750$ Intel NUC vs $6000 Aurender N200: I don't hear the difference

I finally plunged into the source is as important as the DAC belief that is quite prevalent here and decided to test out Aurender N200. And given I have a very highend DAC, thought if the N200 pans out I would go for the N20 or N30.


I was expecting the N200 to blow away my Intel NUC which is 10th gen, core i7, 8GB and running Roon Rock BUT I am switching back and forth between USB playing the Roon Rock, and Co-axial playing Aurender N200, and I don't hear much of a difference maybe a hair, or not even that.


A few caveats: 1) Roon Rock is playing Quboz, N200 is playing Tidal (I am unable to get Qobuz login to the N200 for reason I don't understand).

2) I am comparing Coaxial on N200, USB on Roon Rock.

Caveat #2 can be ignored because I don't hear a difference between Coaxial and USB output of N200.


So either this is an "Emperor has no clothes" moment or I am missing something big. Any thoughts on what I might be missing before I send this N200 back to the dealer on Monday.


Rest of my system: Nagra TUBE DAC -> Accuphase E-650 -> Devore O96 and all Acoustic Revive wiring. 



Figured out why Tidal sounded significantly worse than Qobuz. I incidentally compared MQA version on Tidal to Qobuz hi-res. None of my digital front end components unfold MQA so it was coming across similar to what the mp3 would sound. There’s still a difference between Tidal 16/44 and Qobuz 16/44 but it isn’t that great. 

And I agree, DAC will matter as well as the rest of your system. But the way you had tested using two different services and two different interface types still remains sub optimal. 

I’ve had a similar experience, although not with components that are as expensive.  My current setup of a MacBook Pro streaming via Tidal or Qobuz native apps into a Denafrips Hermes and Pontus II sounds better than the HiFi Rose 250a they replaced.  The Pontus by itself outperformed the dedicated streamer.  I just recently added the Hermes.


What USB cable were using from your MacBook, when you made your comparisons?

It doesn’t matter what usb cable was used. Comparing mac/ddc/dac combo or even just mac/dac combo to a one box solution such as Rose 250a isn’t a comparison. Apples and oranges. The right comparison would be to feed the signal from Rose to Denafrips dac or to the ddc/dac combo and compare that to the mac/denafrips combo. Compare streamers alone. Or compare a denafrips dac to Rose dac using mac as streamer feeding denafrips vs mac feeding Rose.

What you accomplished is you misinformed yourself and now you’re posting this BS here. 

Nagra tube dac owner here. A few thoughts:

1. the digital part of the Nagra -- with its DSD upsampling -- does a lot of lifting. I would say server/streamer matching is much less important with the Nagra, than it is with other dacs I’ve used.

2. the analog output stage of the Nagra is one of the best in the business. This is of course what Nagra is legendary for. Analog, tape specifically.

3. notwithstanding 1, there is a clearly synergistic streamer to pair with the Nagra, and that’s the Playback Designs MPS-X. Designed by AK, who designed the digital module in the dac. Just a streamer, so you can continue to use your NUC as the server. This replaced a Grimm MU1 in my system.