Aurender N10 Caching Music Server

On-the-fly precision DSD to PCM Conversion by FPGA

Designed to be used with high performance digital-to-analog converters, the Aurender N10 is the only Music Player to support on-the-fly precision DSD to PCM conversion by FPGA.
With 4TB of (2TBx2) internal hard disk drives and one 240GB solid-state drive cache for playback, the N10 is the perfect solution for even the most extensive high resolution music collections.

Designed to keep the system noise level as low as possible

Dual linear power and special shielding prevent noise from being delivered to sensitive DACs for the best sound reproduction.

Full Range of Digital Audio Outputs and Ports for Network Connectivity

Designed to be matched with high performance digital-to-analog converters, the Aurender N10 is equipped with various SPDIF outputs (BNC, AES/EBU, coaxial, optical) and one dedicated USB Audio Class 2.0 output.

For network connectivity and file transfers, the N10 comes with one a Gigabyte Ethernet port and two USB 2.0 data ports.

Aurender App Packed with Convenient Features for Full-Function Control

The Aurender Conductor App turns the iPad into a versatile user interface for Aurender Music Server/Players.

All settings and functions of the Aurender Server/Music Player can be easily accessed through the Settings menu, and the Aurender App comes with extensive features to make managing, viewing and playing high resolution music collections a breeze.

External Word Clock Support

Word Clocks are used in recording studios to synchronize timing between devices and ensure jitter-free and time-perfect data transmission.

It supports both word clock (dCS DACs or similar) or Master Clock.(MSB DACs or similar)

Dual-wire AES/EBU Mode

Dual-wire AES/EBU mode is used by many reference digital-to-analog converters to separate transmission of left and right channels for ultimate fidelity.

For example, when Dual AES/EBU mode is used, left and right chanel is transmitted at 96kHz rate to make 192kHz stereo transmision.

Since the max frequency is halved, transmission line requirement becomes less strict.

Separate LiFePO4 (LFP) Battery Power Supply for Audio Components

Two banks of LiFePO4 batteries alternately power audio components and recharge. This completely isolates audio components from ground noise and also eliminates jitter incurred in converting AC to DC.

Oven-Controlled Crystal Oscillator (OCXO) for long term jitter reduction

OCXOs are among the most accurate and stable clocks in use today, and are orders of magnitude more accurate and stable than commonly used ordinary crystal oscillators usually found in computers. Temperature changes cause crystal oscillations to fluctuate, which can lead to jitter in the digital audio signal. Moreover, ordinary crystals are much less stable and lose accuracy over time. In OCXO clocks, a very stable, high-grade crystal oscillator is enclosed in a compartment and kept at a constant temperature to prevent jitter from temperature fluctuations.

FPGA-based All Digital Phase-Locked Loop System

An All Digital Phase-Locked Loop system (ADPLL) incorporating Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) with OCXO clocks precisely times digital audio data transmissions and minimizes jitter to below negligible levels

4TB Hard Disk Drive Storage with Solid-State Drive Cache for Playback

Two internal hard drives provide 4TB of storage and a 240G solid-state drive is used to cache music for playback. If a selected song or album is already cached to the solid-state drive, the hard drive will remain asleep. This minimizes wear and tear on the hard drive. By caching songs to the solid-state drive for playback, electrical and acoustic noise resulting from spinning disks, moving heads and motors are also completely eliminated.

Dedicated USB Audio Class 2.0 Output with Ultra Low Noise Power Circuitry

The dedicated USB Audio Class 2.0 output is designed to deliver an exceptionally transparent audio signal free of noise, and is shielded from outside electronic interference.

AMM and NAS (Network-Attached Storage) Support

If you already have NAS set-up, the Aurender N10 is able to play music stored on NAS devices.

AMM(Aurender Media Manager) software is available for Mac(OS X 10.9 or later) /Windows7 or later

You can run AMM software on your platform of choice, please specify the location of your content on NAS then it will automatically find the Aurender in you local network and make a combining music database. It’s transparent to the user, so once you run AMM , you can select the music with all the meta-data using the Aurender Conductor App without the knowledge of the location of your music files.

Remote Internet Technical Support

Sending a Remote Support Request through the Aurender App allows engineers to quickly diagnose and fix problems over the Internet.

Specifications

Compatible FormatsDSD (DSF, DFF), WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, M4A, APE and others
Bit and Sample RatesSPDIF : Up to 24-bit, 192kHz (PCM); 1-bit, 2.8MHz (DSD64)
USB32bit /384kHz, 1-bit, 2.8MHz (DSD64); 1-bit, 5.6MHz (DSD128)
User SoftwareAurender Conductor iPad App, Android App (Lite Version)
Solid-State Drive1 x 240 GB
Hard Disk Drives4TB / 8TB
SPDIF ClockingFPGA-based All Digital Phase Locked Loop
Audio ClockOCXO
Digital Audio Outputs
  • 1 coaxial
  • 1 optical
  • 1 AES/EBU
  • 1 BNC
  • 1 USB Audio Class 2.0
​Digital I/O1 Gigabit LAN, 2 x USB 2.0
​CPU BoardProprietary Aurender Board​
​Main Memory4GB​
​FinishSilver or Black​
​Dimensions​430mm x 83mm x 353mm | 16.93in x 3.27in x 13.9in
Weight12.26kg | 27.03 lb
​Power Consumption​Play(27W), Peak(37W), Standby(3.1W)

Aurender N10 Music Server Review

 

Noise.

