Roon server versus Aurender N10

Because dcs DACs work extremely well with Roon I got a subscription and run the Roon core from a Nucleus: a dedicated device made by Roon especially for running the Roon core.

I have te Nucleus Powered with a linear power supply and connected to the dCS upsampler/streamer via an audio grade Ethernet switch.
Roon has a fantastic User experience and has quickly become my favorite. However…
I also use an Aurender N10 server.

And I must say that the Aurender easily outperformes the (granted: much cheaper) Nucleus soundwise.
Roon on the nucleus sounds great over the dCS and the user experience is unequaled. But the Aurender puts down a soundstage with much more depth. You can hear instruments in front and behind each other. The nucleus over Ethernet can’t manage that.
Compared to Roon the Aurender user interface (conductor app) is way behind but soundwise it still wins in my system.

I just thought it was fun to share my experience so far.

The Roon Nucleus is a fine piece of hardware and when you use it to distribute music over WiFi to several endpoints, it will perform just fine. And I thought that I it would be good enough for my dCS set to.

Connected directly to a dCS however the dCS will unmercifully show that the build quality is not on the same level and therefore also not the sound.
I have sold the nucleus and have upgraded to an Antipodes CX server. It does sort of the same thing: it can run Roon core/server. The Antipodes CX is extremely well build and the sound is noticeably more stable and less thin and gray then what came from the Nucleus although the CX has got some running/burning in to do. So it is not as good as the Aurender N10 just yet, but you all ready can hear that it definitely has got the potential to equal or maybe even outperform the Aurender after Some more run in time. Roon is the thing Aurender misses.

What makes me think:
The Nucleus sort of degraded the stream/sound going to the dCS Upsampler. I had already noticed that Tidal sounded better with the Upsampler connected straight to the Ethernet/Router and just Mosaic then with the Roon Nucleus server between it. But you need something to run the core on when you want Roon.
So can’t ideally the Upsampler itself run the Roon core? I guess that takes something of i7 processing power… and running apps.


The Upsampler is capable of functioning as a Roon End Point but to run as a Roon Core in itself would require a very different hardware platform and would introduce several orders of magnitude more electrical noise into the enclosure which would then need to be managed.

Roon Core itself will run very happily on quite low powered hardware (when looked at from a purely “computing” perspective) and I’m personally running Roon Core on hardware from an i3 “U” series processor upwards but in the world of embedded platforms that kind of horsepower isn’t generally available and the embedded platforms that are used also don’t run what would be conventionally regarded as an operating system to allow the running of such.

Best regards

Phil Harris

Just for fun I,d like to continue to share my findings in my quest for a Roon Server that equals the sound quality of my Aurender N10.
Might be useful to people interested in a direct comparison of Antipodes CX versus Aurender N10 on a dCS system.

The Antipodes CX Roon server I have now is a huge step up coming from my previous Roon Nucleus. I have tried the Antipodes CX connected directly to the Vivaldi system over Ethernet and direct USB.
Although my previous enthusiasm - which shows that good listening for quality takes some time - the Antipodes CX does sound really really great but the N10’s is just more smooth and especially lots more spacious. It really puts down a three dimensional soundstage.
I am happy with both but the N10’s is still my favorite.

This difference in sound quality can have several reasons I can think of:
-Cabling: the N10’s is connected over sp-diff (with the Vivaldi’s slaved to the Aurender,s clock over audio). The CX is connected over (good quality) Ethernet and/or USB and makes use of the asynchronous clocking.
-power: the N10’s is on a dedicated power circuit. The CX is not but is on an A medium quality power filter.
-finally: Roon software on any platform is just a bit noisier then Aurender altogether that is purposely build for low noise.

On other Roon endpoints in the house the sound of Roon is just fine. But the Vivaldi,s in the listeneningroom show every bit of soundimprovement you add and the Aurender is a significant percentage better than Roon even on a good quality server.

Rene, is SPDIFF the only way to clock the N10?

Over SPDIFF I sync de Vivaldi upsampler to the N10 (sync to audio) and the Vivaldi Dac to the upsampler (Sync to clock input 3). In that manner the Vivaldi Clock is not in use because the N10 is master. That is the only way with the N10 over SPDIFF (only the Aurender W20 can sync to an external clock). When the N10 is connected over USB, then the Vivaldi Dac and Upsampler can sync to the Vivaldi clock.