You’re on right path, Both Innuos Pulse and Aurender N150 are solid. Since their inception, their focus has been on handling digital bits as faithfully as possible. Their apps, a very important consideration in picking a streamer does not add any unnecessary coloration or manipulation of incoming stream, i.e digital bits. Look for used bargain on N150 under $2200 and save your money for DAC upgrade.
@lalitk - I do so appreciate your wisdom and quick response. Glad I am not wandering down the wrong road! I would definitely jump on an N150 in the low $2K range. I view the ads here and on US Audio Mart daily and will be vigilant going forward.
I counsel you to consider using ROON (with Tidal or Qobuz)) and to get a Small Green Computer Sonictransporter server and Ultra or OpticalRendu streamer. I love mine.
All else being equal, which it never is, I’d side with the Innuos Pulse. It’s a new model and incorporates Innuos’ latest thinking/tech and comes with their Sense app that gets very good reviews both for sonics and user interface and is constantly being upgraded. That said, you can’t go wrong with Aurender either and I’m sure you’d get a nice sonic upgrade either way. I haven’t read much on Auralic so can’t comment either way there. Best of luck.
Having owned a Aurlic and now owning two Aurender, I definitely recommend an Aurrender. Extremely high quality sound, built like audiophile equipment, fantastic service. While Roon provides some additional search capability, to my mind it is not worth the complexity and certainly not the cost. Aurender comes with an excellent control and search function called Conductor.
I too have been shopping for a streamer, seems like 6 months, and I’ve read every review and article on the ones you listed above. I think it’s important to get a newer release with the technology and/or features changing I was on board with the Innuos Pulse until I read they did not update the cpu with the new Pulse. Might not affect you but with digital processing speed is important. The few reviews seem quite positive on the Pulse and Innuos apparently has a more musical sound compared to Lumins more relaxed or forgiving sound. I went with the U2mini for the time being but plan on the Hifi Rose rs130 if it is well made and no issues. It uses optical and has i2s, which both are supposed to improve sound quality. Not sure if that’s a top priority for you. The Auralic g2.2 gets good reviews. If you can stretch your budget, the Innuos Pulsar sounds like an awesome option. It’s essentially the Statement minus a couple of features. The Statement is quite well regarded in reviews. Anyway, good luck and let us know which direction you choose.
I went to my copy of Conductor to see if it interfaces with Apple Music. I didn’t see apple as an option, but I’m pretty sure that it will .. or am I behind with the updates?
Like all help me find xyz, there are differing opinions from knowledgeable members. Last year I went with Aurender because of three factors. 1. They only make streaming/server equipment and are well thought of. 2. A member/dealer that I have relied upon to provide me with a very musical phono preamp suggested that I go with Aurender. 3. Same member/dealer had a trade-in Aurender that I was able to buy at a reasonable price.
Fine streamer and I’m very happy with my choice. That doesn’t mean that Auralic isn’t a fine choice, but if I upgrade, I will stay with Aurender.
As far as build quality, I think Aurender is best in class at most any price point. And, I think the conductor app that runs their systems is very good. Not as good as Roon for meta data, but arguably better than Lightning DS (Auralic), BluOS, and Lumin’s app. I haven’t used Innuos Sense so I can’t comment there. Aurender is a safe bet.
I will note that I had an Aurender N100H which I sold and upgraded to an Auralic Aries G2 streamer which was clearly better than the N100H. But, Aurender now has the N150 - which I haven’t heard. I’m guessing it’s a significant upgrade over previous units.
Sound quality I think it depends more on the favored input of your DAC. The Auralic Aries G2 via USB or SPDIF is very good but it is substantially better via their proprietary lightning link (“LL”) - significantly better than any other connection. But that connection only works with other Auralic gear. So again - I think you’d want to know the preferred input on your DACs. Some DACs are better w/ SPDIF, some w/ USB, some with their proprietary connection like mine.
I would think Aurender would get the nod for DACs that prefer SPDIF or AES/EBU. I think the other streamers are probably fairly competitive if using USB.
You can buy a used Auralic Aries G2.x for the top end of your budget. If I were looking for new in that range, I’d probably go Aurender. Again - it’s the safe bet to sound very good, be reliable and well supported.
Just be forewarned - better streamers can make a very significant diffenence. Listen for spatial cues and openness. You may find it leads to the proverbial rabbit hole where you start considering going even further upstream. And, they’re quite responsive to cable upgrades too.
