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Auralic Aires: Optimizing sound quality

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Starting this thread for people (like me) wanting to extract the best possible SQ from their dedicated music streamer set-up; particularly the Auralic Aires, which is discussed at; http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f22-networking-networked-audio-and-streaming/auralic-aries-hardware-impressions-and-information-21261/ but this thread is specific to sound quality tweaks and comparisons; e.g. USB input vs. network, wifi vs. LAN, SSD vs. HDD, linear PSUs, cables, whatever.

 

Observations with other dedicated streamers/renderers are relevant but this is not about PC-based solutions.

 

Thanks in advance

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My personal improvements to better the SQ of the Aries:

 

The Aries sits, together with its psu and the dac, on a stand with sorbathene feet made of Nero Assoluto Granite by Vertex AQ (UK).

 

On top of the Aries there is a tailor-made plate (2 KG weight) of Nero Assoluto Granite with sorbathene feet to suck the vibrations out of the housing.

 

A Pico grounding block by Vertex AQ is connected to the PSU of the Aries and my Resonessence Concero HD dac.

 

The PSU of the Aries is connected to power via an Event power cable by Zuaudio and standing o a set of Tripods by Vertex AQ.

 

I replaced the wall wart 2 amps smps for the HD with a 5 amps non switching mode power supply, put a Zuaudio Birth power cable in front of it and set the phase right.

 

Also did I place my 4 TB WD-HD on a special support stand made of Nero Assoluto granite with sobathene feet under it.

 

The connection between the Aries and the dac is made with an Audioquest Diamond USB cable.

 

An Aubisque USB Filter by Ultrafi is situated between the USB cable and the dac.

 

The connection between the WD HD and the Aries is made with an Audioquest Diamond USB3 cable.

 

The original psu of my airport extreme is replaced by a 5 amps non switching mode power supply with a Zuaudio Bok power cable in front of it.

 

My Netgar NAS its situated on on a special support stand made of Nero Assoluto granite with sobathene feet under it. The original power Cable of the nas has been replaced by a Bok power cable by Zuaudiio.

 

The connections between the Nas and the Airport express as well as the Aries and the Airport express is established with Audioquest Diamond RJ 45 ethernet cables.

 

 

Cheers,

Matthias

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To kick things off, my basic system comprises Auralic Aires-Vega-Taurus into ATC amps and speakers.

 

I started with my SSD library plugged directly into a Netgear R7000 router via USB and compared wifi vs LAN (std CAT5) to Aires. I didn't detect any difference in SQ so stuck with wifi for some time. I figured that with no physical/electrical connection between router and Aires, I didn't have to worry about using a LPSU on the router, LAN isolators, better CAT cable etc. I'm now questioning whether that is true.

 

Adding in a Netgear NAS (with HDD) did not improve SQ.

Using the Aires USB input rather than wifi improved SQ a bit.

Battery powering a SSD attached to Aires USB input improved SQ a bit more.

Going back to wifi was definitely worse. Then I tried battery powering both the router and the SSD attached to the router...that improved SQ. When I changed that set-up from wifi to LAN, I could notice an improvement.

Still working on it.

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My personal improvements to better the SQ of the Aries:

 

The Aries sits, together with its psu and the dac, on a stand with sorbathene feet made of Nero Assoluto Granite by Vertex AQ (UK).

 

On top of the Aries there is a tailor-made plate (2 KG weight) of Nero Assoluto Granite with sorbathene feet to suck the vibrations out of the housing.

 

A Pico grounding block by Vertex AQ is connected to the PSU of the Aries and my Resonessence Concero HD dac.

 

The PSU of the Aries is connected to power via an Event power cable by Zuaudio and standing o a set of Tripods by Vertex AQ.

 

I replaced the wall wart 2 amps smps for the HD with a 5 amps non switching mode power supply, put a Zuaudio Birth power cable in front of it and set the phase right.

 

Also did I place my 4 TB WD-HD on a special support stand made of Nero Assoluto granite with sobathene feet under it.

