Aurender N10 - Sound quality performance is erratic


I am having problems with my N10. Some days it plays amazingly good, other days good and some days not good at all.

I live very near Aurender in SoCal and so I took my unit in for service and they provided me with a loaner. The first session after I put the loaner in the system was all-time good. Then the next day wasn't all that great. Then the next two days were good but no great. Anyway, this is just weird. Both N10s appear to exhibit this erratic behavior.

My internet is ATT DSL at 24Mbps and that has been suggested as the culprit (I was thinking about calling and asking them to give me a trial at 50 or 100 Mbps to see if the increased speed will eliminate the problem - 24Mbps is fast enough I almost never seen buffering in Netflix). It has been suggested that I get hi-speed cable to solve this problem and get rid of the twisted pairs on the phone line. I have tried a DSL filter and it hasn't seemed to help, assuming I've got it installed correctly.

So have any of you N10 users had this problem? If so, how did you fix it?
pokey77
Based on your description above, I am not exactly sure of your issue.  It could be your modem, router, your cable line speed, your  ATT DSL line or other hardware (or software) related issues up stream.  My ISP is Wave Broadband and I have a 250Mbps cable line.   My experiences and comments  are below:

I had similar streaming drop out issues on my Aurender N10.  My Tidal Streaming service sometimes stopped playing for a few seconds and then started again.  In addition, sometimes, my Internet connection completed stopped working while listening to a Tidal album.  I re-booted my modem and router and everything worked but the Internet connection continued to sometimes drop.  It was driving me crazy.  My signal drop outs were not consistent.  Sometimes it worked AND sometimes it failed.  

I completely LOST my Internet connection on my MAC Computer.  I re-booted everything (twice) and still no Internet connection.  I called my Internet Service Provider (ISP) and they said the cable signal strength coming into my modem was INCORRECT (out of range) and scheduled a Maintenance Tech (Senior level, outside person) Service Call.  This is NOT a ISP normal technical service call.

The ISP Maintenance Tech arrived on Sunday and adjusted the signal strength for all their switching components carrying the cable signal to my home.  He then replaced the outside cable junction box (underground) for my neighborhood (3 homes including mine) since it was old and corroded.   He then replaced all the coaxial connector plugs on the cable from my wall plug to my modem and also replaced all the coaxial connector plugs in my outside cable box.   He noticed some of the wires were not straight so he rearranged the wires in my configuration both inside and outside.  Some additional adjustments were required on the outside cable junction box (fine tuning to get the require signal strength).  

We also had issues with the ISP booster amplifier located in my front yard.  It required additional repairs and adjustments.  He was excellent and answered my questions on my configuration.   

When all of the above was done, he tested both the outside cable junction box and the inside signal strength to ensure all cable signals were in the required range (they were).   He then ran a speed test to confirm my upload and download speeds were correct (they were).  He made some additional minor cable and tuning adjustments and now everything is working fine.  He said if the cable signal strength is too high, or low, it will cause the Internet connection to drop its signal.  It has to be in its assigned required range.  

If you are experiencing Internet connection problems, the FIRST step to turn the power off your router, modem (take out the battery, if present) and remove the cable connection from the wall for 3 minutes.  To re-start, plug the coaxial cable back into the wall FIRST and turn on the power for all your devices.  This should solve most problems, but, if not, repeat these steps. You should also ensure the software in your router is current.  

If you are still experiencing Internet connectivity issues, you should call your ISP for assistance.  If needed, you might ask the Customer Support person to check the cable signal strength coming into your modem to help troubleshoot the issue.

I probably should have called my ISP sooner but my Internet connectivity problems happened infrequently.   I was very lucky to have a very experienced ISP Technical person who knew exactly what was needed both inside and outside.  

In addition to the above, previously, I had 3 Apple Extreme Routers and the ALL FAILED (one was DEAD out of the box).   I replaced them with a Luxul Dual-Band AC#Ac-3100 gigabyte router and is working perfectly.   Unfortunately, connectivity issues take time to get resolved so please keep working on it and asking questions.  

I hope the above helps you solve your connectivity issues.  Since your connectivity issues occurred on 2 different Aurender N10 units, your issue is "probably" in your Internet connection and the various hardware components both locally and upstream.  As I noted above, it could be the ISP hardware outside of your home.   I hope my above comments help you get started toward a resolution.   


