Pros: Strong overall presentation, great build and weight
Cons: weaker on the headphone out than line out
Special thanks to @AuneAudio for providing the chance to try out their dac+amp S6, which I have never even touched any of their related products. This might be my first time on such a device and it is going to be a fun one exploring.
The following review is a summary of total of 10 local reviewers + my own mix in it. Most of them are not headfi members, so I was in charge of co-ordinating the local tour outs and gatherings, and the results are as below.
Setups and bla bla bla...
My configuration for the S6 setup will be as the following
PC - JRMC (latest updated) - iFi iUSB - Aune S6 - Alesis Elevate 5 (line out) / Noble Sage + Aires2+ cable on SE / VE Zen 2 on 4pin XLR
The controls on the S6 is quite special, and I had to search around the internet to only find out. By single click on the volume pot, you can switch multiple INPUTS, and a double click you can switch to any OUTPUTS. The volume are individually remembered so it doesn't affect the switching. This makes the review process so much for versatile. Switching between XLR to SE to Line out, and using Optical / RCA and all that inputs at my will without hassles! Now, THAT"S classy!
Treble / High notes etc
The treble output by the Aune s6 is quite impressive. Little crystal notes can be heard even if it is at a distance and on some amps I tried, it gets negated. On the line out to speakers, the clean treble notes doesnt distort or give the spiking cracks on my speakers. They are managed quite well. Even if i crank up the volume to quite a loud level on the speakers, things are still well under the radar.
Switching to the front output, things get interesting. Since the drivers are at an even closer proximity, the sound gets even better, and still doesn't get any cracks and distortions going up the sound volume.The detail level detectable on the speakers go into further refinement when you dive into the headphone out. Heck, even the VE Zen 2 performs like a sweet chime music!!
Mids/ Vocals/ drum slaps i suppose?
From the line out, the mid range is adequate. Not the most prominent one, but still it gets the job done. Slightly dark side vocals and it does has the depth, and organic sense to it. Trumpets, they do sound a bit odd at times due to the lack of the flat vocals that can correctly show them off. Imagine the trumpets on a lightly bass rolled into it. Some may say yeah thats because of the speakers, but not really, on the mojo, the vocals are slightly flatter and cleaner.
Switching over the headphones, the vocals are much better and nearer to the flat line, where it becomes much easier to hear the singer and their speech. Trumpets and the drums are much better on the headphone than of the line out IMO.
The bass line on the speakers are okay-ish. They couldnt do the enough bass, but the bass is short and precise. They cant do the rumble and shake the whole room, but sitting on the table, you can feel the bass hitting on your table and vibrating it. It does precision and not volume, thats the closest i can describe it.
On the headphone out, the bass is much more rumbling and well rounded. You can hear the bass notes connecting one another cleanly, in comparison to line out, since listening to speakers are at a range and so there is an air transfer delay, which i think will mix the bass separations together (maybe?).
In soundstage wise, I can put them 2 into the same context. They both do the soundstage work really well, the width in direct comparison isnt far off. Listening to Nightwish and switching them in between, I can roughly feel the distance of the music placements. Left right pushing each other, and them background choirs. Echo of their choirs can be heard with a vocal delay out. This is one of the better albums i suppose that shows of the S6 performance overall.
Aune has made a good piece of equipment with the S6. The ESS AKM (thanks for notifying my mistake here) DAC can pull a lot of detail out of the song file, and the amp projects them with authority. Great mix of I/O switchable, great sound, great I/O options, what more can you ask for? Price ain't too shabby too I must say. I would urge folks to give this a chance, and let them be compared with other integrated DACAmp, and you can see this does slightly better than average.