TP Audio Aurora

Sound Analysis.

Presentation

Often when I review items I will end up with a single term that captures the key characteristic of that item and if I would use one word to describe the Aurora it would be “faithful”. The overall signature is what I would call neutral in the most faithful way possible. It is neither dry or technical like with reference IEMs, nor the type of warm-natural sound of my Phantom that is tailored towards timbre accuracy, and yet the Aurora seem to still do it all. I often read reviews where the reviewer states that those IEMs make it sound like they were sitting in the studio with the band. I have never had that with any of the IEMs I have heard, some gave a sense of a live performance, but none felt like I was sitting in the studio. The Aurora are the first to give me that sense and I will admit that I can’t put my finger on why that is. I think it has to do with how every aspect of the presentation works together.

The stage is not the biggest I have heard, but certainly a good size. Moreover, the Aurora have an airy stage with excellent separation and detail retrieval, through which the stage is populated by instruments and vocals in a very natural way. I can easily pick out any instrument and even with highly complex classical pieces such as Brahms’ Symphony No.4 the Aurora perform very well. Not quite at the level of some TOTL IEMs I have tried, but they get surprisingly close for their price point. Especially for band-based music the stage is populated extremely well and that is one aspect that gives the feeling of sitting there with the band. Another aspect is the tonality and timbre. It is so faithful that at times I find the instruments are almost tangible, something I feel especially with jazz music. Jazz Battle by Tuba Skinny is insanely good with these, as each instrument sounds spot on and they are separated perfectly, yet work together in the most musical way. And yes, the Aurora are extremely musical. For me these compete with the Custom Art FIBAE Black as the most musical IEMs I have heard.

Bass

The Aurora have, in my opinion, a very neutral bass response. The bass is not lacking, but neither does it present itself as the star of the show. Bass instruments sit at the back of the stage and yet still maintain a natural response to them. Indeed, if I listen to Bach’s Cello Suites I hear a very natural and accurate sounding cello that does not have the fullness I often prefer, but sounds far from lean either. It is detailed and textured and I can hear both the specific playing techniques and the resonance inside the body of the cello. It sounds ‘faithful’. The warmth is certainly less than I am used to with the Phantom, but when listening to Beethoven’s 5th symphony I do not at any time find anything lacking in bass section. The tympani sounds full and impactful and its positioning feel really good, it is in the back, but never losing its impact on the piece.

Where I might feel the bass leaves me wanting a little more is when I listen to EDM or anything where I love a bit of rumble and weight to the bass response. The Aurora’s bass does not dig very deep and there is hardly anything I would call a rumble. Now, I will admit that I am spoiled in this department and I can still very much enjoy the EDM, the bass is quick and agile enough to give it pace, it just lacks the depth and weight to feed my inner bass head.

Mids

There is a lot going on in the mids of the Aurora and as a lover of good mids these fill my heart with joy. The Aurora have a bit of a tilt towards the upper-mids, which puts more emphasis on violins and other brighter instruments. Going back to Beethoven’s 5th this adds a sense of speed and excitement to it, while reducing some of the drama that is added by the warmer instruments. That is however compared to the warm IEMs I usually listen to, as I feel the balance with the Aurora is really good. Brighter than I would have previously thought I would find natural sounding, and yet that is exactly what I feel it sounds like, very natural. In this sense the Aurora remind of the Rhapsodio Eden, where I felt those challenged my idea of how a natural sound should be built up. The Aurora do not have the warmth to give instruments a natural fullness and yet they still sound very accurate. Moreover, because there is not a lot of warmth to the mids, separation and layering of the instruments is excellent, so each instrument’s distinct tone comes through very clearly.

Vocals with the Aurora are also a real joy to listen to. They are quite forward and the Aurora definitely have an emphasis on vocals, but for my preferences it balances out really well with accompanying instruments. For the vocals themselves there is a good balance between male and female vocals, although male vocals do miss a little of the throatiness that is especially important for baritone and bass voices. At the same time, I did not feel like Eric Clapton’s voice was lacking when listening to his acclaimed Unplugged album (which was an absolute joy to listen to). However, female vocals do feel like the star of the show in every way. Those are very clear and come through with great realism, again that faithfulness I keep mentioning. At times it is like sitting in the same room with the female performer.

Treble

The treble of the Aurora is a bit rolled off and not the most sparkling I have heard, but also not offensive in any way. It is a pleasant bit of sparkle, but I can imagine that some people might be left wanting by it. I am quite treble sensitive so I am generally easy to please, yet I will admit that I was a little disappointed by the sparkle I got when listening to Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. It was a joy to listen to because of the wonderful mid-range, but did not quite get the Christmassy sparkle I love with this piece. In terms of the treble it was even quite dark sounding, a bit too far back and too quickly rolled off. Another example from the opposite end of the music spectrum (metal) might be Disturbed’s A Welcome Burden, which has a lot of cymbals in it that with the Aurora are barely perceptible. It is a bit of a shame because I do not often find myself wanting more sparkle in the treble, but do with the Aurora.

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Comparisons.

– Custom Art FIBAE Black

This is a really interesting comparison, as these are both single BA driver IEMs at around about the same price point (the Black are a bit more expensive at €450), both offer excellent value for money and both are incredibly musical. The Aurora are the more neutral of the two and the Black have a lift in the bass region to add a little warmth. The Black extend better at both ends and can give both a bit more of a rumble in the bass, as well as more sparkle in the treble. The soundstage of the Black feels slightly bigger, but the stage of the Aurora is cleaner. Where in my opinion the Aurora have a real edge is in that faithful reproduction of instruments and vocals, especially female. Male vocals have more throatiness with the Black, but with the Aurora vocals feel cleaner and clearer. The Aurora are also more detailed overall, while the Black exchange some detail in favor of a smoother, more organic sound.  While both are very musical, I personally prefer the Black a little in that department because I like the extra bit of coloration to the sound. However, when it comes to jazz I just absolutely adore the Aurora. Is there a clear winner between these two? Let’s just say that I feel very fortunate to have both available to me and do not have to make a choice.

Conclusions.

The TP Audio Aurora have impressed me straight out of the box and continue to do so every time I listen to them. They are neutral with a very faithful reproduction of instruments and vocals. The stage is a good size, airy and feels very natural. The treble might be a little too rolled off though and so they lack some sparkle up top. Build quality feels top notch and the Aurora come with a very nice selection of accessories. Overall I feel the Aurora sit with IEMs like the Final E5000 and Custom Art FIBAE Black as great value IEMs that will make you love your music all over again. Definitely worth a (much) closer look!

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