Aurender integrated streamer/DACs

Does anyone have experience with any of the mid-to-upper-level Aurender units that feature integrated DACs and how do they compare with comparably-priced outboard DACs?  Understanding DAC voicing can be a matter of preference, I am also considering a dedicated Roon Core built of JCAT components feeding either a Weiss 502 or the new PS Audio DSD when that becomes available.

Bonus question: looking at this another way (assuming the DACs referenced above are superior to a built-in Aurender DAC), how would a nicely spec'd Roon Core compare with an Aurender Server/Streamer?

Please answer only on in terms of sound quality only.  I believe the UI will work fine for me, whether it is Conductor or Roon.  Thanks very much!


I went with an Aurender N200 without the built in DAC. The Aurender’s with the built in DAC sounded fine, but I wanted to be able to change/upgrade DACs over the years as I have done in the past. I have the current PS Audio direct stream DAC, but plan to upgrade in the next year or two. Just seems more flexible to me. 


+1 This is the way most folks look at it. But this does not answer the question. I own two Aurrender streamers only. But will be interested in hearing what people have chosen combo units.

You should check out the A200 but if you are really thinking about a DAC like the Weiss then you should actually check out the N200 or N20.    I thought the same thing , and after giving it some thought I went with the N200.  Couldn’t be happier 

Look at the comparison chart on Aurender’s site and you will see that the streamer only versions have more features than the streamer / DAC alternative at the same price.    I never thought I would spend that much on a streamer but it was a good purchase 

@mhwilliford I am an authorized dealer and have compared the A15 against a the N200 with a few different DACs, as the A15 is essentially the N200 with a DAC onboard. Please take what I say with a grain of salt because 1) I am a dealer and 2) My standards are very, very high in terms of reference level.

I would say that if you would plan to connect the A15 into a preamp, it is a STELLAR unit. My favorite combo to demo for people that is near endgame for the price is the Aurender N200 ($6K) and the T+A DAC 200 ($6.9K). This combination punches very high for a combined $12.9K retail, and one may have to spend double to best it. This considering, the A15 gets very close at $8K retail, and if using the DAC at line level, I would easily equate it to a ~$4-6K DAC. Compared to the N200 + DAC 200 combo, the A15 has a little less body, a less wide soundstage, and tonal balance is a bit higher very slightly. The A15’s clarity is overall excellent, but it’s organic delivery falls a bit behind of the separates. The differences are minor but quickly noticeable. Whether it is worth the $5K difference in retail price will depend on the individual. I’ve had a few customers say the difference is worth it, and others that say it isn’t. It tends to come down to the overall investment level one already has in their system and the affinity they have for an integrated vs separate digital solution.

I would say that if you plan to use the A15 direct to an amp, the preamp stage and sonics of the digital attenuator is where it falls short of being premium, but that’s where the A20 better excels.

In short, the A15 is a very strong performer for its price point.

Oh, and an Aurender N200 blows most Roon cores that run $1-3K out of the water. It all comes down to the robustness of the power supply, quality and effectiveness of isolation, and clocking, where most Roon cores sacrifice all three.


Thanks to everyone for their input.  I do believe the separates route is more-likely the direction I would take, especially since I do not hear any claims that the built-in Aurender DACs are just as good as an outboard $6 to $10k DAC. 

On the question of budget:

DAC budget $6k to $10k list

Server/Streamer $3k to 6k list

Server/Streamer/DAC combination $8k to $12k list (I do expect some savings at same quality level if combined since the chassis and labor costs are probably reduced).

It should also be noted that I do believe in room correction.  I have good sound attenuation for high/mids, but would ideally like to construct a room EQ to correct for bass modes.  I am not sure if Aurender offers this capability, but I feel that such a filter could be constructed within Roon.  One of the major attractions of the Weiss DAC (it's reported studio-like accuracy being primary) is the ability to deploy bass-mode correction in the DAC.  It also offers a de-essing filter, which I would surely utilize for certain recordings that I otherwise enjoy.

This discussion highlights the fact that listening to these combinations and assessing them is frustratingly difficult unless you have access to a very well-stocked hi-fi store, which are a diminishing resource.  Given this is where we are, my plan is to audition the Weiss 502 and new PS Audio DSD when the latter becomes available.  From there, I'll make the next choice - Roon super-core (likely a separate PC based on JCAT components), Roon-compatible unit (say Innuos Zenith Mk3), or Aurender N200.

That's unless somebody can say that an Aurender A-series between $8k to $12k list can do both.

