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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. bmichels

    OK, I have completed my tests for best connexion between my Aurender W20 and my Denafrips Terminator R2R DAC.

    - First I compared the 3 connections ( AES, Coax and USB) with 3 cables from the same manufacturer (HifiCables.fr) using the same topology/technology.


    Against all odds, the USB was the winner ! sound stage was wider than with coax nor AES. This is un-expected since Aurender recommend AES rather than USB (the result can be very different with another Source/DAC combinaison)

    - Then, since USB was apparently the best connection (for my set-up) I tested 3 different USB cables : the "Aucharm" a low cost very good Chineese cable (50$) that was highly recommended by a tube amp manufacturer friend of mine, the HifiCable's "Super Ultimate USB" (290 €), and a very expensive Synergetic research Galileo LE USB ( 2500 $) that use a separate transformer and other (marketing ??) gimics.

    IMG_5733.jpeg IMG_5734.jpeg IMG_5672.jpeg

    Again, the results were quite surprising: I found that the HifiCable lacked some musicality (it was precise, but something was missing reducing the possibility to "get lost into the music") while the 2 others provided a very engaging experience and... I had a very hard time to differentiate them. I guess that with a HP system the difference will have been obvious but with headphone the 50€ is super close to the 2500€ cable ! this may be due because a « headphone » system do not offer the « spatial » criteria that can make the difference between a good cable and a very good cable. So, I returned the 2500 € cable and... kept the 50 € cable.

    So... I was quite disapointed by what was supposed to be a super-TOL USB cable... ! May be someone can suggest another Super-TOL USB cable that will really bring a substantial sound improvement over a good 50€ cable ?

    - next step: I will test soon the "Curious cable" and also I will have made for me a specific Coax cable to give the SPDIF Coax connection a second chance against USB.

    Last edited: Oct 27, 2018
  2. astrostar59
    I use the Curious cable. Love it, it is super transparent so as long as your gear is up to that open window effect, should work well for you. I think the Aurender's have a slightly dark signature? Might be wrong, I am quoting what I have read. But that may be they are simply smoother than a typical PC server is.

    I rate USB as the best as well, it is on my own DAC. I tried also AES, S/PDIF, and Ethernet > Rednet 3 (with LPS) > S/PDIF.

    Good luck.
  3. bmichels
    thanks. I am excited to try the Curious USB.

    Buit.. I see in your signature mention of the "Phasure Lush USB cable" ! Have you changed since for the Curious ? how do those 2 USB cable compare ? I read also many good things about the Phasure Lush USB !
  4. astrostar59
    Good question! The Curious is an open window, so lots of transparency, fast dynamics and wide soundstage. The mids are good, the bass extension excellent and well detailed (very tuneful).

    The Phasure Lush is warmer, and is a good 'brake' if you need a bit less energy up top. The mids are slightly euphonic, more than the Curious. The bass very good, but slower and more one note. I liked the Lush first and ran with that for 4 months, but the thought I was missing some information made me put back in the Curious. I am very happy to leave it in now. It suits my LCD4s very well, and my Horn speakers can cope with it as well.

    I have a new power amp coming in 6 weeks which is a big SET tube amp, an Aries Cerat Genus with 25 watts tube power. It will be slightly warmer than my Plinius I think, so again, the Curious will probably be staying.

    Unless you hit treble issues on the 009s I would stay on the Curious. Do you run NOS tubes in your BHSE? It was a bit bright on stock tubes I thought when I have heard it (quite a few times).
    Anyway, USB cables are a great way to tune your system IMO, a last thing to do once you get all the other things sorted.
  5. CoolerB
    I would suggest to try AQ diamond usb. Its really strange, that usb won. What AES cable did you use?
    As AQ is very high in its standards, i would try their AQ diamond AES vs AQ diamond USB. Then you will have more proper picture, what is better. :wink:
  6. Whazzzup
    Aq diamond and oyaide continental 5s were good but couldn’t tell the difference between them. The chord company Sarum T digital super array tho did impress me a bit.
  7. bmichels
    Look what I just received. The mighty « curioisnUSB Cable ».


    My USB tests can continue for best connection between my Aurender W20 and my Terminator R2R DAC ...


    I will report
    ZappaMan and andrewd01 like this.
  8. STR-1
    The Lush has been improved to Lush^2 - better detail and all-round musicality. You could also try the Sablon Audio Panatela Reserva Elite - lower noise floor, more detail, tonality between Curious and Lush, cleaner than the Curious to my ears. Both these cables work well from my Innuos Zenith SE, and from my tX-USBultra when used between server and Chord M Scaler.
    simorag likes this.
  9. Matez
    Please do, I've heard lots of good stuff about this cable.
  10. bmichels
    Thanks. I will see if I can get a Lush2 to try.
  11. STR-1
  12. BigAlMc
    +1 on the Lush^2

    I'm preferring the musicality and soundstage it brings to my system to the Curious, Lush and Sablon cables that preceded it.
  13. STR-1
    It is indeed a very nice cable and a great option to have But I am still preferring tthe Sablon for the lower noise floor and extra detail.

    At the moment, I have arranged things so that I can use a 2-inch USPCB between my Zenith SE server and the tX-USBultra, with the Sablon then connecting that to the Chord M Scaler. But the placement of equipment to support use of the USPCB is not ideal and I will soon experiment with different combinations of USB cables. In addition to the Sablon and Lush^2 I also have the original Lush and a 20cm Curious to play around with, but I am most looking forward to hearing the Sablon and Lush^2 swapped before and after the tX-U.
  14. astrostar59
    NICE! Prepare to hear everything. If your system can take an open window it is a winner IMO. The Lush (1) is a way to warm things up a bit and tame the details slightly. I prefer the Curious but only with my speaker amp on full class A. On A/B it is a bit bright. On the LCD4s perfect combination. I am getting a big SET speaker amp in 6 weeks, so will see how that fairs....
  15. BigAlMc
    Yeah I felt that the Sablon was probably more accurate and is undoubtedly a great cable but there is just something about the Lush^2 that grabs me.

    I was also intrigued by Rajiv/Austinpop's observation that the Lush^2 before the tx-usbultra contributed more than one after it as I thought I recalled the opposite. Might need to revisit that finding and play around again.

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