Aurender N200 Network Audio Transport Lab Report

Lab Report

We've reviewed a host of network-attached digital bridge/transports which, like the Aurender N200, are not simply music storage devices. Instead, like the recent Melco N10/2 [HFN Apr '22] – and all previous 'Melcos' including the N1ZS20/2 [HFN Jun '17], N1ZS10 [HFN Feb '15], N1AH40 [HFN Aug '15] and N1ZH60 [HFN Jun '16] – the N200 is also a transcoding/signal conditioning device. Other brands/models of this genre include the Innuos Statement [HFN Jan '20], Aqua LinQ [HFN Sep '20], Grimm Audio MU1 [HFN Dec '20], Auralic Aries G2.1 [HFN Feb '21] and Roon Nucleus+ [HFN May '18]. However, unlike the Grimm Audio and Auralic network bridges, but like the Melco, Aqua and Roon transports, the N200 does not invoke its own upsampling or digital filtering when converting between network and USB or S/PDIF data formats. Data buffering (reclocking/'de-jittering') and delivery from a very low-noise source, with very low levels of circulating RFI, is the focus of Aurender's 'high performance caching music server'.

Performance differences are best inferred via a third-party DAC and for this review I installed a 120GB Samsung EVO SSD into the N200 and compared a number of AC mains-, battery- and hub-powered DACs via both PC and N200. DACs including the Mytek Brooklyn [HFN Aug '17] and dCS Vivaldi One [HFN Feb '18] provide sufficient galvanic isolation and onboard reclocking that no appreciable difference was measured between PC and N200 'USB sources'. However, as we saw with the Melco N10/2, a significant improvement was realised with iFi Audio's NEO iDSD [HFN Mar '21] where the 550psec of ±33/66/99Hz sidebands collapsed to <10psec [red versus black spectra, Graph 1] with the N200 as the USB source. Hub-powered DACs, illustrated by AudioQuest's DragonFly [HFN Mar '14], also typically realised a worthwhile suppression of circulating interference (spuriae) as well as correlated jitter [see Graph 2]. In this instance, 95% of spuriae was eliminated while jitter was halved. PM


48kHz/24-bit jitter spectra from iFi Audio’s NEO iDSD DAC (via Aurender N200, black; via PC, red)


48kHz/24-bit jitter spectra from AudioQuest’s DragonFly DAC (via Aurender N200, black; via PC, red)

Digital inputs 1x Ethernet; 2x USB-A 3.0
Digital outputs 1x USB-A 2.0; 1x S/PDIF
Digital jitter (Mytek Brooklyn) 10psec (8psec via PC USB)
Digital jitter (iFi Audio NEO iDSD) 9psec (550psec via PC USB)
Digital jitter (AQ DragonFly) 150psec (300psec via PC USB)
Power consumption 14W (3W standby)
Dimensions (WHD) / Weight 330x96x355mm / 9kg
Price £6700

Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Supplied by: Padood Ltd, Cambridge, UK
01223 653199