Sparkos Labs Aries

State of the art headphone and pre amplifier

  • Fully Discrete Audio Path Using Our SS2590 Discrete Op-Amps
  • Discrete Voltage Regulation Using Our SS78XX/SS79XX
  • Powerful, 3.8W into 32Ω
  • 64 step relay switched attenuator
  • 3 gain levels
  • No Capacitors In The Signal Path
  • DC And Overdrive Protection
  • Precision 0.1% Tolerance Thin Film Resistors
  • Mu Metal Shielded Power Transformer
  • High Damping Factor
  • 9400uF Per Rail Power Supply Capacitance
  • Touch Screen Control
  • Switchable input voltage, 115V or 230V
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Sparkos Labs Aries

Vendor: Sparkos Labs

Sparkos Labs Aries


Vendor: Sparkos Labs

Sparkos Labs Aries

Style: Base
It all comes down to this

All of our discrete op-amps and voltage regulators have come together to form our first piece of actual audio gear. The Aries Headphone and Pre Amplifier. It utilises our Pro discrete op-amps for the main audio path, our DIP8 discrete op-amps for managing line level inputs and outputs and our discrete voltage regulators in the power supply. All of this coupled with a precision stepped attenuator volume control and an interactive touch screen display yields what is quite possibly the finest headphone  and pre amplifier that mankind has ever known.

Inputs and Outputs

The Base model comes with 2x RCA inputs and a 3.5mm front panel input. Optionally, one can obtain a set of XLR inputs and a pair of both RCA and XLR line level outputs to enable the unit to function as a preamp with the Full Model. The headphone output is a standard 6.3mm jack on the front panel. All Connectors are Gold-Plated.

Input selection and gain settings are handled through a touch screen display. The volume and balance controls can be swapped as far as which one is which and are used to control a 64 step relay switched attenuator.


The main audio path is on the right hand side of the unit and consists of 2 pairs of our SS2590 discrete op amps that make up the input and output stages with the relay switched stepped attenuator in-between them. Our SS3601 and SS3602 discrete op amps handle the XLR inputs and drive the preamp outputs. There are no capacitors in the signal path and potential DC offsets are handled by a DC servo.  The power supply is regulated by a pair of our discrete voltage regulators and the toroidal power transformer is shielded with Mu Metal for extremely low magnetic field pick up and hum. The AC power input is universal and can work with either 115V or 230V. Both the signal and ground side of all inputs are switched with high quality latching relays. Switching the ground side of the inputs (rather than just tying them all together) will prevent ground loops from forming between interconnected pieces of equipment. The micro-controller that controls the attenuator and runs the touch screen display will go into sleep mode when the unit is idly playing music to further reduce noise.

Stepped Attenuator

Volume and balance controls are implemented with a reed relay switched stepped attenuator. Using reed relays eliminates much of the annoying "click and clack" that relays have when switching and instead has a much quieter "ting and tick". The attenuator is 64 steps, 1dB per step, and will mute when the volume is turned all the way down. The resistors inside the attenuator (and in the audio path as a whole) are all precision 0.1% tolerance thin film resistors. The attenuator has a constant output impedance of 180 ohms for extremely low Johnson noise that is consistent across all volume settings. Stepped attenuators give superior right to left volume level matching that is critical when listening to headphones on a headphone amplifier. Pot or Rheostat based volume controls, even the good ones like the Alps Blue Velvet, typically have something like a +/-20% tolerance so the left to right channel matching can easily be off by a couple dB. The output impedance of such volume controls (and associated Johnson noise) also varies by where the volume control is set. For example, a 50K volume control set to the middle will have 12 times the noise (22dB) of the Aires volume control and about twice the noise as the entire Aires Headphone Amplifier.
technical specifications
1.6uV RMS at 0dB gain 20Hz-20kHz unweighted
Power output
2.8W RMS into 32Ω, 0.5W RMS into 300Ω
Peak output capability
355mA, 14V
Output impedance
Less than 0.1Ω
Inputs (Base)
2x RCA
Inputs (Full)
Headphone port
Pre-amp out (Full)
Gain settings
+10dB, +20dB, +30dB
Switchable input voltage
115V, 230V

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