Paul's Mac Mini vs. Aurender Post

I have the N10 with has 4 TB of internal storage. Aurenders have their own excellent Conductor App built in so you don’t need anything except an additional I Pad. The N 100 models which cost about $2700 will also outperform any Mac Mini is similar, but starts out with 2 TB of internal storage with 4 TB optional. You can also add external NAS if you need more, but believe me, it sounds better playing back using it’s own internal storage. The N10 has Coaxial, XLR, USB, BNC, and Toslink outputs. The N 100 has only USB output. But it does not matter, the best sound is USB to Matrix and I2s to DS. The N100 should sound almost as good as the N10, but definitely better than any Mac Mini. Of course the better the USB and HDMI cable you use, the better the sound.

1 Like

Interesting. So if I understand correctly both of these units act as both music players (replacing the need for apps like Bit Perfect or Audirvana) AND streamers that offer great interfaces supported by iOS apps? Do I have that right? And it matters not that my Mac Mini is loaded up with the i7 proc and 16 GB Ram? It still crushes the Mac in terms of audio performance?

I have one available I2S port available on my DSD as I have my DMP player connected to one, so while I COULD spring for the N10, I don’t wanna spend 5.5k now for what may be a nominal upgrade. More open to the N100 that connects to my DSD via USB. That’s easy and financially palatable. But I’m not sure what you mean by “the best sound is USB to Matrix and I2s to DS.” What do you mean by “Matrix?” Pls pardon my lack of knowledge here.
Finally, I’m a Control4 customer. My Mac Mini is programmed by my installer. Am I going to have to have him come out to install this device into my system, or can I instead simply install it as the final endpoint in my ROON chain which would be DSD>Aurender>preamp? Thanks very much :pray:t2::musical_score:

I am now able to answer one of my questions, just as an FYI. I see this is truly a stand alone alternative to Roon and isn’t supported. So it appears I’d need my Control4 tech out to install into my system so would need to tack on another $150 or so. I don’t know if they have a driver for Control4 or my tech will have to build one out. TBD.

The Aurender is a complete player. You do need a Ethernet cable connected to the player though. Just load in your DSD or PCM music files and play back with your Android phone or I Pad. It does have built in free internet radio, Tidal and Qobuz you can subscribed to, and MQA you purchase additionally. It will outperform your Mac Mini no matter your mods.
The Matrix X-SPDIF 2 you can check out on this thread.

Thank you! I appreciate your input. So just a few final questions and I’ll likely make a decision this week.

1). Will the Aurender provide me two “endpoints.?” In other words, there are times I’ll want to use my Lyngdorf MP-60 in “Party Mode,” which is GREAT for certain circumstances. But primarily I’d use for 2.0 stereo with the DSD. Since my Lyngdorf is connected via ethernet to same network as would be the Aurender, I presume my C4 installer would simply create TWO profiles - one for the DSD and another for the MP-60 Lyngdorf? I’m including here a picture of the my Control4 audio set up.
2). Does Aurender provide Control4 drivers or will my C4 tech have to build out for me?
3). I understand I’ll need to copy my music files from my external drive to the Aurender. NP. Easy. But what about ADDING future files? Is this easily accomplished on my local network if I rip a new CD or download a high res file to my iMac?

4). And to be clear, The Matrix X-SPIDF 2 is an option and NOT a requirement, correct?

Thanks very much, and appreciate the help.

The Aurender’s Ethernet input is only for the internet radio, Tidal and Qobuz, downloading firmware, and commuting to I Pad with Conductor App. The Aurender is an stand alone unit so outside a NAS, nothing can be connected to it.
You can rip files or load any music files on your computer and transfer it to the Aurender via computer.
The Matrix is a USB to I2s converter you can add to run I2s to your DS. which is the best sounding input on the DS.

Great, and thanks for the detailed info. Again, much appreciated . So sounds like my installer will need to pay a COVID visit as it will surely need to be “seen” by Control4 as a source to enable me to integrate in to my system, right?


Couple things here. Hardware is one part of the equation. The Aurender is a Linux computer (so is the Mini) that has been purpose built for audio. To my knowledge, Aurender provides no tests to prove scientifically that their design is appreciably less noisy. It may very well be less noisy, but they don’t provide empirical evidence. It’s very likely the A10 is less noisy, and at $5500, I dearly hope so.

