Auralic Aries

Since getting my DAC I’ve been using Tidal via my laptop as my primary source, but the noise from the PC usb connection has gotten to be insufferable. So I’ve been looking at some dedicated streamers. The Aurender and Lumin gear seemed to be pretty much out of my budget, so I turned my eye to the Auralic Aries, Cambridge CXN, and Pro-ject Streambox. The onboard DAC and automatic upsampling on the Cambridge didn’t appeal to me, and I had I hard time seeing myself paying over $800 for Pro-ject’s suped up rPi, whereas I’ve read nothing but good things about Auralic. So today I won an auction for a pre-owned Aries with linear power supply for $695 including shipping. How’d I do? Seemed like a reasonable price to me...

Anyone know of any known issues to look out for on a pre-owned unit?

No moving parts generally bodes well for used equipment. I owned a Aries G2 for about a year. Good sounding unit… then upgraded to Aurender. 
Congrats on your Aries! I've run an Aries Mini for 5 years now with no complaints. The only negative I've heard on the Aries is that some of them have needed their wireless cards replaced. The Auralic support forums are a great place to do some reading some very good folks there.
As @jond said, many of the original Aries had failures of their WiFi cards, an Intel model that Auralic's Xuanqian Wang colorfully called "a master of pain." If you use Ethernet, it won't matter. And maybe you'll win the roll of the dice and wind up with a good card.
Thx @jond @mike_in_nc 
yes I believe I read about a guy replacing the stock (7260) card with the updated 8260 card. Why this card is better, or how one would go about effecting this upgrade is beyond me, however.
just out of curiosity, what prompted the move to the Aurender? That G2 looks a good bit of kit.
I first got an Aurender N100 for my headphone system while I had the Aries G2 in my main system… I was really impressed… it is really quiet with natural sounding stable images. I felt Aurender is in a whole different class than the Aries. I always felt the Aries was noisy and images in the center stage were very confused. I started realizing what was possible, I listened to the N10… and immediately bought the W20SE. I had read… and quickly confirmed there was a big jump in sound quality between the N100 —> N10 —> W20se. I can now attest to that. My streamer digital end is now at the level of my analog end, and I have a new Linn LP12 and an Audio Research Reference 3 Phonostage. I listen to streaming most of the time now… Qobuz. If I feel nostalgic I will play a vinyl disk. I have a couple thousand clean, many audiophile recordings that a fun to listen to. But at the same fidelity I now have access to hundreds of thousands of albums… so, much music, so little time

Interesting.  I’m not going to suggest the Aries G2 is the equal of the W20SE, but I have one and had an Aurender N100H.  The G2 is/was quite a bit the better unit between those two (I sold the N100H) and I  know several who think it’s better than the N10.  As I haven’t heard the N10, I can’t say.  In any case, it doesn’t matter for the W20SE is clearly world class and I can imagine only possibly bettered by the Taiko extreme.


I never directly compared the N100 with the Aries G2 on my large system (the Aurender N100 was on my headphone system, which is also very revealing). I inferred that it would win… it is very impressive for its cost. I was so impressed I didn’t think it was worth the trouble of swapping the Aurender into my main system. For a while I used both systems for evaluate components. In listening the N10 wins without any question in all aspects. Did you listen to the N10 before the power supply upgrade they did a couple years ago? I find power supplies really important. Also, the DAC you use. I had a Sim Moon 650D with the add on separate power supply… it really striped things naked and was dead quiet… so if you fed it a signal that was not pristine, you heard it. Ultimately the performance depends on the system the component is in. My systems are pretty revealing and a weakness is really obvious.
Brother hasAries Mini, LPS into a Lampizator Amber II… very nice

have fun
+whatever on Aries, @rfnoise.  Hope you enjoy yours for a long time.

