ConclusionAurender is a brand where the focus goes beyond playback. You buy an Aurender because you find the ecosystem interesting. The possibility of centralizing storage at a later stage. Or because you might want to apply a central clock that can take playback to an even higher level. Or because you just love the finish and the display. There are not many brands that can offer such a complete system at this level.
As we pointed out in the Alpha Audio Academy, there is a hierarchy applicable to devices in terms of impact on playback. A streamer (or streaming bridge) does not have as much impact on playback as a speaker or an amplifier. Or a d/a converter. Based on this hierarchy – and expectation management – we recommend first setting up the basis correctly before you start working with products such as a streamer without dac (or streaming bridge); the whole chain must be correct. Only then will you notice the differences that a streamer (bridge) can bring.
Now the potential customer of an Aurender N20 will have his system in order, we estimate so. You are not going to spend 12,900 euros on a streamer if you still have work to do on the acoustics. Or are not satisfied with your speakers. But we do want to make this point.
The character of the Aurender N20, compared to other streamers we’ve had in our system, is mostly precise, detail-rich, layered and quiet. This also matches the impression we had of the Aurender A30. That one also had the focus on precision and detail. Although there we played through the AKM dacs that Aurender applies. Now we mainly play through the Pavane and also briefly with the MSB dac. Of course, that also affects the overall picture.
During listening it quickly becomes clear that Aurender has its power supply and clocking in good order. This manifests itself in quietness and stability. We also notice that Aurender’s processing – done by an Intel quad core processor (type is not known to us, except for 35 watts TDP, so it is not an Atom) – is in good order. The playlist enters the listening room clean and pure. As mentioned earlier, we played on several dacs (Metrum Pavane with DAC2 and DAC3 and also the MSB Discrete). And what immediately struck us about this is that the limiting factor is certainly not the Aurender. This streamer simply grows with the DACs we put behind it. And in a way this is not the case with the Ambre without Mutec MC3+ reclocker. There we still hear a slightly ‘smaller’ character and less openness. A kind of brake on the system, shall we say. The Mutec MC3+ reclocker removes most of that brake.
This shows that a streamer (without dac) does have an influence on the overall picture and that clocking is crucial. No matter how well the dac does its job. Now we can start explaining per track how cleanly the Aurender processes the signal. But that seems to us not super useful. The Aurender N20 just sounds excellent. The overall picture is complete, perfectly trackable and allows every sigh and fiber of the artist to be heard. Provided, of course, that the rest of this system can pass it on. But then again: in this class, that seems pretty obvious to us.