What could be more important in a Home-Pro studio than a perfect front end – defined as such by a top shelf mic, preamp and AD/DA conversion. It’s actually the heart and soul of a new movement, a movement that’s being re-invented through the democratization of music as a whole. We’re now able to create, track, mix
and master without the need to grease major studios. That’s not to say the same level of quality and finish is a given. However, if you pick your gear carefully, set your space up right and, most importantly of all, you know what you’re doing, you’ll be able to get comparable results to a studio hundreds of times more expensive.
480x128 TFT LCD display packs in important information (above)
At the top of the list has to be a hi-grade converter. It’s essentially the heart of your operation. At APN we first look for the most transparent sound we can get our hands on, as the coloration engineered into some products may be great for a certain style or vibe but not for everything. This limits a units use in what needs to be a supremely flexible environment. This was a conversation we had with Albert Margolis at Lynx who filled us in on the (back then unreleased) Aurora(n) – an update of an already classic and globally revered converter.
“… an update of an already classic and globally revered converter.”
The remit of all Lynx products is unparalleled transparency, for these guys 1:1 representation of the audio signal is always the goal. No coloration or ‘character’ is a point of pride for the team – after all, that’s something we can easily add to the signal at any stage of production or mixing, with either plugins or hardware. However, unwanted coloration and especially crosstalk will ultimately ‘Pearl Harbor’ your mix – however much skill and effort you poured into it – but more of that later.
high quality snake cabling should be utilized for Aurora (n) (above)
“The remit of all Lynx products is unparalleled transparency.”
Lynx's continuous development of new LSlot Technology keeps the Aurora (n) on top of the heap for Home-Pros and Major Studios (above)
Lynx has always been future-aware when it comes to the devices that’ll need connecting to their products. I mean, we all know a dude who’s still rocking Firewire 1… Connection tech is now moving at what seems like break-neck speed and we’ll be seeing a lot less time between globally effecting updates in years to come. The way Lynx stays ahead of this curve is with their LSlot technology. Essentially this means that during your term of ownership you’ll always be able to update the (n) to your needs rather than selling the unit just because you happen to upgrade to a new computer or start using USB, Thunderbolt, Pro Tools|Ultimate HD® or Dante.
“…during your term of ownership you’ll always be able to update the (n) to your needs.“
Aurora(n) whispers low key luxury – of that there’s no doubt. Fitting in a single rack space, the almost neutral, bluish hue of it’s brushed fascia belies the capabilities ensconced within it’s solid, metal construction. There’s a modest but highly functional, full-color display located centrally between the the eight, backlit control buttons from which you’re able to access any and all functions of this unit. Even though there’s a super-useful app which you can download called NControl, our best advice is to first learn the (slightly convoluted) on-board menu system so that it literally becomes second nature.
The Aurora (n) seems to change color under different lighting (Below)
On the right hand-side you’ll see two headphone outs with their own volume controls which are of extremely high quality, offering plenty of volume – even for the most hearing-shy. On the downside, they share the same DAC chip which means you can’t send separate mixes to each one. Just below that is a microSD slot and to the left, a very solid, push-to-click, detented jog-wheel which you can look at as the main control input for the Aurora (n). Next are four, main menu function buttons, a 480 x 128 TFT LCD screen, four more navigation buttons and finally, the power switch. A very minimalist presentation on Lynx’s part and something we at APN, absolutely favor.
Aurora (n) Features display brightness adjustability (above)
“A very minimalist presentation on Lynx’s part and something we at APN, absolutely favor.“
Stunning Brushed Ally Fascia (above)
and are loaded with Neutrik XLR/TRS (HI-Z) Combo inputs. All related functions (80Hz 12dB per octave highpass, phantom power, 13.6dB attenuator pad and phase) are accessible from the front of the Aurora – so no need to turn a session into comedy, slapstick gold by crawling around on the floor behind your rack.
The most notable aspect of the new Aurora is its pure configurability. The version we tested is pretty much the ultimate for any Home-Pro’s studio arriving, as it did, with two LM-PRE4 cards and an LSlot, Thunderbolt module. With four, transformerless preamps per card, The LM-PRE’s do not affect your initial I/O count in any way. They’re self contained with their own converters
“The most notable aspect of the new Aurora is its pure configurability.”
Aurora (n) Audio
I can’t go any further without explaining that (now famous) proprietary LSlot tech. This is the stinger at the tip of the Lynx’s tail (eh? Ed). LSlot uses upgradeable modules (available from the Lynx custom shop) which means you can cross or up-grade your unit’s connectivity any time you want. Other major manufacturers should take very careful note of this because, for many studios,
“LSlot uses upgradeable modules.”
this is a deal-breaker and Lynx have got it so, so right. Our unit shipped with on-board USB and an LSlot Thunderbolt card. Other available cards feature DANTE and importantly for many industry connected studios, Pro Tools|HD. NB. For the time being it is only possible to use one LSlot connection method at a time – but it seems likely that Lynx are looking at the viability of a dual LSlot in future versions).
For most potential buyers, the big story with Aurora (n) is in the converters. Lynx coyly state that “Design and technology borrowed from the development of the Hilo” (their legendary, two Channel Mastering Converter) “…is used to significantly improve specifications and transparency over previous models”.
For most potential buyers, the big story with Aurora (n) is in the converters. Lynx coyly state that “Design and technology borrowed from the development of the Hilo” (their legendary, two Channel Mastering Converter) “…is used to significantly improve specifications and transparency over previous models”. Well, they’re not wrong. The attention to detail that went into the design of the Aurora (n) is almost mind bending and we’ve spoken to many engineers that were using the original Auroras who’re ecstatic with the sound they’re getting.
