Paul's Mac Mini vs. Aurender Post

Towards the end of last year, Paul made a post somewhere comparing the Mac Mini to an Aurender. I remember him saying the Aurender was a little bit better, but it wasn’t night and day. And there was a lot of community scoffing at the notion that a Mac Mini could compete against an Aurender. Try as I might, I’ve been unable to locate Paul’s comparison between the two. Anyone know where it might be? I’ve searched the forum and google, to no avail.


Regardless of that video, dedicated streamers have come a long way and are much much better in every way than a Mac mini, from UI, to sound quality, or usability, networking, etc… Aurender, Innuos, Lumin, Auralic, Naim are some options that are significant upgrades over Mac Mini or any DYI solutions!

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Thanks for the feedback. I was interested in finding Paul’s words. I believe they were written last fall, during which time streamers have not changed that much. I’m very familiar with the standard audiophile disdain for computers :hugs:

LOL you know audiophiles. I do find it funny in that streamers are computers but we hate it when the name on the box says Mac Mini, etc.


This is a pretty interesting generalization. So someone who builds a DYI solution can’t build one better than the likes of " Aurender, Innuos, Lumin, Auralic, Naim", etc.

I don’t adhere to this type of belief. If someone didn’t start with a DYI project there wouldn’t be any audio companies. I just listened to a music server that a friend built. It clearly will give any of the above mentioned units a run for the money.


Hmmmm. I don’t remember making that comparison. I still use the Mac mini running on Bit Perfect software for when we play from the hard drive and Audirvana when playing from a streaming source. It remains one of the better sounding devices I have tried though to be honest, I haven’t tried too many.

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there was this one:

“[the aurender]… is better than the mac mini… [but] wasn’t enough better to scrap the minis”

Yes, that’s the thread! Thanks for finding it. @Paul must be having a senior moment :joy:

This is the @Paul quote I was looking for, it’s from September of last year:

“ Oh boy, this is really getting wild. Alright, here you go.

I still use Mac minis. I have three, one for each music room at PS Audio. I also have a Mac minidedicated to the shows. These are not the Minis Beef is thinking about as modified by Bill. They are off the shelf with SSD and the most RAM possible.
I have personally stripped them of all programs and duties other than their assigned task. That whole activity takes some time and fiddling.

I make sure their WIFI is disabled and they connect only via ethernet. I make sure to use the best sounding USB cables between the Mini and the DAC. Those vary, depending on which of the systems they are used in (for best synergy in systems).
In Music Room One I am still using the Curious Cable. I make sure the Mini is plugged into a Power Plant on its own outlet (that matters a lot).

Each Mini has both a reference library installed and a Qobuz account. I use exclusively Audirvana set up the way I like. DSD is always enabled.

How these perform next to, say an Aurender, is quite close. The Aurender has a bit of an edge but not enough for me to invest in them.

The Minis, as configured, are quite respectable sounding and do the job.

They will all be retired when Octave is ready”

Boy, you nailed it. Doggone, my memory’s acting more like a metal sieve than a catchall. I am trying to remember where I had a chance to hear there Aurender which obviously I did. Probably grabbed one off the trade in shelf before it went to TMR. I wish I had a clearer memory of it. Time flies. And, I am still using this basic setup today.


As it may not already be apparent, I’m very leery whenever I see a critical mass moving in one direction, especially when there’s no scientific evidence to back up the belief. Not just measurements, but no listening tests done to a scientific standard.

I have a friend who has been insisting that I’m really losing out by using a Mac Mini with the Matrix and DSJ. That every audiophile, who knows anything about anything, knows that all computers are noisy monsters and that only a purpose built audio device can cure. That my system is total crap unless I get a Sonore or SOTM type streamer, or better yet, an Aurender, Auralic or Innous type device. He insist that my using the Mac Mini, I’m basically throwing away the $12K I have invested in my system. And that the only way to have a decent Mini is to spend thousands of dollars on upgrades that will end up costing more than an Aurender.

And reading audiophile forums, and watching Darko videos, if I choose to just “believe”, I’d say he is correct.