 

The connection between the Aries and the dac is made with an Audioquest Diamond USB cable.

 

An Aubisque USB Filter by Ultrafi is situated between the USB cable and the dac.

 

The connection between the WD HD and the Aries is made with an Audioquest Diamond USB3 cable.

 

The original psu of my airport extreme is replaced by a 5 amps non switching mode power supply with a Zuaudio Bok power cable in front of it.

 

My Netgar NAS its situated on on a special support stand made of Nero Assoluto granite with sobathene feet under it. The original power Cable of the nas has been replaced by a Bok power cable by Zuaudiio.

 

The connections between the Nas and the Airport express as well as the Aries and the Airport express is established with Audioquest Diamond RJ 45 ethernet cables.

 

 

Cheers,

Matthias

 

Thanks Matthias, you certainly have put a lot of effort into optimising your set-up so are well placed to comment on SQ. I believe that after your HDD tweaks, the SQ via that to Aires over USB was better than via NAS. Could you tell me:

Does your NAS have a std SMPS?

Did you ever test wifi?

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To kick things off, my basic system comprises Auralic Aires-Vega-Taurus into ATC amps and speakers.

 

I started with my SSD library plugged directly into a Netgear R7000 router via USB and compared wifi vs LAN (std CAT5) to Aires. I didn't detect any difference in SQ so stuck with wifi for some time. I figured that with no physical/electrical connection between router and Aires, I didn't have to worry about using a LPSU on the router, LAN isolators, better CAT cable etc. I'm now questioning whether that is true.

 

Adding in a Netgear NAS (with HDD) did not improve SQ.

Using the Aires USB input rather than wifi improved SQ a bit.

Battery powering a SSD attached to Aires USB input improved SQ a bit more.

Going back to wifi was definitely worse. Then I tried battery powering both the router and the SSD attached to the router...that improved SQ. When I changed that set-up from wifi to LAN, I could notice an improvement.

Still working on it.

 

Exactly my findings.... I do prefer the wired connection over the WIFI, even though the cables used up quite some money to establish this.

 

Mr. Wang says: WIFI is best......

 

Right now, the USB HD input sounds best to my ears.

 

I am using it even though the Lightning Server does not seem to like some of my files. So I am very carefully adding albums.

 

I did try various SSDs, USB-Sticks, bus powered 2,5" HDs and external powered HDs.

 

I settled with the external powered 3,5" WD HD in a fanless enclosure with upgraded PSU.

 

It seems that any kind of vibration is altering SQ to the worse.

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Thanks Matthias, you certainly have put a lot of effort into optimising your set-up so are well placed to comment on SQ. I believe that after your HDD tweaks, the SQ via that to Aires over USB was better than via NAS. Could you tell me:

Does your NAS have a std SMPS?

Did you ever test wifi?

 

After the non smps did work better, I changed all PSUs in my setup and am using normal PSUs without switching mode solely now.

 

Quite a lot of mains cleanig is done in my setup with various devices as well.

 

I did try wireless and it sounded brighter and harder as well as not so natural (relaxed) compared to the wired connection.

 

Have in mind that the information transferred via WIFI will have to be converted twice to reach the mainboard of the aries. The wired connection is direct.

 

The wired connection has the disadvantage of travelling fragments of the smps beeing transfered to the Aries.

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My personal improvements to better the SQ of the Aries:

 

The Aries sits, together with its psu and the dac, on a stand with sorbathene feet made of Nero Assoluto Granite by Vertex AQ (UK).

 

On top of the Aries there is a tailor-made plate (2 KG weight) of Nero Assoluto Granite with sorbathene feet to suck the vibrations out of the housing.

 

A Pico grounding block by Vertex AQ is connected to the PSU of the Aries and my Resonessence Concero HD dac.

 

The PSU of the Aries is connected to power via an Event power cable by Zuaudio and standing o a set of Tripods by Vertex AQ.

 

I replaced the wall wart 2 amps smps for the HD with a 5 amps non switching mode power supply, put a Zuaudio Birth power cable in front of it and set the phase right.

