Aurender N100H + Core Power Technologies USBe = HUGE improvement

Hi all,

I’ve had my Aurender N100H (which is USB only) and Hegel HD30 DAC combo for several years now, and have never been fully satisfied with the sound. Imaging has always been indistinct (hard to pin-point localize), the midrange a bit dry, and overall lacking a palatable organic quality that has kept me from emotionally connecting as fully with the music as I’d like. I’ve improved things along the way... stillpoint ultras under both the Aurender and DAC made a noticeable improvement (cleaner midrange and highs, slightly improved imaging), better power cords, Inakustik USB cable (sounded better to my ears than the "Curious Cable" that preceded it) and the biggest improvement up until last week... the Inakustik Power Conditioner which quite honestly took the sound of my whole system to a new level. However, as much as the sound improved with all of these changes along the way, it still lacked the organic textures and liquid lushness that I felt... even if just in a small quantity... would really balance out the sound.

That changed last week. On a hunch, and given the sale price (from Underwood HiFi... one of the advertisers here at Audiogon), I bought a Core Power Technologies USBe device for $299 figuring if it didn’t benefit my system I could probably sell it for not too much of a loss. All of the reviews that I read which lavished praise on this device all seemed to be systems with "non audiophile" digital sources... like file servers and laptops... digital ecosystems where it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that a device offering even marginal improvement in jitter and/or noise-reduction might bring a sonic benefit. But with something like the "Aurender"?

Simply stated, the USBe has completely revolutionized the sound of the Aurender. The improvement is obvious and profound... imaging is pin-point focused, the midrange relaxed and easy, highs airy and uncongested, musical textures all differentiated and distinct... timbres are more real and instruments sound "different from each other" as if some sort of sonic-signature that had painted them all in a similar shade has been removed. Vocals have an added solidity and liquid character that allows them to cross the "emotionally involving" line for me for the first time. Oh, and bass... bass is tighter, more defined, and more "present" in a way that’s sometimes startling.

$299 folks. Honestly if someone had told me they had swapped out my DAC for some upper-tier $5-10K component I’d have believed them. I can’t promise that everyone and every system will be impacted the way I was with mine, but if you’re using an Aurender N100H (or any USB music server you feel might be a weak link in your chain) you owe it to yourself to give this a try. I’ve spent far more money than this on power cables which improved the sound to a lesser degree. The USBe is the real deal.

-Dave :)
Do you want an even bigger improvement?

"curious" cable lol 😆
I've seen them and holy smokes those cables are UGLY.

I’m an IT guy so I know about USB - and how it relates to audio quality.

The USB cable has no idea (nor can it regulate) the optimal speed of data to and from your DAC. All you need is a standard USB cable that uses properly segregated power and data lines. That, and a nifty little accessory.

Ferrite chokes remove EMI from the equation.

You can get the cable on amazon. I use 3ft instead.

Jitter = time based errors.

300 bucks is headphone or room treatment money.

Remember - cables don’t have emotions or souls. They are lifeless yet alive when electricity reaches them!

Sell all your "audiophile-grade" power cords. A hospital grade power cord is all you need. Why? Better spec than a cheapo power cord and price is good.
I work in IT too :)

And I when I finally got a USB Server/DAC combo I thought "Great! Now that the master clock in the DAC is independent, and can just pull data packets and buffer them, *finally* digital cables won’t make any difference since the protocol is immune to upstream jitter!"

Then out of curiosity I barrowed a few USB cables one day from my local AV shop. And I could hear subtle, but meaningful, differences between most of them. Sigh.

Similarly, on another free-loan I put stillpoints under the aurender thinking "this can’t possibly make a difference... it’s just serving bits... and not governing the master clock". Surprise again. Clearly audible. Enough to make me fork over the cash for the Stillpoint Ultras.

Now, whether the science behind what I’m hearing is "jitter" (timing irregularities during d/a conversion as you say) or something else... perhaps electrical noise or vibrations being transmitted from one device to another that in some way are affected by the choice of cables or mechanical vibration control... that’s a good question and I’d love for time and research to uncover all of these variables so audio engineers can appropriately design to address it. But whatever the case, I’ve heard what I’ve heard and wanted to share my experiences for others to regard in whatever way works best for them.


p.s. I will definitely pick up a USB cable like you suggest with the ferrite chokes and see if that affects the sound.