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Aurorus Audio Borealis Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 29 16.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 96 55.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 41 23.7%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 7 4.0%

  • Total voters
    173
Maybe technicality oriented tuning makes numerous songs sound bad that were mixed and mastered well.
well since most of the songs that "doesn't scale" as well were compressed pop songs I suspect its the opposite. especially a lot of my jpop sadly
 
An HD600 can do this so much better for so much cheaper.
Not quite. These headphones when worn feel more comfortable and the large drivers do things that the HD600 series can't do. They enlarge the halo of the sound around your ears -- an effect I quite like.

That said, the HD600 series is much more usable from tonality point of view without EQ.

It is really hard to say you can substitute one for the other.
 
Not quite. These headphones when worn feel more comfortable and the large drivers do things that the HD600 series can't do. They enlarge the halo of the sound around your ears -- an effect I quite like.

That said, the HD600 series is much more usable from tonality point of view without EQ.

It is really hard to say you can substitute one for the other.
Odd. These and the Sennheisers were my leading options in my current search for an upgrade. I too have read the gushing reviews of the Aurorus Audio Borealis but not seen any test results. Here, we see that they need substantial EQ to get results consistent with price. But performance and comfort are very different matters. My ears are big and get hot easily. I prefer open back with large cups that are light. I don't want to pay $900 for comfort and "correctable" sound, but I like the idea of an "open" large sound. Where to look for great sound out of the box, light weight, open back, irrespective of driver type, that provides value for $$$?
 
its not which is why i prefaced my earlier comment with if you dont care about techs then you can ignore the techs rating. also since getting "higher end" headphones i definitely enjoy some recordings less than others
technical performance is separate to a degree from the tonal performance. if you only care for tonality you can disregard them
I don't want to derail the thread too much as it is a review thread. But the point was that "technical rating" is really complete nonsense, so if one chooses not to ignore it, it still does not contain anything of value for a consumer beyond fantasy or entertainment. In this case it is simply crinacle describing pixie dust qualities of a headphone and giving it some sort of arbitrary consolation rating based on his subjective impressions of that headphone. As almost all headphones are generally minimum phase systems throughout the entire response, and where it would audibly matter to humans, virtually all of these so called "technicalities" (slam, speed, attack, decay, blah blah, &c.) will be sufficiently if not completely represented by frequency response, and are thus all one in the same, amalgamated with how "tonality" is being used in this context, which is, again, frequency response.

Crinacle is not stupid or ignorant of this and even says as much on his own website where he describes these technicalities (in verbatim) as "pseudoscience" before going on to explain "what they are to him" in detail. This disclaimer is of course to simultaneously deflect warranted criticism of his approach while also appeasing people who are susceptible to believing it with no basis, or to appease his own ego- I'm not sure which but there is some sort of cognitive dissonance or deception going in either case.

There's plenty of literature and topics on the forums explaining all of these concepts so I'll leave that there. Beyond FR as a chief metric, the major useful metrics are things like excess phase/group delay, types distortion figures at various listening volumes, leakage tolerance variance and so on which will tell you virtually everything you need to know about a headphone's sound in comparison to another or how it will misbehave if you have enough experience listening to them. Systems that are not minimum phase systems such as loudspeakers in a home are a different story, and many of those "technicalities" that describe temporal non-linearities are very much a reality in characterising the timbre and overall performance of those systems, but in headphones, almost not at all to any significant degree. And if it would, the measurements we have would show it.
 
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I don't want to derail the thread too much as it is a review thread. But the point was that "technical rating" is really complete nonsense, so if one chooses not to ignore it, it still does not contain anything of value for a consumer beyond fantasy or entertainment. In this case it is simply crinacle describing pixie dust qualities of a headphone and giving it some sort of arbitrary consolation rating based on his subjective impressions of that headphone. As almost all headphones are generally minimum phase systems throughout the entire response, and where it would audibly matter to humans, virtually all of these so called "technicalities" (slam, speed, attack, decay, blah blah, &c.) will be sufficiently if not completely represented by frequency response, and are thus all one in the same, amalgamated with how "tonality" is being used in this context, which is, again, frequency response.

Crinacle is not stupid or ignorant of this and even says as much on his own website where he describes these technicalities (in verbatim) as "pseudoscience" before going on to explain "what they are to him" in detail. This disclaimer is of course to simultaneously deflect warranted criticism of his approach while also appeasing people who are susceptible to believing it with no basis, or to appease his own ego- I'm not sure which but there is some sort of cognitive dissonance or deception going in either case.