I should probably also state that my current DAC "baseline" is the DA2 module in my MC2700 pre-amp.  It's actually quite sweet in it's own right, but I have to believe at $2000 list, including dealer installation (if you were upgrading from a DA1) that it is probably not up to the sound quality of the Weiss 502 or new PS Audio DSD.  The in-home audition should settle that question, then with a new DAC (or not) in place, I could hopefully audition an Aurender and prove to myself that it is a worthwhile investment.

Which brings me to one final thought (thanks again for everyone's input, and patience with my wandering logic).  The Weiss incorporates built-in streaming capability as a Roon Endpoint and I am not sure what this means really.  My understanding is that it can operate as a Roon endpoint with nothing but a LAN connection.  Does anyone understand how this works and more importantly, how it sounds vs. being fed from a dedicated server/streamer?

Thanks so much for the constructive discussion.




Excuse me. I was not trying to be critical. I agree with you and just wanted to support your comments. It is perfectly reasonable to suggest alternative ways of looking at the problem. i also that I would be interested in hearing folks comments about integrated as it is a path I have not seriously explored.

I am using the N200 with a Lab 12 DAC 1 Reference and it REALLY sounds good.  This unit was proof positive that good digital starts at the source, the modern day transport... the streamer.   

I can't even imagine what it would take dollar wise for an analog set up that sounds this good.  Big $$$$

The combo sounds anything but digital.  It's the first source that I just kick back and don't even try to dissect....  music just flows out of my speakers.    Wish I had the means to put a system like this together 20 years ago!   Would have saved a lot of time and money.   


Given your budget, there are so many options. Conventional wisdom says to take the separate route which gives you complete flexibility with upgrades down the road. On the other hand, if you’re shopping in $15K range, you must look at DAC’s with streaming card or client are catching up to separates. They also gives you the flexibility to use an external streamer. Weiss is one of them, there are others like Bricasti, Merging Technologies and Grimm Audio. The performance of streaming in aforementioned brands gotten so good that external streamer like N200 will only yield marginal improvements. It is also worth pointing out, the DAC’s with onboard streaming client eliminates the need for a high quality USB, SPDIF/AES cables plus extra power cord. 

Based on my experience of owning ultra high end separates- $37K retail, my recommendation would be to choose a manufacturer that has excelled at DAC tech. This is where you’re going to get the most return for your buck. I’m not saying source is not important but DAC performance carries more weight in my experience. I am a long time Aurender user and always owned separates but this new category of DAC first with onboard Streamer client is fast approaching the performance of separates. I ditched the separates and went with a very high resolution DAC that allows me to use Aurender via Ethernet and as a bonus has ROON Core + Renderer on board. No need to maintain separate NUC or laptop to run roon core. I get to enjoy both ROON and Aurender seamlessly over my network.

And lastly, streaming is not plug n play. Network optimization is just as important. More on that later once you’ve chosen your DAC and Streamer/Server. 

This is a great time to jump into digital streaming, lots of excellent choices. My “Digital’ system is listed under my moniker. PM me if you wish to discuss further. 

Very interested to learn more about this as it seems like it might be the "right" way to approach a one-box solution - that is to say if the DAC is the more influential component on sound, then begin with that, then add streaming.  So let's say we have the Weiss 502 connected to the network via ethernet as an example.  Where does the Roon Core reside?

Where would my ripped library reside?  My first thought was this would still be on my PC, but the information would be passed to the DAC via ethernet rather than USB, but Weiss says you can simply connect to ethernet and run Roon.  That implies to me that some sort of Roon Core must be present in the Weiss unit, even if it only allows streaming.  I do not have a huge CD collection, but I would like to have access to those CDs that I prefer over their streamed counterparts.  Please let me know what you know.  I am also going to post this to the forum in case others have thoughts.  Thanks!

Another thought/question for those with Aurender experience.  Again assuming the separates route, why not consider the Aurender ACS10?  Looking at the specs, it seems to utilize the same cached playback and USB/LAN isolation as the A and N series, with built-in ripping and massive storage.  Smaller screen, yes, but really I only want to be able to glance up at that see the critical data and recognize the cover art...and even that really isn't so important to me as I am guessing Conductor will provide that same information.

And this brings me to another Conductor question; does anyone have Android experience?  Yes, I do have an iPhone, but I like a larger screen experience when scrolling through my album collection.  We do have an older iPad that I could dedicate to this purpose, but I've also considered getting an Android-based laptop/tablet as I also enjoy photography and would like to have a portable platform for Photoshop/Lightroom.