My response to this good friend remains costant, “Paul McGowan compared his long beloved streamer free basic Mac Mini to an Aurender and said the difference was not worth the upgrade. And that Ted Smith, a global digital expert, doesn’t bother with streamers either, so why should I believe all the hype about streamers!?”

Especially given, best I can tell, no one has a test that proves these purpose built audiophile streaming devices are necessarily lower in noise.

And hence my search for your quote to prove to my friend that you aren’t talking about a mega buck Mac Mini. Maxing memory on our own only costs about $300.

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Paul: I know you like your Mac Mini as do I , and see you use Bit Perfect when playing files from your hard drive. I’ve been in love with Pure Music for 7 years now and together with my DSD it’s GLORIOUS! But I got hooked on Roon a few months ago and last night revisited my Mac/iTunes/Pure Music/DSD config and it sounded much better than when using Roon. Way better. But I LOVE the Roon interface and the immersive qualities of it, so are you aware of a way to integrate Pure Music with Roon? If not, you clearly like Bit Perfect so if it’s an easily configuration into the Core I’d happily purchase the software to get “the best of both worlds.” Just wondering how you make it happen. Thx!

I think Paul moved on from BitPerfect to Audirvana a ways back. He’s an Audirvana man, and given the newly released PSA products are not Roon Ready, they’ve moved on from Roon as well.

I can say with confidence that Pure Music cannot be integrated with Roon. Your only option is HQPlayer. If you can get past the initial setup learning curve, HQPlayer makes Roon sound extremely good. Roon has specific programming to allow HQPlayer to take over the sound processing. It’s complex to make that happen.

Thanks, though not welcomed news re: PM. Bummer. I’m totally cool with Audirvana if it can be easily integrated. As for the Roon HQPlayer I never looked into it, and now I think I know why. It sounds very complex and time consuming for my purposes. I thought I read that Paul uses Audirvana for streaming only, ie. Tidal or Qubol. But I’ve read good reviews on Audirvana so am open to it as a great compromise if I can integrate it.

Audirvana sounds great, but there’s really nothing that compares to Roon in terms of a sophisticated library experience. Once HQPlayer is set up, it’s simple to use, and with a plethora of filter choices, you can fine tune to your liking. But it does cost $250.

To clarify, Audirvana can’t be used with Roon either. It’s a standalone product, though it can work with iTunes to some degree.

Okay, cool, and thanks for the info. Much appreciated.

I have both the Mac Mini and the Aurender N10. Com’ on, it’s not much to compare. The Aurender sounds more substantial, more dimensional, more inner detail, more soundstage, less lean, less grainy, and more spacious. It’s not even close. But it does cost 10 times more so it should sound a little better. There’s only so much you can do to modify a Mac Mini, but you can’t turn it into a Aurender.

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Yes, you’re hearing exactly what I hear. We’ve already proven we can not only better Roon in sound but the Mac mini as well. And have a great interface. Totally possible, totally going to happen. I just wish it could happen sooner but it’s an amazing amount of engineering work.


Okay, so you’ve piqued my interest. I’ve heard of Aurender but never explored. I take you at your word that Aurender outperforms a Mac Mini in delivering better sound. I do not have a NAS and instead keep it simply by using an external HD attached to the Mac Mini. In turn I connect via KIMBER USB to my DSD DAC. I will never require more than 2 TB of storage. Never.

I see they have a vast array of products, so which solution would you recommend to replace my Mac Mini without having to invest in additional hardware such as a NAS? And does Aurender REPLACE Roon or is it simply a “Roon Ready” device that can be used as a final endpoint? And does it eliminate the need for additional music playback software such as Audirvana or JRiver, Bit Perfect, etc? My entire system is connected via Ethernet with exception of my DSD DAC as I had one of the first before Ethernet option. Thanks!

Speaking of the mac mini…

Has anyone tried the Uptone Mac Mini DC Conversion kit?

The kit includes a board that bypasses the internal switching power supply and allows you to connect to an external LPS. It also includes a linear fan controller.

See the link below: