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Thoughts on 3 music server implementations (aurender, sonare, ps audio), help please

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Hi guys. First time poster, long time lurker. A couple of years ago, I purchase an Olive 06HD. Beautiful piece of equipment that is now currently a brick. Quite bitter, but you live an you learn. Anyway, I'm considering alternatives. I currently have my music collection ripped to flac via J River. I am going to move the collection to a NAS. With that backdrop, I'm considering 3 similar, but different options.

 

1. Aurender N100H ($2695)+ DAC ($???) - The Aurender has a 2TB hard drive, which I could use for my core collection. But, can also access NAS. Since I use J River, would like to leverage that, unsure how that would work, though I think it is possible. The music app for the aurender seems quite robust, (though I would be using android and I understand the app is still beta there). Additionally, this would require a USB dac.

2. Sonare Signature Renu ($2895, though website says contact them for a deal) + DAC ($???) - Can leverage J River via the NAS. Would require SPDIF or i2s dac.

3. PS Audio Directstream Junior DAC ($3999) - Can leverage J River and NAS. Only piece of equipment needed.

 

Also, I think I would like to leverage tidal in the future, but currently don't. I know a lot depends upon the DAC that accompanies the Aurender and Sonare and I'm currently considering Shiit Yggdrasil and Chord Hugo TT, but am open to other suggestions. Anyway, what are your thoughts on these three approaches, particularly on costs, flexibility, future-proofness, and most importantly, sound quality (again, I understand DAC is key here, but I've given you some thoughts on what I am considering). On dacs, unclear on how important usb, spdif, or i2s connection type is to the equation.

 

thanks,

Gary

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Hi guys. First time poster, long time lurker. A couple of years ago, I purchase an Olive 06HD. Beautiful piece of equipment that is now currently a brick. Quite bitter, but you live an you learn. Anyway, I'm considering alternatives. I currently have my music collection ripped to flac via J River. I am going to move the collection to a NAS. With that backdrop, I'm considering 3 similar, but different options.

 

1. Aurender N100H ($2695)+ DAC ($???) - The Aurender has a 2TB hard drive, which I could use for my core collection. But, can also access NAS. Since I use J River, would like to leverage that, unsure how that would work, though I think it is possible. The music app for the aurender seems quite robust, (though I would be using android and I understand the app is still beta there). Additionally, this would require a USB dac.

2. Sonare Signature Renu ($2895, though website says contact them for a deal) + DAC ($???) - Can leverage J River via the NAS. Would require SPDIF or i2s dac.

3. PS Audio Directstream Junior DAC ($3999) - Can leverage J River and NAS. Only piece of equipment needed.

 

Also, I think I would like to leverage tidal in the future, but currently don't. I know a lot depends upon the DAC that accompanies the Aurender and Sonare and I'm currently considering Shiit Yggdrasil and Chord Hugo TT, but am open to other suggestions. Anyway, what are your thoughts on these three approaches, particularly on costs, flexibility, future-proofness, and most importantly, sound quality (again, I understand DAC is key here, but I've given you some thoughts on what I am considering). On dacs, unclear on how important usb, spdif, or i2s connection type is to the equation.

 

thanks,

Gary

 

Gary, at the AXPONA show here in Chicago a little over a week ago we demo'd the Aurender N100H with the new Resonessence Labs Veritas DAC ($2850). Reviewer comments included Herb Reichert of Stereophile's report on our room and Andy Quint of TAS here (1/3 down) and here.

 

You can simply copy the contents of your JRiver music library to the Aurender or to your NAS. If using the NAS you need to run Aurender Media Manager (AMM) to scan the NAS to populate the database stored in the iPad with cover art and metadata.


Brian Walsh

Analog Expert / Showroom Manager

Music Direct

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Gary, at the AXPONA show here in Chicago a little over a week ago we demo'd the Aurender N100H with the new Resonessence Labs Veritas DAC ($2850). Reviewer comments included Herb Reichert of Stereophile's report on our room and Andy Quint of TAS here (1/3 down) and here.

 

You can simply copy the contents of your JRiver music library to the Aurender or to your NAS. If using the NAS you need to run Aurender Media Manager (AMM) to scan the NAS to populate the database stored in the iPad with cover art and metadata.