Thanks everyone for the knowledge-sharing - much appreciated.



The Weiss 502 would be one of those one box solution with a more emphasis on digital to analog conversion. It is also a Roon ready device (renderer) which means you need to have a separate device like ROON Nucleus or a laptop on your network to run ROON core. Either of these devices can also serve as a storage for your CD rips. Since both 502 and Nucleus or laptop are on same network, they will interact with each to provide full functionality of ROON system and playback of any stored files seamlessly.

If you go ROON route, the choice of external device that stores Core and music files becomes critical as most devices need a Linear Power Supply for best performance unless you use a laptop (not recommended due to laptop being inherently noisy). I believe you can easily put together NUC with a very nice LPS under $1200 plus the cost of Ethernet cables and power cords. I have a limited knowledge on ROON Core options so I am counting on others to weigh in. 

Alternatively, you can bypass ROON renderer in 502 and get N200 that has onboard storage option for music files. You will use either USB or SPDIF for direct connectivity to 502.

If you don’t want to mess with external ROON core or N200, then consider Grimm Audio MU1 or Merging Technologies +player. Both devices are all in one DAC/Roon Core + Renderer players. As far storage, MU1 comes with optional storage and you can hook up a external portable SSD storage directly into +player.

Hope this helps!

Thanks very much.  This makes sense.  I am back to homemade Roon core which I am comfortable with OR an Aurender ACS10/N20/N200 plus DAC, the optimum pairing TBD based on the DAC selected.  In my mind the Weiss has a leg-up because of the ability to implement bass room correction (and to a lesser degree anti-essing), in which case I would likely pair it with one of the referenced Aurender products, but should the PS Audio DSD prove superior to my ear, then I might stick with a dedicated CORE and perform room bass correction within Roon.

I think both the streamer and DAC are equally important.

Most folks have access to ok sounding streamers (MACs, PC, iPads) and the intellectual attraction to “it is just bits, it can’t make a difference” is so overwhelming that most folks basically have to hear the difference a high quality stream can make to believe it. This usually happens after they own a high quality DAC. I did. I was instantly converted and never considered going back.

So, to soften the financial blow and focus on a single research project, it may make sense to get a really high quality DAC first… as it will produce a big upgrade… but then the streamer will also.


You’re on a right path. Let’s chat about network optimization once you’re settled with 502 or PS Audio DSD in your system. Good luck and keep us posted!

Update.  I auditioned a Weiss 502 for about a month.  Very fine piece of equipment that was quite frankly built better (not as flashy, but better connections and knob feel) than my McIntosh C2700 pre-amp.  I fully expected to find that the Weiss was audibly better than the C2700's DA2.  Using Roon, and setting up a zone with both the Weiss connected via ethernet and the DA2 to my PC via USB, I was able to easily accommodate A/B comparison, and then a double-blind test.  My son (who is a musician) and I both took the test and really could not tell the difference.  The rest of my system is an MC 462 and B&W 802 D4s, so you'd think it would be resolving enough to tell the tale.  The sound really is quite good, but now I am back to looking at the source because thinking about it some more, maybe that's my first constraint as my PC is in no way optimized for sound, though I do use an AQ Coffee USB cable.  So now I am back to N20 or N200 to be sure my source is as good as I can practically afford, and then try another DAC (based on another technology - maybe a PSAudio DSD MkII or the T+A DAC 200 or Holo May or second-hand dCS Bartok).  Thoughts?  Thanks All.  -Mark

@mhwilliford If you can afford an N20, go for it. The N200 is excellent, but the N20 is a level above and delivers with much more body and smoothness on top of the great clarity the N200 brings. The N20 is near endgame, and you have to listen critically to discern the differences with the doubly expensive N30SA, which is exceptional by bringing even more clarity and larger soundstage.

For the DAC, I have highly recommended T+A as I have in the past, but I am curious about the DSD MK II as I used to own the fully modded MK I. That said, the DAC 200 is leagues above the DSD MK I. I haven’t heard the DAC 200 and DSD MK II side by side.

I would forego the Bartok. I find it to be a bit closer to the analytical side, and you may be paying for features you will not use (built in streamer).

Take this with a grain of salt as I am an authorized dealer for Aurender and T+A, but I am an audiophile first and chose to carry these brands for a reason and owned equipment from them prior to becoming a dealer. 

