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Which Upgrade Route?


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Hi,

 

Have been using Audirvana+(now 2.3), ~30k tracks AIFF & FLAC music on a Lacie HDD Firewire800 (also can be USB3) > 2009 MacMini(stock PS, 4GB RAM max recommended for that model) > AQ Carbon USB> Schiit Wyrd > AQ Carbon USB > Oppo 105D as USB dac > BAT VK51SE > Lamm M2.1 monoblock amps > Nola Viper Ref. III speakers.

 

Have a WD NAS that I just use to backup music files. Also, have both my wife and I have ipads and have previously enjoyed Apple Remote and now suffer/settle with A+ remote app.

 

Pretty sure I am going to replace the Oppo with a Schiit Gungnir Mulitibit dac. After I do that I am hoping to make an upgrade in the server/streamer side of things with a relatively small investment. My goal is twofold: 1) eliminate hiccups and frustration that I'm currently having with freezeups and other quirks on A+ 2) improve SQ as much as possible over my current setup at a modest cost.

 

So far, my options appear to be:

a) Replace MacMini/A+ with Aries

b) Replace MacMini/A+ with Aries LE

c) Replace 2009 MacMini with newer MacMini (with or without LPS)

d) Replace MacMini/A+ with Windows CAPS server from Small Green Computer or similar resource

e) Upgrading my 2009 Mini with memory(is this feasible?) and LPS

e) Something else

 

Although there seems to be some dissent, it sounds like the majority of owners are pretty happy with Aries, and I am leaning that way although not sure about being able to invest $1600. Is there a better option at this price point If I only could invest ~ $1000 what would make the most sense?

 

If I were to invest in the Aries, is there a problem if my files are on a mac-formatted partition on the Lacie firewire HDD? I know I can use the WD NAS, but my bias is towards avoiding the network if I can use the local drive. Also, having a hard time believing that wireless via NAS sounds better than a local firewire HDD

 

I am very comfortable buying used gear, but not comfortable building my own server. Would rather spend my time listening than tweaking settings, software filters, dealing with buggy betas, etc. Hence, a voice in my head keeps whispering "Don't go Windows or buy a relatively unknown Linux box that you don't know how to program".

 

After reading the Aries vs. Mini 17 page thread of entertaining info and slapfest, I'd be honored to get some suggestions from jtwrace, miguelito and his frenemy Jimmypowder. Thanks all...

Digital Source: Synology DS415+ NAS  and Small Green Computer SonicTransporter i5 Running Roon Core > Blue Jean Cable Cat6a >TP optical converter > Sonore OpticalRendu with Sonore LPS> Curious USB > Denafrips Pontus DAC

Analog Source: Dynavector XX2 mk2> Audiomods Series 5 silver arm > Sota Nova Series VI turntable w/Condor & Roadrunner motor controller/tachometer > Nagra BPS battery powered phono stage>

Both: BAT VK51SE preamp> Krell FPB300 power amp > Sound Lab A3 ESLs > > Custom room treatment > 50 yr. old ears(left-handed)

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Just replaced a 2012 Mac Mini with A+ with an Aries Mini with the LPS and could not be more pleased. More relaxed sounding. Better resolution and soundstage too. Using minimserver to serve files from the Mac and controlling the Aries mini with Lumin until the Auralic app comes out for the iPhone. Works great, bullet proof so far and a really nice step up. Good luck.

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I recently moved from a (2012) Mac Mini with A+ to an Aries LE, and must say the sonic improvement is not subtle. There's no need to build servers, or NAS drives, you can keep it simple and plug an HFS+ formatted HD directly into the Aries via USB (no firewire) - as I do. Works perfectly, no drops outs, and very easy to control. I manage the library on the Mac Mini, which is also used to rip, edit tags, backup, etc. I may add a linear power supply (for the Aries) later, but am currently very happy with the setup.

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You should look up the new Sonore Sonic Orbiter SE. Comes with a linear supply. Gives about the most options for software control available. It's based on a Cubox box. Costs $300.

