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    The Computer Audiophile

    Review | AURALiC ARIES G2.1

    Aries G2.1 front.jpg

     

     

     

    Over the last couple days tech writers have released their initial reviews for Apple's new Mac products containing the M1 system on a chip (SoC). The opinions and measurements are nearly unanimous, the new platform's performance is objectively and subjectively better than all but the highest powered Intel based Macs. The battery life is lightyears better than everything that came before the M1. Following the glowing prose, the conversation usually turns to the reasons why Apple continues to succeed in this and other areas. The technical reasons are twofold. First, Apple has the engineering expertise and second, Apple controls both the software and the hardware. It's this tight integration between software and hardware that enables the best engineers to go beyond the capabilities of split systems and enables consumers to realize the benefits with respect to performance, usability, customization, and product support. 

     

    What does this have to do with the AURALiC ARIES G2.1? The answer is simple. AURALiC is a next generation HiFi company that controls both the hardware and the software in all of its products, and the ARIES G2.1 is the newest iteration of a digital centerpiece that's clearly the result of this complete control. The ARIES G2.1 is the best ARIES AURALiC has ever developed and hosts its class leading Lightning DS software platform that is also currently the best version the company has created to date. Let's take a look at why the ARIES G2.1 is a digital source component around which to build an entire HiFi system.

     

     

    From Zero to Point One

     

    aries g2.1 copper.jpgThe new G2.1 series is the culmination of AURALiC's research into hardware design that squeezes every ounce of sonic performance from its original G2 platform. The G2.1's unity chassis II is a serious upgrade over the original. G2.1 features a chassis within a chassis design. The external visible casework is made of high grade aluminum. Fans of AURALiC have come to know and love the look and feel of this outer shell. It exudes quality visually and to the touch. The new internal enclosure is made of audiophile favorite, and for good reason, copper. This new chassis design enhances EMI shielding and is extremely solid when given a knock with one's knuckles. Doesn't everyone do that with a product that looks bulletproof? 

     

    Helping take the G2.1 literally to new heights is what AURALiC calls a sculpted metal base, heavyweight foundation. Visually it's a slice of luxury that serves equal parts form and function. The base adds mass to the G2.1 that wasn't possible with the original chassis. This base also provides the simplest visual distinction between the original G2 and G2.1 products. 

     

    Tying the exterior to the interior is a new suspension spike system created to help isolate vibrations. According to AURALiC, "Potentially harmful vibrations are absorbed within the six-coiled-spring, acoustically-calibrated core of each foot, with each spring tuned to a different tension point..." Isolation has always been important to high fidelity, but recently more companies have released separate vibration control products such as Wilson Audio's Pedestal. The beauty of the ARIES G2.1 is that this type of engineering is built into the product. 

     

     

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    Internally the G2.1 series received a USB upgrade to better support more USB DACs and the separate HDD USB port received a slight power boost due to more power hungry external USB drives. 

     

    Looking at the hardware upgrades in and of themselves, the G2.1 isn't a revolutionary upgrade. This is why AURALiC wisely elected to call it a point one upgrade rather than trick consumers into thinking the update was massive by calling it G3. The upgrade is easily worth it for those of us who must have the best, for those of us who like to have the newest version, and for those who have ARIES versions prior to G2. Without an original G2 here for comparison, I can't easily quantify the sonic difference between G2 and G2.1. Given the engineering that went into this upgrade, it's certainly an audition I'd undertake if I owned a G2 and was considering moving to the G2.1. 

     


    ARIES G2.1 As A Centerpiece

     

    The AURALiC ARIES G2.1 is a component that should be considered the centerpiece of one's high end audio system. Its feature set is fantastic, sound and build quality are fantastic, and AURALiC is a company I frequently recommend to friends. The team is principled, honest, and full of people who are fun to talk with over a pot of tea (Young mountain's Organic Nepali Golden Black if I'm hosting). I can't stress enough how important the people at HiFI companies are when it comes to product selection. Yes, the actual product must perform and be priced in one's range, but I always recommend purchasing from companies like AURALiC, who provide much more than a box.