I own Innuos and I love it, still if you don’t have a use to ripped CD’s I would recommend the server since you can save Tidal playlist and sounds quality improves a little and it gets way faster than just streaming.
Aurender is definitely good more neutral sound, but it can be bright, depending on the electronics, with the right ones it is a great option.
Innuos it’s a little warmer and I like that, I’d recommend the Mini S with the power supply, I tested them all and that’s the one I liked the most from the basic line, Pulsar and Statement are better though but prices skyrocket
I have an Aurender N150 and am looking to replace it, not because of the SQ which is very good but because of the Conductor app. The app seems to have been designed around Tidal because using Qobuz I am unable to sort albums saved to my library into Genres or Composers, as you appear to be able to do using Tidal. All I can do is artist or album and as seems common to most apps listing is by first name for artists or the first letter appearing on the album cover. Maybe I did something wrong when I first installed Qobuz but I followed the online instructions as far as possible but most did not relate to Qobuz and Aurender customer support have been unable to help and have given up. Also I lost about 150 albums and my playlists when I connected to Aurender and had to transfer them one at a time from Qobuz, a long and tedious process. But as you use Tidal for whatever reason you might be OK.
Been there, done that, and left that.
since i2s and Ethernet are superior inputs for a dac, if I was looking for a streamer today, I would look at the ps audio air lens and use i2s.
Fuzztone- what’s noisy on a Mac mini? The hardware, fans, disks?
IMO, Mac minis are much quieter than most other computers, which is what EVERY dedicated server is. Also, I believe these factors that weigh heavily on sq:
) a server of any kind in your audio room is bad, that’s why I use Ethernet to the dac with the server 50ft away from my audio room
) I believe the software running on the server is the most important component: Roon and audirvana have it over any other software out there, and I really liked Auralic DS lightning
) there are many drawbacks that people compromise on when buying dedicated servers. For example: some if not all of these servers run a proprietary OS, which you might think is good, which I think is terrible. Support is the main thing, I read last week that somebody was using a proprietary system and it took a week for support to call them back. Most of these servers run Linux which is great, but 99% of the clients of these servers no nothing about Linux so how in the hell is the client going to run VI to edit a file the manufacturer wants you to modify? What kind of backup do you use on the server to backup the TBs is music files you might have?
) I do think i2s is superior to Ethernet and worlds better than usb, so I would be inclined to look at the air lens and have a dedicated box in my audio, but have all my data on a local server located in another location in the house.
I have an Innuos Zen Mk3, a Lumin U2 Mini and a Bluesound node and if I had to choose one it would be the Lumin. They all have their pluses. The Lumins SQ is very much to my liking leaning away from analytical toward warm. The Lumin app is fine but I’ve gone down the Roon road and just love the exposure to new music. The Innuous is great as it does two things I never thought I needed but like having. First I can rip a cd and the cs shows up in my Roon library. Don’t have many cds but when something is only available on cd it’s perfect for me. It also hosts my Roon core.
emphasis on musicality and sound quality the Lumin in my home wins.
My experience with streamers, all with Yggdrasil LIM
phone/ipad: sounded ok at the time but in fact very harsh and noisy commpared to dedicated streamer
Raspberry pi with digione signature hat and Shanti: huge improvement but still harsh especially with like say violins, and doesn't handle complex music that well. That being said, I was pretty happy with it for a while especially for the price.
Lumin U2 mini: A very good streamer, better at streaming than the Aurender N100h but the Aurender N100h sounds much better than the Lumin if it is using local files. Not a fan of the app. No local storage which to my ears so far sounds better than streaming. You have to use minimserver which is a pain. dont know if NAS might be better. It does do ROON which is nice but the sound quality is better with the Lumin app. I have a hard time finding my local files with roon, and they don't really sound any better than streaming, which is perhaps no surprise as they are still coming in over your local network. I am finding roon also a pain, and can find new music etc. other ways including just using the qobuz app to explore things.
Aurender N100H: sounds amazingly good with local files. But streaming is only OK.
N150: Local file playing a bit better than N100H. Streaming is much improved over the 100H, but local files are still I think significantly better, more density. The app is pretty good, could be better especially its integration with Qobuz. It is annoying not to be able to search Qobuz favorites, but you can add favorites to the Aurender local library, but still not so easy to fiind sometimes.
I am now wondering if the N200 or N10 might be better especially at streaming, or if the rest of my system is not good enough for it to make a difference. Yggy LIM and Raven Blackhawk with no really expensive interconnects.
