Aurender N20 Music Server Comments and Observations
My Aurender N20 Music Server is installed and working great. The N20 is supplied WITHOUT hard drives installed. This means hard drives are the customer’s choice. Each of the two rear panel mounting sleds accommodates a 1, 2, 4 or 8TB 2.5-inch SSD or up to 5TB 15mm height 2.5inch HDDs. Since users have different storage requirements, Aurender feels this is the best way to satisfy everyone. Aurender recommends Samsung EVO (I used Samsung EVO) or QVO series internal SSD drives, and Western Digital or Seagate HDDs.
The SSD Disk installation means you loosen the screws on the back of the unit, pull out the slot, insert the SSD, push in and tighten the screws (top slot is Music1). After I installed the SSD, I went to the Conductor App, settings, disk information tab to format the SSD (please see instruction links below). If, for some reason, the format command does not appear, please power down (turn electrical power off) and restart manually. Restarting takes time since the N20 has UPS circuitry inside.
I checked for software updates on the N20 (there were none) and deleted my old Conductor App and installed a new copy from the App Store on my iPad.
My First impression is it sounds excellent. The music is clearer, the bass is better, has more air and it has more musical details. The overall musical presentation is much improved. I am listening to jazz now and the SQ is much improved. I really like it.
You know the music is great when I am typing my message and music catches my attention and forces me to look up. This unit is truly outstanding. I am very impressed. Cranking the volume and this unit is truly amazing. It is much improved over the N10. The music has more feeling and depth.
I copied my albums from my LaCie external hard drive (backup drive) to the N20 okay. I also ran the scanner, scan for newly added files, so all my albums appeared okay. This worked perfectly. Please note the scan for newly added files takes time to run (watch for messages on your App).
A miracle! Next, I restored my music1/backup and all my Qobuz links were returned. This is needed since my main library includes BOTH my stored CD’s and Qobuz links. Previously, I used the backup my Music1 tab and also copied all my albums to my LaCie external hard drive. For this step, I restored my settings from Music1/backup file. This is a required step to ensure all my QoBuz related links were restored.
In summary, my N20 is breaking in but out of the box, the N20 sounds terrific. For startup purposes, the N20 displays a six-digit code that must be entered into the Conductor App. The Aurender N20 Music Server is highly recommended.
Useful Aurender Users Guides and Web Manuals links are below:
SSD/HDD Installation Guide
I hope the above is useful.
@rshad0000, You should also look at the Aurender N30 Music Server. My ’unofficial’ best guess is maybe late 2021 (??) with a $18,000 list price.
As per the above post "Based on the Owner’s Manual photos, it looks like the power supply, SSD or HDD storage and readout screen are in the top chassis and the clocking and digital output modules are in the bottom chassis. I would surmise that this combination results in maximum noise reduction". All of the above needs to be confirmed.
On the other hand, based on my experience with the N20, it is strongly recommended. You should give it a listen. Thanks.
Thanks for sharing on the new N20. Without your thread, I'd of had no idea that there was a new player.
You may remember that you and I shared a number of conversations when I got my N10. The problem was that sometimes it sang, others it was nearly unlistenable. Long story short, it turned out that my 25mbs DSL connection was old and not always working well. Got that fixed, and sound was mostly the same - not a total fix. ATT has pulling fiber through the neighborhood and it finally became available. So I upgraded to 320 mbs fiber and the sound was not only a bit better, but stable all of the time. Finally, for whatever reason, ATT upgraded me to 1gbs at no charge. Sound get better again; even on my laptop running wirelessly in my office the music sounds better and the sound is now super stable.
FYI, do you have an upgraded internet switch? I purchased an Uptone Audio EtherREGEN the first of the year and it made a very considerable SQ difference. I also played around with a few Network cables and found that to be icing on the cake. I just added a Paul Hynes SR4T LPS and now it is just amazing what I'm hearing. Pretty magical for sure.
I have had the chance to interact with Harry? I believe his name is, a few times (2018-19). I remember telling him that customers would probably be willing to pay for a component that incorporated his 2X isolated lan port - I was thinking a second box that only did the isolation and maybe had a better power supply. It now looks like he has incorporated that into a few of his models. I'm not sure if what he is doing is similar to the switch/LPS I'm using, but they sure made a great difference for me.
I will be interested to hear what you are hearing N10 vs. N20 comparison. Hope you keep posting about it.
BTW, I've heard the A30 and it may be near to the old W20, but not even close to the W20SE from what I remember; SQ on the SE model is pretty amazing, but I guess it should be at $22k.
@pokey77, Hello, it is great to chat with you again.