 

Thanks Brian. I actually demoed the Aurender with the Chord Hugo and it was my initial choice of options. I think it is the most versatile of the three. But I've come across these other options and am interested in the pros and cons of each approach. Interesting that each of the main implementation components are different ( a streamer, a renderer, a dac), yet I believe all approaches would satisfy my needs. Thanks for the info on J River usage.

 

Not familiar with Resonessence, but I'll do some research.

 

Gary

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What is your budget for a DAC?

I'd like to keep it under 3k, which is why I'm looking hard at the Shiit. I know the Hugo is more, but you get the headphone amp with it...not sure I need a headphone amp though...

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I'd like to keep it under 3k, which is why I'm looking hard at the Shiit. I know the Hugo is more, but you get the headphone amp with it...not sure I need a headphone amp though...

 

I have an Aurender X100. I really like it, you can stream Tidal with it, as well as play your local sources, and I believe also connect to a NAS. If I were you, I would go the Aurender Route. I am sure there are some damned nice DACs for 3K that are full featured.

 

You may want to check out the Mytek Brooklyn, I hear it gets good reviews, has a headphone output, does DSD and MQA if you ever needed that.

 

https://mytekdigital.com/hifi/products/brooklyn_dac_hifi/

 

The Marantz NA11 also is in that range and is a Stereophile Class A rated component. I bet you can find a deal on one somewhere.

 

http://www.us.marantz.com/us/Products/Pages/ProductDetails.aspx?CatId=ReferenceSeries&SubCatId=0&ProductId=NA11S1

 

Or the HD DAC1 http://www.us.marantz.com/us/Products/Pages/ProductDetails.aspx?CatId=HiFiComponents&SubCatId=0&ProductId=HDDAC1


No electron left behind...

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The Veritas is a new model, and the one we showed is the first one in the US. The press release (PDF) is on the manufacturer's website here, and photos and some basic information may be viewed here.

 

Thanks Brian. I actually demoed the Aurender with the Chord Hugo and it was my initial choice of options. I think it is the most versatile of the three. But I've come across these other options and am interested in the pros and cons of each approach. Interesting that each of the main implementation components are different ( a streamer, a renderer, a dac), yet I believe all approaches would satisfy my needs. Thanks for the info on J River usage.

 

Not familiar with Resonessence, but I'll do some research.

 

Gary


Brian Walsh

Analog Expert / Showroom Manager

Music Direct

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Aurender N100 in an optimised environment is sonic paradise, it is awesome for the coin.

 

It works great with the Auralic VEGA DAC, but probably sounds great with everything TBH.


Source:

*Aurender N100 (no internal disk : LAN optically isolated via FMC with *LPS) > DIY 5cm USB link (5v rail removed / ground lift switch - split for *LPS) > Intona Industrial (injected *LPS / internally shielded with copper tape) > DIY 5cm USB link (5v rail removed / ground lift switch) > W4S Recovery (*LPS) > DIY 2cm USB adaptor (5v rail removed / ground lift switch) > *Auralic VEGA (EXACT : balanced)

 

Control:

*Jeff Rowland CAPRI S2 (balanced)

 

Playback:

2 x Revel B15a subs (balanced) > ATC SCM 50 ASL (balanced - 80Hz HPF from subs)

 

Misc:

*Via Power Inspired AG1500 AC Regenerator

LPS: 3 x Swagman Lab Audiophile Signature Edition (W4S, Intona & FMC)

Storage: QNAP TS-253Pro 2x 3Tb, 8Gb RAM

Cables: DIY heavy gauge solid silver (balanced)

Mains: dedicated distribution board with 5 x 2 socket ring mains, all mains cables: Mark Grant Black Series DSP 2.5 Dual Screen

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I'm understanding that if you get the Aurender, part of your collection will be on its 2TB drive and part on your NAS? If that's the case, I'd make sure that you will be able to see both collections as one unified Library. Otherwise it will be a PITA, IMO. I'm only mentioning this because I don't know enough about the Aurender to know the answer.

