Aurender N20 Streamer & Holo May DAC vs Analog

A couple of caveats..

1. My retail analog system is 2x $ of my digital.

2. Power cable to phono preamp > to Aurender

3. Analog signal interconnects $$$>$ digital cables.

Analog is much more musical with regards to tonality, airy soundstage with great imaging, detail, impact .. in every way.

Aurender/May DAC USB vs AES/EBU is source dependent and I haven’t figured this out completely, but CD likes AES with upscaling. Most other sources benefit from USB with regards to imaging, airy presentation and detail/tonality. Still early, but, for example, playing “Friday Night In San Francisco” these differences were quite apparent with Qobuz 176/24. I was definitely favoring USB, but Analog was so much more of everything and much more involving. Analog was amazing.

Aurender is major upgrade from iFi Zen Stream with their best power supply and fiber optic Ethernet isolation.


Would it be blasphemy to say that if you de-couple the streamer's true purpose of delivering a file un-altered to the DAC on the back end that the front end is what matters?  For my money ROON does the front-end the best.

Now if you can find a streamer with a ROON core, do a blind test where the only thing you change is the streamer, your expensive Aurender streamer or any PC with a ROON client installed, can you actually tell the difference?

Theoretically if the streamer is not altering the file's contents the answer should be obvious.

So, what do your ears tell you (no cheating on the blind testing)?

In the final analysis the source file is what matters the most of all.  Try some 384 Khz 32 Bit Floating Point (see DXD specification for details) files out to see what they sound like.  On every single system they will improve the sound; better sonics make better sound not streamers.



“if you can find a streamer with a ROON core”

There lies your rub @recherche ….so many variables with finding a one box ROON solution without the complexities of a science project or paying top dollars.

Streamers from Aurender, Innuos, Lumin and Auralic offers elegant one box solution….those who says they can do it cheaper and make it sound as good as the offerings from aforementioned brands, more power to them. I am not going to get in the way of their double, triple blind test escapades :-)

It’s worth to develop and upgrade both sources. I have to admit that some albums  are sounds much, much better from analog branch of my system, however some other albums are amazingly better from two of my digital branches. Depends on lots of factors. 

#1 Audioman

I agree, if it were within my finances, I’d love to have the 12th anniversary Denafrips Terminator Plus II…..but $7,250 is out of my range by quite a bit