     

    aries g2.1 internal.jpgMany DACs have somewhat similar capabilities, as the ARIES G2.1, built-in, but a separation of powers usually equates to more powers in each device, greater flexibility, better performance, better features, and more options. I'm a big supporter of splitting my digital interface / source from the rest of my system because it enables me to have the best of both worlds. The best digital interface and the best DAC. 

     

    Speaking of interface, AURALiC's custom developed Lightning DS software interface / platform is both an indicator of this company's technical chops and a huge differentiator between it and much of the competition. With the exception of desktop systems, most of us only use a graphical user interface (GUI) to operate our HiFi systems and peruse our music collections. Thus, the importance of such software can't be underestimated. 

     

    I recently reviewed the Bryston BDA-3.14. A product that features Bryston's Manic Moose software and works with a few third party applications. To be 100% honest and fair, that system isn't even in the same league as AURALiC's Lightning DS. Lightning DS is unequivocally better in every way. The problems I had with Manic Moose were major and showstoppers for many people. The problems I have with Lightning DS are usually items on AURALiC's list of coming improvements or have been resolved quickly by its capable technical team. With a great foundation, that's developed in-house, it's easier to expand upon the features and resolve small issues that pop up. Lightning DS is a solid foundation and one that alleviates any anxiety about the platform's future. 

     

    When I received the ARIES G2.1, I also made sure to obtain a third party optical CD drive (model: ODPS1203-SU3). This is because the Lightning DS platform also supports CD playback and ripping. The process of playback or ripping is extremely simple and it's a great way to easily add new music to one's collection. There are better ways to rip an entire collection of hundreds of albums, but I think LIghtning's CD functionality is more than adequate for new library additions. One item to consider is the esoteric number of new CDs to be added via this method. If most new CDs ripped by Lighting are very rare imports without much distribution, the metadata may need to be added manually after the disc is ripped, using a third party application. On the other hand, if new CDs are fairly popular releases, Lightning will have no trouble ripping and tagging them. 

     

    In my tests, it took 15 minutes to rip Little Girl Blue (TBM-33), 8 tracks, and 40 minute total running time. Lightning isn't the fastest ripper, but that's by design. Accuracy of one's data is paramount. Ripping a little slower enables Lightning to ensure the CDs are ripped perfectly. Similarly, if a CD is used for playback, it is read multiple times and buffered into memory prior to playback. In essence, playback is the same as playing from a USB drive or NAS because the data is sent to memory using any one of these methods. 

     

    When it comes to features, sonic performance, and nearly any other measure, the ARIES G2.1 more than qualifies to be the digital centerpiece of a HiFi system. 

     

     

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    In My System

     

    I've used almost every AURALiC product made to date, yes this includes the very underrated and little known GEMINI 2000, and I've used them in every way imaginable. This includes numerous different combinations of NAS, Roon, internal storage, etc... AURALiC's platform and products are so flexible that the options are endless. Reviewing the ARIES G2.1 I decided to use only a USB connected hard drive to store my music. The option is there, and I'm sure it's a great one for many people without gigantic music collections, so I thought I'd give it a try. I tried both a large USB flash drive and my recently discovered Yottamaster HC1-C3 SSD drive with built-in cloning for backup. 

     

    I initially copied my music to the USB drive while it was connected to my computer, then connected it to the ARIES G2.1. When new releases arrived I attempted to copy them to the USB drive while it was connected to the ARIES G2.1. Doing this I discovered a bug in the platform. This was reproduced by the AURALiC team and fixed in an update to the Lightning platform. One beautiful thing about controlling everything from hardware to software, is that support is much simpler for the manufacturer and the customer benefits greatly. Since the fix was applied, I've been copying new Three Blind Mice albums to the ARIES G2.1 over the network without any issues. 

