Aurender ACS100 as streamer/player

After fiddling around with sending digital files from MacBook to DAC via JRiver, I'm researching dedicated server/streamers in the ~$3K range. I've read many posts here, as well as external reviews, and the Aurender ACS100 seems appealing as a potential one-box solution. Close to it is the Auralic Aries G1.1, since one can use an external drive to rip CDs with error correction. I've heard about Innuos Zenith Mk3 (with CD ripper), but I prefer the remote apps offered by Aurender or Auralic.

Anyway, my main question is the value of using ACS100 as a single source (streaming and playing stored music). Aurender has the following disclaimer/warning:

"ACS100 is a NOT a high performance digital audio transport. It is intended as a companion piece to another Aurender. The ACS100 USB 2.0 port is NOT the same as Aurender's hallmark dedicated filtered and isolated USB 2.0 AUDIO port" (e.g., as found on NT150).

Of course they want you to buy a NT150 as well. Yet after all that, they go on to say:

"However, ACS100 does have a USB 2.0 output. So, one may pair this model up with a high performance DAC for a complete digital front end solution if desired."

The implication is that you may get garbage out from the ACS100 USB 2.0 port, but go ahead if you are so desperate.  What have ACS100 owners actually found when using the unit as their primary digital source, connected directly to a DAC?


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Since you’re considering ACS100 as primary digital source, the two obvious concerns are its non filtered & isolated USB output and external SMPS UPS power supply. If you’re ok with its external SMPS UPS power supply then all you need to ensure that your DAC has a decent to stellar USB implementation. Aurender uses low powered high efficiency CPU’s so they are designed for virtually no noise operation.

Alternatively if you can stretch your budget, consider buying a used ACS10. I have seen used ones available for $3500-$4K. With ACS10, you get all the functionality of ACS100 plus a high end audio streamer with a completely isolated & filtered USB output.

FWIW, I am using ACS100 in my system for ripping, storage and streaming. Since my DAC is Ethernet based, I am not relying on ACS100 USB output for audio. In my configuration, the ACS100 is virtually indistinguishable (to my ears) from previously owned N10 and N20. And then you have the Critical Listening Mode in ACS100 for even quieter, more transparent audio presentation.

Lastly, I must give props to Aurender for ACS Manager iOS app, its Metadata Editing and Library Management is simply outstanding. The transition (toggling) between ACS Manager app and Conductor app is seamless.

PS: My ‘Digital’ system is listed under my moniker if you like to see how I am using ACS100.

I've heard about Innuos Zenith Mk3 (with CD ripper), but I prefer the remote apps offered by Aurender or Auralic.

Why?  Innuos’ latest upgrade of their Sense app has been getting very high praise from users.  Should be on your radar IMHO. 

First of all, I am a huge Aurender fan. I own two and have auditioned others. They only make streamers… some of the best in the world.


I recommend one… just not that one. The ACS is a specialty box. It was made as an add on box for folks that already had an Aurender streamer who wanted to rip stuff… a legacy box from the not so distant past. I think you would do much better with a main stream… N200 for instance. You can always rip CDs somewhere else. For the future you should have flexibility in connection type and you will get top notch sound quality. No use spending money on non-essential functions.

Once you get your streaming service (Qobuz… is best) quality up to file streaming you are likely to find no reason to rip and store any more. So looking to the future, I would invest as little as possible in ripping and storage. I have thousands of ripped files on my Aurender N100 and W20SE that I never listen to. I have been giving away my CDs.


lalitk - Thanks for your detailed response.  Sounds like the ACS100 could work as a one-box, if care is given to the USB connection.  I did notice the ACS10 but was worried about its use of internal HDD. I can't remember how many crashed hard drives I've replaced in my life. Seems like there's no SSD option in ACS10. 

soix - I'll check out the Sense app. Do you own Innuos? Initially it seemed that Innuos remote management was more complicated and/or required Roon.

ghdprentice - All good points, but now I think we're getting into the philosophical question of whether to own music or not.  Could be a generational thing, but I would like to eventually have a digital music library.  And I'd rather not pay for a download if I can rip a CD I already own (or an LP; I have a good A/D convertor). For me, the ripping needs to be easy/reliable and not several steps removed. For albums that I really enjoy but don't own, there is just an urge to possess the digital file via download.  Streaming remains ideal for exploration of past recordings and new releases.


I hear you on HDD drives but given Aurender’s track record of reliability and excellent customer service support, it’s safe to assume that you don’t have to worry about internal drives crashing anytime soon. The UPS option in both ACS10 and 100 ensures safe shut down incase of power outages. In any case, always keep a backup copy of your music on an external HDD drive. 

I do like the user installed SSD option in ACS100 and newer units. Like you, I am hanging on to my CD rips that are superior sounding to their streaming counterparts. I still buy CD’s and Downloads sourced from analog masters. The ACS100 makes it a breeze to curate, browse and play all of my music. 

lalitk - With the ACS100 (or ACS10) is it easy to "make a backup" to an external USB drive, i.e. backing up the two internal SSD discs while they remain installed?  Do you use the ACS Manager for this? Or do you backup over your network? Sorry -- streamers are new to me.


