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. 


@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).


oh, nice!   To me, Shindo is like climbing the mountain to meet buddha.  my other buddha is a Koetsu on a Garrard, which I have.  Please keep us apprised.

I received the Antipodes K50 yesterday.  It got delayed due to the bad weather.  Set-up was a breeze using their dashboard layout.  Since it has separate processors I can use Roon on the server and Squeeze for the player.  That lets me use the Roon app on my iPad.  I can also select Squeeze for the server too but I’ll try that later.  Right now I’m comfortable using Roon on my iPad.

The K50 needs 400 hours to full break-in.  At 27 hours I am already spellbound by the sound of this AC Hele’ne DAC/K50 combo.  I don’t understand how a streamer can make such a difference.  It’s hard to believe what’s possible until you hear it.


I am resolved to use the 30 day trial period to my full benefit although my dealer is nearly certain I will not be returning it.

So the dealer was correct? 😁 congratulations. I read Christiaan’s 9 month old review of the K22/K41 today- It is appealing to get one unit and then get the other at a later point: It has been a few years since his K50 review. I assume you read it?


Beautiful DAC by the way- 


Thank you. I debated going with separates (k21/K41) and even staggering the purchases. But by the time I add in an extra power cord and an extra Ethernet Cable to connect the two boxes together, it was only a few hundred more for the K50. And the K50 has the added SPDIF output connections for greater flexibility.

I read and researched all the reviews. I also watched a youtube video interview of the CEO. Learned some good stuff about the company from that interview. He also advised that the K50 should be treated like an amplifier. Don’t plug it into a low power outlet on a power conditioner. It needs to be a high power outlet to sound good or plugged directly into the wall, he said. I bet it has something to do with the new SMPS that the K50 uses which is trickle down from the Oladra.

If you are wondering why I didn’t go for the Oladra for some thousands more, well I’m retired and my wife wants a new floor.

I’ll say this. I had $2800 in a NUC based music server running Roon plus an $800 LPS powering it. I won’t include the cables and audio grade network switches in that because I am still using them with the new K50. So with $3600 into my old music server I thought it would be difficult to beat. (Ok, the new streamer is very expensive but that’s my point.) The old music server sounded pretty good, I thought with my new DAC. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The DAC and the streamer are a team and both contribute equally to the sound. I won’t say the DAC and Streamer should match dollar for dollar (although coincidentally mine do) but they need to match up closely in capabilities, or have a plan to get there one day. It took me almost 50 years, so be patient. That makes me sound old. Let’s say 45 years. Really, I didn’t get serious into high end until 1988, so let’s say 36 years. That’s better.