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Symphonium Audio Aurora Review – Genteel

Pros – 

Well-balanced tuning, Nicely detailed, Great ergonomics, Source agnostic, Coherent presentation

Cons – 

Fluted nozzle limits fit depth, Bass could be more defined

Verdict – 

If you’re looking for a comfortable in-ear with a refined, musical sound, the Aurora should be on your radar.


Introduction –

Symphonium are a new manufacturer from Singapore with great aspiration. Their initial line-up is simple but focussed, featuring two models, the Mirage and Aurora. The Aurora occupies a higher standing with a dual balanced armature driver configuration and $299 SGD or $249 USD asking price. It features custom tuned balanced armature drivers configured with a two-way mechanical crossover ensuring coherent phase and low distortion, impressive stuff. It represents another promising offering in a space that’s becoming intensely competitive; with Chi-Fi heavy hitters Fiio, Simgot, TFZ and Dunu recently introducing strong value-orientated models. You can read more about the Aurora on Symphonium Audio’s website and buy one for yourself here.

 

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Music Sanctuary and Symphonium Audio very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the Aurora for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

 

Accessories –

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The Aurora has a pleasing unboxing experience. It comes within a nice leather textured hard box that opens to reveal the earphones within a faux leather button up case. Underneath are the remaining accessories; a more pocketable soft pouch and a pair of medium T500 Comply Foams (one pair is pre-installed). It’s a fine accessory set and the exclusive inclusion of Comply foams is apt as they are the best sounding tips for this earphone in my opinion. The button case is nice, it’s hard and fairly protective. However, it’s too slim for the earphones so the stitching quickly comes undone. This feedback has been passed along to Symphonium and later models will ship with a more spacious hard case.

 

Design –

With polycarbonate shells, the Aurora doesn’t carry the same density and weight as metal clad competitors such as 1More’s Quad Driver and Meeaudio’s Pinnacle P1. Still, they’re compact and lightweight, suiting long listening sessions and commute. The two halves of the housing are joined well with minimal seam and the nozzle is integrated to aid strength. The earphone’s styling is understated and very well-shaped.

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In particular, the Aurora is a highly sculpted IEM designed with ergonomics in mind. It finds a great fit on behalf of its compact dimensions, wearing with minimal ear contact. Meanwhile, a small anti-tragus fin provides additional fit stability. They have long straight nozzles that fit larger T500 bore tips though Spinfits and E-tips will stretch.

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Like the original Oriveti Primacy, the tip of the nozzle is fluted, preventing tips from sliding off but also limiting fit depth. As such, the Aurora only achieves moderate fit depth with my average sized ears and good but not great noise isolation despite being fully-sealed.

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Up top, the Aurora utilises non-recessed 0.78mm 2-pin connectors. The included cable is of the braided kind, it’s supple and smooth but also fairly thin. Strain relief is great on the right angle 3.5mm plug, however, and the y-split also feels well-reinforced. The cable has memory wire ear guides. It’s a fairly inconspicuous cable that’s practical for portable use.

 

Sound –

The Aurora comes with Comply foam tips pre-installed. After experimenting with silicone tips, I found the Comply tips to provide my most preferred signature, smoothing off lower-treble and aiding balance. Testing below was conducted using the iBasso DX200 with AMP5 featuring a sub 1-ohm output impedance. The earphones underwent 200hrs of burn-in prior to review to ensure optimal performance during final evaluation.

 

Tonality –

The Aurora is well-balanced, one of the most balanced in its price range for sure. It has a slightly warmer, fuller low-end combined with a well-bodied lower-midrange with well-present vocals. Its upper midrange also isn’t grossly emphasized, rather, it has a hair of emphasis to provide an uptick of clarity. Lower treble is also emphasized, however, it’s not as emphasized as most competitors including the aforementioned Falcon-C. This produces a crisp and clear sound but also one that is well-bodied and clean.

 

Bass –

Lows are a touch warmed and notes pleasantly full, the Aurora delivers a punchy presentation with nice dynamics. Sub-bass has fair presence and extension, providing some displacement but lacking solid rumble and slam at the very bottom. However, this is redeemed through moderate elevation of the mid-bass that instigates its warmer tone and full-bodied notes. And though bass is full, it isn’t tubby or pushed to the extent of congestion. Actually, bass is quite tight and mid-bass is punchy and surprisingly hard-hitting when called for. The earphones also don’t compensate for their warmth by attenuating upper-bass, rather, its neutral in quantity greatly benefiting midrange body and timbre.

In terms of quality, bass control is good and decay is typical for a BA earphone, being on the faster side but not to the extent that timbre sound artificial. This helps to redeem definition from its fuller, mid-bass focussed tuning though the Aurora is not the most hyper-defined or separated earphones in its price class. Rather, its bass notes are on the plump side with a smooth texture. Its quicker decay effectively mitigates drone on slow tracks though fine details tend to become overshadowed when the composition becomes more complex. The Aurora, therefore, prioritises musicality and body while upholding a good but not outstanding amount of detail.

