Aurender N100H or Auralic Aries?


Thought I would seek the opinion of everyone here. If you had to choose between these two units, which one would you choose? Please don’t offer suggestions for a myriad of alternatives I am interested in feedback on these two pieces of equipment. (Sorry, sit on your hands MicroRendu owners).
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Hi falconquest,

I just got the Aurender N100H in my system and boy, does it do wonders for SQ! It is truly a night and day difference.

Some of the reasons why the Aurender sounds so good could be down to its internal storage and 120G RAM cache for playback. This shortens the signal path and reduces noise from the hard drive.

I did consider the Auralic Aries before deciding on the Aurender.
The Aries does not have internal storage or RAM cache for playback. 

Hope this helps. 

J. :)
@jon2020
May I ask what your previous source was?  I am currently using a Windows 7 "all inclusive" workstation to feed my DAC, and am considering trying this unit out.  I was impressed by the Aurender interface and sound quality at Axpona a couple of weeks ago.  It actually made Neil Young's "Sedan Delivery" sound good (the hi-rez file likely helped, too!).
My dac has a usb A-port at the rear panel and I previously played music files off a thumbdrive ported to this.
But comparing this with the same thumbdrive ported to the Aurender, the Aurender sounds better.
When playing files from the Aurender’s internal storage, the SQ improved substantially.

One major alert here. If you do finally get the N100H, please do not upgrade the system software if your new unit comes with an older version. I find the latest software upgrade which is meant to cater to the unfolding of MQA files actually degrades the sound of redbook and non-MQA hires PCM and DSD files considerably.

Fortunately, you can roll back to the original version by doing a factory reset as described in the manual. If your unit comes with the latest version, you are out of luck. My dac is non-MQA, and that may be an issue.

J. :)
@jon2020 , I also own a non-MQA DAC and did not hear any degration in sound quality on red book recordings. Have you reached out to Aurender support for a possible explanation? 

@falconquest, I only heard Aries demo's at shows and to my ears, N100H sounded more neutral and relaxed which is a huge plus on prolonged listening sessions. No listening fatigue with Aurender. 
My apologies for getting the MQA part wrong as pointed out to me in another forum.

As for the sound degradation, there is really nothing wrong with my unit. I won't send it back for anything. It sounds really, really, really gorgeous once I roll back to the older version. 

:)
Auralic! I compared both and I liked the Aries better and purchased it. I think the cache in the aurender is a gimmick. You don't need a cache that big unless you want to store hundreds of albums which is unrealistic. 
Plus with the Aries, I used both the ds lightning and the lumin iPad software to control my music.
the Aries has 4G of cache which is enough to hold 6 or more cds.
Aurrender 100h  for one you gave a class leading 120 Gig solid state buffer 
No other has one even close at this price point , as well as a 2 Terabyte internal hard drive.  Meaning you can  put in Q for example 40 cds at a time on the 
120Gig AS buffer ,No moving parts ,No spinning No noise,also 
The Conductor app is very organized and allows you to update 
Even help if you have a problem your system can be checked remotely. 
It is built very heavy duty the -  100H is 3x heavier metal not plastic.
Thanks for all the comparisons, that really helps. I will be purchasing either one sight unseen so any information is good information.
Hi Tom (falconquest),

I am set to make an immediate purchase decision on the Auralic Aries or the Aurender N100H. Which way did you go?

Thanks,
Dave
I picked up a slightly used N100H from a guy upgrading to a W20. It is everything stated here in this thread. I'm very pleased with the sound with Tidal and the interface is simple. I can certainly recommend it.
I own the Aurender N10 Music Server and and like it very much.  The best thing about both the Aurender N100H and the Aurender N10 is the Aurender iPad application.

The ability to switch back and forth between Tidal music streaming and my stored albums on the iPad App is now a very easy process (one mouse click).   The Aurender iPAD app is much easier to use than my MAC Book Pro computer.   Album selection is also excellent with several different album selection choices available.   Aurender recently added MQA albums and they are located in the Masters tab on the application.  