@hgeifman - I appreciate your sharing. Maybe something as easy as reboot the modem when the music isn't sounding right. Or more complicated. Hopefully we can get the system dialed in where it plays well ALL the time.
@pokey77, please re-boot both your router and modem.  Turn them off for 3 minutes and then turn the modem on first and then your router.  If present, please remove any batteries in these units.  My modem has a battery.   Please keep us posted.  
@pokey77,

I believe your internet speed needs to be bumped up. You need to ask AT&T how many devices sharing your current bandwidth. Based on the number of connected devices AT&T can recommend the suitable plan for you. 

I was in the same place 2 years ago experiencing drop outs with my N10 on a 24mbps plan. A quick diagnosis of my service showed 27 devices sharing the 24mbps bandwidth 😳

I bumped up my plan to 100mbps, no issues with streaming since the upgrade.  
I have exactly the same experience with my N100H.

I then restart it with a long press on the Play button on my iPad. and the SQ returns to glorious after that and this works every time. I don’t think it is a modem/router issue. It probably needs to just clear its memory cache.
Anyway, try rebooting both and see what works. 

Hope this helps.
jon2020 has an excellent suggestion above. 

In addition, I suggest you delete the Aurender Conductor App from your iPad and reinstall it.  This will ensure you have the most current version and all its updates.  
@jon2020 

Hi Jon,

You said "I then restart it with a long press on the Play button on my iPad. and the SQ returns to glorious after that and this works every time".

For clarification of "Play button", are you talking about the sideways triangle button at the top left of the screen? So I just hold it down a few seconds? -I've not heard of this tip but very glad you replied to my thread. I'm truly hoping this works when I try it later today.

@hgeifman 

I turned on my iPad and it asked if I want the latest update for the Conductor App and I downloaded the update. So I should be up to date now.
For clarification of "Play button", are you talking about the sideways triangle button at the top left of the screen? So I just hold it down a few seconds? -I've not heard of this tip but very glad you replied to my thread. I'm truly hoping this works when I try it later today.
 
Hi pokey77,

Yes, the Play button is the triangle button, between the previous and next track buttons.
Just hold it down for 2-3 seconds and a menu will pop up for 2 options - Restart or Turn Off. Choose Restart.

Good luck! :)
If you read the Stereophile review of this unit, it seem to do a little trickery to anything that’s not MQA related, JA exposed it and I commented on it in the comments.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/aurender-a10-network-music-playerserver
" However, the A10's misapplication of the MQA reconstruction filter to non-MQA files stored on its internal drive means we must withhold a full recommendation for the A10 until this problem has been corrected.—John Atkinson"

And this was still the same even after a firmware update.

Cheers George
If you read the Stereophile review of this unit, it seem to do a little trickery to anything that’s not MQA related, JA exposed it and I commented on it in the comments.
https://www.stereophile.com/content/aurender-a10-network-music-playerserver
" However, the A10's misapplication of the MQA reconstruction filter to non-MQA files stored on its internal drive means we must withhold a full recommendation for the A10 until this problem has been corrected.—John Atkinson"
And this was still the same even after a firmware update.


JA's comments apply only to the A10 which has its own dac section.
Neither the N10 nor the N100H has a dac section to misapply any signal, MQA or not. So this issue has no relevance at all to the OP's question.
FYI to all - My methodology diagnosing this problem has been to play the same 10-15 reference tracks and take notes so I can compare day-to-day sound quality. My pre/amp are on all the time and the N10 is always in standby and fairly warm to the touch.

Also, to those who have mentioned drop outs, that has never been my problem. Sound quality is my one and only problem. Apparently both @hgeifman and @jon2020 have experienced similar SQ problems and have posted above; I thank you both.

Update

@jon2020  

Thank you for the clarification on the Play button tip. Last night I played a few tracks I am intimate with and then tried the long press of the "Play button" choosing the Restart option, and unfortunately for me, this did not change the sound quality at all.

Next, I tried a reset of my modem/router and that also had no effect at all. The system sounded the same for the entire session and through both of  these two changes. I checked, the ATT modem/router and it does not have a battery.

I have made a word doc and will start working through other suggestions as time allows. I think a good place to start is to have a tech come out and check all connections, both inside and outside. -I appreciate all the help so far.
FYI - I just want to say that Aurender has provided exceptional customer service so far. We all acknowledge this is an unusual problem and will continue to work towards solving it. I do appreciate your help here on Audiogon very much as well.
Last night I played a few tracks I am intimate with and then tried the long press of the "Play button" choosing the Restart option, and unfortunately for me, this did not change the sound quality at all.

