Auralic Aries Mini or Bluesound Node 2?


How do these two compare? I'm looking for something to use with Roon, Tidal and have the ability to add an external HD. I'll be using it with a Yamaha 1060 AVR (used as a preamp w/HT ability) with a Parasound A23 Halo powering my mains.

My Yamaha 1060 doesn't support Roon or Tidal AFAIK and to add an external drive I'd have to connect through the front USB port. I'd prefer something that has back panel USB unless there is some sort of USB->HDMI or coaxial converter that would work with good results.

Thanks for any input.
asahitoro
If Roon is important to you, forget the Aries Mini.  It streams Tidal just fine but Auralic went with their own software (DS Lightning) and the Mini is not "Roon-ready"...nor will it be, I don't believe.  I own a Mini.  Very happy with it.  Sound is great...noticeably better than when I played ALAC files from an external hard drive via Macbook Air.  Those same files on the same hard drive sound better with the Aries Mini (USB out to MF V-Link 192 to Gungnir DAC via DH Labs D-750 digital coax).  Plenty of people here do like the Bluesound Node 2.  If it's got the functionality you need, doubt you would be unhappy.  

+1 with ghosthouse, also a Mini user here and I really like the Lightning DS app but if you need Roon then the Mini is out. Lots of good feedback here on the Bluesound Node2 not sure if it can be a Roon endpoint but I'm sure someone will chime in. All said from my own experiences and reading these two units seem pretty comparable sound quality wise with slightly different feature sets. I would however not use either of these units from their analog outputs a solid outboard Dac is a must for good sound.
Thanks for the replies,

I guess I don’t have to have Roon if the DS Lightning SW accomplishes what I need and that is to have some sort of management of all of my music wherever it is being streamed or local and being easily accessible via our devices (mostly iPhones/iPads). I’ll be hooking either up to the Yamaha via coaxial so the Yamahas DACs will be taking over. I like that fact I can install a HD in the Mini if needed. That would save me a connection/cable. My setup is modest, playing through some 90s KEF Reference Model 2s so I’m sure I’m splitting hairs here. If my Yamaha handled Tidal and it had a rear USB port, I probably wouldn’t be considering either of these.

I see a lot of folks here like the Bluesound and haven’t seen much mention of the Mini.

Thanks again for your thoughts.
Haha - I can blame jon for owning the Aries Mini :-)  He's the one that made me aware of it.  Audio Advisor was selling them at the time with a year of Tidal.  They have a 30 day return policy too, so no real risk there.  I think I agree with Jon recommending an outboard DAC.  I tried using the Mini with the internal DAC.  I didn't think it sounded that good.  Even outputting to the Gungnir, it was only when I put the V-Link USB/SPDIF converter in between that the sound quality took a big step forward. Not sure why that should be the case but it was and not in a subtle way.   Power supply is another variable you can obsess about.  Good luck.

(Underwood HiFi has the Aries Mini at a slight discount right now).


Yes, I don’t understand why the sound improved in your setup by adding the V-Link into the mix? Wouldn’t just going straight coaxial out of the mini to your DAC be the same as USB being converted?

The fact that the Mini’s power supply can be upgraded is a plus. Have either of you upgraded there? I didn't see any discount on the Mini at Underwood HiFi. I have found it for $450 shipped elsewhere.
@asahitoro I upgraded the power supply of my Mini with the Sbooster power supply which I picked up from Acoustic Sounds, it was around $350 as I remember made a huge difference. I personally go straight to my Dac from the Mini my Dac is an Audio Note Dac-3 Signature. Everyone's setup is different and ghosthouse preferred his with the v-link it all depends on system synergy at the end of the day.
Thanks jond,

Yes, I agree it's all about the chemistry of it all. I guess I'm just curious of how that may happen and trying to learn as I thought with the DAC being last in the chain before his preamp it would have the final say in the sound. Should I go USB/V-Link instead of coaxial out of the Mini too? Can that improve the sound of feeding into my Yamaha DACs? It sounds like you guys are dealing with much higher end gear so I doubt I'd notice the difference relative to the extra cost. Same with the power supply. Will $350 give me a noticeable gain in sound quality to justify the cost or are there lower cost power upgrades out there? I have everything plugged into a Furman 15i PC/surge protector and power cords are something I'm eyeballing as my next incremental upgrade.

I think I have my mind made up on the Mini as it sounds like it will serve my basic needs.
@asahitoro 
My advice is do one thing at a time.  Don't buy a V-Link or any other USB/SPDIF converter until you live with the Mini (or Bluesound Node) stock as it were.  Your reply post reminded me...yes, I had tried digital coax out of the Mini into the Gungnir first.  It just sounded kinda thin to me.  I had a hunch about trying things with the V-Link (my Gungnir was purchased withOUT a USB port; previously I used the V-Link between my MacBook and the Gungnir).  The V-Link turned the sound around...from disappointment to happy.  Not saying that'll be true for anyone else though I am pretty certain about what I heard.  Haven't looked back since.  Anyway, don't spend your money unless you have a connectivity issue or a performance problem you think a converter will fix.  Get it from some place (Audio Advisor, Music Direct that has a return option; the V-Link is no longer made by the way). Because I am a stubborn cheapskate about audio, I opted for an iFi iPower AC/DC converter.  It is still a switching supply but supposedly has a ton of filtering to make it quiet and prevent contaminating your AC circuits with noise (or so the dogma goes about the evils of switching power supplies).  Anyway, there's a lot of discussion on Computer Audiophile about the iFi wall wart.  ALSO - check out Audio Asylum, "Duster" has posted some good looking linear power supply stuff from China.  Another option for you.  
ONE FINAL THING - in the interest of full disclosure, my CDs were ripped as ALAC files into an iTunes library.  The Mini plays them fine and displays correct metadata for all (track sequencing, times, etc.) BUT for whatever reason, album art is hit or miss.  Some covers show.  Some don't.  Tidal is perfect.  Stuff streamed from there shows everything.  Just an issue with my iTunes ripped CDs.  Have fun.

Thanks again for the replies and excellent info.

Now I'm leaning towards the Node 2 after some more reading. I can get it for less which isn't much of a factor but the only advantages I see with the Mini is the smaller form factor and ability to add an external HD.