxes

  • Reply August 26, 2017

    julien

    Hello,

    Does it make sense to use a herus+ dac with this amp, or will it sort of downgrade its potential?
    If i can save on buying a more expensive dac…

    Thks,

  • Reply August 27, 2017

    Lieven

    Well the Herus is very good in its price range, but a better dedicated full sized DAC will improve the end result even more. I wouldn’t call it a downgrade, rather a limitation

  • Reply August 30, 2017

    Julien

    Thanks for the answer, would you say about the same using the Chord mojo DAC as it is praise quite a bit…?
    Again thanks for your insight!

  • Reply August 30, 2017

    Lieven

    Actually, while Mojo is good, I’d say the same as I did for the Herus. Now with Hugo 2, there’s a real step up in performance

  • Reply October 27, 2017

    Marc

    Hello, I just read their test on the Auris HA 2 SE Amp. Very nicely described. I would like to test it myself. I use the HE1000 V2. At the moment I use the Phonitor-e as an amplifier. As a DAC I use the Metrum Adagio. My question to them: Can the Auris be better than the Phonito-e?
    Excuse my english, I use the translator.

    Greetings from Saabrücken, Marc

    • Reply October 27, 2017

      Lieven

      I’m not too familiar with the Phonitor-E, so it’s hard to comment on that. But different it will surely be. 🙂

  • Reply December 28, 2017

    Predrag

    There is a single man behind great products, if not the best in audio world (i can say that because he’s my best-man, and friend since our 10, when we started to learn electronics. He, continued to develop high-end audio amplifiers, mainly based on tubes. Lately, he ended up with CD player based on tubes, amplifier as well and Digital system loudspeakers active crossover (for 6 or twelve speakers?). When we were young, we started to deal with DIY electronics, from the collected schema’s, but we were learning so fast that we developed our own amplifiers, remote controlled servo’s for boats,airplanes, DC power supplies etc. I enriched my perspective with 5 in a row, different Cassette decks, hand made by me (perhaps, only one in the World), and he continued as I mentioned before. Later, in early 90’s, I gave up of electronics, and moved on into the IT field. He is great engineer (we’re both self-educated), and I am positive that he deserve greater attention from the wider audience. Here is his blog http://nvaudio.com (unfortunately, on Serbian language, but it can be easily translated through Google Translate). Cheers.

  • Reply March 29, 2018

    mark

    Hi, I see in a picture the new Cayin headphone amp. Big price difference but how would you compare these two

    • Reply March 29, 2018

      Lieven

      The Cayin amp sounds warmer and has more body. it’s a really romantic sounding, smooth tube amp. Unfortunately with a higher noise floor as well. But it’s really great with the right headphone. The auris is the best all-rounder though

  • Reply July 14, 2018

    Hjk

    Hi, I just bought this amp a few days ago and everytime I switch it on, there is a continuous noise on the background. The noise is even higher when I put the impedance on 600 ohms to drive my Beyer T1.2. It decreases when I lower the impedance.

    I tried with other headphones but still the same. It’s more audible with the Beyer T1.2.

    It’s really annoying when listening to music, especially when the song includes a silence part.

    Any help? Or is my unit defective?

    Thanks.

    • Reply August 10, 2018

      Zhihao

      tube amps are pretty sensitive to noise..noise can come in the form of a wifi access point too near to the amp or even dirty power coming from the mains. Try adding a power conditioner and if the access point is near, move it further..

      Good luck!

  • Reply December 5, 2018

    Nathan

    Hi,

    I am considering getting this Auris HA2 SE in exchange for my Lehmann Drachenfels Amp.
    How much of an improvement in sound will i notice as there is a big price jump or will it be marginal?

    Thank you.

    • Reply December 5, 2018

      Lieven

      While the DF is a good little amp, you’ll be listening on a whole new level with the HA2 🙂

      • Reply December 5, 2018

        Nathan

        Thank you,

        I am close to placing the order the only one thing that is concerning me is the reports of a slight hum issue when headphones are connected.

        Is this power related and can it be resolved by means of a mains conditioner?

        Thanks.

        • Reply December 5, 2018

          Lieven

          Who is reporting the hum and is that person sure it’s not coming from the tubes? I reported my Ha2 is completely hum and noise free.

          • Reply December 5, 2018

            Nathan

            He did report that the Amp is sensitive to power quality and that the hum is no longer an issue.
            I assume he used some sort of mains conditioner maybe?

            • Reply December 5, 2018

              Lieven

              Oh , HJK, the readers post. Like I said, mine is dead silent. what headphones will you be using?

              • Reply December 5, 2018

                Nathan

                Hi,

                I am looking into getting the new Meze Headphone as its an open back.
                I currently use Sony MDR Z1R

                • Reply December 5, 2018

                  Lieven

                  Let me double test that for you tonight!

  • Reply December 13, 2018

    Alex Auris

    Hello Fellow Audiophiles!

    I want to thank Lieven for a great review from the Auris team! For anyone needing anymore info on where they can purchase our products please contact me directly at alex@aurisaudio.rs

    Thank you for the love and support,

  • Reply December 20, 2018

    Wills

    Hi Lieven, is this amp usable at 240V? Or is it only usable at 110V? Thanks

    • Reply December 20, 2018

      Lieven

      No worries, 220-240 here 🙂

  • Reply February 26, 2019

    Todd Hodgson

    The wood and leather materials give this amp a very appealing ‘earthiness’ and its specs would put my tube amps to shame.

    However, at its price tag, I don’t foresee purchasing one of these in the near future (let alone winning this giveaway). If I could afford it, I would certainly like to try it based on what you’ve described.

    I have nearly a dozen headphones that would make good use of the power this unit offers. But I would likely have to sell them to buy this, so I suppose that would defeat the purpose.

    *sigh* Maybe someday.

    • Reply February 26, 2019

      Todd Hodgson

      Hah! Posted to the wrong article for the giveaway, but nice job on the review and I enjoyed reading it all the same!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.