There's plenty of literature and topics on the forums explaining all of these concepts so I'll leave that there. Beyond FR as a chief metric, the major useful metrics are things like excess phase/group delay, types distortion figures at various listening volumes, leakage tolerance variance and so on which will tell you virtually everything you need to know about a headphone's sound in comparison to another or how it will misbehave if you have enough experience listening to them. Systems that are not minimum phase systems such as loudspeakers in a home are a different story, and many of those "technicalities" that describe temporal non-linearities are very much a reality in characterising the timbre and overall performance of those systems, but in headphones, almost not at all to any significant degree. And if it would, the measurements we have would show it.
Through data processing, It would be possible to determine the target FR of a "technically excellent" headphone, in the way subjective-philes define it. That means making technicalities into something measurable. It's still questionable if such deviations from Harman provide anything to the average listener.
 
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This is a review, listening tests and detailed measurements of the Aurorus Audio Borealis open-back headphone. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $899.

View attachment 263259
As the British say, the headphone looks a bit "agricultural" with what looks like stamped washer and twisted wire in the driver region. That aside, the headphone wears very comfortably with very large and plush ear cups. Let's see how it performs.

Aurorus Audio Borealis Measurements
Let's start with our frequency response measurements which have been slightly tweaked to have more resolution and extension down to 10 Hz:
View attachment 263260

Focusing on the positive, as noted, we have good compliance from upper bass to lower treble. But clearly we are drooping in bass and have some resonances in high frequencies. As a relative "error" response we have:
View attachment 263261

Shouldn't be too hard to develop EQ for it (see next section). Unfortunately distortion peaks in lower frequencies which may limit our options to boost that region as desired:
View attachment 263262

View attachment 263263

Group delay is messy in mid frequencies as many headphones are:
View attachment 263264

Impedance is low and variable so be careful with tube amps and such:
View attachment 263265

Good news is that sensitivity is well above average:

View attachment 263266

Combined with lowish impedance, most sources should be able to drive it.

Aurorus Audio Borealis Headphone Listening Tests
As the frequency response measurements would predict, first impression is decent. You could listen to it this way and not know the joys that some EQ brings:
View attachment 263267

With this in place, the response was massively transformed. Together with excellent spatial qualities, the experience was joyful. Turning off the EQ quickly showed the large improvement you were getting not only in tonality but loss of distortion in female vocals. Guessing, that reduction with filter 4 was responsible. As usual, you want to adjust the bass to taste.

Conclusions
The Borealis design could have been better in delivering more bass with less distortion and reduction of some resonances. Fortunately most of it is repairable with EQ. Once there, the large cups bring both comfort and great spatial qualities that are rather addictive. Add to it the high sensitivity and you get a good offering with equalization.

I am going to recommend the Aurorus Audio Borealis headphone with equalization.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

Here are some thoughts about the EQ.

Notes about the EQ design:
  • The average L/R is used to calculate the score.
  • The resolution is 12 points per octave interpolated from the raw data (provided by @amirm)
  • A Genetic Algorithm is used to optimize the EQ.
  • The EQ Score is designed to MAXIMIZE the Score WHILE fitting the Harman target curve (and other constrains) with a fixed complexity.
    This will avoid weird results if one only optimizes for the Score.
    It will probably flatten the Error regression doing so, the tonal balance should be therefore more neutral.
  • The EQs are starting point and may require tuning (certainly at LF and maybe at HF).
  • The range around and above 10kHz is usually not EQed unless smooth enough to do so.
  • I am using PEQ (PK) as from my experience the definition is more consistent across different DSP/platform implementations than shelves.
  • With some HP/amp combo, the boosts and preamp gain (loss of Dynamic range) need to be carefully considered to avoid issues with, amongst other things, too low a Max SPL or damaging your device. You have beed warned.
  • Not all units of the same product are made equal. The EQ is based on the measurements of a single unit. YMMV with regards to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.
  • I sometimes use variations of the Harman curve for some reasons. See rational here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...pro-review-headphone.28244/page-5#post-989169
  • https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...pro-review-headphone.28244/page-6#post-992119
  • NOTE: the score then calculated is not comparable to the scores derived from the default Harman target curve if not otherwise noted.
Great L/R match.

