Manufacturer specializing in network drives, Aurender has built an extremely complete range. As such, the A15 is a relatively high-end model (even very high-end compared to other brands), both streamer, DAC, and preamplifier. An almost all-in-one fine-tuned down to the smallest detail?
Metallic class and color screen
Rather classic for a network player, the design of the Aurender A15 is nonetheless very successful. The device opts for premium sobriety, with an entirely machined aluminum chassis, in an elongated format, resting on steel feet: 430 x 83 x 355 mm for 12 kg. It has a thick anodized aluminum front (gray or black depending on the version), and radiator-style sides, in order to dissipate the heat of the whole.
This facade is quite typical of other Aurender devices, marked by a beautiful 6.9-inch IPS panel color screen (1280 x 480 resolution), discreet control buttons almost cut in the mass, and a large curved wheel.
As we specify, the A15 plays both the role of streamer/server, digital-to-analog converter, and preamplifier. It thus has a fairly rich connection, although we have already seen more complete in this area:
- Network inputs: 1 RJ45 Ethernet, Wifi and Bluetooth chip with antenna supports, 2 USB-A ports for connecting USB keys and disks
- Digital inputs: 1 Toslink, 1 coaxial RCA. Strangely, there are no USB or AES/EBU inputs, which would be more than normal at such a price.
- Digital output: 1 USB-A, for connection to an external DAC
- Analog outputs: RCA stereo output, 3-pin XLR stereo output
Aurender also highlights its server capabilities. Thus, two 2.5-inch bays are available at the rear, which allows you to place a hard drive or SSD (15 mm thick max). This is in addition to the 240 GB MVMe format SSD already installed for the system. The device, a sort of mini PC, is powered by a low-power quad-core Intel processor, with 8 GB of RAM. We hope this will be enough to preserve the device from obsolescence.
Architecture sauce Aurender
The network part of the A15 is managed by a dedicated application, Aurender Conductor, available on Android and iOS. This gives access to the usual streaming services, and to the management of music stored locally. Of course, most navigation functions can go through the control screen of the device, or the infrared remote control (delivered as standard). On the other hand, the brand does not state compatibility with the various protocols such as Spotify Connect, Airplay, or even Roon Ready.
Clearly, Aurender does more than just build a network drive. All of its architecture is extremely elaborate, even if it means falling into the spectacular.
The conversion and the preamplification pass in particular through an entirely symmetrical topology, in dual-mono. The DACs used are AK4490 from AKM, very good quality chips, although far from being the most modern from the manufacturer. This is enough for the Aurender to be compatible PCM 32 bits/768 kHz, DSD512, and even MQA natively.
Another advantage is the partitioning of the different elements. The conversion and preamplification stage are placed in a separate partition from the power supply sections, the screen, the storage disks and the processor part. Each section is also powered by its own dedicated circuit. All this goes through the use of no less than 4 transformers. We can for example note the use of a dual-mono power supply for the preamplification stages, a high-end choice quite rarely seen.
Another small specificity of the device: the use of an FPGA circuit to generate the clock signal. Aurender thus indicates an accuracy of 100 fs.
This top-of-the-range architecture, and of course the very high quality components associated with it, mean that the A15 is not a device for the average person. The French price is not yet known, but it should settle around €9,000.
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