 

The DS Junior has the bridge built in, which makes it a very attractive solution, as you don't need a separate server/player, per se - just the NAS. Again, I think that's a great solution, with 2 conditions: a) that you like it's DAC as much as the other DACs; b) that you test the PS Audio Bridge-NAS solution to make sure you like how it works.

 

For me, the user interface is just as important as any other aspect of the setup. Am I comfortable with it, and does it let me run my collection and listening as I'd like? If not, I won't buy it, even if it is "better" according to some.

 

Schiit and PS Audio are committed to giving purchasers upgrade paths - you don't have to purchase a whole new unit to upgrade. Plus, the DSJ is firmware upgradeable, no? That gives you a "new DAC" when they release OS ugrades.

 

I'm sure the Aurender setup would sound great. I think it is the least future proofed of the three, of course partially dependent on what DAC you get with it. The DSJ solution gives you the advantage of both network and USB implementations of high quality - so you can switch implementation in the future if for some reason you wish to - or use both of them at different times.

 

Personally I wouldn't get too caught up in the issue of SPDIF, I2S, USB. These devices all have very good implementations. If you can, audition and see if you prefer one of them for either convenience, sound quality, or better UI.


Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>RPi4 (dietpi)>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: (1) CAPS Pipeline>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Schiit Freya>Kii Three .(2) CAPS>ifi iDAC SPDIF>Kii Control.

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

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I'd like to keep it under 3k, which is why I'm looking hard at the Shiit. I know the Hugo is more, but you get the headphone amp with it...not sure I need a headphone amp though...

 

The headphone amp also serves as a great pre-amp. Attach a power amp or mono blocks and you're done if you don't need analogue sources.


Synology DS214+ with MinimServer --> Ethernet --> Sonore mRendu / SOtM SMS-200 --> Chord Hugo --> Chord interconnects --> Naim NAP 200--> Chord speaker cable --> Focal Aria 948

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Firedog, thanks for the informative post. I had considered your question about the split db from a slightly different perspective. As I said, I currently use J River, so don't really need another interface to manage the music. The interface for the aurender seems quite robust, so I am willing to consider it. I plan to continue using J River, so I'm trying to figure out how that would work with the aurender and make sense and doesn't create a lot of extra effort. I noted that I would leverage the 2TB hard drive because I perceive there may be some benefit to playing music from the local hard drive rather than across a network (which, btw, would be over wifi to a D-Link DAP-1522 wireless bridge). There may not be.

 

I agree that the key to the PS-Audio is that whether I like the DAC. I'm a little confused by the built in bridge. Both of the other options connect to a network, so what does the PS-Audio offer that they don't.

 

Also curious why you think the Aurender is the least future proof as it seems quite flexible? I view the 2TB hard drive as a bonus, they offer up a version which doesn't have it for $200 less.

 

Gary

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Roon to HQ Player feeding a DSD256 or DSD512 DAC

 

Future proof, can handle all formats, with ultimate sound quality

 

you just need to decide how much you want to spend on the hardware platform :-)


Sound Test, Monaco

Consultant to Sound Galleries Monaco, and Taiko Audio Holland

e-mail [email protected]

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"I agree that the key to the PS-Audio is that whether I like the DAC. I'm a little confused by the built in bridge. Both of the other options connect to a network, so what does the PS-Audio offer that they don't."

 

Cable Company sells PS Audio. I would have them send you a demo unit so you can try it first hand.

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I plan to continue using J River, so I'm trying to figure out how that would work with the Aurender and make sense and doesn't create a lot of extra effort.

 

While you can continue to use J River to create, edit, and maintain your music library, the only way to remotely control any Aurender unit is with its iPad app. That's true not just for playing music, but for adjusting the Aurender's settings too.

 

From my point of view, this is no loss, though. After going through several remote apps over the years, there's no question in my mind that the Aurender Conductor is the most elegant and functional app I've ever used. (FWIW, the other remote music apps I've used include: Squeezebox, iPeng, Apple Remote, and Audirvana Plus.)