You can back up files to an external drive over network or by connecting directly to ACS100 Data USB ports, the app is very intuitive. 

1X USB 3.0 (Rear), 1X USB 3.0 (Front), 1X USB 2.0 (Rear)

I use dBPoweramp, a $35 USB CD drive and a MacBook Pro to rip CDs. dBPoweramp makes sure that the rip is bit perfect. My ripped FLAC file automatically is uploaded to my Synology server, but it can be uploaded wherever you want. I keep the NAS as a backup to the files stored on my Aurender. Very need to have a built in CD drive. I should say that since the Aurenders play from internal storage, the music is up to the standards or close to very high Rez. Qobuz streaming.


I guess there could be a philosophical point… but maybe I should explain more… oh, yes, BTW I am 70.

Using the best streaming service costs $14.99 / month and gives you access to millions of albums… over one half million are high resolution. In my system my streamer sounds as good as my vinyl setup. You do not download files. You just locate an album on the Aurender app (for instance) and push play.

So, for the price of on CD per month you get access to a nearly infinite library of Red Book quality or higher music. The service used to be $19.99 / month… it has actually dropped. In addition you have access to thousands of internet radio stations… same incredible quality sound from all over the world… you like Moroccan SCA bands… there is probably one there. More music than you can listen to in your lifetime.

The same streamers usually have internal storage, just in case you want to put your ripped files on there.

I agree that once you stream, you'll forget CDs.

I use roon so I had to cross aurender off my list but otherwise there were high on my list.

I use Innuos which is probably very equivalent.  

Both Aurender and Innuos have good control programs but that is probably the biggest difference you will notice so look into the programs to choose an interface that you like.  I can't stress this enough.  It's like Iphone vs Samsung in some ways.  Some like one, some line another.



I own the N200 and love it for streaming and storage. And I like to “own” my favorite music. Two reasons, I have a lot of live shows that are not available on streaming, and the internet does go down once in a while. I copy all my cds though my computer to the Aurender  and only listen to the digital version. Best of both worlds. 

I've heard from many musicians that the streaming economics model ranges from unfriendly to disastrous for them.  If you don't want to own the CDs, you can always buy them to support artists you care about, & give them away.  There are also companies like ArtistShare (the internet's first commercial crowdfunding website!) to allow closer connection to each release you help fund.  Many independent artists are doing something similar by creating their own GoFundMe / IndieGoGo fundraisers.

“Is DSD always superior to PCM?”


Technically, Yes! But not always, a PCM file can sound just as good as DSD. For me, the quality of production, mixing and mastering is what matters most instead of a file format. If you would like to hear high quality DSD’s, check out

@lalitk Why is DSD technically superior to PCM?  Not sure I agree with that as they both probably have their advantages and disadvantages.  

Wi FI. ?  I saw that aurender does not support wireless?

 I do not know if this is true.


True, but many have used quality mesh networks with Ethernet ports to drive the Aurender. When you think about the Aurender, regardless of where, or how the music arrives, it is played directly from an internal cache.

Thanks. I was aware of the Ethernet Port solution, but I wondered about Sound Quality (SQ) over wireless to a port etc.....

I am guessing that many users are happy with the SQ.

Sorry to revive a 3 1/2 month old thread, but I have the same question about the ACS100 as the OP. So the two negatives that hamper it's performance are the switching power supply (an easy fix, though at 19V, 3.4A, not as easy as most), and the lack of a "audiophile" grade USB output. Several here have suggested that a DAC with a good USB implementation will overcome this limitation. I have a Singxer SU-6 that converts USB into pretty much any other type of output you could want, including my preferred AES, and it does a fantastic job of it. It's currently being fed by my M1 Mac Mini (running nothing but Roon) and it sends the signal to my Yggdrasil LiM. This is my headphone rig and with the recent addition of a MacIntosh MHA200 tube amp I'm getting pretty phenomenal sound. I know virtually everyone here says using a computer for any kind for audio is a mistake, and while I'm skeptical about the difference it would make in my system, I'm willing to try it and see for myself. I'm aware the Aurenders don't do Roon. I think I would be fine without it. I know many believe there is a small sound quality deficit when using Roon, and maybe there is, so hopefully any relative clunkiness of the Aurender app would be overshadowed by the quality improvement. The big question for me is, since there's nothing special about the ACS100's USB output, what exactly am I gaining over the Mac? I'm confident the SU-6 would do a great job with the signal, but it already is doing that with the Mac. Is it worth spending over $4K (incl power supply) to try this?


The primary usage of the ACS100 is for ripping CDs, which you didn’t mention at all in your post. 

If ripping CDs is not what you need, then I suggest looking for a used Aurender N100H which has a linear power supply built in and would output USB to your DDC. 

Or if you want new consider the N150. 


The N150 is a valid alternative. I was originally more interested in the ripping capabilities until I read from someone who compared Aurender ripped files to more commonly sourced ripped files and found that there was nothing special about them. I would miss the bigger, color screen on the ACS, though.




Ripping CDs at this point in time is just not a good use of anyone’s time or money. Better to add the cost of the transport and to be purchased CDs and but a better streamer. My Aurender sounds as good with exact match Cds and typically streaming sounds better on the half million high resolution albums on Qobuz.