I recommend you check out the Aurender N100H.

Thanks Tom and hgeifman. I pulled the trigger on buying a lightly used mint N100H. Should be here tomorrow.

Also bought a used Exogal Comet Plus DAC with Wywires umbilical upgrade and a Triode Wire Labs Digital American power cord for it. It is said that the Aurender and the Exogal are a great combo. Plan to use my 0.6m Curious USB cable between the two. What power cord do you use on your Aurender?

Can't wait to get it all setup.

Dave
dlcockrum, As you requested, I use the James Romeyn Pure Grid Power!” AC Mains W/Rhodium Plated Contacts on all my audio equipment including the Aurender.  Please call James at (435) 213-3953 if you are interested.   He custom builds these power cords that include the Rhodium plugs.  I also use his Rhodium plated contacts wall plugs.

I am using the Audience Au24 SE USB Cable, one meter, Single connections at each end but two wires.  I received this USB cable last week and it is excellent.

Congratulations on purchasing the Aurender N100H Music Server.  





Thanks hgeifman. Looked it up. Price is certainly right! 

Thanks again,
Dave
Great job guys. I love my Aurender N100h. Enjoy it. 
"James Romeyn Pure Grid Power"

@hgeifman, looks like a garden variety copper cable with high quality plugs. It’s like putting formula 1 tires on a Honda Civic (no pun intended).

I think you will hear audible improvements with a better PC for instance, Audience Au24 SEi - LP or MP for your N10, IMHO.
The Aurender arrived today. What a beautiful and solidly-built piece of audio gear it is! Had it installed and streaming Tidal in 15 minutes. Very nice.

One question for Aurender owners: When streaming Tidal "Masters" with the N100H, my DAC shows it is only receiving a 24/48 signal instead of the 24/96 signal when fed from my laptop. Am I missing something in the Aurender setup or maybe a setting in the Tidal portion of the software? Can anyone verify that their DAC is receiving a 24/96 signal when streaming Tidal Masters from their Aurender? 

Dave 
Post removed 
@dlcockrum,  

Looks like its probably your Tidal desktop software setting. My DAC shows 24/96 signal when fed from Aurender. 

You may contact Aurender help desk, they are super helpful. 


Thanks lalitk. Indeed, I did post a ticket through their cool "Help" feature. It was somewhat late in the day and I didn't hear back. I am sure that I will tomorrow.

I felt confident that one of the super-members here like you would step up and verify that their unit did indeed pass the 24/96 signal from Tidal Masters.  Thanks for the input.

Dave
dlcockrum, lalitk's  Audiogon above post states he "streams Aurender Tidal MQA masters at 24/96" and my Ayre Codex DAC displays 24/48.  My Tidal settings are correct (I think but will verify this later today) so I emailed Aurender customer support for help. I am guessing his DAC handles MQA masters better than mine.  I will post their response when I get it.  

I did find that "Tidal announced they were finally streaming true high-resolution data in the form of  “Masters”24/48 MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) files". 

"Any MQA-certified DAC will unfold the 24bit/48kHz file back out to its full resolution – or up to the DAC’s maximum sample rate capabilities – prior to D/A conversion. MQA refer to this process of unfolding as ‘decoding‘.  lalitk's DAC must be doing some decoding in order to get 24/96".   I do not know.

I am waiting for Aurender Customer Support to reply.  This is very confusing (to me). 

Please see the answer below from Aurender Customer Support:

"MQA decoding is hardware dependent on the DAC being used and so while the file is encoded in MQA, it is in a standard PCM "wrapper" or container file. The file can be either 16 bit or 24 bit (depending on the provenance of the original master file) and is either a 44.1kHz or 48kHz sampling rate, dependent on the A/D conversion and mastering sampling rate of the the original file.
In order for an MQA file to be properly decoded, it needs to be used with appropriate DAC hardware that carries an MQA certification. Otherwise it will just play back as a standard PCM file (capable of supporting either of the specs mentioned above). A user with a non-MQA DAC will still receive some of the benefits of MQA encoding, namely reduction of temporal blur, but the MQA decoding process is tailored for the DAC architecture and is only supported by MQA certified DACs. Since your Ayre Codex does not have an MQA hardware decoder, it does NOT see the MQA encoder flags and therefore just plays back the file at whatever the native sampling rate is (44.1kHz or 48kHz).

