Aurender Model Choices

Before I ask my question let me provide some context.

My system includes the following:

New MacBook Air Running itunes/Music serving hundreds of stored CDs

Macbook connected to my Benchmark DAC3 via Audioquest Coffee USB Cable

DAC balanced connection to Benchmark HPA4 PreAmp

PreAmp balanced connection to Benchmark ABH2 Amp

Benchmark Amp connected to Harbeth C7es-XD Speakers

This configuration has provided a neutral clean, and balanced sound. Really no complaints. However I wanted to add Streaming. So I Signed up for Qobuz and downloaded the App to my MacBook. Using WiFi I found that the Qobuz stream offered superior sound quality to my local CD library. Even Redbook CD quality was better plus the HiRes albums were really good

So now I need to get a dedicated Streamer. Using the MacBook is not convenient and from what I’ve read a Streamer should offer additional SQ enhancement. I’ve done a lot of research and really like the Aurender products plus when I recently purchased my speakers I auditioned them with an Aurender Model 100. The sound was excellent. I plan to go back in a few weeks to audition the $6k N200 model. I’m sure it will sound very good but I will be left wondering what does the N20 sound like? How much better can it be for another $6K? Unfortunately my dealer doesn’t have one to audition and neither does any other dealer near me. I’ve read comments on several forums that the N20 is twice as good as the N200 or that the N200 is nipping at the heals of the N20 or that the N20 just offers a 20% increase in SQ or the N20 blows the N200 out of the water. Without a side by side audition I’m struggling with paying twice the price without a demonstrable and significant SQ improvement. I would expect a SQ that once heard I could never settle for the less expensive model. In my recent experience a more expensive model does’t always win. When buying my speakers I auditioned the Harbeth C7es-XD and the more expensive 30.2 XD model. After almost an hour of back and forth I preferred the lower priced model.

So to conclude has anyone had the opportunity to audition the N20 and N200 together?

If so please Specifically what if any SQ differences did you hear and were they worth an additional $6k?

As I listen to my system streaming from my MacBook with wonderfully smooth, clean HiRes sound  I wonder can I actually get significantly more improvement for $6k or $12K?

Thanks for any info and experiences you can provide.


I own an Aurrender N100 and W20SE and have had significant exposure to the N10 and N20 as well as a number competing streamers. Aurrender would always be my choice. In general, each level represents a substantial improvement in sound quality, in all respects. More detailed, natural, lower noice floor, dynamics, and imaging. My digital end and my excellent analog end provide equal sound quality (see my virtual systems).

You will get better sound quality from an N20 than from a N200. In your set up the N20 will sound better, but it is likely to sound significantly better if your preamp and amp were higher quality. So, I think the question to ask is if you are on the path to a better system and will be upgrading your preamp and amp at some point, then N20 is the way to go. If you will stay with the benchmark stuff, then N200.


I’ve had Harbeth speakers with Benchmark electronics and think it is an awesome combination.  Very synergistic.  That said, Harbeth loudspeakers are not the most revealing speakers (the monitor series are a little more so).  I think you would not hear a lot of difference between any of these streamers.  At the level of your system, while very good but one I would describe as more musical than analytical, when choosing a streamer I would consider which features you want in the streamer more than sound differences (and therefore recommend you look at others in addition to Aurender).
   WRT Aurender, they are excellent for sure.  I’ve owned both the N200 and N20.  The biggest difference between the two is that the N20 has a superior OCXO clock in it (which is only used if you use the SPDIF or AES output) and also does upsampling on the fly.  Otherwise if you are going to use USB output I would not personally splurge for the N20.  Even then, the N150 might suit just fine.  If your dealer is willing try to borrow them and see (hear) for yourself.  
    I mentioned features being what I would recommend looking at at this level above potential sound quality.  These include desired interface (Roon vs Aurender Conductor vs Innuous sense, etc.), upsampling/downsampling capablity (very robust in Lumin products for example), outputs available (USB, SPDIF or AES/EBU) compared to what may be the best input on your DAC, streamers having inboard storage (aurender) vs requiring an outboard server (Lumin), and such things.  There are so many permutations that unfortunately it may take owning a few of these different manufacturers’ models before really understanding what you like best.  
    But overall I think finding a streamer that suits your needs and preferences will give you more satisfaction.  Before spending a lot of cash on a more expensive streamer I would try to hear in your own system if the differences in sound between streamers are that obvious.  Dealers will tell you the N20 is leaps and bounds above the 200, and it is great - IF your system and room allows you to use it to its potential and you can hear a difference via your system.  

Sorry, you asked what differences between the N200 and N20.  When I used the N20 AES output upsampled, driving either a Denafrips Terminator (also using its upsampling) or Mojo audio DAC, compared to the N200 the sound is cleaner, clearer, more refined overall.  These traits I value and one reason I liked the Benchmark equipment with Harbeth.  Once I got a DAC that I would be using only USB with, I went to the N200.  USB input will use the clock in your DAC as opposed to the one in the streamer.  

+1 @ghdprentice  Building a system is all about balance, and spending $12k on a streamer in your current system is over the top IMHO.  You’re better off taking that other $6k and upgrading another component, adding room treatments, etc.  The N200 is going to be such a big improvement over your computer it’s really hard to see you being disappointed or having buyer’s remorse.  Go for it!



Spending $12K on a streamer is a waste of resources on that level of a system unless you upgrade everything (plan on spending $75K). Streamers do not contribute as much to the sound as a good DAC. 

I would much rather have a $2K streamer into a $10K DAC than the reverse. I currently run a $5K streamer into a $19K DAC and have no desire to upgrade. I am a person who is never satisfied and always wants the latest and greatest!