No idea how it sounds compared to an Aries or an Aries Mini.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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There's no need to build servers, or NAS drives, you can keep it simple and plug an HFS+ formatted HD directly into the Aries via USB (no firewire) - as I do.

So if my music is on Mac-formatted Lacie HD, I would copy files to my backup WD MyCloud NAS, then reformat the Lacie to HFS+(Is that Windows format?), then copy music files back to the Lacie? Then connect Lacie to Aries...

Thanks for your suggestion.

Digital Source: Synology DS415+ NAS  and Small Green Computer SonicTransporter i5 Running Roon Core > Blue Jean Cable Cat6a >TP optical converter > Sonore OpticalRendu with Sonore LPS> Curious USB > Denafrips Pontus DAC

Analog Source: Dynavector XX2 mk2> Audiomods Series 5 silver arm > Sota Nova Series VI turntable w/Condor & Roadrunner motor controller/tachometer > Nagra BPS battery powered phono stage>

Both: BAT VK51SE preamp> Krell FPB300 power amp > Sound Lab A3 ESLs > > Custom room treatment > 50 yr. old ears(left-handed)

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You should look up the new Sonore Sonic Orbiter SE. Comes with a linear supply. Gives about the most options for software control available. It's based on a Cubox box. Costs $300.

No idea how it sounds compared to an Aries or an Aries Mini.

Thanks Firedog, I'll check it out.

Digital Source: Synology DS415+ NAS  and Small Green Computer SonicTransporter i5 Running Roon Core > Blue Jean Cable Cat6a >TP optical converter > Sonore OpticalRendu with Sonore LPS> Curious USB > Denafrips Pontus DAC

Analog Source: Dynavector XX2 mk2> Audiomods Series 5 silver arm > Sota Nova Series VI turntable w/Condor & Roadrunner motor controller/tachometer > Nagra BPS battery powered phono stage>

Both: BAT VK51SE preamp> Krell FPB300 power amp > Sound Lab A3 ESLs > > Custom room treatment > 50 yr. old ears(left-handed)

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Just replaced a 2012 Mac Mini with A+ with an Aries Mini with the LPS and could not be more pleased. More relaxed sounding. Better resolution and soundstage too. Using minimserver to serve files from the Mac and controlling the Aries mini with Lumin until the Auralic app comes out for the iPhone. Works great, bullet proof so far and a really nice step up. Good luck.

Your sonic impressions are good to hear.

However this approach does raise question about running minimserver on my WD MyCloud NAS(which uses Twonky). Saw some threads ~2014 questioning if minimserver would work on the MyCloud NAS. Anybody doing so now?

 

I'd like to sell my MacMini after I get another renderer, but do have a Macbook that can be used for ripping etc. Hoping to avoid keeping the Macbook powered on as part of my solution, but perhaps that will be the only way? Please keep the input coming...

Digital Source: Synology DS415+ NAS  and Small Green Computer SonicTransporter i5 Running Roon Core > Blue Jean Cable Cat6a >TP optical converter > Sonore OpticalRendu with Sonore LPS> Curious USB > Denafrips Pontus DAC

Analog Source: Dynavector XX2 mk2> Audiomods Series 5 silver arm > Sota Nova Series VI turntable w/Condor & Roadrunner motor controller/tachometer > Nagra BPS battery powered phono stage>

Both: BAT VK51SE preamp> Krell FPB300 power amp > Sound Lab A3 ESLs > > Custom room treatment > 50 yr. old ears(left-handed)

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I am in a similar upgrade dilemma, with the main question being whether to go with a dedicated streamer/renderer, or stick with the Mac Mini. I currently use Audirvana in iTunes integrated mode (shock!). The largest factor preventing me from going to dedicated devices like the Aries is simply I don't want to get locked in to a single software system, and despite its flaws I find iTunes remains an easy-to-use library management system. Using a general-pupose computer like the Mac Mini allows you a lot of flexibility. I'm still very open to other options though.