I also have an Aries Mini. Blame jond. Bought soon after he did. Never a lick of trouble and NOT noisy. I run wirelessly and use an iFi power supply (with their proprietary noise reduction). Run the Aries Mini via USB to Schiit Eitr to Schiit Gungnir. Control is via their Lightning DS app using an ancient iPhone. Auralic has updated software (and firmware?) several times over the years. The only little eccentricity worth reporting is on graphics. I burn my CDs to an external hard drive in ALAC and when the CD is accompanied by artwork from Apple, the Aries won’t display it. BUT if I have gone on the ’net to find artwork that Apple could not, for whatever reason, the Aries does show that. Metadata is unaffected in those instances, shows just fine in either case.
Very satisfied with sound quality.

Having said all that, I am sore tempted by the Aries G1. But at nearly 5x what I spent on the Mini, I am resisting. Especially given that I suspect it will yield, at most, an incremental improvement over the Mini. Am ready to hear from others that made the jump and found otherwise. The other consideration is that gear in my modest system is not the limiter of music enjoyment. It’s the recording quality (assuming composition and performance are "worthwhile") that’s the biggest factor in that regard.
I’ve been using the Aries G2.1 for about a year, installed a Samsung EVO SSD and haven’t experienced any “noise” when connected to a Yggy or May KTE via USB. Both streamer and DAC are powered by a Shunyata Everest. Noise with a Holo Audio May KTE DAC is ah lol.
I also love the Auralic forums, Lightning DS app, firmware and software support and upgrades. I may try an Aurender at some point, but for now, I’m very satisfied with what I have.
Happy listening!

@ghosthouse Glad to hear you’re still digging your Mini and don’t worry I always get blamed ;) And I am with you curious about a G1 in my case mostly because my Mini is now 5 years old wondering how long a lifespan it has.

@kmmd Agreed the Auralic forums are a nice place to hang out and I think LDS is one of the best streaming apps out there.
The noise in the Aries G2 is having a high noise floor… not a sssssh coming out of the speakers. Just in case someone thought that was what I was talking about.
George, I think what you’re referring to is the quality and number of linear power supplies in the component and the impact on the quality of the signal output (noise on the signal). The N’s have 3 while the Auralic Aries G2 has 2. As you go up the chain in Aurender, you have more linear power supplies with the W20SE utilizing battery power.
However, as you said, “Ultimately the performance depends on the system the component is in.” I completely agree. Even the quality of a USB cable makes a difference…at least in my system…just got my Uber expensive Shunyata today. ;)

Yup...still digging it.  It is the source I listen to the most...whether CDs I've ripped or Tidal (sometimes Spotify).  I've got very similar years on mine as you.  Don't want it to die but if it does, will have to try out that G1.
Well I’m reading a lot about the mini and g2 here, not so much RE the original Aries like I just bought. I do find it curious that the mini has provision for adding internal storage whereas the full sized Aries does not. I read on another site that the G1 wasn’t much in the way of a step up in SQ from the original Aries, but of course anyone can write anything on the Internet.

in regards to the noise floor, am I incorrect in my understanding that this becomes a more critical issue as one moves into more highly sensitive speakers?

Oh and for the record... looking at units like the W20SE and Simaudio 650d makes me feel like one of the chimney sweeps from Mary Poppins 😣
I’d like to restate that others have a very different experience with the Auralic Aries G2 series.  My own experience (and in direct A/B comparison with other units from Aurender, Lumin and Simaudio) indicates that it does not have a high noise floor - but a low noise floor.  Feel free to seek out the very thorough review by Hans B on YouTube as he’s far more impartial than most.  If @ghdprentice experienced otherwise, I can only suspect something was wrong with his unit.  It happens. Or, perhaps he/she had more noise coming into the Auralic than it was able to handle.  That too I can easily imagine.  Why?

I have the ENO Network filter and an upgraded network switch.  When I inserted these into the system, the the noise floor dropped  considerably - frankly I was shocked.  Regardless, this indicated that any noise was upstream of the streaming transport - not within it.  I get that part of the reason to go to a unit like this is to avoid needing tweaks.  It doesn’t need the tweaks.  But, it turns out that the best of units reveal the benefits of such efforts whereas lessor units do not.

