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.


Awesome! I’m looking forward to your thoughts. Just make sure that you give each streamer and yourself at least a day, preferably more, before switching out for another unit. A quick A/B is never a good way to compare things. Allocate some alone time for this late in the evening when it’s quiet. That’s what I normally do when I compare components or cables. 

@audphile1 You have a really nice setup and I have read good things about Bricasti!

@jfrmusic I am a big fan of Benchmark because the DAC1 USB was the first external DAC I purchased in about 2008/09 and I owned the DAC3L as well! Years later, I bought a Holo Audio Spring 2 KTE and later, the Spring 3 KTE DAC. I can’t say it was a night and day improvement, but it was much better. However, when I recently purchased a used MSB Discrete DAC w/two power supplies, it was a big improvement over all the DACs mentioned above. I have a LUMIN U2 streamer connected to my MSB with an Acoustic Zen Absolute 110 AES cable and it smokes! I auditioned about (5) different AES cables from The Cable Co. and (3) different USB cables and one Pangea “toslink” cable which was SHOCKINGLY good! The Acoustic Zen Absolute 110 AES cable was the king! I consider my speakers, (Wilson Audio Sabrina X), the quarterback of my system and I built the team of gear around them. This approach has been a success story for me!

I say all this to say, I am a fan of the AES connection and I hear that the Aurender N20 is the ticket if used with the AES and “clock” connection, as others have already mentioned. I would love to try the N20 in my system, but I’m holding tight for now. I think the Aurender streamer will be an improvement for you regardless of which one you choose, but I agree the N20 may be overkill in your system. Nothing beats a failure but a try, so if you were able to demo the N200 and N20, that should help you make a decision and be able to sleep at night!

Keep us posted!

@jfrmusic Of course you know this but it’s worth repeating.  SQ is ONLY in the ear of the beholder.  Sound quality has no relationship to what someone paid for their equipment. I’m often amazed how folks automatically link sales price as THE metric of system performance. 

Your experience, in your room is all that matters. If your toe taps along with Hiromi as your system is now, I say enjoy the music. Quality of recording x room acoustics x your ear-brain interface are the only relevant metrics. Making your system sound different doesn’t mean it’s better…unless you perceive it as such. 

I played around with sub-$1000 streamers for quite a while when getting back into audio and based on glowing recommendations I found a used Aurender N200 on TMR for $3000.  My speakers and DAC are not super-high quality but I was blown away by the BIG improvement when I plugged in the N200.  Very cost effective improvement, especially used.

@dbt thank you! Yes the M3 is a really nice DAC!

Your setup is very nice as well! Speaking of N20…I’ve not heard it but the OXCO clock in it should be an improvement over the Lumin U2. Add to that the much beefier power supply and I think it will sing with your MSB DAC.