     

    Using the Lightning DS iOS app to scan my USB stored library and stream from Qobuz was very nice. The app was blazing fast when it came to browsing, searching and playback. The more I use Lightning DS, the more I like it. I can very easily see people using only this app and the ARIES G2.1 as the Lightning server, and calling it a day. There's no need for a third party application to get the most from the ARIES G2.1. That said, I know a few people who absolutely must have Roon. Fortunately, the ARIES G2.1 is a certified Roon Ready endpoint and works flawlessly in this configuration. 

     

    Note: One benefit to using Lightning DS as opposed to Roon is that Lightning DS will show the user all the new releases from Qobuz/Tidal as soon as they are available. Roon requires a cloud database update to even see these releases. This can take a day to accomplish and leave the newest releases unavailable through its interface. I played the new Taylor Swift via Lightning DS while Roon couldn't even see the album. This is nice to have for those of us who love music and have no patience. 

     

    One thing I'd like to see in the Lightning DS iOS app is the ability to identify high resolution and explicit releases in Qobuz search results, without tapping into each album. I want the highest resolution releases available and I absolutely must have the most explicit version available. Radio edits without swearing didn't work for me in grade school and nothing has changed with respect to my desire for the original work of uncensored art. The reason I really want this feature in Lighting DS can be shown in the following example. Taylor Swift's new album has four versions available on Qobuz. I want the high resolution explicit version. Yet, I have no way to determine which version is the one I want, without listening for explicit lyrics. I can tap into each album to see the resolution, but even that could be displayed on the album cover in search results. Anyway, not a showstopper by any means. Just a nice to have feature.

     

     

    long pond sessions auralic.jpg long pond sessions auralic 2.jpg

     


    I listened extensively to the ARIES G2.1 in several systems I have running in my room. One great thing about this digital centerpiece is that it works with so many other components. I connected it to a Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series 3 via AES, an EMM Labs DV2 via USB, and a Denafrips Terminator via USB. All three of these require different things from the ARIES G2.1 and it succeeded without issue at all tasks. 

     

    Listening via AES and the flagship Berkeley DAC, the ARIES G2.1 delivered a pristine digital stream void of any noise or any possible sonic degradation. I know many of my friends are big fans of the Berkeley Alpha USB to clean up audio signals prior to the Berkeley DACs, but I'm not certain such a device is necessary when using the flagship ARIES G2.1. Given the RS3 only accepts PCM signals, the ARIES G2.1 easily converted all DSD signals to PCM at sample rates accepted on the RS3's input. Extensive listening reveals the G2.1's AES output is very good to say the least. 

     

    Connected via USB to the flagship EMM Labs DAC, I used the ARIES G2.1 mainly to send DSD over PCM / DoP data as a test. Yes, this should work and sound fantastic given the system, but testing is always required. It was no surprise that the G2.1 is a stellar source when paired with an EMM DAC. As a recent example, I listened to the new Taylor Swift album Folklore: The Long Pond Sessions, several times through this system and my RAAL-requisite SR1a headphones. These are the best headphones I've ever heard and most transparent audio device I've ever used. If there's a problem with the ARIES G2.1, I would've heard it easily (as I have with other components). This new album sounds great from the ARIES G2.1 to the EMM to a Constellation Audio amp to the SR1a. 

     

    I recently took delivery of a Denafrips Terminator, and just had to use its USB input for native DSD at ultra high sample rates. I configured the ARIES G2.1 to resample all DSD content to DSD512 before outputting via USB to the Terminator. This not only worked flawlessly, it sounded flawless. AURALiC's resampler is very good at outputting these ultra high DSD sample rates. I actually expected to find an issue with this, using native DSD, but there was nothing to be found. Listening to my beloved Three Blind Mice Supreme Collection 1500 from 44.1 to DSD512 through the ARIES G2.1 was fabulous. I have no doubt the G2.1 is a reference level component on par with the best digital source components available. For example, playing the Isao Suzuki Trio's album Blow Up through the ARIES G2.1 and the Terminator revealed everything from the micro details at the heist frequencies to delivering the heft and texture of the lowest cello frequencies. BY the time I passed one minute into the first track, I didn't need to listen any longer to render my unequivocal opinion about the ARIES G2.1, but why mess up a good thing. I listened to the entire album uninterrupted, transported to Aoi Studio in Tokyo, Japan in 1977. It's hard to believe how much information is on old recordings. After using the ARIES G2.1 for several weeks, it's not hard to believe that this information is there for the taking, or should I say listening. As long as one's components are in the same class as the G2.1, it's all possible. 