My Aurender N10 Music Server cost $8,000 and was very good. The Aurender N20 Music Server costs $12,000 and is truly outstanding. As I noted in my above post, the music is clearer, the bass is better, has more air and it has more musical details. The overall musical presentation is much improved. Aurender says the N20 has “An All-Digital Phase-Locked Loop system (ADPLL) incorporating Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) with OCXO clocks precisely times digital audio data transmissions and minimizes jitter to below negligible levels. The results are sonically audible with better image focus, a wider, deeper, taller soundstage presentation and an uncanny analog-like organic quality”. The above is probably why it sounds so good to me. I suggest you give it a listen and decide for yourself. Based on my listening, I strongly recommend the Aurender N20 Music Server
I am not using an upgraded internet switch. I have had major Internet connectivity issues with my Linksys and Apple Routers. I finally purchased the Luxul Wireless Router Kit – EPIC 3 AC3100 Wireless Router and the XAP-1510 AC1900 Access Point. Everything is working fine AFTER my ISP made some further adjustments (adjusted the Internet signal strength (VERY IMPORTANT), replaced my outside junction box, replaced all my inside cables and tuned their outside signal boosting amplifier.
Successful Tidal and QoBuz Streaming REQUIRES all your devices that connect to the Internet to be working perfectly. This includes the router, switch boxes, modems and the ISP connection (junction boxes, amplifiers, etc.). It seems, unfortunately, I have had issues with most everything down stream.
I suggest you review these many components to ensure they are working okay. And, yes, most likely, you will need to contact your ISP to ensure the cable speed is okay, the cable signal strength is within its required range, etc. My ISP, Wave Broadband, was very helpful ensuring the service was working for me. This is not simple project and requires time and lots of patience to get it working correctly.
Any questions, please ask. Thanks.
When using the Aurender Conductor App, please see the 1,325 playlists from QoBuz. They have many playlist selection options including The Absolute Sound reviewed albums and many others. Search for Jazz, Audiophile, Hi-Res, etc. If you like a playlist list, make it a favorite for later retrieval. Every playlist includes a brief description that explains the content.
IMHO, the QoBuz playlist is outstanding. For example, see the Playlist Prestige-70. It contains seven hours of jazz music from 70 songs.
@a1uc, The Aurender N20 manual says the following:
"11. 12. USB 3.0 Data Port 1, 2
Both ports can be used to copy files from USB memory devices. Either port can also be connected to dCS systems by using the optional USB to RS232 dongle. Connecting the dCS RS232 control cable will enable automatic clock selection between the Aurender N20 and the dCS Master Clock. These ports should not be used as audio outputs".
Is this helpful?
@a1uc, I also found this in the N20 Manual:
"Dedicated Word Clock Input
The N20 offers support for an external word clock which can, in some cases, improve upon the SPDIF audio performance in terms of musical rhythm, pace, timing, and phase coherance. If the user wants to use a separate master clock and SPDIF interconnects, a music server with master clock input is needed as well as a DAC with master clock input. The external word clock can then be used to synchronize timing between both digital devices ensuring jitter-free and time-perfect data transmission. N20 can accept word clocks with the following frequencies: Master clock: 10MHz, 12.8MHz, Word clock: 44.1KHz and 48KHz in multiples from 1 to 512. N20 supports both word clock (dCS, DACs or similar) or Master Clock (MSB DACs or similar) inputs.
Master Clock Input Word Clock or Master Clock Input (BNC) 10MHz, 12.8MHz (44.1kHz and 48kHz multiples from 1 to 512), Input impedance 75Ω".
Does this help?
Aurender software (conductor app) used to be good, now it’s very buggy, and rapidly losing ground to Roon. As a small example, consider the following:
1. In the past you could add favorite songs to the queue, and then save those queued songs as a playlist to Tidal. That functionality no longer works (at least for me).
2. In the past, in Favorites the alphabet was listed along the right side of the screen. To jump to that letter, you could just touch it. That functionality is now gone. You now must scroll through all the songs. On an iPad mini with 1,700 Favorite songs that can take a very long time.
3. In the past selecting “Songs”, and “Favorites”, one could easily scroll from beginning to end. Now only 50 songs load, and you must then touch “Load More”, reaaallly slow. With 1,700 songs you must go through this process 34 times!!
a. Now after you finally scroll through dozens and dozens of screens to get to the desired Favorite song, and then you select an action (say play now). You lose your place in Favorites and then need to re-load all the songs AGAIN (see above 34 different screens to get to the letter Z).
4. In the past, when you loaded Favorites into the queue, the songs maintained the solid (selected) star. Now some of the songs lose their solid star. So if you are listening to a song in the queue and decide it is no longer a Favorite, you can no longer deselect it, as it already shows it is deselected, though in fact, it isn’t.
5. In the past, under “Songs”, “Favorites”, one could easily touch a star to deselect it and thereby remove it from Favorites. Now the song just gets added to the queue.
6. I understand Wadax makes a nice server (Atlantis) that is both MQA compatible and a Roon Core. Now that Covid is over, time to find an audio show to take a listen and replace this very buggy Aurender. Isn’t convenience the point of streaming after all?
I just hooked up my Aurender N20 and I’m not sure what the deal is but it doesn’t sound nearly as good as my SimAudio mind 2. It sounds thin and bright and not as much bottom end as I had with mind 2. I’m using a Kimber Kable XLR Silver Streak to connect the Aurender to my Levinson 526 preamp which has a dac. Could it possibly be the cable that I’m using. Also what digital output are you guys using on the N20 to send the signal to your dacs. Any help would be appreciated.