Lastly, I actually compared the streaming transport function of the G2 against one very well respected unit costing close to $40k.  Was it better? No.  Was it a big difference?  No - surprisingly minor as a matter of fact.  

I mention all of this not to defend a brand I purchased but to remind people that experiences are both subjective and situational.
Well, my Aries arrived today. Was actually kind of a pain in the nuts to get up and running. Phone wouldn’t connect to the unit’s network, then set it up with Ethernet in the other room, brought it into the listening room, settings gone, wash rinse repeat. Scary moment when after finally getting it on the network, I was getting no audio. I thought  maybe  my DAC wasn’t compatible. Tweaking some settings fixed that.

Now that I have it squared away and driving my Black Ice Glass FX DAC... HOLY CRAP! This thing sounds amazing! Night and day difference moving to the Aries from PC/USB connection. What was grainy before is now almost liquid, way more low level detail, rock solid center image, at one point I actually thought the sound was coming from BEHIND me 😄. I really couldn’t be happier; Although, I’m thinking a quality USB cable might be in order. The DH Labs Mirage currently has my attention.
Congrats on your purchase @rfnoise!  

A couple of observations/user experiences that might be helpful to you:

It’s likely (but not assured) that you would be rewarded by improving the quality of your USB cable.  Though i can’t explain why, the differences in digital cables are quite easy for me to hear in my system, but they’re system dependent. 

Are you connected via WiFi or Ethernet?  The latter likely will sound better though others have noted less difference.

Though you didn’t mention an interest in Roon, it would seem that most Auralic users have noted that Lightning DS (Auralic’s native library management and operating system) sounds significantly better than Roon. Roon has the better interface.  LDS has the better sonics.  

There are other network “tweaks” that are beneficial, but also would cost you more $.  Let me know if you’re interested in exploring those.  For now - enjoy the music!

Congradulations. That streamer showed me there was a whole new world of music out there to explore when I removed the MacBook.
Nice thread.  I'm looking at the Vega G2.1 DAC and the Aries G2.1 based on everything I've been told by folks I trust who know the line well.  I still need to audition to see if I go that route or just use the streamer in the Vega (but I have about 20-30T of music (much of it 32 bit and well recorded) that I dont' want to lose, so that's why I'll most probably get the Aries with it.

I like using the same companies digital as they are designed to work together and I'm a bit challenged at times.  I'm using The Memory Player by Laufer (he installed a DAC and analog preamp for me), but it's Window's based and hard for me to work.  It's the best sever I've ever heard and I've heard many high end servers, but I'll be fine changing as it will be easier for me and I know the Auralic app is so easy to use.  

Glad you guys are enjoying your gear. 
Glad you like your Aries, I just started streaming around 9 months ago. I also started with Aries/outboard psu with femto clock. I believe they made Aries without femto clock and one with, for an extra $700-$800. I went from a MacBook to Aries and found a fairly large improvement, certainly noise floor. Then ran across a used G1 at a great price and found it was definitely a step up from Aries/femto. 

I would not say it was a night and day difference or I was blown away but definitely was an improvement and did not regret the purchase. I am looking to trying roon but have heard Auralic doesn't work well with roon but that is only something I have read. Someone mentioned on here sound stage improved when they moved away from Auralic and found that very interesting. I am looking at other streamers but happy with g1 for now.

I found Auralic actually plays fine with Roon.  However, as I noted in an earlier post in this thread, Lighting DS (“LDS”), sounds significantly better than Roon whether streaming Qobuz or playing a file on a NAS. I’m not the only user with this view.  If you want the user interface, go Roon and be happy - it still sounds good over Auralic units.  If you want the best sonics available from the unit, go LDS and be happy as it works just fine as a library management system as well.  

With respect to Auralic vs any number of streaming transports - there’s a fair amount of differing opinions.  My takeaway is that they’re all pretty good and they get better as you go up the food chain within each line. That’s certainly been my experience.  

As you stated, it’s not night and day difference, but those differences do reveal themselves mostly via more spatial information, particularly depth, and to a lessor extent, more detail. 

