Dutch DAC wizards Metrum Acoustics have a headphone amplifier called Aurix. Just like their converters it takes a different approach to amplification to most of the competition. Voltage gain is achieved via a step-up transformer (which are usually used to increase the output of moving coil cartridges), instead of transistors or tubes. Only two FET transistors are utilized to convert the signal from the step-up transformer into power, which Metrum says plays to the strength of these semiconductors. The Aurix is a 100% class A amplifier with a “very high signal-to-noise ratio and almost no distortion” there is no feedback either. In order to ensure the Aurix is appropriate for most headphones it has gain settings for low and high impedance headphones, it’s also equipped with two controllable analogue inputs that can loop the signal to the main amp when headphones are not in use. This allows the Aurix to be permanently installed in your hifi-set without you ever having to switch the cables around. Its styling matches the Octave Mk II shown above. Price in Europe will be €975 including 21% VAT.