Aurender X100L

Device Type: Media Server
Input: Ethernet, USB
Output: USB
Storage Capacity: 6TB
Dimensions (W x H x D): 215 x 83 x 355 mm
Weight: 7.5 Kg
Availability: through Authorized Dealers
Price: $3499.00
Website: www.aurender.com

Served
The Aurender X100L is the relatively new baby brother of the previously reviewed S10 (see review). Like its brethren, the X100L is a purpose built music server while upping the ante on the S10s 2TB of storage to a whopping 6TB of total storage (2x 3TB). That's enough for most largish libraries but if you require even more storage Aurender has informed me that they're coming out with an 8TB ($3699) and 12TB version ($3899)! If you need less, there's also the X100S ($2,999) with 1TB of storage.

The fanless Aurender also includes a 120GB SSD (Solid State Drive) which is where your music actually plays from. You see, the Aurender stores your music on its internal Western Digital hard disk drives then when you load up a song or album to play, it gets cached on the SSD while the HDDs spin down and eventually stop. According to Aurender this "...completely eliminates jitter, latency and noise resulting from spinning hard drives and compact disks."

The hard drives are also physically isolated from the rest of the X100L's body to minimize their vibration and noise from traveling and infesting the audio signal. While you can see there is some care given to isolating the various functional parts, the X100L does not go to the same aluminum wrapped extremes as the S10.

Inputs include Ethernet and 2x USB while outputs consist of a single USB socket to connect to your DAC. Aurender claims the lone USB output "is designed to deliver an exceptionally transparent audio signal free of noise and is shielded from outside electronic interference." Overall, I found the X100L to be exceptionally well made, concomitant with its price.

There are two ways to get your music from wherever it currently lives onto the Aurender's internal hard drives; via your network or USB. I opted for the latter and just plugged my backup USB drive into the Aurender's USB 2.0 port and the X100L went about copying its contents automatically. This process ran overnight as I chose to copy my entire AIFF library which consists of approximately 12,000 songs. Since the structure of this library is Artist/Album, everything showed up in the Aurender's "ETC" folder. If you have your music categorized and stored in genre folders, the Aurender can match this layout. I find genre's as useful as nicknames for finding nanny goats blindfolded.

The Aurender handles DSD via DoP so the AMOLED readout reads "176.4" even though the file being sent is DSD

I had to restart the X100L once my library had completely copied over before the Artist Name showed up on the AMOLED screen which lives on the unit's' face. This display also includes the track name, sample rate and attached DAC. There's also an on/off button and on the opposite side of the screen four playback buttons. I used the free Aurender app for the iPad for playback exclusively. I also used this app to connect to one of NAS devices that houses all of my DSD files since the X100L handles DSD playback (single and double rate) while also supporting AIFF, ALAC, FLAC, WAV, M4A, APE, and "others". Gapless playback is also supported. If you are interested in all of the available options for the X100L app, check out the online guide.

I asked my contact at Aurender to describe the main differences between the S10 and X100L:

The following were not used in the X100, but were used in the S10.

1. Audio board with SPDIF Output (COAX, Optical, AES/EBU), clocking, and PLL system
2. Linear power supply

In the S10, [there are] two 3.7" OLED displays. In the X100, there is 1 3.3" OLED display. The aluminum chassis is much smaller and there are fewer partitions inside.

The X100 has a dedicated USB audio class 2.0 port with circuitry that cleans the power to the USB audio port so that it does not affect the sound quality from the USB port. The S10 does not have this. The W20 has the same circuitry for the USB audio port. In the S10 and X100, the USB data ports are powered by the SMPS.

The Aurender app for the iPad remains a pleasure to use and since I went into some detail in my S10 review of its ins and outs, I'll just cover the basics here. The Aurender app is Playlist based, and you can view your record collection by Song, Artist, Album, Genre, Composer, Conductor, or Folder. You can also filter these results by Genre, DSD, 16/24-bit, and Favorites. I preferred Album and Artist view, in that order, for playing back my music as I typically listen to an album's worth of music at a time. I'm not a song kinda guy. To play music, just hold your finger on the selection and a window pops up with various playback options including "Play Now", "Play Random", "Replace Queue", "Add to Next", and "Add to End". You can create and save Playlists or just play on the fly. There's a search feature that only works with locally stored content.

I found the Aurender app to be lightning fast, without any bugs that I could find, and again generally just a pleasure to use. An A+ in my book.

The X100L Test Drive
After loading up nearly 1,000 albums, I went about playing. The first thing that struck me was the noise floor which sounded lower than I'm used to. There was a notable clarity to the music being played through the X100L that suggested an absence of self-noise. Violins rang out true, solo cello resounded from a believable and solid space, while its sounds trailed off into the quiet naturally. There was also a smooth naturalness to the music, an anti-digitalness if you will, making it easy to fall into my tunes.