I was also well rewarded with network tweaks and cable upgrades.  You may find the G1 rewards such efforts as well.

It’s kind of funny that I went this route, as my primary interest lies in analog. Unfortunately, due to space concerns in my current housing arrangement, I figured I’d get the most mileage out of a DAC/Streamer combo. No point in shelling out for a hifi turntable if it’s just going to sit next to my Technics in storage.

@mgrif104 I’m running the Aries via WiFi, which is what Auralic recommends in the manual. Experimenting with an Ethernet connection isn’t really in the cards, unfortunately,  as it would probably be at least a 30 foot run from the router to to the room I have my stereo in.

Roon isn’t really something I’m interested in pursuing, as I’m extremely impressed with the LightningDS interface. Especially the Tidal integration, which was a concern I had while shopping for a streamer.
I love analog as well. The Aries was the first major step for me to realize sound that was equally satisfying compared to analog.

A simple trick if you want to plug in the Aries, or any streamer, when you are not next to the router. You buy a wifi extender… that plugs in like a wall wart near your streamer (really easy to configure, just push two buttons… and it’s done). The extender has an Ethernet port on it. Works great. One of the reasons I bought my Aries was because it had the ability to put itself on the wifi, as my router was upstairs. All my streamers are on using extenders, sound great. 
@ghdprentice Thanks! I’ll look into that! Any particular brand you’d recommend?
@rfnoise - I personally use a google WiFi mesh system with 3 waypoints, plugging the primary unit into my initial router, (which I have completely locked down for security purposes and have turned off WiFi broadcasting),  In essence, I can have two distinct WiFi networks if I wanted.  In any case, the WiFi points connect to the primary and create a much more stable signal across the house.  And, each provides the ability to plug devices in via an Ethernet cable. So, it solves two problems - eliminating poor and uneven coverage across my three floors, and providing a secure, stable and fast short connection for my streaming transport.  There are other mesh units you can get, but google’s works fairly well for a modest price.

Read your earlier comment about trying a better USB cable with your Aries.

If you haven't purchased yet, please read the review by Duster over on Audio Asylum about Monoprice's Monolith USB cable.  See link below.  The Monolith is a crazy, crazy good value....low price and outstanding performance.  I found it better than the Oyaide Neo D+ Class A USB cable I'd been running.  The Oyaide itself had received a very good Absolute Sound review.  The price for the Monolith is so low you can afford to take a gamble on it.  



I would just match the manufacturer of your router when getting an extender. Netgear or Linksys… or whatever you use. All the manufacturers make them. Typically $60 or so. They theoretically are interoperable with different companies router, but I like reducing possible issues. I have never had any. I have two of them, one for my main system and one for my headphone system. Nice thing with wired, no passwords to play with..
@ghosthouse maybe I’ve been spending too much time on the forum, but I have a hard time trusting the quality of a $15 cable... But you’re right, The price is low enough to take a gamble on. Thx, I think I’ll give it a shot.
Hello @rfnoise 

Just fyi...
Monoprice does have a 30 day return policy on their Monolith branded products.  Also, Duster at Audio Asylum is no audio novice so I find his assessment credible (not to mention my own positive experience as well as others that posted in that thread).   

Before you order, do read the AA thread for discussion about optimum USB cable length (1.5 m, as I recall).
@ghosthouse Hmm... well if the optimal length is 1.5m, this cable is only available in 1m & 2m lengths...

Also, I discovered something interesting in the Lightning DS app...

It was my understanding that the one downside to moving from PC to dedicated streamer was the loss of the PC app’s ability to perform a first unfold of MQA files, which is unfortunate if one doesn’t have an MQA capable dac. Therefore, I’ve been running my Aries in FLAC lossless mode. 
Today, however, I discovered the following information in my device’s settings:

”Decoding Method: AURALiC streaming devices are capable of decoding MQA files using AURALiC’s proprietary resampling and de-blurring method. You can select from the sampling rate settings for the process described here. Please note that this process is not an MQA-created or MQA-licensed process.

