AudioStream Editor’s Choice Award 2018/2019 – N10
If you’re a dedicated digital-audio junkie, or just like having access to the the cloud for Tidal, Qobuz or Spotify as backup to your CD or LP collection, then getting your ones and zeros passed along to your DAC via your laptop or PC may not be the most sonically-outstanding experience that your setup could be capable of delivering. And honestly, is a bit dated in this modern, tech-savvy world of Siri and Alexa. I should know, I was truly happy with a dedicated MacBook Air to run my streaming apps to various DACs and then I tried the Aurender N10 and I was floored at how much better all my locally-stored high-res and streamed 16/44 or 24/96 files sounded. I don’t mean in a subtle way either, this was an order-of-magnitude difference in my personal setup. Not only did I instantly recognize a huge drop in the noise floor, better dynamics and an overall tightening-up of the presentation with more detail coming through, but instruments and vocals seemed to have a more natural flow: sonically, it was like wiping clean a dirty window. Throw in a great control app via iPad in Aurender’s proprietary ‘Conductor’ software, dedicated power supplies, an all-metal alloy chassis with built-in EMI and RF shielding, an internal 256-gig SSD for playback caching and a four-terabyte HDD for storage and you begin to see why using something like a PC which was never designed for audiophile playback suddenly sounds so 1996.