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. 



Yes. I have mostly declared victory and moved on, haven't tried/auditioned a streamer in the 2 years since this post first started. Only reason I was more than interested in the Playback Design streamer is that it uses a proprietary P-LINK (called Nagra Link) connection instead of USB that PD and Nagra share.



Agreed. AG didn't always used to be like this. It was lot more respectful and polite, I don't why the audiophile culture here has degraded to this level in the past few years. I know quite a few AG people have moved on to WhatsBestForum because of the tone and conduct in this forum.

One technical point on the Plink / nagra link between the Playback streamer and the Nagra DAC. It’s not 100% compatible out of the box, a tweak needs to be implemented. Just saying this to manage expectations and to correct the record (if you read the excellent Hifi Advice review of the streamer, the reviewer says that’s it’s perfectly compatible, which isn’t quite true)

It wasn’t clear to me that the proprietary link was significantly better than AES, using my preferred reference level aes cable. The main advantage with the proprietary link is, I was able to get great sound without investing in a multi thousand dollar digital cable…the proprietary cable is “free” with the streamer.



One other slightly off topic observation (please forgive me in advance as I know you didn’t ask for this input):  I love your system.  It has a simple, classic elegance to it that i imagine must be very satisfying.  (As in the opposite of fussy.) I’ve never heard the Accuphase, though I’ve heard much positive about it.  At the same time, with the efficiency of those Devores, have you played at all with any lower power alternatives, including perhaps tubes?  Would love to hear your experiences if you have.

@metaldetektor Thanks for the heads up on the plink/nagralink compatibility and sonic expectations. Will keep that in mind.


@mdalton I have always preferred and used low power tube amps (Coincident 300b set amp, Nagra 300b push pull amp) with my Devores. The Accuphase was the exception. I say "was" because I am in the midst of trying to sell the Accuphase E-650 to fund a Shindo pre/power combo (which as you must know is all low power tubes).