I have generated one EQ, the APO config file is attached.

Score no EQ: 69.4
Score Amirm: 64.5
Score with EQ: 75.5
Score with EQ Full: 75.9

Code:
Aurorus Audio Borealis APO Score EQ Flat@HF 96000Hz
February092023-110101

Preamp: -8 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 25.66 Hz Gain 8.00 dB Q 0.43
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 1092.21 Hz Gain -2.93 dB Q 1.63
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 1993.22 Hz Gain 1.67 dB Q 2.11
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 3349.23 Hz Gain 3.25 dB Q 5.96
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 4805.43 Hz Gain 4.52 dB Q 1.16
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 5552.67 Hz Gain -6.40 dB Q 6.00

Aurorus Audio Borealis Dashboard.png

Code:
Aurorus Audio Borealis APO Score Full EQ Flat@HF 96000Hz
February092023-110349

Preamp: -8 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 25.66 Hz Gain 7.99 dB Q 0.43
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 196.00 Hz Gain -0.56 dB Q 1.75
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 395.49 Hz Gain 0.64 dB Q 1.28
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 1067.55 Hz Gain -3.14 dB Q 1.63
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 1993.61 Hz Gain 1.67 dB Q 2.11
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 3354.46 Hz Gain 3.25 dB Q 5.96
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 4739.76 Hz Gain 4.52 dB Q 1.16
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 5552.67 Hz Gain -6.40 dB Q 6.00

Aurorus Audio Borealis Dashboard Full.png

The following scores are NOT comparable with the others as the as the target was modified to be more in line with Amirm observed preferences (more bass and less HF).
These try to illustrate that with his preference his EQ makes (very good) sense.
Aurorus Audio Borealis Dashboard Amirm.png
 

Attachments

  • Aurorus Audio Borealis APO Score Full EQ Flat@HF 96000Hz.txt
    494 bytes · Views: 54
  • Aurorus Audio Borealis APO Score EQ Flat@HF 96000Hz.txt
    390 bytes · Views: 61
This is a review, listening tests and detailed measurements of the Aurorus Audio Borealis open-back headphone. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $899.

View attachment 263259
As the British say, the headphone looks a bit "agricultural" with what looks like stamped washer and twisted wire in the driver region. That aside, the headphone wears very comfortably with very large and plush ear cups. Let's see how it performs.

Aurorus Audio Borealis Measurements
Let's start with our frequency response measurements which have been slightly tweaked to have more resolution and extension down to 10 Hz:
View attachment 263260

Focusing on the positive, as noted, we have good compliance from upper bass to lower treble. But clearly we are drooping in bass and have some resonances in high frequencies. As a relative "error" response we have:
View attachment 263261

Shouldn't be too hard to develop EQ for it (see next section). Unfortunately distortion peaks in lower frequencies which may limit our options to boost that region as desired:
View attachment 263262

View attachment 263263

Group delay is messy in mid frequencies as many headphones are:
View attachment 263264

Impedance is low and variable so be careful with tube amps and such:
View attachment 263265

Good news is that sensitivity is well above average:

View attachment 263266

Combined with lowish impedance, most sources should be able to drive it.

Aurorus Audio Borealis Headphone Listening Tests
As the frequency response measurements would predict, first impression is decent. You could listen to it this way and not know the joys that some EQ brings:
View attachment 263267

With this in place, the response was massively transformed. Together with excellent spatial qualities, the experience was joyful. Turning off the EQ quickly showed the large improvement you were getting not only in tonality but loss of distortion in female vocals. Guessing, that reduction with filter 4 was responsible. As usual, you want to adjust the bass to taste.

Conclusions
The Borealis design could have been better in delivering more bass with less distortion and reduction of some resonances. Fortunately most of it is repairable with EQ. Once there, the large cups bring both comfort and great spatial qualities that are rather addictive. Add to it the high sensitivity and you get a good offering with equalization.

I am going to recommend the Aurorus Audio Borealis headphone with equalization.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Hi Amir, would it be possible to produce an idiots guide to setting the parametric Eq in the Ade 2DAC PLEASE ., APOLOGIES if you already have, can you point me towards it,at 68 it’s a bit daunting if you’ve never done it before. Kind regards Nick
 
I like the idea of an "open" large sound. Where to look for great sound out of the box, light weight, open back, irrespective of driver type, that provides value for $$$?
HD600 definitely don't have "large" sound. If anything they sound small and intimate. HD800S are definitely very open and large sounding. And very comfortable. Value for $$$ is IMHO significantly better than these Aurorus Audio Borealis.
 
Hi Amir, would it be possible to produce an idiots guide to setting the parametric Eq in the Ade 2DAC PLEASE ., APOLOGIES if you already have, can you point me towards it,at 68 it’s a bit daunting if you’ve never done it before. Kind regards Nick
I have never used the filters in RME. others have though and should be able to help.
 
Voted not terrible, because I simply don't recommend and I don't buy an imperfect product that only sounds good if equalized. Is the wine too sour? I put sugar in it!
 
Voted not terrible, because I simply don't recommend and I don't buy an imperfect product that only sounds good if equalized. Is the wine too sour? I put sugar in it!
Everything should get EQ. What matters is the final sound, not the bare product.
 
Hi Amir, would it be possible to produce an idiots guide to setting the parametric Eq in the Ade 2DAC PLEASE ., APOLOGIES if you already have, can you point me towards it,at 68 it’s a bit daunting if you’ve never done it before. Kind regards Nick
User manual is helpful. If you havent already done so, recommend going through it.
There is also this video on YouTube from RME themselves: RME YouTube
There are also EQ presets adjusted to capabilities of ADI-2 DAC from Oratory's measurement available here.
 
Everything should get EQ. What matters is the final sound, not the bare product.
There are headphones that don't need EQ at that price, but each of us has some DIY in the DNA. I judge a product for what it offers me, not for what it would like to be done to please me. I don't know if the translation gives you the idea.
Do they need EQ? Da fin a Not terrible da Not terrible a Poor
 
A new HD 600 driver is about 30% the cost of the headphone.
A new DT 900 Pro X driver is about 20% the cost of the headphone.
A new K701 driver is about 20% the cost of the headphone.
A new Borealis driver is about 1% the cost of the headphone.

I hope you see the disparity.
And yes I'm aware that the first three are inflated OEM prices and that they cost far less to produce.
But those are simply the prices that a customer is confronted with and that was what sparked the controversy among customers.

It was about implied value, not actual value. Aurorus could've rebranded the Peerless driver and charged $150 for a replacement and noone would've complained, as that would've made the driver "of appropriate quality" for the MSRP of the headphone, in the eyes of the consumer.
Not surprising the performance here is "just okay" at best.
$10 drivers are not very much and I am not sure why people think they cost that much. The injection molded parts are likely more money but not more than the drivers on most high end headphones.
 
it uses $10 drivers from Peerless (HPD-50N25PR00-32)
That means two importatnt things:
1) $10 is enough to get a decent HP driver
2) Borealis is not just ridicilously overpriced but also looks unacceptable garage-DIYish for that price
You can basically get 2-3 pairs of decent cans instead - say, "dynamic driver classics" HD 600 and some planar-magnetic Hfifman or Verum 1

Voted for POOR
 
Not quite. These headphones when worn feel more comfortable and the large drivers do things that the HD600 series can't do. They enlarge the halo of the sound around your ears -- an effect I quite like.
And this soundstage stuff is what really interests me. To a big part this is a question of a correct frequency response. But it doesnt seem everything.

I dont think this is esoteric, just something which is hard to measure.
I'd say this is about driver size & angle; the size of the "resonating body", so to speak; and the overall openness of the construction. Anything else?
 
I dont think this is esoteric
I agree on this part. I think I've see some FR trends to this end: Slightly less pinna gain, and elevations above and sometimes below pinna center
Here's the catch, Harmans studies implies that the larger public is more interested in tonality than staging. I'm okay with this, I find tonality tuned sets much more enjoyable. Besides that, it's the mixing engineers job to create staging, not the reproduction equipment.
 
I agree on this part. I think I've see some FR trends to this end: Slightly less pinna gain, and elevations above and sometimes below pinna center
Here's the catch, Harmans studies implies that the larger public is more interested in tonality than staging. I'm okay with this, I find tonality tuned sets much more enjoyable. Besides that, it's the mixing engineers job to create staging, not the reproduction equipment.
Is that it, is it all FR, no time domain component to it?
 
Studies on HRTFs show a significant FR element in signaling positioning to the listener.
Interesting. Based on how echolocation is explained maybe, I always assumed major component would be related to timing.
 
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