Bluesound Node 2 vs. Auralic Aries Mini


Anyone have experience with both the Bluesound and the Auralic? Specifically, the user apps and their capabilities. I'm thinking about replacing my Squeezebox Touch to gain some newer technologies that allow higher bit rates and improved WiFi technology. My main concern is the WiFi and management capabilities, not the DAC as I'll use the digital out to drive an external DAC. I just want something that cleanly moves files from my PC library of primarily Apple Lossless ripped music and plays internet radio. I'd also like to be able to dabble with hi-rez formats, although I haven't taken much of a plunge there, yet. Streaming is not a big deal for me, but if the abilities are there that's no loss.

So, seems to me that the Node 2 and Aries Mini would both fit the bill. So it probably comes down to a matter of user experience with the control apps. Appreciate any thoughts!
dogmcd

I have the Node 2. I am not technically proficient with routers, computers, etc.  I had no problem installing the Node 2 and its Bluos app.    My router has line-of-sight access to my Node 2.  I rarely experience a dropout streaming internet radio, cd quality or MQA files from Tidal.

The Bluos app has the TuneIn internet radio service built in and it has so many stations from all over the world listed by genre that I can't imagine it not being all that anyone needs.

I do not use a NAS so I can't help you there. 

I would use a computer instead. Its cheaper and easier. It also gives you a lot of options. If you don't like one music player, you can just get a different one.
I use the Aries Mini and stream from my Synology NAS wirelessly and it works perfectly. No dropouts and it can play any file I throw at it. It can stream Tidal, Quobuz, and WiMP. I believe the Node 2 does all the same things never owned one but there are many threads on it here. Also I really like the Auralic Lightning DS app. Either way you will probably be very happy.
I just went through this decision and finally decided on the Node 2. It's basically splitting hairs though from what I read. I leaned towards the Node 2 as it has Roon support if I go that route, MQA support and it seems a larger customer base in case I need to compare notes/troubleshoot. It also looks like it would work better as a stand alone preamp if I ever move it to another room. I got mine from Crutchfield for about $430 shipped (after eBates and 3 months of Tidal HiFi free). I might add a Pangea 14SE MKII power cord to it as well. Anyone have any experience here if it's worth it over the stock cord?
I have enjoyed my Node 2 for nine months now. It has an excellent OS and fantastic support. By all accounts the Aries Mini is outstanding as well.

I have mine connected by Ethernet and have never had a drop-out but I can't give an assessment of its wireless capabilities.

I will say that what I have enjoyed the most about going to a steamer is how much it improved the sound quality. Using my iMac connected by USB to my dac produced adequate sound but was plagued by a bit of a hard, flat presentation. Going to s streamer has resulted in better sound.

Cheers,

Scott


Thanks to all for the great feedback. Seems my initial thought was correct in that either may be a good choice, might just come down to which I can get the best deal on! :) Sounds like both have decent control apps.

On the subject of "just using a computer", that's not an untenable idea, just not my cup of tea. In my line of thinking, a streamer like the Node 2 or Aries Mini actually becomes an extension of my computer that's already set up and running. All I need that streamer for is to get the data I want from the computing environment and out to my DAC. Plus, if I were to go computer only, I'd get constrained by disk space (I have about 3 Terabytes in a RAID 5 set on my current PC/Server) because most of the pc's that I would deem quiet enough to be close to my system have solid state drives that aren't quite adequate in size. On top of that, I'd get sucked into the entire USB cabling debacle, which probably contains more snake oil than anything in the history of audio.... oh, and all of those silly, megabuck USB cables have potentially been rendered obsolete now that Apple has released all of their latest PC's with USB-C ports. Rest assured, the rest of the industry will follow.
@dogmcd Very good point on on computers/drives in the listening room, with the Mini I have my NAS in my office and my system in the living room streaming wirelessly with no issues at all. I would personally not want computers or drives in my listening environment either.
I owned both and compared them directly over an extended period.  They sound surprisingly different.  The Bluesound is considerably warmer, and the Aries Mini is faster and more incisive.  That basic difference was present whether using the internal DACs or not, but of course using the digital out closes the gap slightly and highlights whatever you have downstream.  

In my system the Aries Mini's sound was the better fit, but I also strongly prefer Lightning DS in its current form over Bluesound's software.  That was the clincher for me.

If you don't need the built-in DAC, consider the SoTM SMS-200 or Sonore Microrendu.
@lousyreeds1 Thanks for that it's the first time I've seen an actual user comparison between the two! May I ask what Dac you're using with the Mini? And did you upgrade the power supply? And agreed I love Lightning DS also!
I used them both with a Red Wine Audio Isabellina and a NuPrime DAC-9, both of which are on the warm side.   I do use an upgraded power supply (HDPlex), and to be honest I heard less of an improvement than I expected, both when using the Aries as DAC and streamer only.  Others have had different experiences - I'd recommend checking out the Computer Audiophile forums for more detail.

I wouldn't say I love Lightning DS, as it's still a little buggy for me, but I've found it to be the most user-friendly app aside from Roon.  
@lousyreeds1 Thanks for the info I use an Audio Note Dac-3 Signature which is certainly on the warm side. I also have the Sbooster power supply which I thought made a nice difference in sound quality. Lightning DS can be buggy at times, my only prior experience is with Sonos, but overall I like it and find it very user friendly. Cheers!
Great info folks, and many thanks for the comments on the direct comparison. Not sure I would understand the mechanism of one sounding better than the other via their digital outputs and not their DAC's, unless one actually has some sort of anomaly in how it transfers data, which is entirely possible. I have a Nuprime as well, the DAC10H, so I'm guessing my experience may be similar. Also interested in the other streamer suggestions, so I may investigate them as well... happy listening!
I wish some company would make a great streamer without a DAC, and pass on the savings to the customer. 
AURALiC Aries Mini is only a streamer (without a DAC).
@audiofreak32 
Sorry but I must disagree.  The Mini has a Sabre DAC.  See info at link here...

http://www.audiostream.com/content/auralic-aries-mini#ByVpvErih8LxZ5hx.97
Was able to pick up an Auralic Aries Mini for an exceptional price. Does exactly what I was looking for and the Lightning DS interface works exceptionally well. Had a couple of hiccups with initial setup, but that was not due to the Aries Mini, it was an issue with some file protection settings back on my PC ( I know, just get an Apple for my file server and let it do the work :)  !). I am, begrudgingly, trying some USB cables to connect to my Nuprime DAC10H, but not are fancy, high end varieties - my snake oil meter goes off at low levels - and plan on comparing those to my usual Acoustic Zen Absolute Digital. By the way, the Auralic absolutely contains a DAC no plans on using it in my set up, but it's definitely there.

That said, I'm very impressed with the Auralic. Does what it's supposed to and sounds exceptional.
@dogmcd what were you using for digital audio before?  FWIW from my experience, if you are discerning enough to bypass the dac in the Aries and use the Nuprime dac - you would probably enjoy the difference a better quality USB cord would make. 
@dogmcd

Very cool. I bet that AURALiC Aries Mini sounds fantastic going into your NuPrime DAC10H/ST-10 combo.

When I was using USB I did find an improvement in sound when I used a WireWorld UltraViolet USB cable. It wasn’t anything drastic, just seemed to make music a touch more refined. Although for me I never found the music very satisfying using USB from my computer to my DAC.

Btw, love the NuPrime gear. A few weeks ago I purchased a NuPrime IDA16 and it is outstanding.

Cheers,

Scott