Sometimes it’s hard to hear what’s really going on because there’s so much of it in our lives these days obscuring what we’re really trying to listen to.

I mean, do you have any idea how much electronic hash is being generated by your laptop or PC as it navigates millions of computational cycles in processing overhead while handling operating-system daemon sub-routines (computer programs that run in the background, not under user directive) while you are listening to music?

Of course you don’t and neither do I, you have to log into the ‘Activity Monitor’ on a Mac (or ‘Task Manager’ on a PC) to find out exactly what’s happening and I can tell you it’s a somewhat staggering amount of binary heavy lifting.

This is because a computer, its myriad, multi-sensory hardware appendages and slots (graphics card, sound card, keyboard, mouse, SCSI, USB, PCI, VGA ports, etc. and the operating system software designed to run the software layered on top of the OS is designed to handle all sorts of disparate processes from web browsers, weather, social media, graphic and multimedia apps to software updates… a computer is meant to serve us in as many ways possible as their designers can think of.

Not so a dedicated music server for audiophile use.

No, that is designed with a very narrow and specific task in mind when it was first conceived on the drawing board.

 

Design and Construction

Take the Aurender N10 Music Server for example. It is meant to take the place of your laptop or PC completely and run “headless” via an app you can run off an Android smartphone or tablet or on an iPad. Aurender has been focused on this type of product for several years and is dedicated to making the quietest, most design specific/appropriate hardware and software for music playback they are capable of producing. From the circuit and processing architecture and implementation, to the motherboard, board components, CPU, hard drives, power supplies, RF and EMI isolation, shielding and chassis design the N10 is an executed concept in isolating critical components from both internal noise and external noise generation. It is meant to operate in complete and utter silence and allow only the digitally-recorded event to pass through, unfettered, to whatever DAC you choose to connect to it.

 

The N10 features a 4TB internal hard drive for file storage and a 250GB solid-state hard-drive cache dedicated for file playback. It uses an FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) for on-the-fly DSD to PCM conversion, dual linear-power supplies an OCXO (Oven-Controlled Crystal Oscillator) for “… long-term jitter reduction …” because of its dedicated thermally-regulated clock enclosure. According to Aurender OCXOs have proven to be one of the most stable/accurate clocks available, which they claim “are orders of magnitude more accurate and stable than commonly used ordinary crystal oscillators usually found in computers.” The company says that because regular crystal oscillations fluctuate with even subtle temperature changes and become less accurate over time, the OCXO clocks are inherently the superior choice because of their temperature-controlled enclosure.

image: https://www.audiostream.com/images/190326-Aurender-N10-Review-7.jpg

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. My silver-finished N10 was also equipped with the $50 USD MQA Core Decoding option which allows for software unfolding. “This first unfold recovers all the direct music-related information and sampling rate output will be 88.2khz or 96kHz.”

 

Conductor software

The Aurender Conductor app is easy to use and very intuitive to navigate and figure out all its myriad functions from playlist building and adding to your library to unit settings via a well-played out and logically-driven interface. The Aurender Media Manager collates everything allowing you to browse or manage through the internally-stored (4TB drive) or cloud-based library simultaneously via tabs that correlate to Song, Artist, Album, Genre or Composer. The app also allows search filters for sorting by recently added, file type, file resolution and favourites (Starred). You can log-in through the app to TIDAL, Qobuz (or even AirPlay) for streaming services (10 preset Internet Radio stations are also provided, including several BBC Radio channels and Hi On Line Radio) and you can fill up its internal 4TB drive with as many files and file types as you desire. The file type, resolution, sample rate and whether it is a local or streaming-service based file are all included along with cover art as part of quick-to-recognize information within each album’s info packet. You can either copy files over from a NAS drive, a USB drive or even over the network wirelessly from other remote drives – a neat trick I use often. While working on my laptop after downloading an album to it I can go in via the “Connect to Server” function on my Mac and transfer files to the N10’s internal drive over wi-fi. Is it Roon? No, but it does everything well enough with zero lag or wait times, is a snap to use, allows playlists and favourites along with clear navigation and myriad file-type handling abilities that most users will be happy with its level of interaction.

 

Aurender Media Manager (AMM) comes standard and software is available for both Mac (OS X 10.9 or later) and Windows7 (or later). The company says “ you can run AMM software on your platform of choice, please specify the location of your content on NAS then it will automatically find the Aurender in you local network and make a combining music database.” AMM ran flawlessly in the background constantly updating the music database whenever I added new songs or albums from TIDAL or Oubuz or downloaded new high-res, DSD, or Redbook files. There is also Remote Internet Technical Support which allows you to request help, troubleshoot or ask a question via the app to let Aurender engineers “quickly diagnose and fix problems over the Internet.”