Auralic Aries...Mini

What would you consider to be a reasonable price to be paid for a network player capable of playing up to 24/384 PCM files, quad rate DSD, and Tidal's lossless streaming service? Let's also throw in an ESS 9018-based DAC and a custom in-house developed iOS and Android app for running the whole shebang?

The brand spankin' new Auralic Aries Mini delivers all of that and more for $399. Hmm. Interesting. Let's also add in the option of adding your own internal storage and we have the makings of a Squeezebox Touch crusher.

Xuanqian Wang of Auralic presents the Aries Mini

Auralic held a press event on Thursday introducing their new Aries Mini which will hit the streets in the US of A in September. We got to hear a comparison of the Auralic Aries feeding the Vega DAC via XLR versus the Mini's RCA output both into the Auralic Taurus preamp and I would say the difference in the music each produced was not at all vast.

My notes read "Vega softer more relaxed sound". And I'll stick to that jot until I hear the Mini in the barn over time. Color me impressed and intrigued.

Inputs include Ethernet, 2.4/5G Dual Band Wi-Fi, and USB for USB storage. Outputs include a single-ended RCA pair, USB, Coax and Toslink (24-bit/192kHz).

COMMENTS
Mark Tarone's picture

I couldn't have asked for anything more from Munich. Roon launches and Auralic announces a $400 streamer/DAC. Put the two together, and you have an affordable, multi-zone system that will deliver an immersive listening experience to the masses (tens of thousands?, hundreds of thousands?, millions?).

I've been anxiously awaiting these two products for years. And they get unveiled the same week. I LOVE MUNICH...even though I've never been.

Thanks for the great early news!

BradleyP's picture

Real hifi for the price of a budget CD player? Now THAT'S exciting! Is there a good digital volume control in the app for a one-box solution when paired with powered speakers? This thing has "Budget Component of the Year" written all over it.

RAYSAY's picture

Does it have XLR output...?

Dan Gravell's picture

It's kinda telling that we are still talking about "Squeezbox Touch crusher[s]" three years after it was discontinued!

I'm not sure if it's the brilliance of the Touch or the inability of its successors to hit the sweet spot of quality and affordability. I think the latter.

DH's picture

You are right. Amazing that Logitech totally gave up on this market.They could have sold a lot of units with an improved SB unit that could also appeal to audiophiles.

I guess they just weren't interested. Maybe makes sense in terms of Logitech as opposed to a SB only company.

ednaz's picture

I've got two Touches, and two Transporters, and love them still. Have been comparing a Transporter to my new Exasound DAC, and what I find fascinating is that the Transporter makes compressed files sound somewhat better than the Exasound - there's some kind of compensation for what compression does to a file. But if you throw a 24/96 at both of them, the Transporter sounds over-pumped-up - not unpleasant but boosted, the Exasound smooth and sweet. I've also listened to a very old (and very digital sounding) ripped CD, and on the Exasound it's just as grating as it was made, the Transporter kind of smooths over that.

As long as I have some number of iTunes files, and some old edgy-sounding CD rips, the Logitech stuff will have a role in my system.

MilesFerg's picture

My Squeezebox Touch was $250 almost five years ago. I still can't consider these new streamers as 'crushing' it. I've recently gotten back into this as I've been introduced to the Tidal service and finally thought my dream came true of sending the digital stream at full resolution to my D/A from my SB. Unfortunately, I can't get it to play for more than a minute on a song without: rebuffer, failure, restart song. Going to Logitech site, I find they discontinued it! Biggest failure in Product Management award! Now I'm looking for streamers and am very discouraged. All I want is SB functionality that will work with Tidal for a reasonable price. Maybe the Mini will do it, at a somewhat higher price.

bfmcosta's picture

My Squeezebox Touch works flawlessly with Tidal, using ickstream.

DH's picture

This would have been the perfect product for me 2 years ago. Now I'm already planning for something more high end.

labjr's picture

Does is have any digital filters or upsampling?

labjr's picture

Couple other things I would have wished for. A USB input to use a computer based player with the DAC section. Latest SABRE9018AQ2M chip.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
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derneck's picture

Would be nice, even as an option.

tubefan9's picture

on the $5000 Aries / Vega combo. Going to buy 5 of these instead.

CraigS's picture

... when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.

Mike Cees's picture

Does the software allow for playing multiple genres randomly? Does it...
OK let's give the little fella a chance.
It'll take a lot of convincing before I let go of my Touch.

As previous poster mentioned Logitech could have improved on the Touch and turned it into a real audiophile component. Sean Adams and the Slimdevices team were visionaries - ahead of their time. Logitech are mainly bean counters. The only other product that I can think of that has some merit is their Harmony remotes and apparently they're talking about dropping that too.

