Aurender N10 Music Server $7,999 Review

April 16, 2019 § Leave a comment

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    “A very cool operating function of the N10 is the fact that if a song, album or playlist is already cached to the 250GB SSD, then the 4TB HDD doesn’t even spin-up – it remains asleep – eliminating any possibility of acoustic noise emanating from spinning discs. The fact that everything in the N10 is also optimized for the quietest audio playback possible – it has no extraneous hardware or software-processing overhead – contributed to an instantly noticeable drop in the noise floor; this is the “black background” reviewers love to chin-wag about and I won’t let you down here. Regardless of file played, the background haze I hadn’t really noticed was there was lifted through the Aurender and when this happens, regardless of how it happens, it’s like the window into the recorded event has suddenly been wiped clean: It’s impossible not to hear it once it has occurred. There was also a dynamic and rhythmic uptick to drive in music playback. I wish I had a Roon Nucleus to compare the N10 to, but I’m still waiting for my review sample, as I feel that’s a more fair comparison. That said, I think it is the most logical and applicable choice to use my laptop for comparison as the bulk of potential buyers of an Aurender (or other music server) would be migrating from a PC or laptop as their digital-audio source.”

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Aurender N10 Music Server $7,999 Review

March 31, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“The $7,999 USD N10 is more expensive than most laptops or PCs, and it is not light physically either, tipping the scales at almost 30 pounds with a chunky, but graceful aesthetic, excellent metal/rubber o-ring isolation feet, clearly designed button-operating layout and a very large (nine-inch diagonal), white-on-black AMOLED display that is easily legible (artist and song title anyway) from the listening position (it can also be set to mimic VU meters). It is equipped with enough digital ins and outs to keep binary purists pleased with BNC, coaxial, optical AES/EBU and USB 2.0 outputs (dedicated low-noise circuitry employed) and a Gigabyte ethernet port bookended by two USB 2.0 data ports for input. Format compatibility covers everything from ALAC, AIFF, DSD64/128 (DFF, DSF) and FLAC to MP3 and M4A among others, with SPDIF digital audio handled up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM and DSD64 and USB digital audio accepting 32-bit/384kHz PCM and DSD128 files.”

Naim ND5 XS 2 media player Review

March 25, 2019 § Leave a comment

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"Most of the other setup chores were straightforward. To listen to Internet Radio, I chose that icon from the Naim app's home screen and was off and running. Having done that, I could sort and ultimately select stations by genre, country of origin, and other logical criteria. Similarly, to listen to files stored on a thumb drive, I inserted the drive in one of the ND5 XS 2's two USB ports, selected the app's USB icon, and presto—once again, I was off to the races.

Pairing a user-supplied smartphone with the Naim's Bluetooth input option isn't covered in the Quick Start Guide. Through trial and error, I found that getting my iPhone to communicate with the Naim depended on my turning off and then turning on all associated products and functions in just the right order. And although Naim's implementation of Bluetooth sounded no worse than any others I've heard, it was nevertheless not worth the trouble: As with just about every other Bluetooth-as-serious-audio-source effort I've experienced, the sound quality was to Tidal as soft-serve ice cream is to the real thing, only filled with slightly more icy particles. Don't bother."

Volumio Primo network player

March 18, 2019 § Leave a comment

Moon 390 Network Player/Preamplifier $5,300 Review

March 16, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“While high-res audio is a selling point of the Moon 390, it didn’t exactly need to be fed high-res audio to sound great. Listening to a 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC stream of “Woodstock” by jazz supergroup Hudson, John Medeski’s acoustic piano solo had a solid, almost meaty, presence, while Larry Grenadier’s standup bass sounded sinewy and clean. The cymbals from drummer Jack DeJohnette’s kit also had a 3D-like quality that made them float realistically in space.

I wrapped up my assessment of the Moon 390’s digital chops by comparing the performance of its built-in DAC with the Pioneer universal disc player’s using a handful of reference CDs. In each case, the sound delivered by the 390’s DAC was more precise, layered, and clean. The performance of the Pioneer’s DAC, in comparison, was consistently more recessed and less engaging.

Aurender Content Server ACS10 Full Review

March 9, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“In addition to the aforementioned features the ACS10 brings Aurender into the world of multi-zone audio with centralized music storage in an all-Aurender ecosystem. The ACS10 can host all one’s music and serve it out to other Aurender components throughout one’s network. But, don’t worry about typical network issues that arise with DLNA or UPnP because the Aurender ecosystem doesn’t touch that non-standard standard called UPnP.

The thing to remember about the ACS10 is simplicity. Usually when the number of features rise, so does complexity. Not so with the Content Server. In addition, Aurender has developed this platform to operate 100% of the time without requiring a traditional computer for setup, music management, or even loading music on the server. It can all be accomplished through the Aurender ACS Manager app for iOS. ”

PS Audio DirectStream Memory Player and DirectStream DAC Review

March 6, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“The Digital Lens imposes a small penalty on user experience. The interface to the Memory Player is the same symbols and functions we are accustomed to for CD and DVD playback – and for tape before that – except you engage with it via the touchscreen in place of physical buttons. But because the Digital Lens needs to accumulate the data before sending it along, the Memory Player is overall less responsive than CD and DVD players. Not agonizingly so, and certainly not a deal breaker for me, but having lived with CD players for decades, it’s something you notice and may find frustrating. We’re used to ever-increasing speed with our technology (among other things); it’s hard to go back.”

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