Did you buy new or used? I have tried my N20 with both AES (Acrolink Cable) and USB (Network Acoustics USB III) and it sounds phenomenal through EMM Labs DA2. Jumping from N10 to N20, the N20 clearly excelled in terms of low frequency extension and slam. The N20 has definite edge in terms of perceived detail compared to N10, which has a laid back presentation.
Assuming your N20 fully broken-in, I would try different brand of cables. Also there is a ‘Critical Listening Mode’ under Advanced setting menu….I encourage you to use it.
I have a question for all the folks with the nice music servers. I have not done this myself because I only have a cheap computer as my ROON Core. Though I hope to test a music server out in the future.
Have you compared the music server with a Fibre Optical based streaming solution? Such as with a Sonore OpticalRendu, or a more direct test, with a Lunim X1 or the new Linn DAC which both have Fibre Optical inputs on the DAC.
My understanding of why you would want to use a audiophile music server for sonic purposes is to eliminate noise getting into a DAC. There is also the ease of use considerations but I am only asking from a sonic perspective.
I recently got aurender n20 and currently feeding esoteric k-01xd via usb. Have fiber optic > sotm > English electric 8s > ENO acoustic to aurender n20. I can say without doubt n20 is amazing in all aspects. Before this I had antipodes CX > S30. It was good for sure, but seemed more digital. Don't know how to explain, but I feel aurender n20 to be more natural and organic in addition to being dynamic and resolving. I will try using spdif output to esoteric k-01xd by next week.
I auditioned Aurender, Auralic, Weiss and Lumin over a two week period at a very knowledgable and understanding dealer. It was evident early on I preferred the Aurender's sonic presentation. Most of my listening was done on an Aurender ACS10 where we compared ripped CDs (The ACS10 rips) against my computer rips, ripped using DB Poweamp and then downloaded onto the ACS10's hard drive.
There was a lot of comparison done and the computer rips were no slouch but what eventually won me over to Aurender and eventually the N20 was the voice realism of Redbook CD rips. The Aurender ACS10 rips were amazing also played on the ACS10.
So audition for yourself, hearing is believing don't take my word or anyone else's word for it.
The N20 is excellent. One thing to be aware of though is it runs very hot. Aurender recommends not putting it in a cabinet. I had mine in an open cabinet and ran small computer fans on it. There's so much processing going on inside (FPGA, upsampling, higher DSD rates, etc.), which make the N20 very attractive in terms of features, but are probably the culprits here. I now have the N200 and comparatively it does not run hot at all.
How do you like N200? How does N200 compares with N20? I did not experience any 'heat' issues with N20 as I had mine on a open shelf.
Well, it's the best streamer I ever had, I thought it was great! Being able to convert DSD to PCM on the fly, upsampling, a really good clock and SPDIF output, among other features make it very flexible, and sound is fantastic. The N200 in comparison is very simple, but just using USB output it is also very good. Hard to give a sound comparison though as I did not have the units in house at the same time. Going off memory fwiw I think the N20 had just a little more refinement and definition.
@jimmy2615 I find your review of the N20 misleading to say the least. The N20 doesn't run hot. Google is your friend! The N20 will output native DSD over USB into a suitable DAC so why convert to PCM? Why use SPDIF when you can use USB or AES EBU? The N200 costs $6k and the N20 $12k if you can't strongly hear the difference you've got cloth ears or a super crappy system.
Anyone interested in Auender produts should go and have a demo over a few days and make your own mind up. PS I have no horse in this race except I chose the N20 over many other products and many people tried to mislead me along the way.
Lord, the N20 is an AWESOME streamer! It should be for $12k! In fact I think you’re cutting it short. The extra features are a lot of what you are paying for. Its spdif/AES output and clock is super high quality, and ability to convert DSD to PCM on the fly unusual in a streamer and takes tremendous processing power to do it. Did you know if you use USB your DAC’s clock is running the show? Some new DACs and many old ones do not process DSD (which to answer your question is why you would use spdif as opposed to USB), so the N20 enhanced capability in this area is a great feature. Also, its ability to upsample is great and also takes a lot of processing power, and again not available in a lot of streamers. I now have a DSD DAC and running USB exclusively, which is why I got the N200, I figured it was a shame to waste all the additional tech/features in the N20, not to mention the $$ they cost only not to use them. WRT heat, the N20 ran hot in my system, the N200 does not. What can I tell you? Processing power translates to heat. As I said, even the owner’s manual says not to put in a cabinet because it needs ventilation. I don’t believe I am being misleading.
Thanks for your input. I agree with you, you're are not taking full advantage of N20 strengths if you're only using its USB output. The N20 is a superb streamer and it clearly excels in terms of low frequency extension and slam over its predecessors especially N10. When I upgraded from N10, I clearly heard the edge in terms of perceived detail. In a highly resolve system and with a DAC like EMM Labs DA2, you can really appreciate N20's virtues.
I can only imagine what's N30SA like, hope to hear it someday :-)