All functions are accessible from the front panel (above)
Lynx Aurora (n) Low Key Beauty (above)
The buzz phrase here is “Discrete Converter Arrays”. Essentially this means that each stereo channel in the Lynx is a self-contained, shielded path with it’s own converter. This massively reduces cross talk and THD but is a lot more expensive to produce than the eight channel single chip buddy system acceptable to so many other manufacturers. For the guys out there with endless HDD space or a black card supported iCloud, the Aurora will happily work at 24-bit 192kHz all day.
“The attention to detail that went into the design of the Aurora (n) is almost mind bending.”
Obviously, the more digital outboard you have in your set-up, the more important clocking is. The Aurora(n) utilizes SynchroLock 2™ (on standard BNC connectors) Aurora (n) and can slave to an external source faster than pretty much anything out there. As a clock-source, however, it’s also highly accurate with one of the lowest jitter figures we’ve seen.
Word Clock BNC Connectors (above)
“As a clock source, however, it’s also highly accurate with one of the lowest jitter figures we’ve seen.”
A rather left field addition to the game is the microSD recorder. In our opinion, this is a work of pure genius. In the APN lab, a great many artists come through and a lot of them like to write by freestyling their ideas as the track is playing. With the (n) you’re able to capture the entire session on a live mic in case anything gets forgotten. It’ll record via any of the analog or digital inputs and don’t worry about running out of time – the (n) can use (up to) a 2TB microSD card which will give you approximately 528 hours of Broadcast WAV at 96k..! You can go ‘mobile’ with your Aurora(n) rig and record live shows etc (when paired with the LM-PRE4 mic pres) without the need for a laptop. You can listen and control all recordings direct from the unit using the transport/navigation buttons to the left of the display and search through them using the detented jog-wheel. If necessary, you can ingest them into your computer from a simple USB/Card adapter.
“With the Aurora you’re able to capture the entire session on a live mic in case anything gets forgotten.“
NControl is a downloadable app available for the Aurora (n). It’s not mandatory to use NControl to pilot the Lynx but for some it’s preferable and we noticed that it can be really helpful in the heat of a session. It basically allows you configure the Aurora
but is most useful when using the LM-PRE’s as you can access all the functionality you need for mic or line inputs direct from your desktop and, of course, it makes it a cinch for setting up routing and monitor/headphone mixes.
“With NControl, it’s a cinch
to set up routing and monitor/headphone mixes.“
So what's it sound like?
The first thing I noticed when switching over to the Aurora (n) and engaging playback was the distinct lack of ‘fluff’ through both the HS80’s and our V6’s. Truly though, the “Ah Ha” moments are to be found when mixing a project. Listening, (especially through headphones) you hear a sonic articulation present in each track or instrument that is manifest as a whole by a subtle, but very noticeable ‘separation’. This makes it easier to perpetrate good mix and processing decisions as frequencies are more orderly and identifiable. In fact, when considered with the LM-PRE’s it’s fair to say that the Aurora (n) has stunningly good source reproduction and offers a level of input and output clarity I’m not sure I’ve heard anywhere else. Aurora(n) literally pumps crystalline perfection into your track,
“the Aurora (n) has stunningly good source reproduction and offers a level of input and output clarity I’m not sure I’ve heard anywhere else.”
helping one hone a much more dimensional and detailed final product than 99% of the high-end converters out there. The sheer transparency of this unit seemed to throw our mixes wide open and it certainly garnered significantly less stress and effort from. Now a lot of the credit here must also go to the shockingly solid LM-PRE4 modules. After tracking vocals through a number of different high quality Tube and FET mics I started to notice that the need for insert-processing in the DAW became less critical in most situations. That means less compression/EQ on vocal tracks which is fantastic for keeping an artists ‘shine’. When using processing on those tracks it will be more of a creative decision than a necessity. Overall it’s almost impossible to end up with flat, insipid mixes when using the (n).
From plugging in (which can be as simple as connecting the supplied USB chord to your computer whilst the standard DB25 snake connects to your monitor station) to tracking vocals and instruments to cranking out a mix at high dB’s the Aurora eats it all up. After living with this box for over six months it’s a living testament to it’s capabilities that we have literally desired no other converters during its stately tenure. You may be the manger of a highly strung studio in the center of a thriving metropolis or simply an ardent student of
the recording arts, setting out in the business of creating your own community hub for recording but either way you’ll find the true benefits of Lynx ownership to be equally compelling. The big question has to be, is the Lynx Aurora (n) worthy of the (not insubstantial) outlay? Whichever flavor you require – 8, 16 or 32 channel, USB, TB, Dante or PT|HD, Lynx Studio Technologies has a glove that fits both you and your operation perfectly. So, truth be told, the real question is actually this; Are you ready to invest in perfection? And only you know the answer to that.
“you’ll find the true benefits of Lynx ownership to be equally compelling.“
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The Lynx Aurora (n) weighs in at a competetive $2799.00 USD for the base model
SPEC OF UNIT TESTED:
Aurora(n) PRE1608-USB: $4,199
Aurora(n) PRE1608-TB: $4,599
LM-PRE4: $699 each
TB LSlot: $650
All above prices are suggested Retail
Click here to price out your own, custom build and create the perfect unit
- Conversion Quality
- LSlot Tech
- Silent Cooling
- Headphone outs not independent
- Slightly Convoluted Menu