• Music Servers

    by Published on 04-01-2014 05:10 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Music Servers
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    Aurender music servers have been part of my digital playback arsenal since 2011. I was so impressed by the Aurender S10 that I placed it on my CASH List and named it the 2011 Product of the Year. The S10 was the first music server I'd seen that was built like a high end audio component with solid engineering on the inside and stellar attention to detail on the outside. The S10 was IT. However, a couple colleagues of mine thought the S10 was a good start, but there was much room for improvement. It turns out my colleagues were correct. Not long after the S10 hit dealer showrooms the Aurender team completed a state of the art listening room and went to work on something better than the S10. The product that emerged from this work was the flagship Aurender W20. The W20 is not an upgraded S10. The only critical component shared by the two models are the oven-controlled crystal oscillators (OCXO). Based on several months of listening, testing, and comparing the W20 to all other servers I've used, I conclude the Aurender W20 is unequivocally the pièce de résistance of high end music servers.
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    by Published on 01-22-2013 03:04 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. Music Servers,
    4. Preamp
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    The MAN301 is an ambitious attempt by Weiss Engineering to create a music server capable of numerous digital and analog configurations and a totally unique user experience through its own custom iPad application. I applaud Weiss Engineering’s ambition and willingness to chart its own course in music server design rather than follow the herd. The MAN301’s ability to pull music from an unlimited amount of storage via Ethernet is great for music aficionados with gigantic multi-terabyte music collections. Weiss’ inclusion of its award winning DAC inside the MAN301 is also terrific for audiophiles looking to combine feature sets or reduce the number of boxes in their listening environments. In typical Weiss fashion the MAN301 features coarse analog and fine digital volume control, audio routing from digital in to digital out, digital in to analog out, Ethernet in to analog out, and many other configurations on several interfaces like RCA, XLR, S/PDIF, USB, and FireWire. As expected the Daniel Weiss designed audio features of the MAN301 are top notch. However the custom iPad application and music server functionality need a bit more fine tuning to make the product a competitor with the best solutions available. Fortunately in the several months since I received the MAN301 I updated its software a few times and was very pleased by the progress Weiss Engineering has made toward better features and improved functionality of existing features. Overall the Weiss Engineering MAN301 sounds very good and its functionality will only improve with time. ...
    by Published on 04-12-2012 01:56 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Music Servers,
    3. USB Interface

    The SOtM sMS-1000 music server may appear somewhat familiar to computer audiophile readers. The server contains the much lauded SOtM tX-USB audio output card, is based on the popular Vortexbox software, and can be controlled by a number of applications including MPaD for the iPad. Where the sMS-1000 differs from similar servers is the external design including alluring casework and elegantly hidden slot loading disc drive, and SOtM's ability to make the whole greater than the some of the parts. The end product of this careful component and software selection and design is great sound quality combined with ease of use. The SOtM sMS-1000 is not a techie's toy for tweaking. Rather it's an Audiophile's tool to help increase enjoyment of one's favorite music without the hassles or subpar sonics of other servers. The SOtM sMS-1000 Audiophile Music Server is built well, looks good, and sounds great.
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    by Published on 01-25-2012 11:38 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Music Servers,
    3. USB Interface

    My first impression is that I could be convinced to listen to music with the Sonata Music Server software. Just imagine… A vast selection of music presented in the easiest to locate method. Your tastes catered to with a simple touch. In this case a Dell ST2220T Multi-touch monitor. It doesn't hurt to have the Arcam asynchronous USB rDAC, Stax SR-007 headphones and matching headphone amplifier which add that je ne sais quoi -- over the rainbow quality to the entire experience. Clearly, Digibit has positioned Sonata as the sommelier of music servers. The downside is that all of this is just a loan of gear and tomorrow I have to go back to being a classical music Cinderella. But let's not spoil the moment.
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    by Published on 11-30-2011 01:55 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Music Servers,
    3. USB Interface,
    4. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    5. AES/EBU Interface

    I was born into the unique audiophile subculture that is never satisfied with the status quo. We're always striving for something better. The explosion of computer based audio on to the HiFi scene has many audiophiles stuck between a rock and a hard place. The possibility of improving playback quality and convenience now exists at all price points. However, computer audio is evolving at such a fast pace that many audiophiles continually delay purchases while awaiting the next technology breakthrough. The speed of computer based HiFi component evolution is inversely proportional to the time between consumer component purchases. In other words, the faster new products are released the longer consumers wait to purchase the next best thing. For example the Ayre Acoustics K5 preamp has been in production for ten years. Ayre's stability and dedication to longevity can enable consumers to feel protected in their investments and speed up the component research and purchasing process. On the other hand computer based audio as a whole has been lumped into this ever-changing unnavigable maze of technology that never ends. This alone has delayed more audiophiles from entering into the next phase of high end audio than even high prices. There are indeed many computer audio products available that are outdated or will be outdated by the time readers finish this sentence. The challenge for audiophiles ...
    by Published on 02-28-2011 02:43 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Music Servers,
    3. S/PDIF (BNC) Interface

    Demian Martin and Ray Burnham of Auraliti must frequently feel like Russel Ziskey teaching Basic English in the movie Stripes [Link]link. Almost everybody mispronounces their company name Auraliti. I admit to mangling the name a few times myself. An easy way to learn and remember the correct pronunciation is to repeat the words Audio and Reality as fast as one can over and over. Soon enough the tongue and lips get lazy and a shortened version of the two words is spoken as Auraliti. The name rhymes with the company's tagline - Welcome to the new audio reality. Auraliti's first product is the PK100. The name is not nearly as creative but mispronunciations will be very limited. The PK100 is an extremely basic yet highly refined purpose built file player. Readers seeking a multi-purpose computer capable of playing music and calculating the monthly grocery budget should look elsewhere. Computer audiophiles seeking a simple user interface, with no user intervention required or allowed, and automatic bit perfect playback of music from 16/44.1 kHz through 24/192 kHz may want to seek a new audio reality with the Auraliti PK100.
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