 

Mids –

When I was introduced to this earphone, I was told it was tuned with Singapore in mind and upon first listen, I was surprised in a good way! The Aurora’s midrange is well-present and clear, but it isn’t forward and its notes remain fleshed out with accurate body. Lower and centre mids are spot on, so vocals sit roughly in-line with instruments besides treble elements that are brought slightly forward. I was especially impressed by the Aurora’s simultaneous density and clarity. As suspected, it employs a small upper-midrange hump followed by a smooth tough.

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This lightly lifts clarity without thinning notes or straining vocals through the introduction of additional density and stability. Male and female vocals remain equally present and this tuning decision helps to counteract the added warmth generated by the earphone’s heightened mid-bass. Still, tone remains slightly on the warmer side, delivering a pleasant, musical listen. As lower-treble is emphasized, certain recordings can sound over-articulated, however, the midrange isn’t skewed bright and sibilance isn’t exacerbated due to the nature of its emphasis.

 

Treble –

Highs are certainly crisp and clear, but not harsh and attack isn’t as sharp as most competing models such as the Pinnacle P1. As opposed to most earphones that employ a lower-treble spike, even my beloved Falcon-C has this issue, the Aurora sustains emphasis from 4 through to just over 5KHz before gently sloping down into an attenuated middle treble. Resultantly, treble is quite well-integrated with the upper-midrange and instruments are imbued with additional body. As the 6KHz region isn’t overly present, this style of tuning takes the edge off its heightened crispness and contributes strongly to the earphone’s lack of sibilance.

Furthermore, as middle treble is attenuated, the Aurora has a clean, stable background. It sounds focused and well-detailed beyond its enhanced clarity. Cymbals and strings are textured and well-resolved and guitars are slightly brought forward, flattered with a touch of aggression that brings details slightly to the fore. Air is reasonable, it is not emphasized but apparent and extension at the very top is also quite good if not exemplary. Resolution, however, is quite high, helping to focus its enlarged notes and aiding micro-detail retrieval. The Aurora is a crisp earphone, but it doesn’t strike the listener as a bright one due to its dark background and well-integrated lower-treble emphasis.

 

Soundstage –

With pleasing extension, the Aurora delivers above average soundstage dimensions, extending slightly beyond the head in width and depth. It’s quite well rounded with a strong centre image and appropriately placed vocals. Layers are well-delineated and the earphone has good but not outstanding separation. It doesn’t sound hyper-defined as thinner earphones tend to, but its more accurate body, solid imaging and warm low-end form an especially coherent presentation. The soundstage of the Aurora compliments its sound nicely, contributing to a precise, musical presentation.

 

Drivability –

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The Aurora has a substantial 75ohm impedance mated to a higher 109dB sensitivity. It has below average efficiency overall, but will still reach high volumes from portable sources and smartphones. However, considering that the Aurora utilises a mechanical crossover, similar to that seen on Sony’s XBA earphones, that higher impedance makes a lot more sense, as these crossovers tend to be very sensitive to output impedance. With its 75ohm impedance, the Aurora’s base signature sounds quite even between sources, even the Hiby R6 with 10ohm output impedance. I did notice a slightly smoother bass texture, a touch less lower-treble presence and a darker background, though the differences weren’t night and day. My HTC U11 drove the earphones quite well, delivering a mostly identical signature to my lower output impedance sources. The earphones do scale with more resolving sources but they are fairly easily driven despite their impedance and users shouldn’t feel that a dedicated amplifier is necessary.

 

Comparisons –

TFZ King Pro ($170): The King Pro is brighter and more V-shaped. It has superior sub-bass extension combined with considerably more sub-bass quantity. Its mid-bass is similarly full while its upper-bass and lower-midrange are thinner. As such, so too is its midrange which is rather cool and very clear. The King Pro has a lot more upper-midrange presence and it lacks the density and body of the Aurora. On the contrary, it’s clearer and more open sounding with more present female vocals in particular. The King Pro has a smoother lower-treble and its midrange is more accurately articulated as a result.

The Aurora is both more detail forward and more detailed, with greater linearity. The King Pro has significantly more middle-treble, creating a bright background where the Aurora is quite the opposite, sounding more stable. The King Pro extends slightly better but it isn’t as focused and resolving as the Aurora due to its less balanced signature. The King Pro has a larger soundstage with greater separation at the cost of imaging and coherence.

Campfire Audio Comet ($200): The Comet is similarly tuned but with a less even midrange and lower-treble. It actually has a little more bass extension, producing more solid slam. It has slightly less mid and upper-bass quantity so it doesn’t sound as full, but it’s also more defined and controlled. The Comet has a more sculpted midrange, it has more clarity and sounds more tonally transparent but it has less consistent vocal body. Chiefly, it has less lower-midrange and its upper-midrange employs a sharper dip.

