Aurorus Borealis Review

Hey All,

Here are my thoughts on the Bori. Hope you all enjoy it!

Aurorus Borealis – Dynamically Classic

Introduction
Borealis – or Bori for short, is the creation of Aurorus Audio, a small but ambitious headphone shop with a very simple premise – to deliver high-end listening experiences without the stratospheric price tag commanded by most TOTL headphones. In doing so, they have created a very interesting headphone that succeeds in that endeavor, with some caveats.

Looks/Style

First up – the styling. I struggle to think that there would be someone who would look at this headphone and not find it polarizing. The Bori looks as though two trash can lids were cut out to make room for drivers. Its frame looks like it was taken from those toys you played with at the Doctors office as a child (you know the ones). And its headband…well let us just say that the Bori would earn a 5-star crash test rating from the IIHS. Its Industrial, its minimalist, and I think it looks great in my collection next to more polished selections such as the Meze Empyrean and the Verité Open. It is sort of like the cousin from the side of the family that did not get all the fine features – but kept the Roman nose and steel jaw the others gave up long ago. That being said – those people who listen with their eyes may find that it does not suit their tastes. Since I prefer my headphones on my head, I think it suits my tastes just fine.

Final Score – 8.5/10 OR 3.5/10

Build Quality


The Bori arrived in a well-constructed, lightweight plastic case. Upon opening, said case contained 1x Bori, and 1x Bori Cable, and 1x set of keys to lock the case if you should ever need to. No card of authenticity, no 15-page booklet containing the autobiography of its creator, no pictures of the team standing around it at a table. Again, to keep the price in check, purchasing a Bori will get you…a Bori. That is it, and that is all, and that is a good thing.
Handling the headphone is interesting – it feels as though the cups are too heavy for the frame. The frame will flex and twist if you move it unintentionally or place it down on a desk in an awkward way. I never felt as though the Bori would snap, but its lack of rigidity does make me more careful about setting it down and picking it up. The cups themselves are extremely solid and comprise almost 90% of the weight of the headphone. This does not work well for balance and may not be comfortable in the long run if you have a nonstandard head shape. The head strap is comfortable but supports slightly less of the weight of the cups than is typically desirable, which may affect comfort over long listening sessions.
All summed up –If handled properly, Bori should not break or become damaged in any way, and should stand the test of time, though I am warier of the frame overall compared to other headphones in its price range.

Final Score – 7.5/10

Comfort

Simply put – I would classify the Borealis comfort level as average. Its weight is unevenly distributed, but the cups are large enough to support the weight against your head. Clamp force is slightly above average and gives the feeling of being secure. Moving your head forwards and backward is fine too, resulting in little to no slipping.
The pads themselves are circular and slightly angled. This may be comfortable for some, but depending on the shape of your ears, or head, you may find it difficult to get a good seal, or you may find the top of your ears in contact with the cups. The pads are comfortable and feel good against the head without too much heat buildup or compression.

Final Score – 7.0/10

Sound Quality


So now we arrive at the most important part of the review – the sound! My goal was to find out the following: Is Bori a good buy as an all-rounder, and did it punch above its price point in terms of overall SQ? Buckle up, here we go.

Bass/Mids/Treble

Bass –
The bass on the Bori is tight, present, and properly in line with the presentation of the music, but I would stop short of calling it punchy. Mid-bass sounds slightly elevated, with some roll-off below 30hz. At no point did I feel the bass overwhelmed any track, and I did sometimes feel that the bass was a bit lean, however, any bass that was present was always well presented. Bori is not a bass cannon by any stretch, so Bassheads should look elsewhere, but for those looking for a balanced approach, you will find Bori a pleasing solution.
Mids – The Mids on the Bori are slightly forward, exhibiting great clarity, and a natural presentation without any metallic sheen. I would classify it as slightly warmer than neutral and lacking in any sibilance on my setup (RME ADI-2/AHB2). This is a big plus since the RME can be slightly sharp at times. Transients are allowed to decay in normal time and the headphone sits somewhere in between the Empyrean and the Focal Utopia in terms of speed. It is not a fast headphone, but neither is it lazy. Overall, extremely pleasant, and without any edges that take me out of the music. A strong example of how important good tuning is and the Bori punches above more technically capable headphones in this regard.
Treble - The Treble is another strong selling point for the Bori. As with the Mids, the upper end is slightly warm but comes with a wonderful body, that on classical tracks, makes you feel like you are in the same room with the instrument. In fact, while I did/do enjoy the Bori for contemporary tracks, it really takes the cake on Classical/Jazz. Suffice to say that despite being a step behind in overall technicality, the Borealis has dethroned my Verité Open for my preferred Classical Headphone, which is no mean feat.


Staging/Imaging/Dynamics


We arrive now at what is by far the strongest aspects of the Borealis. While it does not have the absolute last word in any one regard here, what it does have are a bunch of words that sound perfect. Staging is slightly wider than it is deep and slightly deeper than it is tall. This makes for a wonderful Classical/Jazz listening experience. Imaging is crisp, precise, and detailed, allowing for an extremely natural sense of presence. This is the closest I have come to experience “holographic” imaging with any headphones I have tried. Within hours of putting Bori on, it was my go-to for Orchestral pieces. Dynamics are top-notch, making for a very active experience that demands your attention.
One slight drawback, albeit very slight, is that Bori will reveal poorly mastered tracks. While a headphone like the Empyrean will make everything sound “good” and “smooth” to some extent, Bori will lay bare all the flaws of a track. If you prefer your sound especially gooey, this may not be the headphone for you.

Timbre/Detail

Both of these aspects are well above average on the Borealis, landing a step behind the HD650, and the Focal Utopia, respectively. For the cost of the headphone, and from a value perspective, that is far more than I would expect. For a headphone at this price point to provide such superb dynamics and be able to land just shy of the top-tier is remarkable. If you are seeking a full package headphone with a strong timbre, you would not be wrong to consider Borealis a strong contender.

Final Score – 8.75/10

Overall Thoughts/Conclusion


After spending 20 hours with this headphone, one thing is for certain – I’m keeping it. It fills a role that other headphones outside of the $1500 and above range have not been able to. Sitting just behind the greats in each category, the Borealis is far greater than the sum of its parts. Being able to offer almost everything under $1000 is remarkable, and a testament to what good intention can accomplish with a skilled hand. If you want it all and don’t want to break the bank, this could very well be your best shot.

Verdict - Get it, Keep it, Enjoy it.
 

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