Further, it is a common assumption that an MQA file with a base sample rate of 44.1kHz or 48kHz will always result in a higher sampling rate after MQA’s “unfolding”, or decoding process. However, a fully decoded, unfolded MQA file on an MQA certified DAC can and often is still at a max sampling rate of 44.1kHz/48kHz. The decoding process is actually (more importantly) correcting for how the DAC is converting the signal to analog, by correcting for errors in the time domain. The sampling rate is based on the provenance or source of the original file.

To illustrate this a bit, a source file from a recording using MQA encoding may have a master sampling rate of 352.8kHz (8x 44.1kHz), which would be contained in a 24-bit, 44.1kHz sampling rate “wrapper” so that it can be used with non-MQA DAC hardware. When the file is delivered to MQA DAC hardware, the DAC will detect the appropriate flags that the file is encoded in MQA, and “unfold” the file using MQA’s decoding process to the original maximum sampling rate of 352.8kHz. On the other hand, a recording that has a source provenance of 24-bit, 44.1kHz will still be contained in the same 24-bit, 44.1kHz “wrapper”, and when MQA DAC hardware detects the MQA encoder flags, will still decode the file to the original max sampling rate of 44.1kHz.

In short, MQA is less about the sampling rate of the file, and more about having provenance for the original recording, and removing errors in the time domain in the DAC hardware. Unfortunately, when Tidal introduced Masters (MQA encoded files), some of this information has been made a bit murky by some of MQA’s own marketing lingo about “Core” decoding (an initial software decoding required for an MQA Renderer, or a non-MQA DAC, currently only available in Tidal’s App, and Audirvana music player software), which everyone thinks must result in a 2x unfold before the DAC. In other words, people want to see a higher sampling rate. However, this is simply not the case in practice and even a Core decoded file may only have a sampling rate of 44.1kHz or 48kHz if that’s what the original master file’s maximum sampling rate is.
Actually you can find out more about Aurender and MQA playback at the link here: http://support.aurender.com/mqa-playback.html "

A special thanks to Aurender Customer Support for the above explanation answering our MQA related questions.   lalitk also told me "his 24/96 revolution is only available through PC Desktop application on a few select albums".   I am sorry this is off of the original Aurender N100H or Auralic Aries question but I felt it is important to explain how MQA albums are handled on Aurender music servers.   
@hgeifman,  Thank you for taking the time to post the feedback from Aurender support. The MQA playback link above is a great resource for demystifying any ambiguity surrounding MQA file playback. 

I would also like to extend my 'thank you' to Dave for sharing his feedback from Aurender support. 

Cheers! 
Hi hgiefman,

A very informative response to be sure.

I also received a similar (yet less detailed) response today from Aurender stating the same. One thing that was included in the response to me was that my laptop, using the original Tidal software (vs the Aurander app) was performing the "Core" decoding (the first unfolding of the MQA decoding process) of the Tidal software and that Aurender is unable to do that as of now, but they had approached Tidal about developing this process in their app yet any progress would be months away (if ever).

So, these two responses explain what I was describing in my first post. I definitely was seeing 24/96 to my DAC using my laptop when playing many Tidal Masters files and don’t see that using the Aurender. Going forward, I will only see whatever resolution that was used in the original PCM file as determined by the original mastering using the Aurender.

I too spoke with lalitk (what a great guy!), and he told the same as he told you and that further validates the explanation.

I now plan to just enjoy the music since I have no plans to buy an MQA capable DAC in the short term. The only thing that still gives me consternation is that the many reviews (several using the Aurender to stream Tidal) and forum posts I read prior to buying the Aurender never mentioned this limitation.

Dave

@dlcockrum and @lalitk

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