Mark Tarone's picture

The touchscreen will be your phone or tablet - used via either: 1) Auralic's free and robust app, or 2) Roon's soon-to-be released app/amazing music listening/discovery interface. A screen on the Aries Mini would be a 'nice-to-have' for some but isn't needed.

IMO - great that Auralic is not putting a touchscreen on the Aries Mini. Most importantly, it saves everyone $$. It also forces users to utilize either their app or Roon's app which are better end user experiences than any on-device touchscreen would be. Even giant and successful Logitech couldn't make the Squeezebox a profit center (possibly due to the expense of the touchscreen). It's no longer needed and for most people, adds little extra value.

More on Roon:
● Roon Launch: http://www.audiostream.com/content/roon-labs-launches
● Roon - Intro Glimpse: https://youtu.be/5dlawHfO8sM
● Roon Labs Vision: http://blog.roonlabs.com/what-a-journey/#more-28
● Detailed Video Walk-Thru: https://youtu.be/u1LvfgOQ3JY

Mike Cees's picture

I've been fooling around with the Roon trial for a couple of days now. I feel a bit like a beta tester that's about to fork over $119 for a year license but I do agree that it has a lot of potential. I was under the impression Auralic used proprietary software but if it's compatible with Roon then that's a big plus. While I almost never used the touchscreen feature on the Touch I still like the idea of a screen and remote control vs smart phone and no screen. Most of the mid-high end players have screens but they're also in a different price range. My network is ethernet based and wifi is disabled everywhere. The smartphone option would require enabling wifi and would imply that everyone in the household owns a smartphone for when I'm not around. I guess I can live with those minor inconveniences IF it means the Aries Mini/Roon/DAC combo can provide better sound than the Touch/DAC combo. The $400+$119 price tag is certainly within what I'm able/willing to pay for marginally better sound and if it turns out to be substantially better sound I'll be ecstatic.

Reed's picture

I'm not a Sabre fan, but it's good news for the folks who are. I bet they sell a ton of these.

dch's picture

Perfect! I want one!

Mike Cees's picture

I'm presuming there will be a digital output for those who wish to use an external non-Sabre DAC.

Metalhead's picture

What's wrong with Sabre, and what chip do you prefer over it?

KmanChu's picture

This looks like the first real device that tempts me away from my Squeezebox Touch. The Bluesound Node is a nice device but the optical only output is the deal-killer.

Regarding the sound, the words "Vega" "softer" and "relaxed" are not terms I would typically put together. The Vega is rather bright and uber-dynamic for my taste. But then again, if this thing really does get into the Vega-ish quality range then a little extra brightness is easily forgiven for this price.

Mike Cees's picture

Depends who you ask. Judging by its popularity a lot of people love it. Then there are those who swear by R2R(ladder)DACs,FPG or NOS designs claiming the Sabre sounds thin and unnatural. Of course the chip isn't everything and for $400 I wouldn't expect its implementation to be optimal.

Kevin B's picture

Can this new Device Stream Spotify ? Tidal has pretty weak content compared to Spotify. Does it have a 'Wall Wart' Power Supply? I have upgraded my Touch to a dedicated non-switching PS. What Audiophile needs a DAC built into a Streamer? What can this device do that my Touch Cannot ?

mcullinan's picture

Its not just the product. Sure the product is $399 and is a great price point. What should be the bigger concern is the User Interface. Thats where SB Touch and all its iterations excelled and where most companies fall short. Im not saying the interface is end all be all, but you will need a large web app department to get this portion of your new product right. Maybe they will! Only time will tell.

Kevin B's picture

LMS is the real Gem for the Squeezebox Touch! This will be a very tall mountain for this Mini Device to Climb, much less exceed. For now, I'll take a used SB Touch off of E-bay for my $400.

cast's picture

I am probably missing something, but why spring for a $1500 Aries if the Mini does the same thing? Does the big brother provide better WiFi?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...and connectivity options. If these things are not really important for you, then the Mini "does the same thing" as the Aries.
fbczar's picture

Michael, I have been considering the purchase of a DSD capable DAC like the Teac UD-301 or the iFi iDSD nano. Would the Aries mini have the same functionality as the DACs mentioned plus streaming? How would the sound quality compare?

sfjain's picture

Mike,

Could you please do a real word comparison between the Bluesound Vault, Auralic Aries Mini, and the Bluesound Vault 2 when available, via their digital and analogue outputs. I realize there are commercial interest involved but Needless to say it would be of TREMENDOUS benefit to your readers.

Thx
Sam

bfmcosta's picture

My Squeezebox Touch works flawlessly with Tidal, using ickstream.

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