Aurender W20SE Network Audio Library Lab Report

Lab Report

In common with the Melco N10/2 [HFN Apr '22] and Aurender's own N200 [HFN Jun '22], the W20SE music storage/player is also a transcoding/signal conditioning device. Other 'conditioning' network bridges include the Innuos Statement [HFN Jan '20], Aqua LinQ [HFN Sep '20], Grimm Audio MU1 [HFN Dec '20], Auralic Sirius G2.1 [HFN Oct '22] and Roon Nucleus+ [HFN May '18]. Like the MU1 and N200, the W20SE does not enable upsampling or DSD-to-LPCM when converting between network and S/PDIF or USB data formats – this is the preserve of the AES outputs (single AES up to 88.2kHz and dual-AES up to 384kHz). Data buffering (reclocking/'de-jittering') and delivery from a low-noise battery-powered source, with very low levels of circulating RFI, is the focus of Aurender's flagship music library.

As I've discussed in the past, any uplift in performance over PC/Mac USB sources is best inferred via third-party DACs which, here, included the Mytek Brooklyn [HFN Aug '17], iFi Audio's NEO iDSD [HFN Mar '21] and the dCS Vivaldi APEX [HFN Jun '22]. In practice the W20SE delivered its most transparent results via USB 2.0. In this instance the Brooklyn and Vivaldi provide sufficient galvanic isolation/onboard reclocking that almost no difference was measured between PC and W20SE 'USB sources' [black spectrum, Graph 2]. However, a great improvement was realised with the NEO iDSD where its repeating ±33Hz sidebands were squeezed from 550psec to a residual ~9psec [red versus black spectra, Graph 1] via the W20SE. Note, also, the ~1dB reduction in noise over Aurender's own N200 as the USB source [blue spectrum, Graph 1]. Via AES, native 48kHz streams revealed some 80psec of jitter from the dCS Vivaldi APEX [blue spectrum, Graph 2], increasing to 95psec with 192kHz upsampling [red spectrum, corrected for –2dBFs shift] and to 125psec with 48-to-384kHz upsampling over dual-AES. While this was unexpected, the result plays into the hands of the ubiquitous USB audio standard. PM


48kHz/24-bit jitter spectra from iFi Audio's NEO iDSD DAC (via Aurender W20SE, black; Aurender N200 [HFN Jun '22], blue; and PC, red)


48kHz/24-bit jitter spectra from W20SE/Vivaldi (via USB, black; native AES, blue; upsampled AES, red)

Digital inputs 1x Ethernet; 2x USB-A 3.0
Digital outputs 1x USB-A 2.0; 2x S/PDIF; 2xAES/EBU
Digital jitter (Mytek Brooklyn) 7psec (8psec via PC USB)
Digital jitter (iFi Audio NEO iDSD) 9psec (550psec via PC USB)
Digital jitter (dCS Vivaldi APEX) 7psec (USB)/80psec (AES)/95psec (ups)
Power consumption 22W (2W standby)
Dimensions (WHD) / Weight 430x127x370mm / 21kg
Price £22,900

South Korea
upplied by: Padood Ltd, Cambridge, UK
01223 653199