As such, it’s denser but also less warm and less full-bodied. The Aurora has more extension and sounds slightly more open. The Comet has a more organic treble presentation while the Aurora is crisper with higher detail retrieval. The Aurora has a darker background where the Comet is a tad brighter, delivering more air. The Aurora extends further and has more micro-detail. It has a larger soundstage and better imaging but also less separation.

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Dunu Falcon-C ($200): The Falcon-C is more V-shaped but also more even through its midrange. It has superior bass extension and a lot more sub-bass quantity. Its mid-bass is closer to neutral and its upper-bass is slightly attenuated, creating a more neutral tone and more defined, aggressively textured bass notes. However, the Falcon-C has similar lower-midrange presence and it lacks the upper-midrange bump of the Aurora, thereby possessing similar vocal and instrument body. In return, it isn’t quite as clear and its vocals are noticeably more laid-back.

The Falcon-C has a sharper treble spike, it’s crisp and still very well-detailed but thinner than less integrated than the Aurora. The Aurora has greater instrument body and it doesn’t sound as sharp, sibilance is less of an issue and vocals are less over-articulated. Both have quite a clean background, the Aurora is a little darker but also less extended at the very top. The Falcon-C has more air and resolution, it also has a larger soundstage with better separation and similarly strong imaging.

Fiio FH5 ($260): The FH5 is more V-shaped and sculpted in general. It has better sub-bass extension combined with considerably more sub-bass quantity. It’s mid-bass is similarly full though its upper-bass and lower-midrange are less present, heightening bass/midrange separation. The FH5 has similar bass definition, perhaps a hair less as its decay is slower. Its midrange is actually more tonally neutral due to its recessed lower-midrange in particular. To combat its bigger bass, the FH5 has greater centre midrange presence and a sharp upper-midrange dip to avoid thinning note body, creating quite a dense voicing. It sounds just as full as the Aurora but also not as warm.

However, due to that sharp dip, female vocals can sound truncated on certain tracks. The FH5 picks up in the lower-treble, employing a similar 5KHz emphasis. However, it is not as even with the upper-midrange and a more narrow-band emphasis, creating thinner instrumentation. As such, though crisp and clear, the FH5 isn’t quite as detailed as the Aurora. Both have a clean background without erring too dark, the FH5 extends more at the top and has better micro-detail retrieval even if its timbre is less realistic. The FH5 also has a larger soundstage, its imaging isn’t quite as accurate but its separation is similarly strong.

Kalkul v1.1 ($300): The v1.1 is more V-shaped and more explicitly warm and full. It has better sub-bass extension, similar mid-bass emphasis combined with additional upper-bass fullness. As such, it’s warmer. However, the v1.1 is also more controlled with slightly higher definition and bass detail retrieval. Mids are warmer and more full-bodied. They lack the same upper-midrange and vocal presence and possess less clarity as a result.

The v1.1, however, lacks an upper-midrange dip so it sounds well-extended and slightly more open despite not being as clear on the surface. The v1.1 also has an emphasized lower-treble, it isn’t as well-bodied and integrated as the Aurora and detail retrieval is slightly lower. Both have a dark background, the v1.1 especially so, lacking the same air and atmosphere. The Aurora has slightly better extension and resolution, it has a larger soundstage and better separation.

Oriveti New Primacy ($300): The New Primacy is more balanced than the Aurora and more tonally neutral. It has better sub-bass extension combined with a more neutral mid-bass and similarly neutral, perhaps slightly more present upper-bass. As such, it’s more defined and more detailed. Mids are more present, especially vocals that are even a touch forward. They’re similarly well-bodied due to the Oriveti’s more present lower-midrange. The New Primacy conversely is slightly darker with a slight decline into its upper-midrange, similarly benefiting density and stability.

This contrasts to its emphasized lower-treble that is crisp but not sharp and similarly tuned to the Aurora. Both are fairly well-bodied, the New Primacy is slightly more detailed but also a hair thinner than the Aurora. Both have a dark background too, though the Aurora isn’t quite as dark and has a little more upper-treble presence so its background isn’t quite as dark and it sounds slightly more open. The Oriveti has a slightly larger stage and its imaging is a hair more precise, it is also slightly more separated.

 

Verdict –

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The $200-300 price range is filled with surprises. These models bring balance and refinement not seen below and occasionally we see technical ability that matches significantly more expensive models. The Aurora is a welcome addition to such a price tier filled with outstanding options. It’s very tastefully balanced, more so than almost all competitor’s I’ve experienced, and its technical performance lies on the stronger side even if it doesn’t quite challenge class-leaders. The Aurora’s strongest asset is its signature and tone, pairing a warm, punchy low-end with a natural and well-resolved midrange. Its treble perhaps surprises most, with crisp but well-controlled detail presence and a clean background that retains pleasing air. Its plastic build and thinner cable don’t inspire absolute confidence, but its compact dimensions and light weight pamper the ears over longer listening. If you’re looking for a comfortable in-ear with a refined, musical sound, the Aurora should be on your radar.

The Symphonium Audio Aurora can be purchased from Music Sanctuary for $299 SGD. I am not affiliated with Symphonium Audio and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.

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