Time To Upgrade My Digital Front End

Been streaming via a LAN connection (through SFP’s) using my Gustard R26 DAC as a renderer and have been pretty happy with the sound quality, but I think I would like to step things up a little.

Many here mention the likes of Aurender, Auralic, Innous, and a few smaller, boutique companies as well. Most of these are a bit over my budget though.

I have been reading about the TEAC UD 701 DAC/Server/PA here on AG and some other sites and it’s getting decent write ups. I’m finding though that most of those threads on AG don’t have some of the more seasoned member’s opinions on the TEAC. Is it possibly not up to par?

The UD 701 is around $4K, under my budget of $5K. I’m not opposed to purchasing used (I see one on presently on AG) but would really like to have the security the warranty provides.

And I know, separates are preferred which the TEAC is not...



With a 5K budget dont screw around, the reason you see a lot of people talking about Aurender and others is because they actually work well and are built to last, and the SQ is stellar. You can purchase a $3000 music server from Aurender then add a external DAC of your choosing ...Thats real bang for your buck and a terrific value.



Matt M

@mattmiller thanks. I think I would prefer to stick with Roon and I don’t think Aurender is compatible. I did here that the Aurender ap is very good though, maybe I could save myself $14 a month! 

With only $2K left for a DAC maybe I should keep my Gustard R26?

If you have ROON already, try a USED Bryston BDP 3 as a renderer. BDP2 with a BDP3 soundcard on USaudio for like $1k.  Then you could compare ROON vs MPD.

The Aurender Conductor app is very good. The sound quality of the Aurrender streamers are excellent at all price points. If you could get a used or demo N200, you would be getting an outstanding streamer.

‘I used to own an Aurlic Aries G2… I would recommend the Aurrender.


With your preference for Roon, consider Innuos or Lumin. Aurender is coming out with Roon certification soon. Having heard both Roon and Conductor side by side, I still prefer Conductor app SQ by a mile, just my .02 cents. 

“Many here mention the likes of Aurender, Auralic, Innous, and a few smaller, boutique companies as well. Most of these are a bit over my budget though”

I need to sell my Roon NUC.

I purchased a used Aurender from a member and now dealer. Look carefully at what you like about Roon and what is missing in Conductor. I say this, because the prospect of leaving Roon made me hesitant to move to Aurender, but the results were worth the move.

I wouldn't try to buy a streamer and a DAC both for $5k.  Don't know much about the Gustard but a DAC will make more difference in sound than a streamer.  So if you are happy with the sound of the Gustard and just want to clean it up and make it sharper, get an Innuos streamer which is compatible with Roon.

OTOH, if you really want to upgrade your digital performance, Look at chord Hugo TT or possibly a lampizator DAC.   then you would have to look at a streamer later.  I don't know what you are streaming with (SFP?) but if you don't have any streamer at all, a USBridge Signature or IFI zen will get you 85% of the way there for 10% of the money and that will allow you to enjoy your new DAC.


I’d recommend the Innuos Pulse.  It’s new and contains Innuos’ latest thinking, is compatible with Roon, and comes with their Sense app that gets top marks for both usability and sound quality.  And at $3250 it’s well under your $5k price target. 

Or you might consider this used Pulsar that’s only two months old, and as long as the warranty is transferable this is well worth a look…


Best of luck. 

Innuos. If you need a Server and CD ripper, the Zen series. If just a streamer, the Pulse series

Hi navyachts - I was in a similar position as you for budget, and early in 2021 I started my journey with the Antipodes S-series line, whose servers provide ROON core capabilities. It's a great option for those who want to build up to a good (I actually consider it to be a GREAT) system, but don't necessarily want to 'pony up' all the funds at once for it. Here's their lineup:

S20 = reclocker (i.e. placement between renderer and DAC)

S30 = server + renderer + DAC (best used as a renderer alone)

S40 = server + renderer (best used as a server alone)

S60 = external power supply for any 2 of the above

I started with the Antipodes S30/S20 combo as my server + renderer with reclocking (used cost was ~$3200 for the pair). I ran that set with an existing ModWright Elyse tube DAC I had, and immediately experienced a significant upgrade in sound quality. Better overall clarity compared with my prior PC-based front end.

From there, I replaced the DAC with a Mark Levinson 360S (used cost was $1700, but they typically go for a few hundred more). Once again, I immediately experienced and very nice upgrade in sound quality (better dynamics and improved detail). The 360S is indeed old, but to me sounds absolutely beautiful, particularly at the fairly modest price.

From there, I added an Antipodes S40 as a server (thereby reducing the S30 function to a renderer only) and at the same time added a single S60 power supply for two of the units. Here again, a very nice improvement in micro-details.

All along the way I was able to gather very good cables (ethernet, USB between S30 and S20, and AES-EBU between S30 and DAC), and haven't since had any urge to tamper with the 'great thing' I now have with the digital front end.

Good luck with your journey - it can take a bit of time for research and waiting for the purchase opportunities to arise but, for me, it's all been well worth that time.

Best, Dave

Try the Auralic Aries G1.1, well inside your budget, or an Aries G2.2, about a grand over, but first class sound

If you put any stock in the ASR reviews (based largely on SINAD distortion measurements), or even the manufacturer’s own published specs, check out the Matrix Audio Element X2, the Element X2 Pure, or a used Element X. For under $5K, these seem to test better and offer more functionality than some of the alternatives mentioned above.