@pokey77 

An additional step I take to clear the cache memory is to clear the last played playlist with the Clear button before I start playing a new playlist or album.

Yes. Aurender service is indeed top-notch. :)
@jon2020 

I never clear my playlist. I'll give that a try.
Post removed 
JA's comments apply only to the A10 which has its own dac section.
Correct, my bad, just saw Aurender and 10 and flashed back to this hobbling Aurender did on this unit..

Cheers George
@steakster 

Yes I am talking about streaming Tidal.

Ok, didn't know that "the streaming settings for your personal account need to be re-set" when Tidal has updates. How do I know when Tidal updates, and then how do I re-set my personal account? I appreciate the insight. 
FYI - Today brought an amazing session with sound quality as good as it has ever been for me. I hope tomorrow will be the same. BTW, I have not performed any other updates since yesterday, so not sure why it was so good today, but I'll take it. Didn't want to stop listening it was so good.
Post removed 
FYI - Today brought another amazing listening session with sound quality seemingly as good as it has ever been for me. I said yesterday that I hoped tomorrow will be the same, well it was. BTW, I have not performed any other updates since 10/22 but I did take back the loaner N10 and picked up my repaired N10. According to Aurender, the player had a grounding issue and also one of the SSD drives needed to be replaced. I drove home and put it in the system and had to leave for an hour or so and it was playing tracks while I was away. I sat down after I got home and wow, REAL music was playing. I didn't want to stop listening it was so good. When the music is this good, I can't help but be happy.
@steakster 

FYI - I do have the Conductor app set to HiFi and also checked for updates a few minutes ago and it says that I'm already up to date. Thanks for the recommendation.

BTW, you wouldn't believe the SQ on Tidal for redbook quality files using the N10. It can be staggeringly good. For me it is so worth the $20/month fee and the cost of the server. Savings well spent.
While I like using Tidal in HiFi - 44.1 quality for auditioning music on my Aurender N10, adding MQA to the N10 for less than $50 brought my sound quality up to where I really enjoy the sound. I have a MQA DAC and non MQA DAC. Tidal MQA streamed via the N10 sounds fantastic in both DACs.
I bought the $50 MQA app the day the N10 was installed. On the few MQA  tracks I've played it seems to make a positive difference vs the redbook file. But I do note 44.1 redbook files that are recorded well do play amazingly. I still consider myself new to this but all the best sounding tracks I know are not MQA and the vast majority are redbook.
UPDATE - Day 2 / Oct 25 with the repaired N10 - Was really good again and mostly similar to Oct 24. I very much enjoyed my listening session and I am hoping and praying that this is the new normal.

Again, I really appreciate all posters comments and suggestions.
.....The first session after I put the loaner in the system was all-time good. Then the next day wasn't all that great. Then the next two days were good but no great. Anyway, this is just weird. Both N10s appear to exhibit this erratic behavior......
 
Now that the erratic behavior issue of your N10 has been resolved by the repair, it appears that the loaner N10 is also in need of repair.  This may point to a flaw in some batches of N10's. 
@jon2020 

So I listened today after work around 5:30 PM and though good, the sound was warmer, less bass control/definition, and with less resolution. Satisfactory, but not all time. In a way, this is the similar to the way that my original N10 performed and in fact this is my repaired N10, back in the system since October 24th. Being that both N10s had varying quality of sound on different days, I don't think it points to a flaw in N10s, but may be more likely the fault of my DSL connection. During the listening session I attempted to run a speed test and it would not complete. After the session I tried to run it multiple times and it would not complete the test; the test would show download speed but no latency and only sometimes report upload and the upload speeds were either way lower than included in the service or double the speed, which I've never seen before. I also tried again just a few minutes ago to get the test to run all the way through, and it still would not complete. I do not know if this is the fault of the speed test or that my DSL is not operating correctly. But I need to have ATT send a tech out here to get to the bottom of this.
So I listened today from around 10-11AM when I had to quit. Sound was good but not great. It was mostly like yesterday. This day-to-day variability is killing me.

