I have an N10 which I have used with both USB and AES/EBU. In both cases I was connecting to a Levinson 585 using Transparent cables - the Premium USB and Reference AES/EBU. Initially they sounded somewhat different, but fairly close in overall quality. After about 100 hours of break in, it was a different story - the AES/EBU was far, far better. So that appears to back up Aurender’s claim. However, I would caution that the results could vary depending on the cables and DAC you are using. But in my case it was an easy decision, even considering the cost of the Transparent Reference cable.
Thank you mikemeeks. I watched/heard on my #2 system a YouTube video comparing AES/EBU with SP/DIF coax. The Brit reviewer opened with the premise that both are superior to USB. Like you, he was using Levinson amp and both test cables were Audioquest of equal grade. All he did was A/B on the Levinson input selector with same tracks.
Both he and you have shown that I was wrong in simply chasing after better USB. Which is something I really needed to know. The field has narrowed ;-)
As far as USB goes, it really depends on how good the USB receiver board is within the DAC. If is is using an Amanero board, then you can definitely get really good sound out of a USB connection. The Amanero board has to receive the USB data and then clock the data at the proper samping rate before sending i2s data to the DAC chip.
Of course, a cheap USB cable is going to sound crappy just like S/PDIF cables.
With S/PDIF on the other cable tables, the A10 has to clock the sampling rate and then send the pulses in exact timing for the audio file (such as 44.1khz, 96khz, etc.).
You can get some pretty damn good S/PDIF cables (think Nordost Heimdall or better, or Transparent Audio or Purist Audio Design.
Without a doubt N10’s SPDIF and AES/EBU audio outputs are superior over its USB output due to signal from these outputs being regulated by one of the finest on-board OCXO clock. I’ve used both of these outputs for a very long time with DAC’s prior to acquiring EMM Labs DA2.
@auxinput makes a good point about USB implementation in your DAC. I have used couple of DAC’s with N10 that did not have SOTA
DA2’s meticulous and superb implementation of DSD and USB. In that setup, N10 shines via SPDIF and AEX/EBU output. But with DA2 DAC, I am unable to tell the difference between USB and SPDIF or AES outputs. For the sake of convenience and simplicity (one less $$$ digital cable) I am now listening N10 through USB only as it supports wide variety of resolutions without the hassle of switching back and forth between PCM and USB.
Another fine example of SOTA USB implementation in a server/ renderer is Innuos Statement but it cost almost twice as much. You can get a less expensive server in Innuos line up and add USB re-clocker to get as close to Statement performance but then you’re also looking at extra shelf space, USB and Power cables.
I have yet to find another renderer that can rival N10’s superlative sound quality, exquisite build, versatility and superb Conductor app.
As noted above, the Aurender N10 Music streamer supports BOTH USB and AES/EBU digital output connections to my DAC.
I prefer the AEB/EBU digital connection (a high priority for me). Based on my switching back and forth, my ears always prefer the AEB/EBU connection. For me, the music sounds better when I use the AES/EBU connection. I use the Kubala-Sosna Emotion AES/EBU cable, balanced XLR from my Aurender N10 to my Bricasti M21 DAC.
I also use the Audience Au24 SE+ USB Cable (Single connections at each end but used two wires) for my USB Connection but rarely use it.
I agree with @lalitk that the Aurender N10 Music Server is outstanding. It has excellent sound quality, great build quality and an easy to use interface. The Aurender Conductor App is simple to use and makes finding your music very easy.
Thanks, everyone! So many variables. Sadly, DACs like the DA2 are well beyond my budget. Some of the cables mentioned are rather daunting in themselves. If the N10 can't be properly appreciated without $5K cables and $25K DACs, I'll need to lower my sights and head back to the bargain bin. Really appreciate your sharing of much useful information that I would never have learned without asking the veterans.
“If the N10 can't be properly appreciated without $5K cables and $25K DACs, I'll need to lower my sights and head back to the bargain bin.”
No one said that N10 cannot be appreciated with lower priced DAC’s or cables. You came out here asking for a validation on manufacturer claim about its SPDIF / AES output superiority over USB and that’s exactly you heard from users that are intimately familiar with its strengths.
Let me ask you a straightforward question, if were you pursue this player, what DAC you had in mind to pair with N10?
@hickamore, Sorry, I do not understand. Your original question was about SPDIF and AES/EBU connections vs. using an USB connection. I answered your question and said, in my opinion, I felt that an AES/EBU connection sounded better than a USB connection. This was based on my listening experience.
I never mentioned $5,000 cables or a $25,000 DAC are required to enjoy the Aurender N10. I do not believe that anyone else said you had to spend that much to enjoy the N10. I have since upgraded but the first DAC I used with my N10 was the Ayre Codex DAC priced at $1,795. It sounded terrific.
As I stated, I highly recommend the Aurender N10 and that super expensive cables, DAC's, etc. are NOT required to enjoy the musically of this wonderful music server. I hope this convinces you to audition the Aurender N10 Music Server.
Ah, thanks. You certainly did answer my original question and I'm grateful for it. latik, I was thinking of the Schiit Yggdrasil or something non-upsampling under $5k. hgeifman, if a less esoteric DAC and cables will allow the Nten (this kb has lost its "one" key) to show its stuff, then I'm all in. So now the obvious question for those willing to answer is, apart from the Ayre, what other DACs under $5K would mate well with the Aurender?