     


    Conclusion

     

    cash@2x.pngAs a company, AURALiC represents the next generation of HiFi, of HiFi progress and innovation, and limitless capability. It has in-house talent on a level about which 99% of manufacturers can only dream. Full control over both hardware and software, and the engineering prowess to actually do something about it, is standard for Apple but is rare in HiFi. The end product from all of this is the flagship AURALiC G2.1 series. The ARIES G2.1 is the best all digital  Streaming Transporter the company has ever built. The difference between the original ARIES products is large in every category while the delta between the G2 and G2.1 is likely appreciable for the most avid HiFI enthusiasts. 

     

    I've been a fan and user of the AURALiC ARIES series products since day one. I know them inside and out and know just how good the hardware and software are compared to the competition. The ARIES G2.1 is without a doubt a perfect component to have as the centerpiece of one's digital universe. It has features for days, sound quality on par with the best, future upgradability via software, great support, and is designed and manufactured by a company I proudly recommend to my closest friends. Recommended with enthusiasm.


     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Community Star Ratings and Reviews

     

    I encourage those who have experience with the AURALiC ARIES G2.1 to leave a star rating and quick review on our new Polestar platform.

     

     

     

     

    Product Information:

     

     

     

    Associated Music:

     

     

     

    Associated Equipment:

     

     

     

     

    Listening Room:

     

    This graph shows the frequency response of my room before (top) and after (bottom) tuning by Mitch Barnett of Accurate Sound. The standard used for this curve is EBU 3276. This tuning can be used with Roon, JRiver, and other apps that accept convolution filters. When evaluating equipment I use my system with and without this tuning engaged. The signal processing takes place in the digital domain before the audio reaches the DAC, thus enabling me to evaluate the components under review without anything changing the signal further downstream. 

     

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    5 hours ago, thotdoc said:

    I thought and still think, perhaps incorrectly, that it's a transporter, more SCG's sonic transporter with ripper, not Sonore's Rendus. Chris, you have to appreciate that your readers have built fairly sophisticated digital systems and within the group different people think this product is different things. I think it's pretty funny.

    The issue is that the industry has no standard vocabulary. "Streamer" means just a transport to some and is used that way by manufacturers; to others it means a transport with a DAC, for example.  This one is even more complex b/c it has optional features which essentially have it move to a different category.

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    I prefer to use the term "Renderer" for devices like this Auralic, rather than "streamer".  To me the word streamer connotes content coming from the Internet (Qobuz/Tidal), but what these types of devices actually do is to Render audio file data for delivery to a DAC via typical DAC inputs (USB, AES/SPDIF).  The content can come from  an Internet based source (over Ethernet), or home based files from a NAS, server, or other attached storage medium (also Ethernet, or a directly attached local storage drive).

    The benefits of Renderers, is that they can be built to deliver digital audio data to a DAC in the most perfect way, with the least amount of associated noise, and with the most perfect signal integrity (or not).  By having a well designed Renderer, one can achieve the best possible sound quality, without some of the limitations presented by commercial computer gear (hard drives, commercial MoBos, compromised power supply designs and clocking elements, etc).

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    7 hours ago, barrows said:

    I prefer to use the term "Renderer" for devices like this Auralic, rather than "streamer".  To me the word streamer connotes content coming from the Internet (Qobuz/Tidal), but what these types of devices actually do is to Render audio file data for delivery to a DAC via typical DAC inputs (USB, AES/SPDIF).  The content can come from  an Internet based source (over Ethernet), or home based files from a NAS, server, or other attached storage medium (also Ethernet, or a directly attached local storage drive).

     

    Thanks Barrows. My other point still stands; it's pretty amazing that some/many of us don't know what this is without someone more deeply immersed in the hobby at a professional level tells us.