I called AT&T today and they updated my modem/router via phone support. The speed test still won't complete though. After I hung up about 5-10 minutes later, the modem/router quit working for a few minutes and rebooted and everything seems alright now but I won't get to play music until tomorrow so I have no idea if the software update has helped or not. Anyway, they are going to send out a tech on 10/29 to install a new DSL modem/router and I hope this will wind up being the culprit. I'm still not sure if the speed test website is partially malfunctioning or if the DSL isn't working correctly or if it is the modem/router. 

The ATT tech came out this morning. Before he got here he was running tests on the line. My modem/router happened to be acting up and one of the indictors was red rather than green and he figured it was the modem/router. Then he went outside and checked my exterior lines and said that everything was OK.

He went off to the "box" and replaced all the wire associated with my house though he said he didn't see anything wrong. He said there are two wires from the box to the house and he switched them to give me a new line though he said both tested the same. He said I was also now on a closer box if I understood right.

Then he came back to the house and he took out the old modem/router and replaced it with the most current model. He set up both the 2.4 and 5 Ghz bands and helped me get all my devices reconnected to the network.

I checked connectivity with the Aurender but because it is connected via lan line, there was nothing needed and it worked fine.

The internet does seem faster now but that could be placebo effect. Hopefully I'll be able to get a listening session in later today to check for sound quality. 


Pokey.... are most of your issues associated with streamed music versus music stored locally (such as FLAC or whatever format files stored either on your Aurender hard drives or NAS type drive)? Curious. I am keeping the N10 on my short list for music servers (2019 purchase) to replace what I now have but I have this far only played music stored locally.
@jdavis37 

All of my problems have been with streamed music. I have not uploaded any music to the player yet. I've been trying to iron out my streaming problems first.

As you probably read above, ATT was out here on Monday morning and replaced my modem/router, replaced the wiring inside, checked all wiring outside the house, and replaced all wiring in the "box" at the edge of the neighborhood and gave me a new line. I've had very good listening sessions on Monday, Tuesday, and just a little while ago, today. I am very pleased with the quality of sound since the ATT tech was here.

I can highly recommend the N10. It is pretty easy to use and it sounds very very good. It is able to accurately playback a very high resolution image and it amazes me the sound quality it can provide on a well-recorded Redbook file. I'm very happy with the N10 and with the customer service provided by Aurender. I'd do it again.
Thanks Pokey,

I won;'t be purchasing a new music player until 2019 but starting my search early. Never know what you run into along the way. I have no immediate plans to stream (I can stream with current player but don't) and I will be redbook all the way given the DAC I am buying. Of course I may at some point go to streaming so not saying never! I know on my current player (Linux based) I typically try to reboot it every week or so. This seems to eliminate any dropouts. I am playing music directly connected to it via USB drive (FLAC) but use their iOS app to drive it and thus the network. My player had a lot of issues with its wireless connection so I went to hard wired and with weekly or biweekly reboots no issues there. If I forget and encounter a drop out I simply reboot the player and all is well.

The N10 appears to be a rock solid player, one on my radar screen. I need S/PDIF output (via RCA or AES) so it certainly qualifies in that way. I am assuming it will work for a USB connected drive as well as using the internal drives? 

I am also curious if the 2 internal drives can be changed out to SSDs if they are not already. I know it caches music to a smaller SSD but with current sizes increasing and prices dropping going all SSD would be nice.

How are the apps they provide? 

Glad your network issues are being resolved and you are able to enjoy the music more!
@jdavis37 

2019 isn't all that far away! I know, it sounds long now since you don't have that new piece of gear, but it'll be here before you know it. I didn't try other servers in my system. I just tried the A10 and N10 and can tell you the N10 is very much worth the extra $$. I think the most important thing is that your new server synergize with your gear and really the only way to find that out is to put your choice in your system and listen to how it sounds. Hope you find just the right server.

Streaming is so fun; the only work is to go look up the next track or album. I'm really digging it. BTW, my CD collection is getting smaller and it feels good.

I'll keep the reboot procedure in mind; thanks for the tip.

"I am assuming it will work for a USB connected drive as well as using the internal drives?" -All the inputs are there so I'd say yes. I am using AES from DAC to N10. I also tried USB and felt AES was overall slightly better. Based on the text on the Aurender site, the two main drives do not appear to be SSD. I am unsure if you can replace them. You could try asking Aurender support. They are very helpful.

