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REVIEW: Comparison of 5 High End Digital Music Servers - Aurender N10, CAD CAT server, TotalDac d1-Server, Auralic Aries, Audiophile Vortex Box

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by romaz, Nov 9, 2015.
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  1. simorag
    My experience with Innuos operating system and interface has been very good. Like you, I had my music stored in external files, and partly on the local disk of the Surface Pro 3 I was using as my server.

    To transfer these data to the Innuos server, I did as follows:

    - plugged the ZENith in my router, via ethernet cable
    - connected to the Server via PC or tablet, by using the internet browser and going to my.innuos.com
    - for the external drives: plug the USB drive in the dedicated port of the Innuos server, and start the Import function via remote, the select the USB port
    - for the local files on the PC: I first moved them in a shared folder on the Innuos server, then started the Import function again, this time selecting the "auto import" option

    Here you can find the detailed instructions:

    All this worked very easily, and metadata were automatically found by the system in 99% of cases. USB was much faster.

    If you have music files stored in a format that does not support embedded metadata (e.g. dff, wav), you need to organize them in an Artist/Album folder structure before starting the Innuos import.

    Once you have all your music in the server, Innuos lets you use Ipeng (iOS), OrangeSqueeze (Android), Squeeze Remote (Windows) or Roon (all platforms).

    In my case, after some hesitation due to the steep price, I tried Roon and I must say that it is hard to go back to anything else (sorry for my wallet).
  2. rgs9200m
    Thanks for that. That's new to me.
    JRiver stores regular CDs as .ape files. And that's what all my Jriver files are.

    I'm not sure if this would work since the instructions say: Import can handle flac, mp3, m4a, aiff, wav, dff, dsf files .

    I don't see .ape files mentioned.
    But I don't know if even Aurender could handle .ape files.

    But it should work for my .dsf files.
    Thank you again for all that info.

    Actually, Roon for some reason doesn't recognize my file structure I created with Jriver.
    I have it as, say, for drive X,

    The trackname has the track number and artist and trackname embedded within it.

    I know this is not conventional, but I started this way when I just ripped manually and continued with it when I got Jriver. Now Roon gets confused.
    I was hoping a server like Aurender would just let me go to the folder I want and just present me with the tracks on the album for navigation and not worry about interpreting the directory structure.

    Jriver itself seems fine with it.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
  3. Marcin_gps
    I have not seen Monkey's Audio (.APE) support in any server/streamer. It was a great container 15 years ago when hard drive space and internet connection speed were limited. But now the increased compression is no longer a benefit especially that it comes at a price of higher CPU utilization in comparison to FLAC.
  4. TheAttorney
    That's rather unusual. You can tell JRiver to rip CDs to a variety of file formats. I chose FLAC.

    JRiver has very comprehensive (if not always intuative) library management functions. My guess is that it is possible for you to get JRiver to convert all your files to FLAC in one go, but I don't know how that would affect whatever metadata you have in APE.

    Note, if then importing those files into Roon's database, then Roon will find its owm metadata online. You can then choose to use Roon's or original data on an album or individual track basis.

    Edit: You can also get JRiver to rearrange the directory format. I use X:\Music\Artist name\Album name\Track names, and Roon imports that ok.

    Edit: I continue to use JRiver to keep my master file structure and music database and occasionally copy new files to my Roon server, where Roon automitically picks that up and adds to its own database (using the COPY option so it doesn't overwrite the original files). In this way, I keep full control of my original master just in case I decide to move away from Roon in the future (unlikely to happen, but I'm naturally paranoid).
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
  5. rgs9200m
    Thank you very very much for that info.

    So is Jriver able to physically rearrange my stored files into another directory structure of my choosing?

    This is how I ended up with .ape files:

    I started with Jriver in 2014 (release 20 I believe) and let it default to whatever file type it wanted, and it chose .ape for all files I ripped from regular redbook CD.
    And to this day with Jriver 24 it still creates .ape files.

    [I do read that Aurender handles .ape files. I hope that's true...]
    This is from the product description:
    The Aurender N100 digital music player supports DSD (DSF, DFF), WAV, FLAC, ALAC, APE, AIFF, M4A and other major formats at native bit and sampling rates.

    Does anyone else have this issue? I never explicitly picked .ape.
    Thanks again.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
  6. TheAttorney
    Yes, under Tools ->Library Tools-> Something like Move/Rename/Copy files
    And Tools ->Library Tools->Convert to convert all existing APE files to FLAC (or whatever)
    And Tools ->Library Tools->Options->Encoding to change the default operation to FLAC (or whatever) for future CD rips

    It's very powerful on library management, but not always intuative and you may need to do some googling and experimentation to get exactly the result you want.
    But once you've done your research, I suspect that Jriver will be able to rearrange/convert everything more effectively than doing it after you've copied your files to another system.
    I strongly suggeset you do a full backup of your current directory before starting.
  7. rgs9200m
    Hey thanks again for that. Yep, I have lots of backups including 2 full sets in 2 independent cloud locations in case of Armageddon.
    I'll play around with some sample mini-directories.
  8. ZappaMan
    Just read through - thank you contributors
  9. Whazzzup
  10. bmichels
    I have a (stupid ?) question: the trend (at least mine) is to stream (tidal/quobuz) more and more and to use less and less my 2 Tb Music library. Now, since few months, I only download the tracks that I want to also carry with me on my DAP for music on the Go.

    So, does a very high end music server like a TOL Zenith or Aurender still make sense for me (and for the future of Audio) ? may be ... since they also act as a Qobuz/tidal streaming end point ?
    In other words , do their high end construction/PSU/... bring any sonic advantage when streaming internet against a simpler solution (like the Auralic ARIES V1 that I have) or a streaming DAC ?
  11. elviscaprice
    You can label it whatever you want, but in the end the component that carries out the streaming is a computer of some sort with a mobo. Your going to want that component to stream to your DAC with the best SQ possible via good clocking and power.
  12. astrostar59
    I wonder if it matters even more? It has to download and 'track' the loading of the track to them pipe it out. If the connection is slow or flaky, well, problems problems.....

    I wonder if 'onsite' data is still better? There is some great sound quality tracks on Tidal via Roon, I need to do some intense comparisons to check.

    One good aspect is more or less the best mastered version or re-mastered versions are available, so in some cases they sound better than Redbook bought way back when.
  13. bmichels
    Finally I ordered a Denafrips Terminator R2R DAC....I expect to get it next week. I am Excited...

    it will replace my HUGO V1 to drive my BHSE/Stax009 and also my EC445/Hifiman HE500. I expect quite a big SQ improvement.

    The Terminator offer many inputs including 3 different I²S :
    • I²S via HDMI LVDS
    • I²S via RJ45 LVDS
    • I²S via RJ45 LVCMOS
    And...It seems that the i2s input of the Terminator sound better than the USB. So my question is: Are there some very good Music server with i2s output ? if not, then is there advantage to use a digital converter USB -> i2s ? or to use a music server that has also dual AES like the Aurender W20 ?

    thanks in advance for your advices and recommendation for the best music server/streamer to pair with my TERMINATOR :)
  14. flkin
    Check out the Pink Faun streamer. The i2s output is supposed to be pretty good and as an optional OCXO clock if you like. It's high end so not inexpensive. Jord is very helpful.
  15. Fredoo
    Congratulations with your Denafrips!
    Besides echoing flkin's recommendation for Pink Faun streamers, at a lower price point/level you can consider the Manga Mano (ultra) streamer.
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