My next upgrade is likely to be my DAC, and my Mac Mini 2009 to a 2012 model.

Mac Mini > RME ADI-2 DAC > Hypex Ncore monoblocks > ATC SCM-11 speakers & C1 subwoofer

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Occams,

 

Well, so far nobody seems to be arguing that a move from '09 to '12 MacMini is worth the cost vs. putting that same investment towards an Aurelic of any variety.

 

While I agree that iTunes interface is great in terms of its intuitive nature, there is a dark side to Appleworld. For example, when I upgraded from Mountain Lion to Yosemite it caused so many problems with iTunes/A+ accessing my library on my NAS that I had to buy my firewire drive to attach directly to the Mini. That recommendation came form level 2 support at Apple after about 12 hours of tech support calls spread over 2 weeks. Every time either Apple or A+ update something seems to need a tweak or two or worse.

 

Some of the Aries & Aries threads mention using other's apps for control via iphone such as Lumin, so perhaps you wouldn't be totally locked in to Lightning DS control. Others thoughts on this, please?

 

Temporarily, I'd suggest trying A+ without iTunes integration for its SQ benefit alone.

Digital Source: Synology DS415+ NAS  and Small Green Computer SonicTransporter i5 Running Roon Core > Blue Jean Cable Cat6a >TP optical converter > Sonore OpticalRendu with Sonore LPS> Curious USB > Denafrips Pontus DAC

Analog Source: Dynavector XX2 mk2> Audiomods Series 5 silver arm > Sota Nova Series VI turntable w/Condor & Roadrunner motor controller/tachometer > Nagra BPS battery powered phono stage>

Both: BAT VK51SE preamp> Krell FPB300 power amp > Sound Lab A3 ESLs > > Custom room treatment > 50 yr. old ears(left-handed)

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Some of the Aries & Aries threads mention using other's apps for control via iphone such as Lumin, so perhaps you wouldn't be totally locked in to Lightning DS control. Others thoughts on this, please?
The Aries streamers are supposed to support both standard UPnP/DLNA network audio file streaming and an extension to standard UPnP called OpenHome. So in theory the Aries devices should be able to be controlled for network file streaming by using third party standard UPnP controllers and OpenHome ones. Unfortunately, the standard UPnP support of the Aries is said to be broken, currently. Also the Aries's support of OpenHome streaming appears to be a bit non-standard, for example, it uses its own mechanism for streaming from TIDAL, rather than the built-in native one provided by OpenHome. This means that for streaming from TIDAL you have to use the supplied Lightning DS app and not OpenHome controller apps like Lumin & Kazoo.

 

Incidentally there are many other network audio players out there, so why the focus on the Aries streamers in particular to achieve the 'upgrade'?

We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country. It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.

-- Boris Johnson

 

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

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Incidentally there are many other network audio players out there, so why the focus on the Aries streamers in particular to achieve the 'upgrade'?

 

In the original post, I mentioned both CAPS and "Something else", but you are the first to reply with any thoughts in that direction. So please advise as to top other options to consider at the price points of a) Aries Mini w/ optional LPS up to price of b) Aries.

Compatability with Lacie firewire800/USB3 drive and ability to use without having to run a computer(mini or other) for minimserver, etc. would be a big plus. Have ipads and Androidphones for control points.

Digital Source: Synology DS415+ NAS  and Small Green Computer SonicTransporter i5 Running Roon Core > Blue Jean Cable Cat6a >TP optical converter > Sonore OpticalRendu with Sonore LPS> Curious USB > Denafrips Pontus DAC

Analog Source: Dynavector XX2 mk2> Audiomods Series 5 silver arm > Sota Nova Series VI turntable w/Condor & Roadrunner motor controller/tachometer > Nagra BPS battery powered phono stage>

Both: BAT VK51SE preamp> Krell FPB300 power amp > Sound Lab A3 ESLs > > Custom room treatment > 50 yr. old ears(left-handed)

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You should look up the new Sonore Sonic Orbiter SE. Comes with a linear supply. Gives about the most options for software control available. It's based on a Cubox box. Costs $300.

