There is no denying that we live in a digital era. High resolution music and streaming are two things that have come so far over the years that it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify purchasing CD's or records. I know that records are still very special and in the right setup everyone loves the sound of great vinyl. But the simplicity and availability of good quality music through streaming services such as Tidal cannot be denied. In addition, there are numerous online vendors like HD Tracks that provide high quality downloads. Even if you are a CD collector you could argue that burning those disks to an audio server would allow you much easier access to your music library at the touch of a button. As people get busier and have less time to shop for music and build collections, the streaming services and their genius style playlists can make it very easy for anyone to access a strong library of HiFi music!
There are many different conduits out there to access these services and to get the music into an audio system. They are not all created equal. There are basically two things to consider when dealing with digital audio playback. One is the quality of the digital audio player and the other is the user interface that exists with that player. Specifically, how do you pick and choose a song, album, playlist, etc. that you want to listen to. To take it a step further, how does the interface extract metadata (song/album/artist information and artwork) to make your browsing experience easier and more fun? Some digital audio players are strictly high end streamers meaning they don’t store any music files that you download or burn from a CD. Some do a combination of both streaming and storage. Lastly, some of these products have also implemented digital to analog converters (DAC’s) which take the digital music file and convert it to an analog signal that can be passed on to an amplifier or pre-amplifier for play black. This is obviously a very oversimplified explanation. Nevertheless, it’s necessary to understand in order to appreciate reference level products such as those produced by the company Aurender. Aurender is a company who has been building digital audio players and music servers for a long time now. In a lot of ways they have become a household name in reference level digital audio players. You see their products in many of the rooms at audio shows and they are widely distributed all over the world. You may wonder why these products sound better than utilizing a computer or iPhone to play music? Well just like most things in HiFi audio, if you build a better unit to specifically do something, then it performs better and sounds better. Some of the major sound quality advantages of an Aurender music player has to do with better power supply, improved isolation of internal components, heavier chassis construction, increased compatibility with audio file formats, and more versatile audio based connectivity options. Some of the interface advantages are related to the ease of use of the amazing Aurender Conductor app. Granted, you can only use your Aurender with an iPad running this app, but to be honest, it’s the best way to manage your music collection. Aurender has a number of products now that provide an excellent audio source component for your systems. One product that really stands out as a winner in my opinion is the A10. As I mentioned above, some products in the market are now adding digital to analog converters to their digital audio players. Pair this with a volume control and this is what makes the A10 so special. At a retail price of $5500 this is a relative audio bargain. All you need to do is connect the A10 to an amplifier with some quality interconnects and off you go.
For those of you who like to hear about the specifications.... The A10 comes with 4TB of internal hard drive space. The unit has a very thin profile measuring 16.93 x 2.2 x 13.9 inches and weighs in at 22.5 lbs. The digital to analog converter (DAC) is a dual-mono design with full discrete linear power block. We are talking about the 768KHz/32 bit Flagship AK4490 DAC Chip! There is a FPGA-based precision clock generation system with world-class jitter-reducing clock generator. There is full linear power and shielding along with four individual toroidal power transformers for the server, digital, and dual DACs inside the unit. The Asynchronous USB audio block is fully isolated. The A10 has balanced analog XLR and RCA output options to connect the unit to your favorite pre-amp should you decide to go that route. There is an optical input to connect to your T.V. or another digital source to the A10. There is a 3.0 inch AMOLED display. Lastly, the A10 supports full MQA unfolding! For those of you who do not understand MQA, I plan to try and write a separate blog entry on this controversial topic at some point. In the meantime, there are many discussions online from a simple google search. Needless to say, when you play an MQA decoded master audio music file through the A10 you get to take full advantage of this technology! The A10 comes with a remote but you will probably find yourself mostly interfacing with it through the Conductor app on your iPad. Aurender has made it very easy for someone to get really good sound at a real world price point with the A10. I have paired the A10 with high dollar reference level speakers for several months now and don’t feel shy about recommending it. Of course, audio enthusiasts and audiophiles that seek an all out assault on digital will have some other options, but keep in mind that will definitely involve a more hefty financial investment. Even in those scenarios, Aurender still comes highly recommended to provide the digital source playback and server / interface options. The digital music era is here to stay and Aurender remains a solid recommendation with a history of quality products that meet expectations. I think you will find it to be a very musically satisfying and worthwhile investment. I remember the first time I bought my Aurender X100L many years ago... I was kicking myself for not getting it sooner! Enjoy the music. -Deva