Aura Note Premier review

This is a fine-sounding all in one music system, although we'd like DAB, and a more user-friendly remote Tested at £1500.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The Aura brand returns with a fine sounding all-in-one. It’s up against some tough competition, but is still worth a listen


  • +

    An articulate and clean performer

  • +

    extensive feature count

  • +

    decent build quality


  • -

    No DAB

  • -

    lacks a little dynamic heft

  • -

    poorly laid-out handset

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You may remember the Aura brand: it used to be part of the B&W stable back in the 1980s, and delivered some top-class amplification back then.

Much has changed in the intervening years. The name is used now by April Music, sitting alongside brands such as Stello in the Korean company's portfolio.

Aura's new Note Premier is a well-specified all-in-one system. Alongside traditional sources such as CD and FM/MW tuner there's the now-essential iPod connection, plus a USB input to accept digital audio from a PC.

Style is a matter of taste
The main unit's build quality is pleasingly sturdy, though we have mixed feelings over the styling. Not all of us were bowled over by the extensive use of chrome, or its ability to pick-up fingerprints.

While we're complaining, the remote handset could be better laid-out, too.

Still, this is a good-sounding system. With CD it sounds fast, detailed and articulate: it does a fine job in unravelling Massive Attack's Heligoland.

Sure, greater dynamic expression would be nice, as would a higher level of transparency, but for a system in this class the Aura covers most sonic bases pretty well.

No DAB on the menu
The FM/MW tuner section is a good one, providing you can get a decent signal to it. Sound is nicely full-bodied, and smooth without being dull. However, it's a shame DAB isn't on the menu.

Still, using the USB input to accept a digital signal from a laptop is worthwhile, while the iPod connection is equally useful.

The Note Premier comes with an iPod cable as standard, but if you want a dock it's a £50 extra. We'd save the money: the standard cable does just fine.

All in all this Aura is a decent little hi-fi system. It's a worthy alternative to the likes of Arcam's Solo, even if it doesn't totally set our world alight.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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