Such is the similarity in appearance between components in Auralic’s G1 and G2 series, you could mistakenly look at the images accompanying this review and think we’re rehashing something that’s already been covered. Despite the visual similarity, the Altair G1 is new and has a different role to the Aries G1 streaming transport (HFC 441) and Vega G1 streaming DAC (HFC 449). While they are designed to work together or – in the case of the Aries G1 – bring Auralic’s front end to another decoding system, the Altair is more of a standalone front end.
This means that it is specified a little differently to its G1 brethren. As well as a UPnP streaming module that can be used wired or wirelessly, it offers four digital inputs; an optical, coaxial, USB and AES, that can be outputted as a line-level signal or adjusted by the built-in volume control to allow it to function as a preamp.
The biggest operational difference is the return of a feature that has been absent on G1 components so far. As well as a USB-A port on the rear that can accept a hard drive, the Altair G1 has an internal bay for a 2.5in drive, allowing it to function as a complete digital player with the built-in library. The reason why this is so useful is that the Lightning control interface is able to act as its own server, rendering the music library in a manner that is pretty much indistinguishable from using a good-quality external server.