If all of this sounds a lot like my review of the Aurender S10, it should because they do. Although it has been a while, I would give the S10 the upper hand in delivering even greater clarity and ease, getting out of the way of the music even more than the X100L. But compared to my MacBook Pro, the X100L took things in more of a natural and resolved direction. It was simply easier to fall into the music.

In terms of acoustic autopsy, the various aspects of the frequency range were all handled with the same natural ease. Bass was tight and tuneful, there was a nice amount of timbral richness, and upper frequencies remained sweet and clear, never etched. Again, the music made through the Aurender X100L was easy to listen to and easy to like. There was also plenty of resolution, something digital can do well, sometimes too well. One test for this balance I like to use is acoustic Delta blues. Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, etc. if a system can handle this subtle music without dissecting the life out of it, we're all good and the Aurender X100L delivering John Hurt's blues with all of its kind smooth delicacy in tact.

Big boisterous music was also well served and the Penderecki Violin and Horn Concertos in DSD from Channel Classics was gut wrenching, their huge dynamic swings swung convincingly. Boris' latest Noise was also big and chunky and delightful. Compared to my MacBook Pro, there was more drama, more distinction between soft and loud and a seemingly firmer grip on moment-to-moment musical events.

Delivered
The Aurender X100L incorporates many of the features and performance of its bigger and more expensive brother the S10. While you don't get the S10's last word in resolution and flow, you do get an additional 4TB of storage and a server that handily outperforms a Mac laptop. The associated iPad app is full-featured and easy to use making music playback pretty much pure pleasure.



Associated Equipment

COMMENTS
Wavelength's picture

All,

Jitter is a very overused term in audio. Saying "...completely eliminates jitter" is really misleading in a product like this.

See Audio Related Jitter (what we are concerned about) only occurs in a digital audio stream such as I2S, L/R Justified, DSD or DSP. In an audio server like this there is no Audio Related Jitter error because there is no digital audio stream.

While yes there is jitter in all digital equipment including PCIe, USB, Firewire etc... these interfaces don't have the effect that jitter and good master clocks have in the digital audio interface. If the jitter in these interfaces occurs it will cause data errors in that interface and will result in other problems.

The X100L looks like a magnificent piece of equipment. It just is not going to lower your audio related jitter errors or increase the resolution of your master clocks inside your dac.

Thanks,
Gordon

Priaptor's picture

A voice of reality and reason.

It drives me nuts to see the claims regarding these servers regarding "elimination of jitter".

DG's picture

Hi Michael,

Is it possible to use it without copying music to his HDDs, only access the music located on NAS. If yes, have you tested it?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Yes, you can play music from a NAS and I did test this feature (check out the 4th image above - it says "From NAS" on the X100L's screen) and it worked just fine. The one issue is the search feature in the app will not work for NAS-based music.
DG's picture

Thanks, so only search is not working... X100L's control app correctly showed albums, with tags and artwork?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
For NAS based music, you can only use the Folder view in the app. So metadata shows up correctly but I do not believe album cover art will show up in this view.
DG's picture

I will read your S10 review, I'm afraid that this is not for me, because library is living thing, constantly changing and updating. If they don't provide some sort of easy updating I will pass.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...since the X100L has 6TB of storage so its really geared for people who will store their music internally.
fabiodeluca's picture

Michael great review of a very appealing product

I read also the S10 review and some doubts are now crowding my mind:

- apparently X100L is the best solution for who only needs USB output. It has better storage, USB insulated port, larger HD, SSD storage, fanless etc. It also seems a more modern product vs S10 (apparently on the road since 2011.... But you say sound quality is much better with S10 and this confounds me....
- even more confounding the W20 with the strange old fashiond meter on the front...costing twice S10... What are the differences vs S10 and X100L?

Regards
Fabio

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...who also need 6TB or more of storage. The S10 is limited to 2TB. The differences between the S10 and X100L are discussed in the review.
gca's picture

Hi Michael, Thanks for the great review. Our customers absolutely love the X100 Series units! Regarding the S10 storage, I am fairly certain Aurender now offers an option of 8TB on both the S10 and W20. There is also an an 8TB version of X-100L as well.

Galen Carol
Galen Carol Audio

bpw's picture

The correct information sent from Aurender a few months ago is that the S10 2TB is $6990, the S10 4TB is $7390. No other capacities are available, to my knowledge.

