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?



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.