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Auralic Aries Mini, Bluesound Node 2 -- External Dac or Not


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When do you think it makes sense to pair an external DAC with the Auralic Aries Mini and if so, which DAC makes sense.

 

Same question for the Bluesound Node 2.

 

Assume a budget of $700 for the DAC.

 

I'm not sure how the DACs in those network players compare to what's available in that price range at the moment.

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The DAC in the Aries mini is modest, it will do the job  but its not that much better than what came with an Oppo 103. If I were buying an Aries mini again and were at your budget point for an external DAC, I'd probably consider a Chord Mojo or Schiit multibit Bifrost. 

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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1 hour ago, davide256 said:

The DAC in the Aries mini is modest, it will do the job  but its not that much better than what came with an Oppo 103. If I were buying an Aries mini again and were at your budget point for an external DAC, I'd probably consider a Chord Mojo or Schiit multibit Bifrost. 

 

How much will the USB output of the Aries Mini benefit from the Gen 5 USB of the Bifrost Multibit?  If the benefit is negligible then I'd give serious consideration to the Modi Multibit.

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4 hours ago, RERobbins said:

 

How much will the USB output of the Aries Mini benefit from the Gen 5 USB of the Bifrost Multibit?  If the benefit is negligible then I'd give serious consideration to the Modi Multibit.

The benefit of the Gen 5 USB is not negligible, and its a bargain.  But I would check or ask on CA in the Aries mini thread to verify that someone is using the Gen 5 USB with the mini without issues to be sure it has verified compatibility.

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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I have several Auralic Minis that I use in variety of systems and agree with David that the Mini's internal DAC is at best just OK, even when paired with a SB booster power supply. To put it in perspective I prefer using the optical out into a Marantz PM 6005 integrated amp than the Mini's analogue out. i.e. I preferred the budget Marantz's DAC .

 

I also use the Mini to feed a Devialet 220 via USB in my main system and with the SB Booster it performs the job admirably as a streamer only.

 

Depending on your connectivity requirements I would support David's suggestion to investigate the Chord and Schiit DAC range and I would also add the less expensive Chinese DACs, which have improved markedly in the past few years. I recently purchased a SMSL M8A for $US250, which IMO is ridiculously good value. I also purchased a linear power supply for another US100 and did a very brief A/B against my Benchmark HDR when it first arrived and did not notice a significant difference. The Topping and Gustard DACs are also well reviewed.

 

The SMSL has USB, coaxial and optical inputs, incredible specs using the ES 9028Q2M chip, and also processes DSD 512 and 24/192.

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/SMSL-M8A-DAC-ESS-ES9028Q2M-XMOS-DSD512-768KHZ-USB-Optical-Coaxial-/302266747633

 

All the best,

 

 

Ajax

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOUNGE: Mac Mini - Audirvana - Devialet 200 - ATOHM GT1 Speakers

OFFICE : Mac Mini - Audirvana - Benchmark DAC1HDR - ADAM A7 Active Monitors

TRAVEL : MacBook Air - Dragonfly V1.2 DAC - Sennheiser HD 650

BEACH : iPhone 6 - HRT iStreamer DAC - Akimate Micro + powered speakers

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I've lived with both, and I have to say, the Bluesound plays really well on its own. Obviously the Mini is the way to go if you would like to utilize its USB output. A $700 DAC isn't going to make that much of an improvement.

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Just now, newworld said:

I've lived with both, and I have to say, the Bluesound plays really well on its own. Obviously the Mini is the way to go if you would like to utilize its USB output. A $700 DAC isn't going to make that much of an improvement.

 

Well, I was hoping to go with the Mini for just that reason.  But since the Mini has been discontinued in the US I'm looking at the Bluesound (which lacks the USB) or perhaps a SoTM sms-200.

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I've had Sotm as well, and it's a fine piece as long as you are happy with the apps that you will be using. I wasn't. You can start with Bluesound and perhaps expand it with a DAC like a Chord.

 

What I've learned from going through all of those streamers/renderer was that USB or Coax is very hard to get right. The electrical isolation of optical connection is easier than the supposedly superiority of USB/Coax. Naim amplifiers don't play well with multiple sources or sources without ground because of this reason. That is also why some Naim gear have chassis ground/float switch. Also, the Sotm I had wouldn't connect with any of the generic USB cables I had. There was some kind of ground funk going on between it and Meridian USB input and my Naim amplifier. When I solved that issue, the iFi adapter I was trying was causing my speakers to buzz like crazy. When I reached out to iFi, their answer was buy another product to fix grounding. That's when I threw my hands up in the air and got out while I could.

 

Now I have a different integrated amplifier and the Node 2. No issues.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I am using Bluesound Node 2 with my old and trusty Electrocompaniet ECD-1 DAC.

With ECD-1 there is more body to sound and soundstage definitely better. The same pretended to Auralic Aries Mini. I had it for a while but I exchanged it for Node 2. Aries was loosing settings, and could not find attached hard drive. I think it was possibly problem with my particular unit, not some common problem with Aries.

I bought the streamer because my family does not like to use my Audirvana / Mac Mini set up, which is very finicky.

I like BluOS operating system. It beats the Auralic’s Lightning OS, especially for casual, non-audiophile users.

 

Do not underestimate old, good DACs. They can improve sound of both Bluesound Node 2 and Auralic Aries Mini.

Apple Mac Mini (8GB RAM / 256 GB SSD) –> Audirvana Plus -> USB REGEN->->Singxer SU-1->Electrocompaniet ECD1

Bluesound Node 2->Electrocompaniet ECD1 

 

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