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.




3,646 posts

Pretty bad assumptions are made above, @benanders

Heyya @audphile1 then you misunderstood my intent in that reply. I don’t prefer to segment quotes bc of how that can be misleading, but for expediency’s sake:

1. I owned Benchmark DAC 3 HGC long enough to know it

I believe it. You are N = 1 (sample size). And you gave no empirical evidence as to why that model was unfavorable. That’s not in contrivance to what I stated above.

2. I’ve used several streamers - Mac Mini, Auralic Aries G1, Lumin U1 Mini, Bricasti M3 built in network renderer, tried WiiM Pro Plus just to see what the hype is all about and to confirm its all hype. My current streamer is an Aurender N200.

Also fine. But also full of bias as is most any similar pursuit. Shouldn’t be stated to come off as factual evidence because it’s not. Nothing wrong with such an opinion so long as it’s worded accordingly. IMO. 😉

Few other points worth notng - the N200 has a slot for an internal SSD and that is the absolute best way to set up your local library. I loaded a Samsung SSD with my CD rips and it sounds amazing - much better than with an HDD connected via USB cable.

Aurender is not unique in this distinction. I do not argue the superiority of SSD implementation for file storage and retrieval - from a software standpoint alone it makes hypothetical sense. So opinioN = 2 here. 😉😉

The difference between the streamers is very audible and the components in the OP’s setup will reveal it. If there’s a three figure streamer as good as the N200 with the same features and build, I’d like to know what it is and where I can purchase it.

And now we’re back to limited hearsay. I feel the same way only in reverse - I didn’t hear any 4-5 fig streamer that offered predictable audible improvements to justify price such extreme price discrepancies, but if such a thing is properly demo’ed (with evidence-over-opinions) to exist, I’ll be interested.

Source file should theoretically matter more than anything downstream in the chain, at least until you get to your speakers.

Source file is extremely important. But what you’re saying here is streamer, dac, preamp and amp don’t matter as much as the source file and I disagree. I can airplay a song from YouTube to my N200 and with its low resolution and quality it will sound a million times better than the best version of it played thru a garbage chain of components feeding the same speakers. Yet another bad assumption on your part.

Just because someone holds a differing opinion doesn’t make it a “bad assumption”. The tendency of using “trigger” terms and overly-authoritative tone seems to go hand-in-hand for some folks. Why? This is just music kit for fun, whatever prices one talks oneself into.

As others have said the N20 uses an OCXO versus a TCXO on the N200. This will have no impact at all if you use the USB connected to your DAC. Before I bought my N200, I researched this alot and spoke extensively to Aurender at last year's Axpona show. I planned on using just the USB for my Holo Audio May KTE DAC. They did claim there are some other minor things that would make the N20 superior, but they seemed very minor to me, and I didn't think the extra money was worth it in my system. I'm very happy with my N200's sound quality.


You may want to look into a 432evo Aeon from @audiotroy. it is a little more than the N200 but as you upgrade the rest of your system the Aeon would fit right in.

Devils Advocate here.  You really like your current sound.  You state having the computer in the system isn’t convenient.  I am presuming that you wish to use the Mac and not have it tethered to your DAC.  Why not buy another PC for non music usage, and add a program such as Audirvana to the current Mac, that basically shuts down a lot of the sonically bad stuff that the Mac is doing?


The evidence is in the pudding. Try yourself and you may be in for a pleasant surprise. The $6K (N200) and $12K (N20) are not for everyone…OP asked for opinion between the two and the members with direct experience chimed in.

If I may, why ask for properly demoed evidence from members here than trying the two aforementioned streamers in your system? IMHO, If you’re happy with raspberry pi and don’t have any inclination to try a streamer like N200 in your system then no amount of empirical evidence would convince you or anyone. Plenty of users here are quite content with using their laptops as a source for streaming. 

The only thing we can agree on is the origin of source file….this is indeed important much like rest of the components in your system. A well recorded file would sound good in any decent system but in a well put together system, you uncover nuances in that very recording that were previously inaudible or one didn’t know even existed.

In @jfrmusic system, the MACbook Air is a bottleneck given rest of his system. Stepping up to N200 would be a very audible improvement based on my past experiences. I have owned many Aurender models over the years, starting out with N100 and each time I stepped to next model, I heard marked improvement in terms of perceived detail, liquidity, transparency, pacing and noise floor. Did all of these nuances adds up to spending 2x, 3x or 4x more ….the answer to that would be very subjective and dependent on each individual pursuit. I’ve made my progression from N100 to N30SA….guess what, no regrets at all cause when I cue up a recording, my system gets out the way and I’m being treated with music and the story within each of those compositions.