There are many DAC's priced under $5,000 that will work with the Aurender N10. For example, one suggestion is the Bricasti M3 DAC. Please see:
I like my M3 DAC very much and highly recommend you consider the Bricasti M3 DAC. The addition of the Bricasti M3 DAC substantially improved the sound quality of this system. Bricasti is a USA Company located in Shirley, MA. Their customer service is excellent and their products are outstanding.
I am sure that others on this forum will recommend other DAC's priced under $5,000 for you to consider.
Please look into Denafrips Terminator, one of the best R2R DAC’s under $5K.
If you are looking at R-2R DACS, the Audio-GD products are also excellent.
The Denafrips Terminator is excellent I'm sure. It is voiced just slightly laid back (due to the Elna Silmic capacitors used in power supply).
The Audio-GD is not going to be quite as laid back and more neutral / high resolution I think:
The R-7HE is the most expensive offering, but not as expensive as the Terminator.
Audio-GD also uses discrete analot output stage. The Terminator uses op amps I believe.
@welcher, I cannot answer your question if you should purchase the Bricasti M21 DAC or the Bricasti M3 DAC. The answer depends on your budget, audio goals, what you are trying to accomplish, your existing equipment, your listening room and many other complex factors.
For me, I visited my local retailer who made several suggestions. I sold my Sonus Faber Olympica II speakers and purchased the PNC Twenty5.26 speakers. He also demoed the SimAudio 700i V2 integrated amp (and also had me listen to the SimAudio 600i V2 amp) and I eventually purchased the 700i V2 amplifier. Based on my previous positive experience with Bricasti, I called them to discuss buying one of their DAC’s. They strongly recommended the Bricasti M21 DAC. From the THE Show in Southern California, I called Sheri (a friend) and asked her opinion. She recently replaced her Bricasti M1SE DAC with the M21 model. She said “the M21 was outstanding and she loved it”. This DAC has both a signal delta DAC and a laddered DAC, so you have listening options.
I called my retailer to discuss the M21 and also spoke to Brian (their President) and Damon (Bricasti Sales Manager) to further discuss the M21 DAC. I know both of them from THE Show when I visited their booth. To make a long story short, I purchased the Bricasti M21 DAC and it is truly excellent. I use the laddered DAC option and use an AES/EBU cable from my Aurender N10 to the DAC. The sound quality of the SimAudio 700i amp and M21 DAC was exactly what I was looking for. Of course, the PNC Twenty5.26 speakers are outstanding. Power cords are the Clarity Vortex Power Cord. I use the Kubala-Sosna Emotion AES/EBU cable (N10 to M21) and the Kubala-Sosna Expression Interconnect XLR Cable (DAC to amp). I am very satisfied with the sound quality of this system and so are my friends that have heard it.
Okay, back to my home theatre system and YOUR original question. My Ayre Codex DAC was excellent, but I wanted to try something else. At that time Bricasti, just announced the M3 DAC. After several phone calls with my retailer, and Bricasti, I purchased the M3 DAC in January 2020. It took some time for the M3 to break in BUT it was light years BETTER THAN the Ayre Codex DAC. Please NOTE this is a 2-channel home theatre and my LG OLED TV connects to the M3 DAC and then balanced cables to my integrated amp. I like this system very much and highly recommend you consider the Bricasti M3 DAC. The addition of the Bricasti M3 DAC “substantially improved” the sound quality of this system. I recently replaced my Ayre AX-7e amplifier with the SimAudio 340i Integrated amplifier. My SimAudio 340i amplifier amp is beginning to sound great. The bass of this system is excellent. I am impressed since the mids and highs are much better than my Ayre AX-7e amp was. My sense is the music is clearer, more open and has more details. Of course, I am sure my PMC Twenty5.21 speakers are helping everything sound great AND so is my Bricasti M3 DAC. I was told that SimAudio amps require about 300 hours of play time to hit their stride. This means my amplifier needs more break-in time.
In summary, the Bricasti M21 DAC is outstanding, and I highly recommend it IF you have the budget, supporting high quality equipment and you want state of the art sound quality. The addition of the M21 substantially improved the sound quality of this system. To my ears, everything sounds truly outstanding. The M21’s “advanced architecture means you can select, evaluate and enjoy three independent digital to analog converter signal paths: 24-bit delta sigma, 20-bit ladder DAC and true 1-bit DSD for DSD content. Engineering autonomous conversion paths creates an efficient platform for you to enjoy your music and explore the advantages of each”. The M21 is a world class DAC and is highly recommended.
On the other hand, if you have budget is around $5,000 and you are looking for a very good sounding DAC, I strongly recommend the Bricasti M3. The M3 “offers an incredible array of performance in a more affordable price class. It includes two fully differential conversion channels, separate conversion for PCM and native DSD, and a balanced analog level control circuit, making the M3 suitable for all applications”.
I also looked at the MSB Discrete DAC but everything thing was an extra cost option (USB, AES/EBU, power supply, etc.,). The dCS Bartok was also interesting but, based on my research, I kept coming back to Bricasti. The Chord DAVE was on my list, but I decided to pass (my Chord retailer was very pushy and not helpful). I considered the Denafrips Terminator and decided to pass. I hope this helps.