A handyman since childhood, Andrew Sparks, known as “Sparko”, has a degree in electronics from Kansas State University. After working in the electronics industry for twenty years, he decided to launch his own brand. But, according to the SparkoS Labs website, the brand is run by a dog named Lütz…
This dog would have recruited Sparko as well as Alisa called “The Doctress” in the company of two sound engineers to launch the activity of the box. A narrative that reminds us of that of an Anglo-Saxon series. The team (and not the dog, we imagine!) then made its mark on the HiFi market by marketing audiophile-grade components: op amps, voltage regulators, power supplies, etc.
Aries, the first electronics from SparkoS Labs
It will be understood, despite its somewhat eccentric storytelling, SparkoS Labs is a brand that is progressing slowly but surely. After having commercialized its audiophile components, it placed them all in a device which is currently the only one in its series: the Aries. This name corresponds to the astrological sign and the constellation of the ram – and all the mythology that this evokes. But let’s leave behind the dogs and the rams.
The Aries headphone amp is rugged in appearance, with a textured black finish. On the front, it features two rotary knobs and a screen. Inside, there’s an oversized shielded toroidal power supply, reed switch, plus op amps and voltage regulators from SparkoS Labs. The Aries amplifier also uses a reed type step switch in its volume control circuit. SparkoS Labs claims that this achieves a perfect volume match between channels. No capacitors are used in the signal path.
Audiophile functionalities… or cosmetic ones!
The Aries is available in two versions: the first with two RCA line level inputs and an RCA preamp output, the second with an XLR line level input on the back and an XLR preamp output. The Aries, which does not contain a DAC chip or wireless connectors, can thus be used either purely as a headphone amplifier, or as a preamplifier to be connected to a Hifi system. In addition, the device has two headphone jack and mini jack inputs on the front. With a very audiophile approach, the Aries offers the possibility of adjusting the input gain (+10, +20 or +30 dB), to adapt to different types of headphones. In a more cosmetic way, you can also invert the functionality of the right and left buttons (volume and source selection) and choose the color of the front screen.
The SparkoS Labs Aries Headphone Amp is priced at $2,495 for the basic version and $2,995 with XLR socket.
Video presentation of the Aries headphone amplifier by SparkoS Labs
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