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Audio System

About Me

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  1. I decided I was going to upgrade my Aurender N100H. I only had the N100H for three months, but loved it and knew I wanted more. I couldn't decide between the N10 or to go the microRendu route, which, from the posts, seemed very promising. I put the Aurender up for sale (figuring it would take a while to sell) and sprung for a microRendu + iFi iPower in order to test. I assumed the demand for the microRendu would be strong enough for me to sell it at only a small loss if I decided on the N10. My system is a Bricasti M1 DAC connected to the N100H and USB Regen with a Curious cable and adapter, an ATC CA2 preamp (a very good preamp and great bargain that is hard to get in the States. I needed to import it; it's the manufacturer's suggested match for the powered ATC speakers) and ATC SCM ASL 20 MK II powered studio monitors. In general, the ATC preamp speaker combo is highly accurate, very, very revealing, and perhaps a little cold. I'm using Harmonic Tech Pro Silway II for the connection from the DAC to the preamp, and Nordost Heimdall XLRs for the connection from preamp to powered speakers. I'm also using Audio Art power cords. (Rob Fritz was very helpful and is a really good guy, by the way.) My music library is both on the N100H and a Synology disk station running Minimserver. It took me a few months and a lot of trial and error (and expense in buying and selling cables and components at a loss) to make this a system I enjoyed. But I did. Then the microRendu came. I removed the USB Regen and N100H from the system and connected the microRendu. On first listen, it was clear that the microRendu is more open and considerably brighter than the N100H, and probably more musical. On the other hand, the N100H seemed to have more depth and gravitas. I've also noticed the N100H is sensitive to power cords, a good one makes a big difference. After repeated listening to a large number of recordings in varied genres, I noticed that the microRendu's brightness sometimes got in the way of the listening experience. There was a harshness to the vocals that I didn't hear with the Aurender and some upper midrange and harmonic distortion that I fought months to remove in setting up the system. However, the microRendu's sound might have been a function of the components. I do think the microRendu, in general, is a more musical listen, as vague as a term that is. Perhaps the best way to describe the difference between the two is that on casual listening the microRendu made it easier to tap my foot. But on critical listening, the gravitas and fullness of the Aurender enabled a deeper emotional connection. But one needs to consider that I am using the microRendu's least expensive recommended power supply. I am presuming that there will be a great improvement, including a reduction in the vocal harshness and distortion, and an increase in fullness and gravitas, as one goes up the PSU line. Whether it will exceed the Aurender I don't know, but I won't be surprised if it does. I think the hype around the microRendu is warranted. But it is probably amplified by the low initial price point. When one considers the investment in a top of the line PSU, Roon server, and Roon license in order to get a complete musical experience, including Tidal integration, the microRendu is probably the same price if not higher than the N100H, especially if one needs to invest in a NAS. The question of value comes from comparing the microRendu package to the N10. From a sound quality and music browsing perspective, the N100H and microRendu are probably much closer in price than one would initially think. I think one will need a really good PSU and to invest in a Roon server to get a similar experience from the microRendu as the N100H. (Although the investment in Roon, while expensive, is likely more fulfilling than the very, very good Aurender app.) In my opinion, the difference between the microRendu and the N100H is that the N100H is probably a lot more convenient out of the box. It will get you to audiophile sound quality and an engaging music control interface much more predictably and faster and easier than the microRendu. However, the microRendu has much more potential. After adding a great PSU, a Roon server and paying for a Roon license, the microRendu might be a little more expensive than the N100H but it is possible that it could be on par with or exceed the N10. If the latter turns out to be true, then it's a real bargain. I haven't made up my mind on which way I'll go. But I will be investing in that high-end PSU, once again ready to take a loss if disappointed. The possibility also exists that if the N100H doesn't sell I'll keep that too. Sometimes I fell as if I need a 12 step program.
  2. I found an interesting review published on 23rd of September 2017. You may need to use google translator. Link: http://www.salonav.com/arch/2017/09/audioserver-aurender-n10.htm
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