 

Also did I place my 4 TB WD-HD on a special support stand made of Nero Assoluto granite with sobathene feet under it.

 

The connection between the Aries and the dac is made with an Audioquest Diamond USB cable.

 

An Aubisque USB Filter by Ultrafi is situated between the USB cable and the dac.

 

The connection between the WD HD and the Aries is made with an Audioquest Diamond USB3 cable.

 

The original psu of my airport extreme is replaced by a 5 amps non switching mode power supply with a Zuaudio Bok power cable in front of it.

 

My Netgar NAS its situated on on a special support stand made of Nero Assoluto granite with sobathene feet under it. The original power Cable of the nas has been replaced by a Bok power cable by Zuaudiio.

 

The connections between the Nas and the Airport express as well as the Aries and the Airport express is established with Audioquest Diamond RJ 45 ethernet cables.

 

 

Cheers,

Matthias

 

All great tips and tweaks.

Start with the isolation and clamping. Along with solid cabling you should have a good start on this craziness:)

I play everything off thumb and 1 tb hdd plugged into the USB. Have used USB cables from Furutech, Cardas Clear, Shunyata, and currently checking out a split cable from YFS.

Matthias could you post a pick of your Aries, I would love to see your clamping set up.

 

Happy New Year

Russ


EtherREGEN, Cary DMS 600 > Monoblock Odyssey Kismet Extremes in Stratos cases( Stillpoints, Sr Black fuses)> Paradigm Personas 5f, Combak Harmonica Footers, Cerious Technologies Matrix IC and Speaker Cable, SoTM dBl7,

Audience aR2p_TOSOX  power conditioner, Audience Au24se ,Triode Wire labs,Synergistic, power cables. 

 

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My personal improvements to better the SQ of the Aries:

 

The Aries sits, together with its psu and the dac, on a stand with sorbathene feet made of Nero Assoluto Granite by Vertex AQ (UK).

 

On top of the Aries there is a tailor-made plate (2 KG weight) of Nero Assoluto Granite with sorbathene feet to suck the vibrations out of the housing.

 

A Pico grounding block by Vertex AQ is connected to the PSU of the Aries and my Resonessence Concero HD dac.

 

The PSU of the Aries is connected to power via an Event power cable by Zuaudio and standing o a set of Tripods by Vertex AQ.

 

I replaced the wall wart 2 amps smps for the HD with a 5 amps non switching mode power supply, put a Zuaudio Birth power cable in front of it and set the phase right.

 

Also did I place my 4 TB WD-HD on a special support stand made of Nero Assoluto granite with sobathene feet under it.

 

The connection between the Aries and the dac is made with an Audioquest Diamond USB cable.

 

An Aubisque USB Filter by Ultrafi is situated between the USB cable and the dac.

 

The connection between the WD HD and the Aries is made with an Audioquest Diamond USB3 cable.

 

The original psu of my airport extreme is replaced by a 5 amps non switching mode power supply with a Zuaudio Bok power cable in front of it.

 

My Netgar NAS its situated on on a special support stand made of Nero Assoluto granite with sobathene feet under it. The original power Cable of the nas has been replaced by a Bok power cable by Zuaudiio.

 

The connections between the Nas and the Airport express as well as the Aries and the Airport express is established with Audioquest Diamond RJ 45 ethernet cables.

 

 

Cheers,

Matthias

 

Kinda speechless here. May I ask how much did you pay for those Nero Assoluto plates and the sorbathene feet?

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Kinda speechless here. May I ask how much did you pay for those Nero Assoluto plates and the sorbathene feet?

