Auralic Aries G1 with Qutest, SN2 and HiCap

As promised @MrUnderhill … the Aries G1 arrived yesterday and I’ve had a bit of time playing with the different connections and comparing between them. I’m not one for fancy descriptive words so it’ll be basic descriptions but hopefully it may help someone looking at these options.

This may go on a bit but I’ll try to keep it short as possible… sorry!

I enjoy listening to Acoustic Vocals, Folk, Blues, Classical right, Deep House and a whole lot more (varied). I love being able to look into tracks, picking out elements and focusing on detail in the soundstage, imaging. First up…

Naim ND5 XS2 - HiLine - Supernait 2 - HiCap DR - PMC Twenty5 22 with TQ Silver II

Lets face it, it’s a great package. It sounds great… detailed with a good energy to it. When I added the TQ Silver II, I was really impressed with the extra detail in the mid range. But, that also made me think about what a Chord DAC might do as I’d heard they’re great for anyone looking for detail.

Naim ND5 XS2 - Chord Qutest - HiLine - Supernait 2 - HiCap DR - PMC Twenty5 22 with TQ Silver II

Using a Mark Grant HDX1 BNC cable to the Qutest, there was an improvement in terms detail, Soundstage and imaging. It was a very pleasant uplift in quality… non of this night and day stuff. Just a nice improvement to what I listen to.

I found myself using the Qutest at 1v as it seemed to get a bit bright by the time it reached 3v. I was using a mix of filters, white and green mainly with orange for some classical. The white was good but felt a bit fatiguing after a little time and the green sounded more natural.

Reading posts from Rob Watts who designed it, he suggested optical was best for the Qutest and that people who found white filter too bright were maybe getting some RF interference from BNC and USB connections. There were also suggestions to use a power bank. The power bank (which I already had) sounded a bit flat so skipped that. There were also suggestions to use a ifi 5v iPower supply. This made a small but nice enough improvement. If only I had an Optical output to try out….

Auralic Aries G1 - Chord Qutest - HiLine - Supernait 2 - HiCap DR - PMC Twenty5 22 with TQ Silver II

After reading up on the G1 & G2… it seemed SQ was very similar to the G2 and a lot of the extra £’s were going into the nicely machined case, lightening connector and isolation feet. So, as I only wanted a transport with good connectivity, screen and controls I opted for the G1 as it seemed to provide best bang for buck! To be honest, provide the sound quality was at least the same as the ND% with Qutest, I’d would’ve been happy given the extra controls, outputs etc.

When I first set it up… using RCA - BNC - Qutest 3v White filter. All sound very good and as expected, very similar to the ND5 XS2. Maybe a bit more clarity, transparency…. Or, could it be RF noise providing false detail?!?

So, I pulled out an optical cable that had been in the draw for the last 20 years… very nice, not as bright but had great detail. The two words that come to mind first was fluid, natural but… a bit sadly a bit flat. This is when I remembered what @MrUnderhill had said… 3v makes it come alive… and it did. With the ND5 + BNC it was way too bright at 3v but with optical it sounded really good. I’d ordered a QED Performance optical cable but it hadn’t arrived at this point.

What was very noticeable was a big improvement in noise floor when using Optical. The quiet spells were so dark it really made everything else stand out so well. So, if Rob Watts was right with the Optical… how about trying the power bank again! At this point it was game set and match.

The combination of Optical, Chord Qutest and Power Bank seemed to improve the noise floor even further… all the pieces seemed to fit perfectly. The new QED Performance cable also arrived which improved it a bit further… more musical?!? There was a rhythm, pace that wasn’t quite there with the old cable.

When listening to “This Women’s Work” by Kate Bush, the silences seemed really powerful and dark with added emotion… the timbre of the hand drums in “Sous le sable” by Camille were incredible… it was like they were in the room, so vivid.

At this point, I’m extremely happy… I have what I was after, more detail but also with a sound that sounds so real, smooth and natural. It’s only now I realise that before, my system had an element of digital harshness to the highs… possible from added noise?!? I’ve sorted of realised the system is a sum of all its parts… even the small parts can make a big difference. I can now leave the Qutest on the white filter all the time, no fatigue what so ever.

Both ND5 XS2 and the Aries G1 have excellent build quality… really feel premium. The apps are very similar although I would have the Auralic implement Qobuz better. I prefer the way they have organised the headers. That said, I use Roon which I prefer over both.

Of course… if you’re not interested in using external DACs and are after simplicity…it’s even easier… son real need to look further than the ND5 XS2, it’s a terrific all in one player!

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Nice write up! I had the original Aries before nd5xs2. I found the Aries a bit thin and bright on quite a few recordings which can be a trait of Sabre DACs . Chord stuff is great though

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Thanks for that, great info. I’ve been playing with a Qutest green filter - 2v output for a few weeks, BNC/BNC from NDX. It was a step up in SQ. I am using Nordost Red Dawn RCA to RCA on the SN2, very nice cables. 3v did not work as well for me there either.

