Critique my digital audio system

The digital side of my audio system consists of—Flac files stored on a Lacie 2TB Thunderbolt External drive—attached to a 2014 i5 Mac Mini----J River 25 is my media player-----Schiit Yiggy analogue 2 DAC— its connected with Audience AU SE USB A-B cable.

Its hard for us old guys to follow the digital race…mainly because we don’t understand the terminology.

What is Nas…Galvanic Isolation…what is an endpoint? I’m intrigued by the Aurender N100 for example…does my external HD plug into the Aurender ? or do I load the files into the Aurender"s HD.

Also- So my computer monitor would no longer work with the Aurender? I would also have to have an I pad to navigate my audio files/media player? Is the Aurender compatible with J River? or do I need a different Media player?

Any and all help would be appreciated…I’m sure I’ll have more questions.

Thanks in advance.

A lot of questions… I see that all the digital options can be difficult to understand. I will try my best:

  1. What is NAS?
    NAS stands for “Networked Attached Storage” and is a dedicated disk storage system attached to the home network (Ethernet) with a specialized operating environment for file sharing. It basically does, what you try to achieve with your Mac Mini in combination with your external Lacie drive, but as a single integrated device. Typically a NAS can hold more than one disk drive and allows redundant configurations of very large file sharing volumes. Such a system is normally configured through a Web Browser (Chrome, Firefox etc.) from an external client computer (like your Mac).

  2. What is Galvanic Isolation?
    Galvanic isolation is used where two or more electric circuits must communicate, but their grounds may be at different potentials. It is an effective method of breaking ground loops, that create hum or noise. You can read this topic on this forum a lot. There are many possible ways of getting galvanic isolation. For example the PS Audio I2S protocol is very popular for PS Audio customers (see Topic “Matrix X-SPDIF 2” as example for a very popular solution to connect a PS Audio DAC via I2S).

  3. What is an Endpoint?
    An Endpoint is the streaming device that is connected to the DAC. In your configuration, the Mac Mini using the J River 24 media player is the endpoint in your system. Typically, an endpoint is a specialized streaming device, that works as bit perfect audio data transporter to feed the DAC. Sometimes, the endpoint and the DAC are combined in one single system. You often hear the term “Endpoint” in combination with Roon (media management and player software). Many DAC’s available on the market can work as a Roon endpoint (like for example: PS Audio DirectStream).

  4. Answers to Aurender N100 questions
    The Aurender N100 is a networked streaming audio transporter. It does not contain a DAC, but is a specialized audio endpoint, to feed your Schiit Yiggy DAC. As it offers internal disk capacity (in some configurations), it could very well replace your Mac Mini / external Lacie drive combo. To configure the Aurender and to play music, you simply need a smartphone (iOS or Android) or an iPad to control the Aurender device. Based on the information on the website, it could be possible, that you are able to connect an external Disk drive via USB. There is no Thunderbolt port on the Aurender, so this connection will not be possible. The Aurender does also support NAS devices as source for storing audio files. If you don’t need a huge amount of disk space, I would recommend to go with the internal storage of the Aurender.

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Thank you, @alexreusch! Wonderfully helpful.

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Yes, thank you. Much appreciated.

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I have a Aurender so I’m familiar with it. The N100H is the basic one with a internal hard drive storage of 2T. The N100C has 4T storage. The N100SC Storage is optional. No Iphone, Ipad only with their free Conductor app. That will be how you play your music. You use a computer to install, delete or move music around. You can also install music with the USB on the Aurender. The N100H has only USB output, but the N100S and SC has also CoAx or RCA outputs.
I was using a Mac Mini before. Forget it, the Aurender will let you hear music like you never heard before, it’s that much better. Try one, you’ll see.

Can anyone recommend a source for this kind of information, like “digital audio home networks for dummies?”

This forum is likely one of the best sources you’ll find and/or the good folks at PSAudio would be happy to answer questions on the phone if you prefer.

Devices, models and technologies are being developed so quickly that documentation really doesn’t happen or quickly becomes out of date.

I like to first think of what I’d like to achieve or what problem do I want to resolve and then go and learn about possible options vs. reading about devices and options that for me may be solutions looking for problems.

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The YouTube channel from Hanns Beekhuyzen provides good explanations of (digital) audio terms - besides reviews - in an understandable language: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR4tuhqPppVp-PD0q17sPEA

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Alex-Thank you…what a great and thoughtful reply. I have asked these same questions on other forums, and usually I get ignored or snarky replies. Computer Audiophiles can be be a whole different breed of people.

The Aurender N 100 sounds like a great addition to my system…the only drawback for me is …that I love using a big monitor to navigate my digital music. I certainly don’t want to use my phone…I guess I can buy an ipad…yes I’m the last human being on earth without an ipad.

BTW- The rest of my system consists of—Pass Labs Int-60----VPI Prime Signature (Rosewood) Pass Labs XP-17 Phono Pre-----and everything is plugged into my PS Audio P 10. I use all Audience cabling/Power Cords. My Speakers are Martin Logan Montis’s—floor standing Electrostatics.

We have hardly any audio stores left in my neck of the woods (Cleveland) so I typically have to use the audio forums to learn new thing regarding audio.

Thanks again for everyone"s help and direction. I really appreciate it.

Happy New Year

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@krelldog, just ask away. There is a great deal of practical knowledge here. It is a remarkably supportive group.

We also recognize diving into streaming audio has a somewhat steep learning curve.

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You are welcome, anytime! What @Paul and his team have created, is a real family for music lovers and audiophiles. And Paul leads with great example with the blog and the YouTube channel on a daily base. This forum is a very nice place for everyone and we must take care that it stays a nice place. Digital audio and especially streaming can get very complex, when trying to satisfy audiophile needs. I totally agree with @brett66: You don’t need to understand every product or technology available on the market. Instead, ask yourself: What do you like to achieve or what problem do you want to solve?

BTW: Your systems sounds very nice. My best friend also owns Martin Logan Monti’s. They are very resolving and brilliant when listening quality content, but can also be a beast when you are not feeding them with good source material (bad recordings).

It’s worth noting that @Paul has something to the effect of the Aurender is perhaps a bit better than a MacMini but not really worth the expense. That’s my interpretation, yet it was something along those lines.

Yay Pass Labs and VPI! :grinning: Pass XP-20, XP-17, X260.8 monoblocks, VPI Avenger with Fatboy. The PS Audio gear (DS, DMP, P15) easily holds its own in this setup!

Have to agree with others here - this forum is a very good place to get questions answered, whereas online instructional sites tend to go out of date very quickly

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Tony…You have my system on steroids…what an incredible collection of gear.

super sweet setup tony22!

Thank you!