Vibrapods ( I believe are made from sorbathene) Last time I bought them were about 24 bucks for 4 ( Model 1)

 

Nero Assoluto I believe that is a type of granite. I would go with 3/4 inch thickness. Try a book for the heck of it. I even heard of a guy using a hockey puck :) Go Sharks!! I had a few brass footers laying around. Big improvement


EtherREGEN, Cary DMS 600 > Monoblock Odyssey Kismet Extremes in Stratos cases( Stillpoints, Sr Black fuses)> Paradigm Personas 5f, Combak Harmonica Footers, Cerious Technologies Matrix IC and Speaker Cable, SoTM dBl7,

Audience aR2p_TOSOX  power conditioner, Audience Au24se ,Triode Wire labs,Synergistic, power cables. 

 

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All great tips and tweaks.

Start with the isolation and clamping. Along with solid cabling you should have a good start on this craziness:)

I play everything off thumb and 1 tb hdd plugged into the USB. Have used USB cables from Furutech, Cardas Clear, Shunyata, and currently checking out a split cable from YFS.

Matthias could you post a pick of your Aries, I would love to see your clamping set up.

 

Happy New Year

Russ

 

Here are a few pics of the setup.

 

large_ter82o.jpg

 

large_9w2mj8.jpg

 

large_pse0hg.jpg

 

large_7e915d.jpg

 

large_7d0891.jpg

 

 

I got the sorbathene feet from Great Britain. They are 25 Pounds plus shipment for a set of four.

 

The Nero Assoluto base plates are between 80 and 300 Euros depending on their size plus the feet and a special glue to attach the feet to them.

 

Cheers,

Matthias

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Impressive!

 

Would like to hear exactly how you guys connect your SSD or HDD to the Aires USB input. At some point there needs to be a SATA-USB adaptor; either in a disk caddy or dock or adaptor plug. I'm concerned that the only ones I can find are very very cheap and may affect SQ.

 

Matthias, I figure you are using a linear PSU to supply the 12V to your HDD. SSDs don't need the 12V but both need the 5V. I think your 5V is coming from the Aires through the USB cable. It also seems to me that my SATA-USB adaptor itself requires 5V.

 

I made a DIY cable (of terrible quality no doubt) to separate the data and 5V power connections to my SSD. Battery power now feeds the SSD through a SOtM SATA filter. A cheap SATA data cable connects the SSD to the SATA-USB adaptor and a generic USB cable connects that to the Aires. In this way, the SSD is powered by filtered battery power while the Aires 5V USB-out powers only the SATA-USB adaptor. The SQ is improved this way.

 

Prior to adding the SATA filter, I thought battery powering the SSD directly was better than using a split USB cable to provide battery power through the SATA-USB adaptor. This made me think that these cheap SATA-USB adaptor circuits add noise to the power flowing through them and into the SSD/HDD.

 

Russelbobby, I'm keen to hear how you go with USB cables. I tried a Cardas USB cable, an Elijah split cable and a LH LightSpeed split cable. The latter seems to only work if both the data and power ends are plugged into the same device.

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McMaly,

 

Is that a Mudrak Audio power strip I see in your photo?

 

If You are talking about the power cord in the PSU for the RSA Headphone amp (the one that is reflecting): this is a Mother power cord by Zuaudio.

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No, I am talking about the silver power strip in photo #1 just below the red cable (interconnect).

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After your question I did some „looking out“ what You have been asking for and found the strip You have mentioned.

 

As stated in my last answer: the Power line underneath the table (that is the one You meant) is the Orion model by Isotek.

 

The Mudrak Audio Power strip is looking quite a lot different and one is not able to attach a power cable of own choice to it, because the strip is coming with its own lead that is fitted directly and can not be changed.

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My personal improvements to better the SQ of the Aries:

 

...The connection between the WD HD and the Aries is made with an Audioquest Diamond USB3 cable.

 

Cheers,

Matthias

 

What is between your USB cable and WD HDD? i.e. how did you connect the USB-B end of Audioquest cable to your hard drive?

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Yes, you are correct. My bad it's Mudra, not Mudrak.

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]16153[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]16154[/ATTACH]

 

That is looking quite massive. Nice craftmanship!

 

I startet with a Transparent Audio Power bank and changed it for the Isotek solution with a few sub strips made by Isotek as well.

