My apologies for misunderstanding the question.
Aurender integrated streamer/DACs
Does anyone have experience with any of the mid-to-upper-level Aurender units that feature integrated DACs and how do they compare with comparably-priced outboard DACs? Understanding DAC voicing can be a matter of preference, I am also considering a dedicated Roon Core built of JCAT components feeding either a Weiss 502 or the new PS Audio DSD when that becomes available.
Bonus question: looking at this another way (assuming the DACs referenced above are superior to a built-in Aurender DAC), how would a nicely spec'd Roon Core compare with an Aurender Server/Streamer?
Please answer only on in terms of sound quality only. I believe the UI will work fine for me, whether it is Conductor or Roon. Thanks very much!
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You should check out the A200 but if you are really thinking about a DAC like the Weiss then you should actually check out the N200 or N20. I thought the same thing , and after giving it some thought I went with the N200. Couldn’t be happier
Look at the comparison chart on Aurender’s site and you will see that the streamer only versions have more features than the streamer / DAC alternative at the same price. I never thought I would spend that much on a streamer but it was a good purchase
@mhwilliford I am an authorized dealer and have compared the A15 against a the N200 with a few different DACs, as the A15 is essentially the N200 with a DAC onboard. Please take what I say with a grain of salt because 1) I am a dealer and 2) My standards are very, very high in terms of reference level.
I would say that if you would plan to connect the A15 into a preamp, it is a STELLAR unit. My favorite combo to demo for people that is near endgame for the price is the Aurender N200 ($6K) and the T+A DAC 200 ($6.9K). This combination punches very high for a combined $12.9K retail, and one may have to spend double to best it. This considering, the A15 gets very close at $8K retail, and if using the DAC at line level, I would easily equate it to a ~$4-6K DAC. Compared to the N200 + DAC 200 combo, the A15 has a little less body, a less wide soundstage, and tonal balance is a bit higher very slightly. The A15’s clarity is overall excellent, but it’s organic delivery falls a bit behind of the separates. The differences are minor but quickly noticeable. Whether it is worth the $5K difference in retail price will depend on the individual. I’ve had a few customers say the difference is worth it, and others that say it isn’t. It tends to come down to the overall investment level one already has in their system and the affinity they have for an integrated vs separate digital solution.
I would say that if you plan to use the A15 direct to an amp, the preamp stage and sonics of the digital attenuator is where it falls short of being premium, but that’s where the A20 better excels.
In short, the A15 is a very strong performer for its price point.
Oh, and an Aurender N200 blows most Roon cores that run $1-3K out of the water. It all comes down to the robustness of the power supply, quality and effectiveness of isolation, and clocking, where most Roon cores sacrifice all three.
Thanks to everyone for their input. I do believe the separates route is more-likely the direction I would take, especially since I do not hear any claims that the built-in Aurender DACs are just as good as an outboard $6 to $10k DAC.
On the question of budget:
DAC budget $6k to $10k list
Server/Streamer $3k to 6k list
Server/Streamer/DAC combination $8k to $12k list (I do expect some savings at same quality level if combined since the chassis and labor costs are probably reduced).
It should also be noted that I do believe in room correction. I have good sound attenuation for high/mids, but would ideally like to construct a room EQ to correct for bass modes. I am not sure if Aurender offers this capability, but I feel that such a filter could be constructed within Roon. One of the major attractions of the Weiss DAC (it's reported studio-like accuracy being primary) is the ability to deploy bass-mode correction in the DAC. It also offers a de-essing filter, which I would surely utilize for certain recordings that I otherwise enjoy.
This discussion highlights the fact that listening to these combinations and assessing them is frustratingly difficult unless you have access to a very well-stocked hi-fi store, which are a diminishing resource. Given this is where we are, my plan is to audition the Weiss 502 and new PS Audio DSD when the latter becomes available. From there, I'll make the next choice - Roon super-core (likely a separate PC based on JCAT components), Roon-compatible unit (say Innuos Zenith Mk3), or Aurender N200.
That's unless somebody can say that an Aurender A-series between $8k to $12k list can do both.
I should probably also state that my current DAC "baseline" is the DA2 module in my MC2700 pre-amp. It's actually quite sweet in it's own right, but I have to believe at $2000 list, including dealer installation (if you were upgrading from a DA1) that it is probably not up to the sound quality of the Weiss 502 or new PS Audio DSD. The in-home audition should settle that question, then with a new DAC (or not) in place, I could hopefully audition an Aurender and prove to myself that it is a worthwhile investment.
Which brings me to one final thought (thanks again for everyone's input, and patience with my wandering logic). The Weiss incorporates built-in streaming capability as a Roon Endpoint and I am not sure what this means really. My understanding is that it can operate as a Roon endpoint with nothing but a LAN connection. Does anyone understand how this works and more importantly, how it sounds vs. being fed from a dedicated server/streamer?
Thanks so much for the constructive discussion.
Excuse me. I was not trying to be critical. I agree with you and just wanted to support your comments. It is perfectly reasonable to suggest alternative ways of looking at the problem. i also that I would be interested in hearing folks comments about integrated as it is a path I have not seriously explored.
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