Auto: Your streaming device will detect the best decoding sampling rate based on the information in the MQA file. It will also detect the maximum sampling rate of a USB-connected DAC. 
2x Sampling Rate: Your streaming device will always decode MQA files at 88.2 kHz or 96 kHz, depending on the original file’s sampling rate. 
4x Sampling Rate: Your streaming device will always decode MQA files at 176.4 kHz or 192 kHz, depending on the original file’s sampling rate. 
8x Sampling Rate: Your streaming device will always decode MQA files at 352.8 kHz or 384 kHz, depending on the original file’s sampling rate.”

Anyone know what I should make of this?
Again, if I recall correctly, longer is supposedly better than shorter (i.e., 2 meter rather than 1 meter) but do read the Audio Asylum thread as there’s discussion about the optimum length. Personally, I didn’t notice a negative impact on sound quality using a 1.0 meter length.

My Gungnir doesn’t do MQA and I don’t think the Auralic software in use on my Mini has the sort of home grown unfolding capability you mention. Experience with a Dragonfly Red that is MQA capable (headphone listening) didn’t impress me with whatever MQA is supposed to offer. I use the DS Lightning setting consistent with no MQA capability. Things sound great and I’m very satisfied. Consequently, don’t think I can help with your MQA question(s). Sorry.
Under additional operations in the setup turn MQA pass through off and decoding method to auto. Auralic was one of the original members of the MQA consortium but dropped out after a fall out with the "King" of MQA. Prior to that they had developed their own software version of MQA and that is what is available with Lightning DS if it is still working. Back in the day when I owned a DAC with MQA certification the Auralic software version would trigger the MQA lights on the DAC so it thought it was receiving MQA audio. 
Well, I ended up ordering TWO of those monolith cables, one each in 1m & 2m length. If nothing else, it’ll give me something to compare any other cable I may try against.
@mgrif104  said: >> With respect to Auralic vs any number of streaming transports - there’s a fair amount of differing opinions.  My takeaway is that they’re all pretty good and they get better as you go up the food chain within each line. That’s certainly been my experience.   <<
It's been mine, too.
Regarding "noise floor" -- this now seems to be widely used as an audiophile term for "I don't like it." In other words, for cases in which one hears no audible noise -- and often, no measurable noise --  but something in the sound doesn't appeal. I have no issue with people not liking anything, including the gear I use. Still, I am not a fan of this use of "noise floor." Again, I don't dispute the subjective reaction of not liking something, finding it x or y or z, but I'd prefer to have that stated without the use of "noise floor," which has a specific technical meaning.

I think Auralic does well with Roon. Most agree that the sound differs between OpenHome mode (Lightning DS) and Roon, but I can't say that one is better than the other. On some tracks, Roon seems more mellow, OpenHome more detailed.

Auralic has been a leader in getting good, reliable sound over WiFi. I've compared WiFi on my original Aries (femto) to Ethernet, then again with the Aries G1, and I could not hear the difference.

Mike, Many people on these forums use terms they do not understand correctly or have very loose definitions for the terms they use. I have to agree with you there. But noice floor is a very important term particularly with increasingly sensitivities of sound reproduction in good audio gear. It is something I have struggled with for decades. Part of the reason has been my affinity for electrostatic and ribbon speakers coupled with solid state equipment. These speakers are extremely revealing particularly in the upper frequencies.

First, “A noise floor is the threshold below which no audio intelligence can be heard. In other words, at any audio system’s (either record or playback) noise floor, the background noise of that system becomes just as loud as the signal giving a signal-to-noise ratio of 0.” Sdolezalek. It is a lot like a furnace or other multi spectrum background noice source running in parallel with your music. The frequency distribution can be very different among sources. When the frequency hash is high it can be very grating if you are familiar with it… in headphones it makes them “fatiguing” if you can’t put your finger on it. It can be in the upper and inaudible frequencies only and affect the overall sound through interactions of the frequencies. It takes some experience to identify this kind since it is not as easy to recognize as furnace noice. It can exert pressure on your ear drums without being disurnable like a cymbal tap or other easily recognizable sound.

