Aurender N200 Network Audio Transport Page 2

The intention here is that you use the N200's optional internal storage capacity to house your complete music library. A couple of 2TB drives should give you plenty of space for 15,000+ albums in CD-quality FLAC, or almost 2000 in 192kHz/24-bit, and they can be loaded to those drives by simple copying from USB storage. Alternatively you can access the N200 over a local network and drag content to its drives from your NAS library – this can be a little slow but works well in the background while you listen!

Otherwise, there is a simple 'copy from NAS' routine built into the player, but this is designed to transfer an entire library, and some 30TB of music wasn't about to go onto the smaller-capacity drives I had installed in the N200!

sqnote Performance Pay-Off
Having tried a number of DACs I had to hand with the N200, I finally settled on using the iFi Audio Neo iDSD [HFN Mar '21] as the 'bridge' between its USB output and my Naim amplification. As with the drive installation, setup was fast and simple, and with music playing in very short order it was soon clear that Aurender's approach to network player design was paying off.

It certainly made iFi Audio's classy little DAC work to the best of its considerable abilities, even when streaming hi-res content from Qobuz. Pink Floyd's 'Hey Hey Rise Up' single, in 96kHz/24-bit, was superbly presented with a deep, dramatic opening that then gave way to Nick Mason's powerful drumming and Dave Gilmour's soaring, soulful guitar.

With that single track I was almost convinced by the viability of streaming as a music source, the N200's handling levelling the playing field between this method and the download I'd previously purchased. Mind you, it also put on a rewarding show with a BBC Radio live concert recording in 320kbps/m4a, delivering the dynamics and detail in splendid fashion, and giving a real sense of the concert hall ambience in the first part of Bach's St Matthew Passion.

Lucky Me
But enough of the not-so-casual listening during setup and familiarisation: with the piano and electronica of the soundtrack from John Carpenter's The Fog [Silva Screen FILMCD 342] the N200 made those deep chords and ambient effects – all performed by the director – chilling and ominous, with a real sense of menace.


The N200 includes an isolated Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB-A 3.0 hubs for outboard drives, and two bays [above] for user-installed 2.5in SSDs or HDDs. Outputs are on USB-A 2.0 (to 384kHz/32-bit; DSD512) and coaxial S/PDIF (to 192kHz/24-bit)

The same held true for the live version of Nick Cave's 'Where The Wild Roses Grow' from Kylie Minogue's The Abbey Road Sessions set [Parlophone P015 0232], made all the more disturbing by the simple accompaniment and the contrast between Minogue's voice and Cave's. Mind you, on this album Minogue can even tingle with her slow-burn, string-accompanied take on 'I Should Be So Lucky' when played through this system!

Just as powerful was Mitsuko Uchida's recording of Beethoven's 'Diabelli Variations' [Decca 4852731; 192kHz/24-bit], in which the N200 revealed even the slightest touch of finger on key as well as the complexities and intricacies of the writing. Meanwhile, the speed and definition of the sound here – even in the complexity of the Variation 33 fugue, with notes tumbling over each other – was quite breathtaking.

This characteristic was also readily apparent in another fugue, the massive piece concluding Britten's 'Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra', in the Michael Stern/Kansas City Symphony Britten's Orchestra recording [Reference Recordings RR-120SACD; DSD64] This is one of my go-to test pieces, and remains hugely enjoyable even on repeated listening. Through the Aurender/iFi Audio combination the instruments sounded wonderfully well-shaped, and the drama of the crashing finale is of a quality to have you turning it up and listening again.

Maximum Reward
That combination of speed and full-fat sound also served well a wide range of music, from the exuberant jazz of the McCoy Tyner/Freddie Hubbard Quartet on their Live At Fabrik Hamburg 1986 set [Jazzline D77100] to the full-on blast of The Red Hot Chilli Peppers' 'The Heavy Wing' [Unlimited Love; Warner Records 093624880646]. Whatever the music, the minimal time you'll need to spend getting used to the way Aurender's N200 does things will be richly rewarded.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
In common with most server/streamer components, the N200 has its own idiosyncrasies and will take a little familiarisation. Nevertheless, its combination of performance and sensible approach to adding user-defined hard drives makes it a highly attractive prospect, and one that rapidly becomes a delight to use. In fact, even if you only ever use it with online services, you're likely to be delighted by what it can do.

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