I just bought Aurender A200 as an upgrade from BlueSound Node. My initial impression of Aurender that it sounds a bit more dull in comparison. It lacks the high end presence of BlueSound. 

The rest of the system is exactly the same for both sources: Luxman 507z and SonusFaber Olympica III. 

Is there something that I should tweak in Aurender or do you think I have been jaded by higher presence sound of BlueSound?

Thank you all!





First, is it new? Broken in? It will need at least a couple hundred hours on it before it will perform correctly… 300 or 400 is better.

Tell us more about the rest of your system. There is a place for photos and to ID your system. That would really help us. Click on the little triangle next to discussion Forum to virtual system.

Aurender streamers are world class… although their DACs are not known to be quite as leading edge. The A200 i should blow away the Blue Sound.

Is it possible you are taking treble and in your face presence for higher quality? Higher quality sound brings out the natural midrange and heft of voices and many instruments… it is more relaxed and musical. The presentation is deeper, soundstage wider. Just a thought.

Yes, it is brand spanking new A200. The rest of the system is Sonus Faber Olympica III speakers and Luxman 507z (will send a photo later). Note, that I did side-by-side with BlueSound on the same setup. 

Aurender does sound warmer with more bass, but cymbals and background piano is blended in, very understated. In contrast, I could hear all instruments on BlueSound. I do use a cheaper RCA cable for BlueSound (and LINN interconnects for the Aurender), so I can play with that, but I doubt it would have such a drastic difference. 


If you don’t believe in break-in then you can return A200. The DAC’s are known to open up after 250-400 hours. 

If I’m you I’d play the Aurender exclusively for 200 hours and then do some critical listening then switch the Node back in and see what you think. Also, what cable are you using into the streamers? Lastly, at the level of your system you really need to invest in a better DAC.  If you specify what sound characteristics you prefer you can get some good recommendations here or maybe better to just start another thread for that. 

Agree that the A200 needs to be broken in.  However, even out of the box there should be a night and day difference between the two, in favor of Aurender.  Could it be a defective player? Have you contacted Aurender?  They should be able to trouble shoot online for you.

Aurender support is looking into it, I will report back when I hear back from them. 

I am using Linn standard interconnects

The comment about the DAC is concerning. Are you saying that Aurender's DAC is not good enough, and I should have bought a digital only streamer? 

The comment about the DAC is concerning. Are you saying that Aurender's DAC is not good enough, and I should have bought a digital only streamer?

@gsomin  Yes.  That’s exactly what I’m saying given the other components in your system.  The DAC in the Aurender is a bottleneck and your system will reward you greatly with a better standalone DAC.  You can continue to use the Aurender as a streamer, but your system is crying out for a better DAC IMHO. 



I am sure no one said the Aurender DAC is bad. I’ve not heard that. But I have also not heard tremendous praise for it. So, I am sure it is a good DAC. Most of us that are dedicated to high end sound buy separates… Streamer and DAC. Typically separates at the same level will sound a bit better. Also, you get greater flexibility with separates. You can choose those that sound more to your liking. Also, much easier to upgrade.


Typically when a component breaks in, the sound will mellow, bass become more accurate and the soundstage will open up.

I noticed you mentioned cymbals. When the soundstage opens, it is likely the individual instruments will become more obvious. But your choice of words continues to make me think you are missing overly trebly / harsh high frequency.

When I was upgrading in the first couple decades of pursuing the high end, I noticed the “treble” was decreasing with system upgrades. it started to worry me. So I went on a crusade to listen to real treble… I listened to real cymbals, piano, etc. to my surprise, what was disappearing was the sssssh… it was high frequency hash and distortion… leaving the unadulterated sound of brass.

When the unit is broken in… listen to some big bells, and cymbals. Does the Aurender sound more like brass? Maybe it sounds more natural. That is good.

Btw, I owned Olympic 3’s for many years. Great, natural sounding speakers.


Hope I said something helpful here.

“The DAC in the Aurender is a bottleneck”


And you know this from direct experience with A200 in your system? 

And you know this from direct experience with A200 in your system?

@lalitk No, and fair point. But is the DAC in the A200 comparable to a Denafrips Terminator or the like? I think not, and I stand by my assertion that the level of the OP’s system deserves a better standalone DAC. I mean, the guy’s got about $25k invested in excellent electronics and speakers, and you think his best option is to use the internal DAC in a $6k streamer??? Have you compared the internal DAC of the A200 to higher-end DACs? I can’t imagine it’d fare very well. I could be wrong, but again I think not. His system deserves and requires a better DAC. I think @ghdprentice who’s very well versed in Aurender and excellent DACs may back me up on this. But again, I could be wrong.