The second part is software. Aurender is a one trick pony, it’s the Conductor App, and that’s it. The Mac has many software choices. So when you say the Mac Mini is worse, it’s worth saying what Mac software you are using, and whether or not any streaming arrangement (Sonore, SOTM, etc) is employed with the Mac.

The point being, there are so many different possible Mac Mini setups that it’s a bit inaccurate to make a blanket statement the Aurender is always better. Given the different Mac setups, it can be more a matter of degree better, and if it’s worth the expense of the Aurender. And of course, the Aurender has the snobbery element, the exclusivity that audiophiles can’t seem to resist :joy:

I don’t know what Aurender Paul used to compare against his Mac Mini, but he said they were quite close.

The A10 may be wonderful. But a statement saying it’s always way better than a Mac Mini lacks specifics. .

1 Like

I don’t know if there is some way to bring the performance of the Mac Mini to the level of the Aurender N10 without major surgery. I have try deleting all programing not related to audio, installed JRiver, Jitterbug, Uptone Regent and it’s not even close to the performance of the basic Aurender. Maybe if I change the power supply in the Mac Mini, it can come closer, I don’t know. That’s something I might try for fun later on.
You are right, I shouldn’t say that the Mac Mini performance cannot be brought to the level of the Aurender with major mods because I really don’t know. I do know that a basic Mac Mini with a few minor mods is nowhere near in sound quality as a basic Aurender N10 because that’s what I have.

For me, it’s reasonable to assume that on the hardware level, the Aurender A10 must be superior to a Mac Mini. Paul says he tried a tricked out Mac Mini with a LPS, etc, and it wasn’t any better than a regular Mac Mini.

The wild card is software. How, for instance, Roon/ HQPlayer compares to Conductor. And whether or not the Mac Mini has been separated from the DAC via a streamer, or even the inexpensive Allo offerings. Or the UltraRendu’s of the world.

It wold be interesting to see the results of blind tests comparing a nicely setup Mac Mini to an Aurender A10. The Aurender may still win, but it’s a question of degree and value.

I think you are confusing an A10 with N10. An Aurender A10 has a built in dac that also plays MQA. The N10 needs an outboard dac to work. I do not know how an A10 compares with the N10 plus DSS. I’m pretty sure a N10 will outperform an A10 and A DSS will outperform the built in dac in the A10. As to if an A10 can outperform a Mac Mini with the DSS as far as sound quality goes, that I don’t know.

1 Like

I’m confused most of the time :smile:

If anyone cares to believe me and i have not completely tarnished my name here. I have on hand a Heavily modified W20SE and a Purpose built NUC with a JCAT and several “boxes” outboard(Galvanic,Regen ETC) all powered by Hynes LPS. Core windows, audiophile Optimizer, Fidelizer, Jriver. running off M.2

I feel that the NUC system sound quality wipes the floor with “any” dedicated music server.
It all depends on what you build as they are both computers. Plus the NUC system is less money.


Very interesting!

Based on Paul’s recommendations I use iTunes with BitPerfect. It runs on an iMac (not Mac Mini) with internal hybrid SSD/HDD. This is used for everything, not just as dedicated server.

In my home office it is connected with a good audio quality Atlas Element USB SC cable to my Stellar Gain Cell DAC, which drives my active near field monitors to which I do sit fairly close.

No hiss, no noise, no listening fatigue. Just very good sound.

For our living room, two stories below, we stream to our Apple TV that is connected via HDMI to our home cinema receiver.

So in my home office I get to play native up to DSD 128 (DOP) and Apple lossless, for my ripped CD’s. which is as good as native red book standard.


  1. All utilizing the Apple free Apple Music control software and Apple remote.
  2. Music is synced and I have exactly the same library everywhere I go on my Apple mobile devices.
  3. One user interface for everything: Music and movies.
  4. Everybody in the house has access to it via their own mobile devices.
  5. No license fees at all, as I don’t care for Apple Music streaming service.


  1. The iMac needs to be “on” all the time for convenience, as it is located on the 2nd floor, so either we run stairs or waste energy.
  2. No FLAC playback.
  3. Does not play DSD Directly, DSD files require conversion to Apple Lossless-DSD hybrid files by DSD-Master.
  4. Navigating through the library on the Apple TV is cumbersome, so much that I am the only person doing it. The feedback I got: “why swap between all those menus when I can simply put a CD in the BluRay players drawer”. That is how cumbersome it is.
  5. Apple TV plays 24 bit 48 kHz. Period. So audio formats are not played “natively”.

