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Let’s take a look at the competition. The Sonos Connect is an antiquated design that is limited in number of tracks that can be indexed and sampling rates and does no DSD. The Raspberry Pi using the HifiBerry DAC+ Pro with proper linear power supply doesn’t have these limitations. It sounds better on normal cd-quality files than the Sonos and offers higher sampling rates and DSD too. But you do need to be handy with computers and a soldering iron to make it work as I described in a separate article. If sound quality is priority, the only ready to use product that comes close to the Mini is the Bluesound Node 2. It is limited in sampling rate - but who uses sampling rates higher than 192 kHz? It doesn’t do DSD - which might be a limitation to some, just like the approximately 3500 cd capacity of the memory. Having said that, it does have inputs that can be shared over  the network, has six presets and supports more streaming services, including those that do MP3. Click here for the review of the Nodee. To use the metaphor again: the Bluesound Node 2 is a very good, versatile family saloon. The Auralic Aries Mini doen’t support MP3 streaming services, has no input to share over the network but has very fast 802.11ac tri-band wifi, does Airplay and Songcast, supports up to 384 kHz sampling and DSD256, supports DoP to send DSD to an external d/a-converter, has an external power supply that can be upgraded. And, like the Bluesound Node, it will support MQA as a free update as soon as it is released by MQA. 

 

It will be clear that the Auralic Aries Mini is the sports car here. It is the more audiophile product at an affordable price. You can start with the Mini only and over time improve it with a better power supply and external d/a-converter - in that order. People that hate computer equipment switched on to play music, can have a hard disk or SSD built in for the cost of the hard disk only. 2.5 inch drives come in capacities up to 2 GB for only slightly more than € 100. SSD’s with that capacity come at prices from € 660 upwards. 2 GB can hold about 4.000 cd’s in FLAC or ALAC.

 

The Aries Mini isn’t the average Joe product, it’s a true high-end product at a non-high-end price that will please any connaisseur, including myself. It makes me curious how much better the Aries sounds so that’s put on my review list for the coming time. So if you want to remain informed, subscribe to my Youtube channel, follow my Facebook or Google+ page or my Twitter account. You can also post questions there. 

 

Auralic Aries Mini: € 499

Manufacturer: Auralic 

 

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