Brian Walsh
Essential Audio

DH's picture

Michael,
As someone who I trying to decide whether to go the server or streamer route in my new setup, I hope you will give us some type of comparison between the sound of the two approaches

thanks

DG's picture

Michael,

I have one question, regarding the update of music on X100L. I manage my music on desktop PC and backup it on a NAS, now lets say I copy all of my music to X100L, and later I add new music to main library (on PC), and change some tags of music that is already copied to X100L... how to update all of this to Aurender?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...would be to just drag and drop the files from your PC into the X100L. You'd need to be connected to it from your PC which means the X100L would need to be on your network via its Ethernet input. Or you could copy the files to USB storage and then just attach that to the X100L and it will auto update.
DG's picture

In these way you have to remember or write what you've changed, can pass month or two when I want to update. Is there a way for X100L to automatically search for changes and update accordingly?

EF's picture

I have an X100L and I find that keeping one's music collection updated on the X100L's hard drive is a rather easy process, but this is not a software function of the X100. I rip new CDs with dBpoweramp and save the FLAC files on my NAS for backup. I then use a shareware program called GoodSync that compares the NAS and the X100L's hard drives and finds the differences (added albums on the NAS). You review the comparison and click 'sync' to add the new albums to the X100L. GoodSync also lets you save "jobs" so you don't have to browse to locate the folders you want to compare. Quick and easy, but the folder structures should match between the NAS and X100L. I have no financial interest in GoodSync, and there is also a free version.

I would also add to this (good) review that Aurender said quite a while back they were working on an Android version of their app, but I'm not holding my breath anymore.

bpw's picture

Several months ago I inquired about an Android version of the app and was told they were looking to release it later this year. Perhaps we'll see it by CES in January if not before. They do tend to honor their commitments, and support has been excellent in my experience.

Brian Walsh
Essential Audio (Aurender dealer)
Barrington, Illinois

Kinara's picture

I have an X100L but for whatever reason, my unit has proven to be unusually glitchy . Aurender's lack of North American support began to show up in sluggish responses (even allowing for time differences with Korea) and a generally low level of customer service given the price points at which their products sell. In the end , the unit was shipped back to South Korea on their dime . It has taken two weeks but the unit is en route back to me. Really, North American customers deserve better than this

bpw's picture

Where are you, and what did the dealer do to help you? Aurender should know that; they really care and are some of the nicest, most professional people I've worked with.

Except for weekends the normal response time from tech support has been within a few hours, sometimes within minutes. Aurender is able to remotely diagnose things easily, down to the hardware level, which is the beauty of Linux/Unix, but yes, they cover priority air shipping both ways if and when service is needed -- transit time is less than two days to Chicago.

Brian Walsh
Essential Audio

Kinara's picture

Brian, I am in Toronto & Aurender has to the best of my knowledge , no sales network in Canada . My dealer in the US was very helpful but ultimately, it was a technical issue. From beginning to end (received my 100L yesterday), the whole saga took a month & response from their Tech support was sluggish , slow & generally unhelpful.

bpw's picture

Please explain the time frame. You said "the whole saga" took a month yet said something about two weeks -- perhaps it was two weeks from the time you shipped it to Aurender to the day you got it back, which if true means they repaired it in about a week? If so, what happened during the rest of the time -- about 2 1/2 weeks? What was the nature of the problem, and did you try doing anything yourself with the hardware, which of course would void the warranty? Something doesn't quite add up here.

Brian Walsh
Essential Audio

Kinara's picture

You are of course entitled to your opinion and speculations but - One month - that's how long it took from the time I reported the issue to Aurender to the time I had the unit repaired and back in my hands. I did nothing with the hardware except to follow the button-pressing sequence they suggested . Getting them to respond with three emails took about 10 days , getting them to agree to shipping another 3 days. They had the unit 10 days . You may or may not want to believe the sequence , you are after all, a dealer for their products ...but that's how long it has taken. Getting them to acknowledge a hardware issue was the hardest part . The problem? The unit wouldn't switch on , wouldn't reboot and wouldn't initialize . I believe they had to replace the main motherboard.

bpw's picture

There was no speculation, and the only opinion expressed was that something didn't add up, due to incomplete information. I was trying to understand but at this point am sure there is another side to the story. Regardless of that, you say they had the unit for 10 days, which would include at least one weekend, so that's reasonable turnaround time on a complicated repair. As for email you mention 3 emails over the course of 10 days. A day or so, plus two more days when a weekend is involved, is not out of the ordinary. And let's not ignore the approximate two days' time in transit each way (FedEx Priority). Bottom line, they took care of the matter and repaired the unit to your satisfaction. I am curious why you believe they replaced the motherboard.

I do hope you are enjoying your Aurender as much as my customers are, including one who purchased an 8TB X100L yesterday after auditioning the demo unit at home for a few days. He was going to transfer his JRiver music library to it last night, a simple task.