In most cases, separates are capable of better sound. I never said, A200 DAC Is @gsomin best option given his system. The A200 DAC is not even fully broken-in and you rushed to conclude that A200 is a ‘bottleneck’ in his system. Was that a fair assertion on your part, I let you be the judge of that! This isn’t an argument about separate vs integrated. The best advice for @gsomin is to allow full break-in of A200. Post break-in, if he still don’t find A200 upgrade substantial over Node then going the separates route or another DAC to complement Node 2 or N200 would be the next logical step.

As far as comparison, my last comparison was Aurender A30 vs EMM Labs DA2 and I chose DA2. In this category, I will always choose and recommend separates as it offers most flexibility and convenience to tweak the sound to your liking.

Post removed 

This isn’t an argument about separate vs integrated. 

@lalitk Yes, it really is exactly that argument. If you think the best recommendation for a DAC in a $25k+ system is the one that’s included in a $6k streamer have at it.  Me?  If I’ve got that chunka change sunk into my system I’m sucking it up and buying a better separate DAC because I think it’s pretty damn important.  So yeah, I’m saying the DAC included in a $6k streamer is a bottleneck in the context of a $25k+ system.  It’s all about balance, and using that relatively inexpensive DAC section in that system is in my opinion unbalanced.  

I had an A10 which is the predecessor to the A200. It’s not going to get much better. Aurender will always sound good and never fatiguing but will not get you the utmost in resolution or transparency.  Send it back why you have a chance. I had the Cary 600 and 700 after the A10. Again very good but also uses the AKM velvet chip sets and they are just too smooth. I have a Bricasti M3 streaming Dac and it’s what music really sounds like. Dynamic and big. Added an EtherRegen and a LHY OCK 2 reclocker and it digs deep with fantastic transparency. 

@soix & @lalitk 


Good discussion. I think we are all saying about the same general, separates are better. It is likely the OP could benefit from a sea parade… but I don’t think any of us could categorically be sure.


OP, definitely allow it to break in. The nuances we are talking about are likely pretty small. Spend one serious time with it… if it doesn’t blow away the Bluesound… then go for the N200 with a good quality DAC and you will never look back. I am sure we can help coach you on the DAC… if it comes to that… but I doubt it will.



Hello people. Thank you for all your help so far. 

Aurender people looked into it and found out that my software did not detect Tidal Master quality, only HiFi. Once they updated the software and I could download the highest quality, the life came back into the system. Sound stage expanded and high end came up. 

I do not know if I love it quite yet, but I definitely see an improvement vs BlueSound. Much less fatiguing, warmer sound, especially in the mid. I am going to play it on repeat for a week and hopefully this will make it sound even better. 

As far as the separates are concerned, it seems that the price for N200 and A200 is very similar, in which case I can do this at any future point.

Very nice discussion!  So many of us have been there, starting with a Node.

I did, and then started upgrading the DAC.  I was not even streamer focused at this time, and I had Roon on a Nucleus+.

So Node > PS Audio DS > Auralic Vega 2 > Tambaqui

(FWIW I found the DS most disappointing)

Boom.  I was there. I heard every improvement along the way and love the resolution and lifelike qualities of the Tambaqui.  All of these DAC's have a built in streamer.

But of course then the streamer. I Think this is the right order to go.  And, if you have Roon on another source and like it, then easy to stay that way through other DAC's.

Now enter the streamer idea.  You may be happy with a fine DAC with internal streamer, and as stated, the A series may not be it.  You are paying for the streamer end I think with Aurender, which I hear is great.  The idea that you can later add a better DAC to the A series just leaves you with a non optimized component again.

My steamer path went Auralic Aries G2 > same with upgraded power supply (better) > Grimm MU1 (great and does Roon Core).

Boom.  Again.  Except now I am demoing the XACT S1 FROM JCAT.  Wow. Disturbingly good. No Roon.  Sounds be continued!

@gsomin : I know those Linn interconnects, I had a pair. Gave them away. I'd recommend that you do the same and buy proper cables, you system deserves much better than those Linn cheapies and trust me, the difference CAN be drastic. IMO, YMMV etc.


What is your budget for RCA IC’s….A200 will benefit from better IC’s, Ethernet and Power Cord. If may ask, what PC you are using with your Luxman Integrated. I believe, cables matters!  My digital system is listed under my user id, if you are curious what I’ve done to tweak my system.