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    59 minutes ago, thotdoc said:

    Thanks Barrows. My other point still stands; it's pretty amazing that some/many of us don't know what this is without someone more deeply immersed in the hobby at a professional level tells us.

    If you look at the connections on a component, you can get a pretty good sense of what it does. But not the sound quality of course.

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    9 hours ago, barrows said:

    I prefer to use the term "Renderer" for devices like this Auralic, rather than "streamer".  To me the word streamer connotes content coming from the Internet (Qobuz/Tidal), but what these types of devices actually do is to Render audio file data for delivery to a DAC via typical DAC inputs (USB, AES/SPDIF).  The content can come from  an Internet based source (over Ethernet), or home based files from a NAS, server, or other attached storage medium (also Ethernet, or a directly attached local storage drive).

    The benefits of Renderers, is that they can be built to deliver digital audio data to a DAC in the most perfect way, with the least amount of associated noise, and with the most perfect signal integrity (or not).  By having a well designed Renderer, one can achieve the best possible sound quality, without some of the limitations presented by commercial computer gear (hard drives, commercial MoBos, compromised power supply designs and clocking elements, etc).

     

    So....in short....you're saying a "renderer" like, for example a Sonore product or this Auralic, produces better sound quality than a streamer?  Just making sure I got that....

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    4 hours ago, OldBigEars said:

     

    So....in short....you're saying a "renderer" like, for example a Sonore product or this Auralic, produces better sound quality than a streamer?  Just making sure I got that....

    I do not like to use the term "streamer" for the aforementioned reasons.  So, no, to me a "streamer" is not actually a thing.  Products like this Auralic are Renderers.  The reason to use a really good Renderer is to achieve the best possible sound quality, whether the actual source of the files is the Internet (like Tidal and Qobuz) or a server loaded with your own music files, or a NAS loaded with your music files.  The Renderer connects to the local (home based) Network via Ethernet (or perhaps WiFi, but I generally recommend against that).  So the files can come from any device, or the Internet, which is attached somewhere on the Network, typically, for best performance, I prefer the commercial computer gear to be located somewhere else in the home from the audio system, as this isolates the noisy commercial computer from the audio system itself.

    It might look like this:

    In the audio system you have:

    A Renderer, attached to a DAC via USB or AES/SPDIF, and an amplifier connected to the DAC, and a pair of speakers.

    Somewhere else in the home, like a utility or work room you might have your Network gear, and some sort of device for storing and serving files over the Network (a NAS, a typical computer, or a custom server of some type).

     

    By this approach, the Renderer, like this Auralic reviewed here, can be a high end product specifically designed for audio, using superb linear power supplies, careful attention paid to PCB layout and all the details like precision clocking, etc.  The renderer becomes the contemporary high end source, serving a nearly perfect digital data stream to the DAC in order to achieve the highest possible sound quality.  While all the noisy, built to relatively low standards, commercial computer gear is elsewhere in the home where its inherent noise has virtually no effect on the high end audio system.  Think of the Renderer as the new version of a high end CD transport, a purpose built for audio device, designed to get the best possible performance out of high end DACs.

     

    This would be opposed to say, just attaching a noisy, cheaply constructed, commercial computer directly to a DAC via USB and expecting high end sound.

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    14 hours ago, barrows said:

    I prefer to use the term "Renderer" for devices like this Auralic, rather than "streamer".

     

    To render means to assemble , to cause to become. In this case take the digital information from any number of sources (internet, NAS, USB drive, internal storage, etc.) and assemble into a form that the DAC can use whether that be over USB, toslink, etc. Despite your preference for the term, and even though it does render, using that term fails to describe what all it does.

     

    It is, as someone described earlier, a $5000 computer. It is functionally the same as my Mac Mini albeit with a wider variety of outputs, better power supply, the inability to be a Roon server, and other differences, but a computer none the less. They both gather digital files from a variety of sources under the control of software that interfaces with the user  and output it in a form that a DAC can use. To pigeonhole the Auralic  as only a renderer fails to adequately describe what it is capable of doing.. 