Brian Walsh
Essential Audio

Kinara's picture

Wow, your loyalty to Aurender is laudable if perhaps misplaced & a little exaggerated in scope. They were the ones who told me the Motherboard had to be replaced . Really Brian, second-guessing and innuendo-dropping is a little unbecoming don't you think ? For the record , I have had numerous audiophiles through my main system to listen to the X100 vs. the Meridian Control system I also have and the conclusions are pretty unanimous - the Apodising Filters in the Meridian do mean a lot sonically , the Meridian always sounds better than the Aurender . Same DAC for both - the EMM DAC2X fed USB out of the X100 & SPDI/F out of the Meridian.

bpw's picture

Misplaced and a little exaggerated? I wouldn't say that, nor would anyone else, given a recent event I'd like to share as an example.

On Friday, Sept. 12 a customer who had purchased an X100L sent me an email saying his unit wouldn't turn on. I immediately responded and offered to come to his home to check it out. Instead, he brought it here that evening after work, at which time I confirmed the problem and shortly afterward emailed Aurender describing the problem.

Aurender support replied Sunday night (Monday in Korea) with a return authorization, and I shipped the unit to them on Monday. They received it at the end of the day last Wednesday, Sept. 17.

This morning I received an email from them reporting a power supply issue they have not seen before, saying they replaced the power supply, that the unit appears to be working fine, and they anticipate shipping it back tomorrow, which should arrive on Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

That's less than two weeks from the day my customer reported the problem till the day he gets it back, and Aurender turned it around in four business days.

Brian Walsh
Essential Audio

Kinara's picture

Brian- it would be best if you actually managed to give someone the benefit of the doubt. The tone of your reply is insulting and in poor taste. It suggests that I am lying and being obfuscatory. You on the other hand are so slavishly attached to the notion of playing the "Loyal and Fervent Dealer" , the concept that your manufacturer may actually have failed to provide adequate customer service (in high end audio? Say it ain't so!!) is beyond your capacity to accept. An open mind is always a good thing. Regrettably, that seems to get in the way of perception as far as you are concerned. I stand by my comments and my experience . Since you have not experienced what I have , you are in absolutely no position to judge what actually happened only some warped idealized image of what "should" have happened. Reality trumps perception....every time.

bpw's picture

You keep chiding me. I tried to learn the facts behind your problem, to which you responded angrily and have not substantiated your assertions with details, instead resorting to name calling and attempting to cast doubt. So it's easy to see who's being insulting.

The bottom line is the manufacturer expeditiously took care of the matter my customer faced, and he is happy and probably will be back for future purchases. I would have been upset if it had dragged out, but you sound like an exception. I jump through hoops for customers, taking ownership of their challenges. I relish my role as a problem solver and just got a very nice sale of some analog gear after diligently researching compatibility of a customer's equipment and creating a custom solution which will enable similar ones in the future. People call that customer service above and beyond. My suppliers love that, too.

Reality, what a concept.

Kinara's picture

Brian - unfortunately for you, I am deeply schooled in the nuances and idiomatic nature of the English language . Kindly point out at your convenience when I resorted to "name calling" . As far as attempting to "cast doubt" , a rudimentary reading of this exchange by any rational person would see exactly who is "casting doubt" and casting aspersions as to the veracity of statements being made. I see that you lose no time whatsoever in tooting your own horn as a dealer and telling people what a great experience your clients have . But as the saying goes - "this is not about you" . You'll have to seek self-gratification and ego-boosting elsewhere. This is about Auralic. This is about MY experience with them - an arena in which you can have nothing possible to say to discount the facts as they stand since you appear to be blissfully ignorant about them or choose to pursue an alternative course of dissonance since the points raised seem to rankle so deeply with your alternative take on reality. Your sole stance appears to be "My experience with Auralic is different ...ergo - you must be lying" . That's right Brian - never let the facts get in the way of a nice , juicy prejudice......

Kinara's picture

The entire Aurender eco-system seems to be built around PC compatibility . This shows up most notably on the issue of album art . Simply connecting a USB drive does permit the X100 to pretty easily transfer my iTunes music files . However , given the manner in which iTunes is structured, the album art does not follow. There is a complex workaround posted on Computer Audiophile but it requires a PC & a fairly complex series of manoeuvres . Any suggestions on how to make this work? Thanks

hltf's picture

Michael: Is this Aurender server or any other perhaps cheaper, simpler device you know of capable of taking digital output from a CD/DVD player say by SPDIF and sending it out through its USB output. The reason I ask is that I get superb results from my Mac mini and Berkeley USB-SPDIF converter combo. But audio from my DVD player can only be played through its own analog output. I would love to be able to harness the Berkeley's jitter reducing capabilities for my DVD player. Look forward to any thoughts you might have.

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