The Conductor app is quite easy to use. I found a few videos on YouTube that walk you through the features and that was a good use of 15-20 minutes.

Just finished another listening session and it was really very good. The N10 is an amazing source.


Thx Pokey. It will most assuredly work with the DAC I am buying (R2R, NOS, limited to S/PDIF or AES input). The N10 appears to be a really nice piece and if the well builtness, etc also translates into "hey it actually really does sound better" then it will be on my very short list. There just are not that many music players/servers/streamers focused on S/PDIF these days! USB only in the server would require another box to be bought and that really is not a desired thing. Given its price tag I will most likely look for a demo or very clean used one. My spousal unit is very understanding of my hobbies.. to a point! Thx for the feedback and keep enjoying your music!
@jdavis37 

I have not compared the N10 to other servers in the same price range. But as I mentioned above, I have compared it to the lower-priced a10 and there is clearly a reason that Aurender charges more for the N10. It was a big stretch for me but I'm glad I did it. The N10 plays well-recorded files with ease and files that are more average in recording quality just sounded fuller & clearer than the A10. It was a very hearable quality the N10 brings to the party. The N10 is 27 lbs, meaning there's a lot of iron in there. It can be that heavy because it uses a full-size chassis, where they can physically enclose more and better quality transformers giving a big boost to the sound quality of the larger chassis. Take a look at Google photos or the Aurender site to see the interior of each of the servers, they speak volumes. -I hope you get a chance to try the N10 out. And I'd welcome a discussion of any other servers you have the pleasure of comparing it to. As a side note, my source said that the W20, Aurenders reference server, it is only marginally better than the N10 when using a single AES connection. When the W20 uses a word clock and DAC that can handle the twin-wire connection, it is quite a bit better. But you are looking at a $40k front end. I've heard it in a different system and it was very good, but it is well beyond my budget. Cheers and good luck in your search.
@ pokey77

What dac  where you using when comparing the N10 to the A10?

  I assume you where using both as Streamers and USB out for both?

did you compare the A10 vs N10 +Dac  ?

Just wondering. 
Thanks,
Russ
As those of you who have been following this thread know, I had been having erratic sound quality streaming Tidal. ATT came out last Monday morning and performed maintenance, replacing my modem/router, and returning everything to good working order. I was able to listen once on Mon/Tuesday, and twice yesterday and today for a total of six sessions and all my sessions have been very good. Apparently my modem/router was the most likely culprit according to my tech; the tech called back to check in on me today - good customer service on ATT's part. I do notice that my internet is faster now that the service has been performed and of course the most important part, the music is now correct. 

Aurender has provided very good service along the way including providing me a loaner N10 and repairing my N10.

My dealer, Mike Rose @ Excel Audio in Newport Beach, has also been exemplary in his customer service. He had pushed me to have my internet connection checked and it turned out to be culprit. He has been there in my journey and has been instrumental in helping me to build a system that I had only dreamed of prior to meeting him around a year ago. As a totally satisfied customer, I suggest if you are in the Southern California area, Mike is a top-notch dealer worthy of doing business with, not only because he carries some of the finest world-class audio components available, but because he is first-class in customer service. Mike is just like all of us, he loves the music. When you are around him you can't help but be happy, it is just infectious. 
Finally, I'd like to say thank you very much to @hgeifman and @jon2020 for your help and encouragement. I hope this thread will help other users arrive at an even better sound in their own systems. 
@benzman 

We used the TAD DAC in their Evolution SACD player and later the TAD DAC in their C2000 preamp and that is what I ended up with.

I believe I did compare the A10 to the N10 with the same DAC in the C2000 preamp, just using them as streamers. I believe this was with AES but am not 100% sure. I've used both USB and AES with my N10 and slightly prefer the overall presentation with AES. It was not a night and day difference with Nordost Heimdall 2.

I have heard the A10 with it's built-in DAC, but it was not as good even using MQA. The N10 + DAC is much better.
Thanks for your findings
Finally, I'd like to say thank you very much to @hgeifman and @jon2020 for your help and encouragement. I hope this thread will help other users arrive at an even better sound in their own systems.


@pokey77 

I am very happy for you that the ethernet issue has been sorted out.  Enjoy the music! 
Cheers! :)
@jon2020 

Thanks Jon. Had two great sessions today (on vacation for the week). Now that everything is all in order I've been listening to lots of new and old music; so fun it was.