Conclusion: This infrastructure is good enough. In my home office excellent.

A dedicated low energy server, playing any file format natively without manual conversion and offering a comprehensive and easy to use user interface would be welcome.

But, till date I have to find a mobile solution that offers the ease of use and quality without extra boxes to carry (Chord, etc.) than Apple offers.

Chord mojo and streamer + Roon might do the job for on the road. With Roon at home. This might improve on a lot of issues, but it requires the extra electronics to be carried around. Plus there would be the extra (considerable) cost factor.

Because there is more in live than listening to good sounding music, I couldn’t justify the costs for replacing the good working and sounding existing infrastructure.

If I’d choose for comprehensive server/streamer it would be INNUOS, a versatile cool looking compact all in one box, high built quality, that includes:

  • a ripper
  • huge HDD or SSD storage at my choice
  • sound quality options between EUR 1.500,- and EUR 11.500,- at my choice
  • superb Audiophile Ethernet and USB output options
  • comprehensive license free interface via computer and/or mobile device
  • option to run Roon including its core
  • MK3 (ZEN/Zenith series) plays any file format natively: AAC, MP3, Apple Lossless, FLAC, up to DSD 256 on either Ethernet or USB. Statement (EUR 11.500,-) goes up to DSD 128. So I think the ZEN or Zenith is best future proof compromise.

Best is: no waste of financial resources on color displays, that are completely redundant as it’s operated by touch screen remotes anyway.

This is the huge thing. A dedicated audio server and not one you surf the internet, read email ETC. makes a huge sonic difference. It must be optimized for audio only. I do not use Mac at all. For windows, that means stripped to the core Kernel. no services running or anything. Just the ethernet back end. Cannot even use a browser but it can stream music.

I think maybe people could tell I was not telling a lie this time because i said the much less expensive option was better. Normally when I am lying I say the most grandiose thing. You would be surprised. As far as audiophile front ends go a music server is not a lot of money. You either build it yourself or have to know a shop that can do it. Not just a regular computer store.

I think it is all the DSP options, tuning ETC. that allows it to easily surpass any top dedicated music server. They are really the same thing sans all the customization offered. Jcat, Regen, Intona Altogether just simply surpass those things. Then powered by Hynes. It has much cleaner power going in. YMMV but it is my pick. Hands down. I just hope anyone believes me. It is not really in a NUC case. It is actually about 3x that size but same format. Not like a mid tower or anything. No fans. Heat pipes. that is very good for an I7. It has onboard video of course. TBH it is a low power mobile I7 though. Hence needing the PSU.

I was just posting this in regard to using the computer for everything. that is not going to give you very good sound at all IMO.


You are certainly correct that a dedicated server could sound better. Which is why I have seriously looked at Many dedicate servers/streamers.

The sound of my system is so good that I don’t consider using a multipurpose computer a problem. Especially because I doubt my brain is capable on concentrating on music and my e-mail at the same time with such sense for detail.

The point I was making, is that the sound is so good that I question that there is an immediate need to invest in dedicated servers.

I have lost interest in building my own PC’s for whatever purpose. I have done it for years, it turned out to be a money and time consuming hobby and I hardly had time to do anything useful with them. Wouldn’t want to miss the experience, but definitely prefer good looking ready to go systems now a days. With them I actually perform productive work rather than keep updating them.

That is why a ready to go music server like the Innuos is the only alternative for me.

Don’t overlook the Roon endpoint running on a dedicated Mac Mini.
I run the Roon core on my office machine, a control point in the listening room on an Android tablet, and ethernet to a dedicated Mini endpoint, connected with Matrix I2S to the DSD.
It sounds superior.

1 Like

One thing that is not always made explicit is that when using Roon, you need some kind of computer to run Roon Core, and a streamer that is a Roon endpoint. With the innuos Zen Mk 3 server, it is both, so a one box solution. I’d like to give you reasons why it sounds better (not sure) than my iMac, but it sounds great and works well, and gives me a source for 3 different systems. I wish it output via i2s instead of just USB.


I am not sure an additional electronics box with USB to I2S HDMI would improve the sound. USB only works fine. I would use the I2S only if the source would provide that output. Whether it sounds better, is a big question. I understood that the Innuos has an exceptionally well engineered USB output.

I’d prefer to use the Innuos as server and go via Ethernet to a DAC with streamer. But only if I had to buy the complete digital chain. If you have already a real good DAC without streamer function USB is still fine.