 

Dave, who loved both the music sound quality and the Conductor app interface of his Aurender N100H so much that he sold it less than two months after buying it to upgrade to an Aurender N10 instead which has even better sound quality and multiple outputs which is very useful in his main music system


++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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I would seriously consider the PS Audio, especially if you are a Roon fan (or are willing to become one). The DS junior will be Roon Ready, making it easy to integrate with Roon. To me, Roon is ideal for digital playback, and the firmware upgradability of the DS Junior is very attractive. What you save on purchasing the Aurender can be used to get a MAC mini to run Roon (given the functionality of Roon, you are better off running it on a solid computer rather than a NAS). Take the opportunity to listen to the DS junior, and take a look at Roon when you get a chance.

 

This option though might leave out MQA. It is not clear, even to PS Audio, whether it makes sense to implement MQA in their DS product line. If MQA over Tidal is something that might be important to you, this is worth accounting for in your decision.

 

Let us know what you decide, but at least give the PS Audio a listen. I would be curious what your impressions are.

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Also curious why you think the Aurender is the least future proof as it seems quite flexible?

Gary

 

I agree with Firedog. Monolithic, locked in solutions will be going the way of the dodo.

 

Think Digital Equipment Corp. It was excellent high end equipment in its time...


My system here

 

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I agree with Firedog. Monolithic, locked in solutions will be going the way of the dodo.

 

+1. For example, our fearless leader, Chris, just reported in another thread that Aurender has decided not to support Roon.

 

(The Aurenders do sound good. UI/UX-wise, though, Aurender vs Roon: Roon is miles ahead, IMO, so lack of futureprooficity is already apparent.)

 

--David


Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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(The Aurenders do sound good. UI/UX-wise, though, Aurender vs Roon: Roon is miles ahead, IMO, so lack of futureprooficity is already apparent.)

--David

 

very interesting...people w/o serious aurender experience make hasty judgements re future perspectives of aurenders R&D plans


mabe

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Thanks for all the interesting points of view. As I further considered the options and potential of Roon, a new contender enters the fray:

 

Bryston show HDMI BDA-3, Roon Ready BDP-2 at CES 2016 | DAR__KO

 

The Bryston combination BDA-3 and BDP-2 seem to cover all of the bases with it being roonready (not exactly sure what that means yet) and dsd included. It's probably overkill with all of the options, but I do have an Oppo 103 and can leverage the ability to play sacd over hdmi with the bryston setup. Additionally, I wouldn't need a nas, but could use portable usb storage devices as connecting that directly to the Bryston seems to result in a higher audio quality over accessing files from a NAS over a network....

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very interesting...people w/o serious aurender experience make hasty judgements re future perspectives of aurenders R&D plans

 

If by "w/o serious aurender experience" you mean I don't own one, that's correct, but I have spent a fair amount of time listening to a couple-few different systems using different Aurenders as a front end, and I thought they sounded good, as I said. Command Performance AV is an Aurender dealer and is within walking distance of my house. I think Aurender is a good choice for a lot of people, but I don't like to be locked in like that, and I really do enjoy the Roon UI and the ability it provides to explore connections within my library and Tidal's, as well as a way of discovering new music that works well for me.

 

I seriously doubt that Aurender can catch up to Roon in the UI/UX department (not to mention the whole distributed-computing/multi-zone thing) — because Aurender isn't primarily a software development enterprise — but if I'm shown to be wrong, I'll cheerfully apologize. Time will tell.

 

--David


Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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very interesting...people w/o serious aurender experience make hasty judgements re future perspectives of aurenders R&D plans

 

Companies facing technical obsolescence have a number of options available to them, including 1) biting the bullet and going with the new paradigm, treating some past development as sunk cost, 2) partially going with the new tech and hoping that is enough, 3) handwaving about future R&D and circling the wagons. There are other approaches too. If DEC had embraced PCs way back when they might still be around today.


My system here

 

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David, We are neighbors. I live in Lake Barcroft. I demoed the aurender n100h and Command Performance AV.

 

Hey, we should get together. I'll PM you soon. (Sometimes I have to work.)

 

--David


Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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Companies facing technical obsolescence have a number of options available to them…

 

I think the Roon guys are pretty genius-y generally, but one of the key manifestations of this is that they used to be the Sooloos guys, and they figured out that the best thing they could do was liberate themselves from the hardware aspect of things. This, IMO, is a win-win-win for Roon, their customers, and hardware guys who see how they can leverage Roon's tech to make their products more desirable.

 

--David


Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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