     

     

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    Classifying products was easy when we had physical media. CD player, or CD transport and DAC. Now that we have everything under the sun, it’s much harder to classify components. 
     

    I usually start with either D to A or D to D categorization. Then add stuff like streaming if it can accept audio from a streaming service, server if it can act as a server, etc... However, some servers have local storage while others don’t and some are hybrid. It’s really endless. 

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    10 hours ago, OldBigEars said:

     

    So....in short....you're saying a "renderer" like, for example a Sonore product or this Auralic, produces better sound quality than a streamer?  Just making sure I got that....

     

    A friend of mine has been testing streaming services (Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, etc.) all summer and has simply used his iPhone and Dragonfly Red to his integrated amp. He listens mainly to classical and folk and popular classic rock. He reports enough of a sonic difference to pay for one (Qobuz) over the others.

     

    He just got a renderer a few weeks ago (per Barrows' definition) by Pro-Ject. He thinks it's much better than the iPhone app with a greater sense of ease and timbre and PRAT. He's shopping for a better DAC now (which the Dragonfly makes difficult because he reports it being quite good; better than older DACs $100s more expensive).

     

    I prefer local files rendered to my DAC instead of streaming, but of course Spotify is super convenient. So I've tried sending the signal the iPhone app and also streaming from my Macbook server using Rogue Amobea's AirFoil software. The latter is clearly better sounding–again more ease of dynamics and flow, more sonic contrast overall between, well, everything, instruments and vocals. And this is almost as good as Spotify streaming into a Lumin renderer which I bought to try out.

     

    So in short, in my experience, a quality renderer provides better sound because of things like better power supplies, better digital reclocking, or better USB receiver chips or SPDIF, etc. We have also found that the qualities of better digital upstream components are clearly audible thru even modest amplification and speakers.

     

    Is it worth paying much much much (and even much) more than an iPhone? Only you can decide. Have fun deciding; enjoy the journey!

     

     

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    5 hours ago, audiobomber said:

    What about "ethernet to USB bridge" instead of renderer?

    Auralic gave it a name. Streaming Transporter. 

    We all understand what a CD transporter is. Maybe not so easy with Digital to Digital Converters, as they can have different interfaces. And SW capabilities. 
     

     

    50759D5F-3E6C-462D-870E-E05AB60D2E18.jpeg

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    2 hours ago, R1200CL said:

    Auralic gave it a name. Streaming Transporter. 

    We all understand what a CD transporter is. Maybe not so easy with Digital to Digital Converters, as they can have different interfaces. And SW capabilities. 
     

     

    50759D5F-3E6C-462D-870E-E05AB60D2E18.jpeg

    Yes, the Auralic name is more accurate than what I proposed. However, I believe "streaming transporter" will mostly be abbreviated to "streamer". Some (e.g. Allo) use the term "digital transport", which I think is very good.

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    On 12/7/2020 at 10:24 AM, OldBigEars said:

     

    So....in short....you're saying a "renderer" like, for example a Sonore product or this Auralic, produces better sound quality than a streamer?  Just making sure I got that....

    deleted

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    How did the happen (above), sorry!

     

    Anyway, my aversion to the term "streamer" comes from dealing with many customers, who when they hear the term they almost always assume that the content is coming from the Internet (Tidal, Qobuz, etc).  Then it is required to explain to the customer that the content really could be coming from anywhere on the home Network, and that one does not have to subscribe to streaming services to take advantage of the better sound quality which is offered by the better Renderers.  I hear: "I do not use streaming services, so I do not need (a Sonore Renderer in this case)" at audio shows quite often, which then requires an explanation of the benefits (sound quality) of using Ethernet to distribute audio versus a music server in the audio system.  This is why I try and not use the term streamer, because it appears to add to the confusion about these types of products, to audiophiles who may not be well versed in the ins and outs of Ethernet distributed for high end audio.

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    Great Review Chris.

    I bought this simply as a dedicated computer CAS, streamer, renderer, etc was a constant moving goalpost and just too difficult to be happy with.