Oops, forgot one. I had the Innuos Zen MK3 for a while, nice app and also a roon endpoint, but I found it harsh compared to the Aurender.
One other point, I have a bit of hearing sensitivity, and started using Roon just for the DSP. With the Aurender, I don't need any dsp. U2 mini streaming also don't need dsp so much.
I run an Aurender N100H with a Yggdrasil (OG) for several years and haven’t had the itch to upgrade. It sounds GREAT. I agree that when I got the Yggdrasil it was a gob-smacking upgrade. Macs may be quieter than most pc’s, but when I replaced my Mac laptop with the Aurender it was another astonishing increase in sound quality. Streaming high-res or well recorded red book Quboz sounds better than cds or vinyl on my system.
I'm in the same boat as OP, looking at same models.
Another wildcard is the Matrix Audio Element S (pure streamer, no DAC) that has an i2S output that is compatible with Denafrips DACS and others. Roon certification still pending, but I think the bigger concern is their app.
The recent price drop on the Auralic G1.1 streamer had me leaning that direction, but still on the fence.Innous entry level models don't seem to be a large enough step up.
MOON 280D MIND2 by SIMAUDIO bested my BRYSTON two-box player & DAC stack.
- highly recommended.
- if you elect within the first year to upgrade to higher model unit, SIMAUDIO will grant you a 100% trade-in on your initial purchase toward the upgrade,
- if you elect within the 2nd year to move a higher model unit, SIMAUDIO will grant you a 75% trade-in on the upgrade..
I have a BlueSound Node 2i. I tried an inexpensive DAC and found it sounded better without. I really wonder if the sound is significantly better with these expensive streamers? I stream Tidal and since MQA disappeared, I wonder if the old MQA files play hi-res.
The sound from these expensive streams would have to be significantly better to invest this kind of money.
I had a friend who auditioned speakers for a year with me for a year. I finally settled for Paradigm Prestige speakers. I didn’t know at the time they were 2 1/2 way. Four weeks later this friend attacked an article from Stereophile Magazine explaining why 3 way were better than 2 1/2 way. Shortly after he told me he purchased a pair of 3 way SALK 3 way speakers. Since then I added a pair of REL SHO’s and they helped. However, I have stopped listening to my system because I think I should have purchased 3 way.
Larry, this is absolutely wild. My “extremely qualified” advice is to listen to your system - and enjoy it; our systems are better than 99% of what the general population has exposure to (let alone on a daily basis).
I’d be curious to know your friend’s thought process - or maybe lack of awareness - when he purchased the three-way speakers and then sent you an article confirming his purchase and your perceived loss. Hopefully this was unintentional on his part. If not, I don’t think that’s normal behavior and it’s more of a reflection of him than you and your great speakers. You literally need to turn up the volume and drown out the noise (internal & external) on you killer system.
Keep in mind that if you're using USB or I2S to connect your streamer to your DAC, you're defaulting to the DAC's clock rather than making use of the clock in the streamer. That may or may not influence your decision about how much to pay, since there are lots of other factors that could influence your decision. But as far as accuracy of the bits streamed, you're now defaulting to the Yggy by going USB. Buying a streamer because it has a better clock would mean a move to SPDIF to take advantage of your purchase.
OP here ..... Wow, impressive number of replies to my request. Very thankful and enlightened. Appreciate all who have contributed. A shout out to @peipaul as his experience with several of the streamers I am contemplating and his environment with the Yggy LIM provide me with somewhat of a baseline.
A clarification on my environment re Apple and a few questions based on the replies -
We can offer you the 432Evo Servers
he Evo is a full Roon core and endpoint and it has been designed from its inception to run Ronn:
in fact we are one of the very few servers designed to explloit a multi core cpu for better Roon sound quality:
we have created a proprietary os that runs Roon in its own cpu core, while using another core to run housekeeping and backend processes
wile another core addresses streaming file allocation and caching.
We have actually compared our 432Evo Aeon $7800, vs the 12k Aurender N20
Everyone who heard the demo felt the Aeon produced a dramatically better sound out of the same Dac.
The Aeon was more three dimensional, and had greater depth of field, and the midrange was richer, all in all the Aeon was a more engaging sounding server.
On another note, we have a few advantages over aurender and other servers:
1: We are an upgradable, modular platform, this means you can upgrade an Aeon to our flagship Master.
Our Master 16k is shockingly close to the $30k Taiko extreme so we represent a server which is very close to the worlds best server yet is half the price.
The upgradable modular nature of our servers means as better parts become available, we can swap out new parts so we have a platform you can grow with.