I have many personal stories about it. Quickly, two were adding the outboard power supply ($8K) to my Sim Audio 650D DAC ($8K)… any question about the drop in a noice floor is, is demonstrated by this kind of change. Also, going to battery power in audio product like the Aurender W20SE demonstrates this. The background opens up, each sound is suspended in space… emptiness, the leading transitions of sounds reveal microdynamics. Image specificity increases dramatically. Meaning central confusion diminishes (note, the noise comes from both speakers equally, so it is a mono signal. it confuses the central sound stage not stage right or left.

I am sure you are correct about some people not knowing what noice floor is. But some of us do and it is a very important parameter as you move up to higher levels of audio reproduction. One that is critical in assessing high end components and systems.

@ghdprentice -- Thanks for your reply. I suppose we disagree on terminology. So be it!
@ghdprentice that is consistent with my layman’s understanding of noise floor. Would it be reasonable to attribute the new appearance of low level sound (i.e. softer notes I hadn’t noticed before) in the program material to a lowering of the noise floor?
George, I don’t quite understand how pricing of components contributes to lowering of the noice floor. Oops sp. Now imagine if you owned a DAC where the price is a fraction of what you paid and has a measured S/N ratio of 140dB in each channel. Oh wait ;). Now that’s NOICE!

@rfnoise in short yes.
Here is the thing about noise floor the noise floor of a device like a streamer is likely considerably lower than the noise floor of the amp you're using. So perhaps it's a lower noise floor but likely its just a better more transparent component.
@rfnoise .

Sure hearing more notes can be attributed to lowering the noise floor. But a lot of damage is done to the sound stage, imaging, and background long before the level of covering up actual musical notes occurs. For instance, in a symphony hall when the orchestra slowly fades out into absolute silence and you are left with this airy silence and cavernous quiet. If your system is reproducing this, the music fades but you are not drawn into this cavernous comfortable silence… that is the noice floor jacking you up… like an amp with the bias too high. It isn’t that you hear it directly, it is indirect… like undifferentiated pressure on your eardrums. A lack of being drawn into the silence.

@kmmd ‘’I mention costs on a component to help people get an idea of the category of component I am speaking about. People on this forum have greatly different exposure to audio components. Some low end some high end. So instead of making most of the readers look up some component it is offered as a convenient reference point… that I am not talking about cheap or highly exotic components. Yes, in general, you get what you pay for. Also in the case of the Sim components I think few people would know that they offer a power supply that is as sophisticated as the actual component. It is a shorthand. If every detail was carefully fleshed out such not to allow someone to find an opening to criticize, then every post would be pages long and no one would read them.

@Jond ..

Source component noise floors are critical because the rest of the chain is a series of amplifications. Even if the noise floor of the streamer is low, what noise is boosted and then added to the noise of the next component. Just like in analog the source is most critical in what is to follow.
@ghdprentice I appreciate the rather eloquent elaboration. That must be the “blacker blacks” I keep reading about. I have to admit, that must be some kind of power supply you’ve got. I bet when that baby hits 88mph you see some serious sh*t!

Seriously though, I really am pleased with the sound I’m getting. Compared to when I was hooking up my cell phone via 3.5” jack to my tired old Yamaha a-1000 driving Realistic Nova-8’s, my current setup is on another planet.

The Aries is a good streamer, with a great presentation and leagues ahead of cell phones, iPads and dozens of low and mid-FI streamers. It was never my intent to bash it. High FI has many levels of performance. Depending on your equipment you always want to match components that sound good together and to you. I simple related my experiences and finding in my system. .

The noise floor topic I think is very important and interesting as it took many long years to be able to really put my finger on what it is and how to articulate it. The other difficult one is rhythm and pace… 
@ghdprentice no worries, friend. I didn’t get the impression that you were aspersing the Aries; as a matter of fact I’ve found your input both thoughtful and informative, and I thank you for it. Pleasant change of pace from the vitriol and condescension I’ve seen in some other threads.