     

    I also used this with my AudioGD DD converter and this was useless. Implying that the digital section of the Aries was very good and could not be bettered. Mind you the DD section has external clock feeding this.

     

    So it would be interesting to see the changes when the Version 3 comes out. Perhaps a real run for the money for many, many high end computer CAS?

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    • I had 4 of these network bridges, or renderers, or DACless streamers or whatever they are called, in my high end system, from an Auralic Aries G1 down to a home made raspberry pi.   There was virtually no difference in sound quality other than the home made pi which was a bit 'grainier'. The other two sub £1k models sounded identical to the Auralic.  So in my view the differences are all about the features, the interface and the look of the box.  If you use Roon then it’s really just about the box, what looks better for you. 

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    3 hours ago, bbosler said:

    I have explored this area pretty extensively. I've had a DCS Rossini and tried the DCS external clock and others. I've re-clocked my USB with the Uptone box and the Innous Phoenix. I tried the EtherRegen with Mutec 10MHz reference clock, tried feeding my DAC with  AES/EBU from a Mutec MC-3+ clocked with the Mutec REF10 and tried an Antelope 10M to clock various devices including my DAC which is the Antelope Eclipse 384. For a server I've used my Mac Mini, SMG i5 transporter, Pi, Innuous Zenith MK3, and a Roon Nucleus. Also a variety of cabling.

     

    so with all of the servers, clocks, re-clocks etc I've come to the same conclusion ....  "virtually" no difference. I would sit and listen and think maybe I hear a little more of this or that, a little smoother here, a little wider soundstage there, but for me, if I can't tell a clear a difference I'm not keeping it.

     

    Maybe I have a tin ear, maybe something about us makes one person more or less susceptible to whatever these clocks do to the digital stream, and just maybe a whole lot of people hear what they want to hear. My DAC also has what is considered a studio reference clock built in so maybe it is immune?

     

    I do find it interesting that the more they cost the more highly they get rated. When I see reviews here and clock components are ranked good to best the ranking  always follows the dollars. I also find it interesting that we get reports of "profound differences" and my favorite... "my wife commented from the other room" when I hear pretty much no difference. I'm actually quite happy about it. I have a system that sounds spectacular (at least to me and that's all that matters to me)  and I've saved many $1000s 

     

    Good points!

    Usually I buy new gear only when I get more involved in the music and it is more fun to listen to.

    Pure audiophile criteria do not make sense to me.

     

    Matt

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    As of midweek my rig is 

     

    Qobuz

    Auralic Aries G1

    Mutec MC3+USB - Mutec SF10 SE120 

    Grace Designs M903

     

    Via the MC3+USB status switches I have done a/b tests with and without. (switching between takes less than 5 seconds) 

     

    I found the Mutec SF10 SE120 adds 'height'. Reverbs, concert halls, church ambience and spatial mix effects all have an increased 'size' plus an additional, eerie (magical?)  "bloom". Percussion has a 'crisper' precision (perhaps high frequency extension). I like what it's doing.

     

     

     

     

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    Slimmed down to Weiss 501 DAC with its built in DSP EQ and UPnP streamer...

     

    Super sound.. 

     

    But Auralic = a great brand

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    Roodness! 
     

    I don’t use Roon, me got no files. Qobuz all the way. 
     

    The End. (point)

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    Qobuz is ok for casual listening or background music but the SQ can't match streaming FLAC or DSD files from a NAS via Roon. 

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    One day, I may add Roon but I guess buying DSD & FLAC files gets expensive? 

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    On 12/5/2020 at 9:13 AM, firedog said:

    Essentially, it's a network bridge like the Sonore Rendu series or the dCS bridge. The difference is that it has a lot of added functionality: the Auralic Lightning DS UI, multiple inputs, DSP - upsampling, ability to add storage, and a screen. You could use one of these and not need a separate server or outside UI software.

     

    Except if you want to run Roon then you still need a server running Roon Core, so it only offers an improved value proposition if you ignore Roon and use the Lightning software exclusively.

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