750$ Intel NUC vs $6000 Aurender N200: I don't hear the difference

I finally plunged into the source is as important as the DAC belief that is quite prevalent here and decided to test out Aurender N200. And given I have a very highend DAC, thought if the N200 pans out I would go for the N20 or N30.


I was expecting the N200 to blow away my Intel NUC which is 10th gen, core i7, 8GB and running Roon Rock BUT I am switching back and forth between USB playing the Roon Rock, and Co-axial playing Aurender N200, and I don't hear much of a difference maybe a hair, or not even that.


A few caveats: 1) Roon Rock is playing Quboz, N200 is playing Tidal (I am unable to get Qobuz login to the N200 for reason I don't understand).

2) I am comparing Coaxial on N200, USB on Roon Rock.

Caveat #2 can be ignored because I don't hear a difference between Coaxial and USB output of N200.


So either this is an "Emperor has no clothes" moment or I am missing something big. Any thoughts on what I might be missing before I send this N200 back to the dealer on Monday.


Rest of my system: Nagra TUBE DAC -> Accuphase E-650 -> Devore O96 and all Acoustic Revive wiring. 




Thank you for your work and your post. I'm currently using Audirvana and found the same when I did a trial of Roon. However, I have not investigated ROCK and this looks like the direction to go for me in 2022.  Having over 9TB stored on an SSD drive now makes it worth putting together.  Cheers.

Use your ears...

Want better or different sound? Spend the extra money on better speakers, room treatments, make sure you have plenty of power, or play with your DAC / Pre-amp, get a subwoofer etc.

Computer has one job. Deliver bit perfect data. If you use a little DSP with Roon (as I do), make sure your computer/server/whatever you decide to call it... has enough processing power so it doesn’t bog down. Maybe spring for a solid state drive.

Love Roon however, I went in with other audio nerds early on for the lifetime subscription on a group/gift offer Roon had going. Saved some cash there.

My server uses Linux, and fortunately the mfg (Salk) provides incredible support and made sure the latest update would work as it was a bit more of a change.

It also won’t shock me someday if like most computers that I will need something new to continue to run Roon. This isn’t because of owning a particular brand, but after years of buying nice Apple (or insert brand) computers, they all seem to "outdate". (that is an entire other subject).  I hope this isn't the case, but it won't shock me.

But, feel free to drop $7500 or more on a dedicated audio computer if you like, it’s not my money! (but I would spend it elsewhere in the system...)

Sorry, but your test is not under identical conditions.

Two nights ago I did an extensive test between Quboz and Tidal MQA on a decent live recording in 44khz/16 bit (Phish at the Berkeley Greek Theater in 2010), interleaving the songs on my Aurender N100H playlist.

The Quboz versions had substantially better dynamics and punch than the Tidal MQA versions, which sounded smoothed over and dull. This has been consistent with other tests that I have made of same resolution recordings available on both Quboz and Tidal. My conclusion is that you can hear the lossiness of MQA, and you are doing just that in your own test.



If your DAC is competent then the result is as expected just as expected as the pages of posts trying to explain away what is the simple conclusion.

I question the Nagra implementation and conclusions on the analog side wrt it being the purest implementation as evidenced by the distortion spec, but it is more than low enough not to be a concern. Digitally the architecture seems sound so why would there be a difference? If there was a difference that means the DAC is inherently flawed. Why do so many people want to jump to the conclusion that your DAC is inherently flawed I have no idea.


@yyzsantabarbara I used to have a couple of MicroRendu. They are electrically noisy. I got rid of them because it just didn't seem worth the effort and I ended up changing the architecture of my system anyway. I saw ASR did some tests later that they are sensitive to the power supply. I would have ended up getting rid of them anyways because the firmware did not support any form of time synchronization between multiple units which I needed. However I was disappointed because I was really hoping they would have worked out.

@essrand I suggested that you do a simple test and you decided not to do it. You possibly can't explain away what you've done as a review and your reputable reviewer shouldn't put his name to such an amateurish ensemble.

Your sound comparisons are meaningless you don't even mention what you were listening to. It's pathetic gibberish.

Better off sticking it all through Cindy's multimeter.

I really don't believe you know what your listening for. Just like someone at their first wine tasting who likes an Australian Shiraz above a Petrvs.