We compared our $7800Aeon to a 25k Innous Statement with upgraded power supply after AXPONA at a Chicago dealers’ showroom.
all listeners concluded the Aeon sounded just as good as the Statement.
Now consider our Master sounds even better, yet still costs considerably less than the Statement.
This means you can start with an Aeon and upgrade to a Master later.
This also means our products can evolve so if a better sound card or Clock card comes out, we can easily upgrade our server.
also, our Master actually contains 3 separate toroidal transformers which is far superior to Innous single transformer design
As per is2 being better it is not better then usb and the lack of standards makes it impossible to support.
we have done everything possible to maximize performance while eliminating digital noise.
dave and Troy
audio intellect NJ
us importers 432 Evo music servers.
I use a Aurender X100L with a external DAC....You don’t use the conductor app when streaming music, you just have to start the app and make sure its connected, then minimize and start Tidal or Qobuz and your good. You only use the Conductor app when copying or playing music through the internal hard drives.
BTW the sound is really amazing , im listening to (Tidal) CD quality sound right now and its impressive, I may switch to Studio quality later. However I thought Qobuz has excellent sound with just the basic subscription.
@mattmiller Thanks for the description of just streaming on the Aurender. Since I am presently only streaming with Tidal and not initially planning on copying or playing music on a hard drive it would make for a very simple start!
@norust I had a similar streaming journey with several computers and a Node 2i upgraded with the PD Creative board and a SBooster ECO linear power supply. It sounded quite good. I’ve not heard your Yggy, I use a Chord Qutest DAC with an Hugo M-Scaler. Upgrade your digital coax output to the DAC. I used Audioquest Carbon and then a Nordost Silver Shadow. Each was a step up. If you use USB, definitely upgrade it. Especially if you go to an Aurender N150.
I’ve now used a N150 for over 6 months. The sonics are outstanding, 5 on a 5 point scale. However, the Conductor App is easy to use but lacks in a key area for me. I listen to mostly jazz. The Conductor App has decent information on the main artist in a song but 90%+ of the time there is nothing about the associated artists in a song or album. Same for classic rock. Who’s playing the sax? Forget it, you can’t find out on the Conductor App if it’s not the main artist. Now I understand why people love Roon.
Customer support from Aurender is outstanding! Not only have I seen many improvements to the Conductor App but they are great on individual support requests as well. Thanks Kelly!
Music discovery is good on the Conductor App because of “Allow Auto Play” which adds different songs/artists based on what you’ve played when you hit end of queue.
Use the native music service connections on Conductor for the best sound quality, not Apple Airplay or other apps.
I also used an Apple Mac Mini so I can add info there if you are considering that. There’s pros and cons like on everything else.
I actually just bought an Aries G1.1 as an upgrade to a Node2i. I had been leaning that way, but the recent discount made me jump in. I’m not sure if it’s a precursor to discontinuation, but I’ve seen used G1s for more than the discounted price. AURALiC seems to be angling higher end with the G3, but I think there was a lot of trickle down from the G2 that made it into the G1.1. Either way, it didn’t suddenly get worse just because of the discount. It feel hefty, and seems well built. It may be my imagination, or it could be finally running my Qutest with the USB input, but I think it’s better soundstage and separation. I run Zu Soul Supremes driven by either an LTA MZ3 as an integrated or as a pre into other amps. I did get the SSD but haven’t started setting up a library yet. One of the pluses for me was the wireless connection. A lot of other streamers don’t have a wireless connection, much less a stated preference for it. I’m not up for rewiring my house for Ethernet so a solid WiFi connection is a big plus. I’ve heard a lot of whinging about most streamers’ apps (from people not running Roon). I’m still getting used to the app, but it seems on par with BluOS. There’s always a learning curve. It sounds like iOS only won’t be an issue for you so that’s good. I use Qobuz so I can’t tell you how well it integrates with Tidal.
@mahler123 I realize this phrase "integrated" with Apple was confusing and not the best of words, I did clarify this above - about 9 posts up :) but I know this is a busy thread. Net is that all I meant was having the streamer app ( i.e. Conductor, Sense, etc ) be available to download from Apple and run on an iPad. All of the final choices I have learned allow for this.
@cat_doorman Great insight! thanks... I was wondering the same thing about the hefty $1k discount off list on the Auralic G1.1. The price makes this compelling and agree that the discount did not all of a sudden place a G1.1 in a subpar category. BTW love your choice of speakers :)