 

Added some mains clearing devices made by Vertex AQ (UK) as well, that bettered the performance.

 

Have tried different brands, but until now did not find anything that changed the sound in a way I did like better with „my“ setup.

 

Did not try the Mudrak Audio Power strip though......

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I am using an Audioquest Diamond USB3 cable (USB A to USB3).

 

There is no need to put anything in between since the WD (HD) housing has a female USB3 output.

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I am using an Audioquest Diamond USB3 cable (USB A to USB3).

 

There is no need to put anything in between since the WD (HD) housing has a female USB3 output.

 

Got it. That's a USB3.0 micro-B plug (rather than a standard USB3.0 B plug). All my "audiophile" USB cables are std B-plugs so I need to use a generic $5 adaptor to fit them. $1,000 cable with $5 adaptor doesn't seem right.

 

As mentioned, generic HD housings (that I assume all convert USB to SATA) are another concern and I'd guess that is the only weak link in your otherwise totally awesome system....not that I've ever heard of an audiophile-grade replacement.

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Got it. That's a USB3.0 micro-B plug (rather than a standard USB3.0 B plug). All my "audiophile" USB cables are std B-plugs so I need to use a generic $5 adaptor to fit them. $1,000 cable with $5 adaptor doesn't seem right.

 

As mentioned, generic HD housings (that I assume all convert USB to SATA) are another concern and I'd guess that is the only weak link in your otherwise totally awesome system....not that I've ever heard of an audiophile-grade replacement.

 

Pls drop me a mail if You run across one......I will definitely try...!

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Pls drop me a mail if You run across one......I will definitely try...!

 

Will do. I'm actively looking ;) So many audiophile products available for inside a computer; I'm surprised it has been so hard for me to find something similar to try with an external drive. Hopefully someone with experience will post here. I know there are improvements to be gained, based on my bodgy DIY work-around.

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Impressive!

 

Would like to hear exactly how you guys connect your SSD or HDD to the Aires USB input. At some point there needs to be a SATA-USB adaptor; either in a disk caddy or dock or adaptor plug. I'm concerned that the only ones I can find are very very cheap and may affect SQ.

 

Matthias, I figure you are using a linear PSU to supply the 12V to your HDD. SSDs don't need the 12V but both need the 5V. I think your 5V is coming from the Aires through the USB cable. It also seems to me that my SATA-USB adaptor itself requires 5V.

 

I made a DIY cable (of terrible quality no doubt) to separate the data and 5V power connections to my SSD. Battery power now feeds the SSD through a SOtM SATA filter. A cheap SATA data cable connects the SSD to the SATA-USB adaptor and a generic USB cable connects that to the Aires. In this way, the SSD is powered by filtered battery power while the Aires 5V USB-out powers only the SATA-USB adaptor. The SQ is improved this way.

 

Prior to adding the SATA filter, I thought battery powering the SSD directly was better than using a split USB cable to provide battery power through the SATA-USB adaptor. This made me think that these cheap SATA-USB adaptor circuits add noise to the power flowing through them and into the SSD/HDD.

 

Russelbobby, I'm keen to hear how you go with USB cables. I tried a Cardas USB cable, an Elijah split cable and a LH LightSpeed split cable. The latter seems to only work if both the data and power ends are plugged into the same device.

 

The YFS power leg goes to an unused usb in the back of the Modwright Oppo 105. Works like a champ . Just got a couple of Odyssey Kismets monoblocks yesterday. The Aries is sounding better than ever. Still say junk the case and build a more rigid and damped one. By the time you have it isolated and clamped it is not looking all that good anyways.


EtherREGEN, Cary DMS 600 > Monoblock Odyssey Kismet Extremes in Stratos cases( Stillpoints, Sr Black fuses)> Paradigm Personas 5f, Combak Harmonica Footers, Cerious Technologies Matrix IC and Speaker Cable, SoTM dBl7,

Audience aR2p_TOSOX  power conditioner, Audience Au24se ,Triode Wire labs,Synergistic, power cables. 

 

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