Auralic Aries G1.1 Music Library/Server

hfnoutstandingBased on the Tesla G2 platform used in Auralic's premier G2.1 range, but lacking the box-in-box build and some circuit detailing, the Aries G1.1 remains a top-flight streamer

Yes, the £2699 Aries G1.1 is another one of those similar-looking Auralic components that will blend seamlessly with its brand partners, even if we're never immediately sure what box does what... In this case, we have a network player without onboard digital-to-analogue conversion, designed to be used straight into an external DAC. In this guise, it brings the niceties of Auralic's Lightning Streaming Platform, and its Lightning DS control app, to owners of third-party DACs. This also includes amps or preamps with digital inputs, which can be fed via USB or optical, coax or AES.

What's more, the Aries G1.1 can also function as a complete digital music source if specified with internal storage, a 2TB SSD (fitted to the review sample) adding £400 to the ticket. You can also buy the 'bare bones' G1.1 and fit a hard drive later yourself or run the unit with an external hard drive connected via one of the two USB ports provided, designated 'HDD' – the other is marked 'DAC', and is designed as a digital audio output.

No Limits
You also have the option to connect a generic USB CD drive – or more likely these days a DVD-ROM drive – to the Aries G1.1 and use that to rip discs to the onboard storage. And if 2TB doesn't sound much space to you, it's worth pointing out that it will hold some 7000 hours of music in CD-quality FLAC, or half that in full-fat WAV files, while even those storing SACD-quality DSD64 files will have space for about 900 hours of music. Auralic puts no limit on the capacity of the drive fitted, as long as it's a 2.5in type, no more than 9.5mm thick.

There's one other process required when you first get an Auralic product: you need to register an account for the Lightning DS app, and then use that to register the hardware to your account. This, says Auralic, is 'for warranty coverage, to activate coupons or subscription services from your purchase, and many other forthcoming features', but it's no more onerous than registering any new piece of modern hardware.


One linear PSU [top left] feeds an Intel dual-band Wi-Fi/BT module [bottom] and XMOS USB solution [lower left] while a second PSU feeds display and storage [top centre]. Our sample includes the optional 2TB SATA HDD [left]

Back to the product itself, and the Aries G1.1 is an updated version of the original Aries transport, the most obvious additions being the high-mass base used in the company's G2.1 products, combined with compliant feet to give added damping. Like the main enclosure, this is made from high-grade aluminium. In fact, much of what set the original Aries and the G2.1 version [HFN Feb '21] apart has now vanished, as this new iteration has adopted so much of the pricier version's technology. The obvious main differences can be seen in the absence of the Lightning Link digital connection, on HDMIs, to its upmarket models and the single-box construction, though this is still very sturdy.

Around The Clocks
The main processing platform is now the company's so-called 'Tesla G2', used widely in the current Auralic lineup. It claims a CPU boost of 50%, twice the system memory, and a 1GB cache to isolate the output data from processor noise and network influences. Dual 'femto clocks' are used, one for the legacy digital outs and the other for the USB port, and there are two separate power supplies. One looks after the processor, the display and any storage (whether internal or attached), while the other is dedicated to the clocking and USB audio output. The G1.1 also has the second-generation version of the company's 'ActiveUSB' technology with its dedicated, and isolated, +5V USB supply line.

Wide-ranging streaming capability also comes as standard, the Auralic Aries G1.1 being able to handle LPCM up to 384kHz/32-bit, and DSD to DSD512, your choice of DAC notwithstanding. Compatible network services include UPnP/DLNA from network storage, along with the likes of Amazon Music Unlimited, HighResAudio, Qobuz Sublime+, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect and Internet Radio. You can send music direct to the unit using Apple AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth.

As well as the previously mentioned Lightning DS app for iOS the Aries G1.1 will also slot into a Roon-based environment as an endpoint, controlled by a Roon Core running on the user's network.

sqnote Clean Machine
As is always the case with music library/digital transports such as this, the sound of music played on or through the Aries G1.1 will to a great extent be determined by the DAC to which it's connected. However, having tried it with a number of add-on converters, from the little Chord Mojo 2 [HFN Apr '22] upwards, it's clear the G1.1 is capable of delivering an exceptionally clean digital feed, whether via its USB port or the conventional digital outputs.

Auralic (Beijing) Co., Ltd
Supplied by: Auralic Europe, The Netherlands
075901 06105