Keep it with separates , or  bricasti 3 dac streamer ,you can maybe get a deal on 


dac great buy Denafrips pontus 2-12th anniversary dac  , innuos has a cost effective mini  perrotta consulting is very good to work with and decent pricing.

The new Innuos pulse if you don't need to rip CDs. I have the Innuos ZENith mk3 connected to the Gustard X26 PRO and am very satisfied to say the least. So pulse with r26 should be equally wonderful.

I think you should start this journey by auditioning some other DACs in your setup. As an owner of an R26 I feel you could easily make a side step or even a bit backwards in the move.  The R26 offers tremendous vale from my experience. The DAC is a true darling and the streamer is not far behind at all. Unless you don’t prefer the presentation I would look into trying optical converters, clocks, and switches.  Not that the Gustard can’t be beat but it may take more than 5k, especially new. You could grab a Holo May used and add a Eversolo as streamer. Might be a bit above your budget but I can’t think of any other combos I’m really aching to upgrade to from the R26. In general I think buying China is the only way your going to make significant improvements with your budget. 

I went down the typical stream progression. First blusound Node, then Lumin U1 mini with Pontus II, both streaming Roon. I was interested in better sound quality and purchased a Aurender A15. I thought I would miss Roon but I do not. The Conductor app is very good and the sound quality is much better than what I was experiencing before, so much so that I upgraded to an A30. I couldn’t be happier. 

All great reads & stories, thanks to all! I’ve had a little setback financially with regards to a remodel I’m in the middle of so the urgency is on the back burner for now, but with all info offered above I think I really may consider the Aurender line. I’m just going to keep an eye out for a deal on a demo or used unit (as per @ghdprentice advice). Loosing Roon isn’t a deal breaker for me and with all the praise here for their app I think it sounds pretty good! Then just keep using the R26 for my DAC. Thanks again!

IMO Auralic is a step below some of the other usual suspects (Innuous, Lumin, and Aurender). I personally would upgrade my streamer first, and see how you like it with the Gustard. You’ll have a world class streamer, and can always upgrade the DAC if you find the combo lacking…..as funds permit. See if you can demo a couple of units if a dealer near you will permit.

I borrowed an Aurender from a friend, and holy crap….it was magical paired with a Denafrips Pontus II DAC. I’ve heard Lumin and Innuous in friend’s systems and they sounded amazing, but never in my own system. Also the Aurender app to be excellent, on par with Bluesound’s app

I just looked Aurender online, boy they are pricey!!!

@vthokie83 what model did you listen to and what was the source (Tidal, Quboz)?

As Mentioned maybe look at a used Bricasti M3 streaming Dac. 3500-4000 depending if you want a remote. Since you have the Coda pre probably no need for one. 
Get a real decent XLR cable to take advantage of the Bricasti/Coda’s balanced design. 
If you are not happy you can always re-sell the Bricasti at little or no loss. 
Bricasti’s big sound might be a great match for the ML’s 


Which Aurender did you listen to? I’m itching to replace my Node N130 with the Pardo LPS, but I’ll have to sneak it in😁

Navyyachts and Curiousjim,

I initially tried a borrowed N10 (last years version of the N20), and later tried an N200. I think the N10 can be found for about $3,500/$4,00 used, and a used N200 is about $5,000 if you can find one.....$6,300 new. I did prefer the N200 over the N10 (which surprised me), but it was very slight; damn I'd love to own either one.

I'm comparing to my current rig which is a Node 130 with LHY linear power supply, connected to a Denafrips Iris DDC, and outputting I2S  to a Denafrips Pontus II DAC. The Aurenders were a wonderful pairing with the Pontus. I did not try the Aurenders using the Iris DDC, as I did not have it when I borrowed those units.

I spent a number of years looking for the best DAC/streamer. I finally spent the big dollars for a DCS Rossini Apex and masterclock. The upgrade in sound quality was astonishing.  This purchase put a big dent in my savings account, but the improvements in my system were exponential. Get a second mortgage, or whatever it takes, but quit exploring and buy a DCS product and never look back. The Bartok Apex comes very close to the Rossini. Please don’t think I am pretentious. I just felt the need to pass on my experience. 



👍 +1


I completely understand. A great component(s)/system is worth it… some things in life are worth it… really high end components are one of them.

Don’t know the TEAC.  I would avoid the Bryston BDP2 or 3.  There is a reason why used units can be had so cheap 


... I would avoid the Bryston BDP2 or 3 ...

I think the BDP-3 is a great player, and I like mine much more than the Aurender it replaced. It sounds great and is rock stable. Those who don't care for the interface can use Rigelian

Please don’t anyone take out a mortgage for buying hifi equipment.

Better to save and remember that if you use speakers then the room is the most important thing to get the best out of, the big second are the speakers, a dac should be much further down the line.

Good luck in your search.

The Link is the Spec’s for the TEAC UD 701, the UD model is also a Analogue Pre-Amp. This is something made known as an info I have seen from a user review on the VRDS 701T CDT.

The 701T owner is making it known they are becoming impressed enough to make it known, they are to consider the TEAC DAC to exchange with the DAC in use at present.



@gryphongryph - All round good advice, thanks!

@pindac - thanks for posting this. Long read, but I will definitely try to find some time to get to it!

Went with the Aurender N200 for now and will look at upgrading the DAC (or at least adding a DDC) at a later date. Thanks to all for your input!

Congratulations Navyachts, I think that you will be very happy....and I'm a bit jealous. Let us know how it all sounds once you've got it installed