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.


@benanders empirical and factual evidence, hearsay, bias.

I’m in this hobby because I love music and enjoy gear. I don’t measure harmonics with an oscilloscope. And I don’t have to in order to provide thoughts based on actual experience.

@lalitk covered everything else in his response so I won’t reiterate it. 

I own a N200.   Love it.    I'm using it with a Lab12 DAC and it sounds excellent.    Aurender makes good stuff.  

@JFRMusic you have gotten a lot of great advice and points of view.  I’ve cycled through some gear in my system, DAC’s, streamers, Pre’s, Amps and Speakers.  I haven’t had the pleasure of having a Aurender Streamer grace my system, based on the brands reputation, one of the best in streaming / digital.  I have had Auralic, Lumin, Node streamers, PC’s being used for streaming and ROON.  I had all in one boxes, Lumin D2, P1, Node (my first) and separate streamer / DAC’s.  Separate streamers made a difference, I compared a P1 using the streamer only to a stand alone streamer (G2) and even though the P1 is 3 - 4 x the price, stand alone streamer bested any other configuration.  When comparing streamers my experience was the differences were subtle, even with big price leaps and different didn’t mean better.  Upgrades to the streamer’s power supply, cabling, noise management beyond the streamer made bigger differences.  Synergies between the Streamer and DAC are huge.  If the manufacture of the streamer designed it work best with USB but your DAC is specifically designed for AES you won’t squeeze the best out of either.  I ran through the above to highlight you have a great set up, carefully matched with synergy throughout the chain, one piece complementing the other.  Chose a streamer that continues in that tradition, from the sounds of it, the less expensive Aurender model fits your gear the best from a synergy, cost, diminishing returns point of view.  It’s no doubt a great streamer that if you upgraded other components would still be right at home.

Some of the best advice I’ve gotten from various audiophiles and dealers is that speakers have the biggest influence over your happiness.  If you have speakers that you love, you then build your system around them.  Once you get past speakers, and amp that pairs well, preamp that matches what you value sound wise.  Then if you stream, digital chain would be the DAC being the most important piece followed by a streamer.  Now, in the digital chain everything matters but you can get a solid streamer and DAC that won’t break the bank that sound great and where you’d have to spend a lot more $$ to see improvements.  Thoughtfully and purposefully designed Streamers / DAC’s are as important as the price.  Also don’t sleep on the interface / app that comes with the streamer.  That’s a huge part of if you’ll enjoy the streamer, along with some of the features offered.  Support for those is also key, companies that routinely update / upgrade their Apps.  Aurender does, Lumin, Aurilac are 3 that do a great job with this.  BluOS is a great app, if you slide into Niam, NAD or some other higher end brands that use it, it’s likely the best app out there. 

Good Luck! 

Thanks again for all the great responses. I’m gratefull to each of you for considering and answering my question. I really appreciate it. I think my current system is pretty revealing. The Benchmark products tend to be underestimated because of their size and price but I’ve not heard anything significantly better at two or three times the price of this stack (DAC3, HPA4, and ABH2) which cost close to $9k. Plus they are so easy to move around. However your points are well taken and the law of diminishing returns will most likely lead me to the N200 as I definitely want the MacBook out of the system as I know a dedicated streamer will offer better SQ as well as convenience based on my audition of the Aurender 100 which was an older discontinued model.It sounded very good. Better than my computer based system.

So one more piece of advice I seek.

To those who have purchased Aurenders can the Aurender models be purchased below List price? If so what can you tell me about what a fair discount might be?

Thanks again



I am going to forward my dealer info via PM. Please check with him directly on any favorable pricing.