No idea how it sounds compared to an Aries or an Aries Mini.

Looks like the Orbiter SE only has ethernet input, so wouldn't work with my HDD. Don't think I want to rely on my WD MyCloud NAS, and prefer to use it only as file backup. Also, like idea of using local HDD to speed up file access.

Digital Source: Synology DS415+ NAS  and Small Green Computer SonicTransporter i5 Running Roon Core > Blue Jean Cable Cat6a >TP optical converter > Sonore OpticalRendu with Sonore LPS> Curious USB > Denafrips Pontus DAC

Analog Source: Dynavector XX2 mk2> Audiomods Series 5 silver arm > Sota Nova Series VI turntable w/Condor & Roadrunner motor controller/tachometer > Nagra BPS battery powered phono stage>

Both: BAT VK51SE preamp> Krell FPB300 power amp > Sound Lab A3 ESLs > > Custom room treatment > 50 yr. old ears(left-handed)

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Occams,

 

 

Some of the Aries & Aries threads mention using other's apps for control via iphone such as Lumin, so perhaps you wouldn't be totally locked in to Lightning DS control. Others thoughts on this, please?

 

 

The next Aries firmware upgrade will add support for RoonSpeakers. Once that is done you can use Roon as your GUI and playback thru the Aries. A much better GUI than Lightning DS, IMO. Just a matter of paying for Roon.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Anybody compare the Aries and/or Aries Mini with the Bryston BDP-2? Used, I've seen it for about same price as a new Aries. After eliminating Sonore & Sim from consideration Bryston or Aurelic seem like best options for my setup.

 

From some reviews I've read it seems like it's optimized for use with local HDD, which is my likely scenario. Bryston's rep for service/stability is a big plus for me. Chances are I'd have to buy used without an audition.

 

OTOH, the control app is a mystery to me; early reviews dinged it and later comments talk about revisions acoming. Gut tells me that it's behind Lightning DS etc. Of course after living with A+ and Amarra, chances are that whatever it is will be an improvement! Thoughts?

Digital Source: Synology DS415+ NAS  and Small Green Computer SonicTransporter i5 Running Roon Core > Blue Jean Cable Cat6a >TP optical converter > Sonore OpticalRendu with Sonore LPS> Curious USB > Denafrips Pontus DAC

Analog Source: Dynavector XX2 mk2> Audiomods Series 5 silver arm > Sota Nova Series VI turntable w/Condor & Roadrunner motor controller/tachometer > Nagra BPS battery powered phono stage>

Both: BAT VK51SE preamp> Krell FPB300 power amp > Sound Lab A3 ESLs > > Custom room treatment > 50 yr. old ears(left-handed)

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Also, having a hard time believing that wireless via NAS sounds better than a local firewire HDD

 

Perhaps you should listen to a wireless setup before making up your mind?

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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Perhaps you should listen to a wireless setup before making up your mind?
Well, I've done so in my own system with MacMini and Firewire drive vs. MacMini & WD NAS. FWIW, here the speed/stability advantages of the local drive trump the NAS widely. Sonics are perceived as better local to no difference. Is that relevant? Guessing that once I change renderer, this observation is totally moot.

Digital Source: Synology DS415+ NAS  and Small Green Computer SonicTransporter i5 Running Roon Core > Blue Jean Cable Cat6a >TP optical converter > Sonore OpticalRendu with Sonore LPS> Curious USB > Denafrips Pontus DAC

Analog Source: Dynavector XX2 mk2> Audiomods Series 5 silver arm > Sota Nova Series VI turntable w/Condor & Roadrunner motor controller/tachometer > Nagra BPS battery powered phono stage>

Both: BAT VK51SE preamp> Krell FPB300 power amp > Sound Lab A3 ESLs > > Custom room treatment > 50 yr. old ears(left-handed)

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