Here’s the thing though, for the past few days I’ve been using optical with the green filter and output set at 2v. My transport? … Chromecast Audio powered by a battery bank and an Audioquest Jitterbug in the chain. I kept on thinking something was just not right with my BNC setup as I went back and forth from optical/cca and ndx/bnc. Currently, I do prefer the CCA as the transport. Shocking… I’m happy but not really, what an insane price difference. Now on to try 3v with white filter via CCA. I’m happy you mentioned optical, I thought my hearing was going (maybe it is).

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I’ve never heard an AURALiC DAC but the AudioLab M-DAC + was Sabre and that felt bright on the SN2 for sure. One review I seen about the G1 described it as a transport that didn’t colour the audio at all, added nothing and just let the external DAC get on with it. I found that quite appealing. I want to hear what the DAC designer intended… especially with the Chord DACs.

I never in a month of Sunday’s thought I’d ever use optical, but this combination sounds so good… so relaxed, detailed and as you said, right. I can’t stop listening to it haha!

Thx Toonartist,

Great write up; and you’ve got that nice step of the mscalar to work away at you over the coming months!! :wink:

M

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Haha… no…no… ah go on then :joy: it would be great to hear what it adds… just not yet!

Another option with the Aries G2 is wireless. I have a G2 and find best SQ is wireless to Aries and coax to mscaler.

I also find SQ marginally better through the Auralic app than Roon. I presume ( at least it’s how I rationalise ) it has something to do with the music played from its memory for LDS whereas Roon isn’t cached into memory.

.sjb

Wireless, in what sense? The G1 can connect to the network by WiFi … I opted for hardwire as the router and switch are near by.

I’ve switched off Bluetooth and AirPlay 2 as I’ll not be using them… for now anyway.

I personally think the G2 looks fantastic though, that all in one body looks great and the G2.1 also adds new copper inner case for better isolation I think (amongst other things)

Auralic apparently have put a lot of work in optimising its wireless connectivity and certainly I found putting a wireless router in the listening room and using a wireless connection sounded better than the Aries via ethernet. (And this is after me wiring every room for Ethernet during a house refit!)

I rationalise this by presuming all the “eddies in the space time continuum” type nasties that specialist cables are there to eradicate can’t travel in “no cable”.

.sjb

Dam… you do realise that means another trip into the loft to get the antennas down to connect it to the wifi :joy:

One thing I do need to do is look for another Power Bank. The one I’m using is one I use for work, powering my camera when shooting footage. Anyone got any good recommendations?!?

The one I have is an Anker 20100 one that I bought about 3-4 years ago.

Also, is it worth while spending more on Digital Optical cables? I have the QED Performance but wondering if anyone else has used other more expensive ones that returned better results. I’m a firm believer of better cables in terms of coax etc… not so sure / knowledgeable on optical cables.

Thanks for the write up, I have been eyeballing the Auralic G1 and 2 for a while. I got rid of my NDS awhile ago, since I now have the Mscaler with TT2, it just seemed like a waste using the NDS as a streamer only, with a seperate power supply. I thought about a raspberry pi, but really just want plug and play without having to spend 14k on a power supply to get the best out of a streamer. For now, I just use the Naim Core directly into my Mscaler/TT2 using a DC1 (BNC) cable, but I do miss internet radio.

Although I opted for a G2, from various fora I think if you don’t want to use the Auralic Vega DAC, there is quite minimal difference between G1 and G2.

I moved to Auralic from an ultrarendu and it was a bit (for me) like going from a CDX2 to CDS3, all the positives with a little more poise and insight.

They are impressive products and I love the new firmware upgrade which allows you to play CDs from an attached USB CD drive. It rips to memory on the fly and to my ears is indistinguishable from NAS rips. So put in CD, it takes 10-15 seconds to rip to memory and find metadata and play the CD. (It can also be used to rip to disc but for the moment I’ll stick to dbpoweramp for this).

.sjb

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I don’t need ripping capabilities SJB, I have a Naim Core for that. Maybe the G1 would be all I need then.

Well worth auditioning.

Hans Beekhuysen (sic, possibly) rates it very highly over SOTM and the various Rendus, the last time I checked.

.sjb

I was planning on waiting to see if Chord release a desktop version of the 2go/2yu, but not sure when or if we can expect that. Time to start saving again.:money_mouth_face:

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So it’s for playing CDs rather than ripping and storing? And, is this G2 only? Sounds an interesting additional feature!

I don’t think it’s G2 only. If you are going to play with this it would be worth looking on the Auralic Community site to see which external drives are recommended.

Roger

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Indeed the cd replay is not limited to G2, it works with all of the following

ARIES G-series
• ARIES Femto & LE
• ALTAIR G-series
• ALTAIR
• POLARIS

.sjb

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Excellent. I’ll have to take a look at that as I have a few CDs that play in a CD player but don’t like being ripped as there is video content as well on the disc. Not recognised as an audio cd.

When I first started the demo I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the different look, non matching system but to be honest, I got over that relatively quickly. Loving the sound and functionality at the moment so this may well be a keeper!

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