Aurender A20 Digital Streamer/Music Server Review
Aurender is a pioneering brand in designing and producing high-end digital streaming players. Their earliest products were pure streaming turntables without a DAC, which only output digital signals. This approach was quite bold at the time but has since proven far-sighted.
Today, Aurender is among the leading representatives of High-End digital streaming brands, and its success is no accident.
One of the reasons behind Aurender’s success is its focus on hardware and software. Even before the introduction of Roon, Aurender’s APP was already very mature and user-friendly, with regular updates to enhance its functionality.
Aurender’s focus on hardware and software may explain why the brand does not require Roon certification. For users, what matters most is the ease of use, excellent sound quality, and powerful features. Aurender users can save money by not having to purchase Roon separately.
However, due to market demand, many enthusiasts wanted Aurender to release products with built-in DACs. As a result, Aurender launched the A series in addition to the original flagship W and N series. You can purchase the W or N series if you want to use your existing DAC. The A series is a perfect choice if you need a built-in DAC.
This review will look at the high-end A20 model in the Aurender A series, a robust digital streaming DAC with multiple functions. In addition to its role as a DAC, it serves as a Music Server, preamplifier, and ear amplifier, while being a Full MQA Decorator. The A20 boasts a built-in 480GB M.2 NVMe SSD solid-state hard disk system with two additional 2.5″ complicated disk slots. Users can easily install the required capacity of SSD or HDD themselves, with maximum support of 8TBx2.
We recommend prioritizing SSD installation, as it offers faster and quieter performance. The A20 shares the same circuit architecture and DAC chip as the flagship A30 but has a few key differences. The A30 has a built-in optical drive and a more comprehensive headphone output interface, while the A20 offers similar features minus those two components.
At the rear of the Aurender A20, there is a set of XLR balanced and RCA analog outputs, as well as multiple digital inputs, including two OPT optical fiber inputs, two COAX coaxial inputs, one AUDIO USB input, two USB 3.0 inputs, and a double-isolated network interface with two 2.5″ SSD/HDD hard drive slots.
The Aurender A20 boasts impressive technical specifications, including a fully balanced Dual Mono design, four custom-made full linear power supplies, a servo system, dual independent power supplies for digital output and DAC, and a strengthened shielding design. It also features a UPS uninterruptible power system powered by supercapacitors. The DAC chip used in the A20 is the flagship AKM 4497, with a decoding capability of up to PCM 32Bit/768KHz and DSD512. It can also upsample PCM to 705.6/768kHz, offering optional digital and analog filters and full MQA Decoding.
The A20’s FPGA High-precision OCXO master clock of the line ensures high precision, while the CPU is an Intel N4200 Quad Core. The system and cache use a built-in 480GB SSD, and the analog output gain can be adjusted. The A20 features a high-quality preamplifier (-90 dB – 0dB, 0.5 dB step) and a high-quality headphone expansion circuit. These features combine to make the Aurender A20 an impressive piece of audio equipment.
The Aurender Conductor APP is the ideal playback and operation interface for the Aurender A20, available for iOS and Android. It provides users with a wide range of functions that can be customized, such as adjusting the gain of the analog output, upsampling, digital filter, analog filter, and more. With A20’s complete MQA decoding, the Conductor APP does not require the purchase of additional MQA decoding functions.
Overall, the Conductor APP is highly user-friendly, with an intuitive interface that is easy to navigate. Users can quickly and easily adjust various settings to suit their preferences without needing to be technical experts. The app makes it easy to get the most out of the Aurender A20, providing a streamlined experience for users.
Early players from Aurender didn’t come with built-in DACs, especially the flagship models. Instead, they aimed to provide the best independent network digital streaming processing. However, Aurender recognized that not everyone could afford a separate high-end player, so they began offering players with built-in DACs, like the A20. This allowed Aurender to provide a complete, all-in-one solution for music lovers who demand the highest quality audio playback.
Aurender’s A series is a product line that prioritizes analog output and high-quality digital-to-analog converters. The A30 is the flagship model of this series, while the A20 omits the CD reading mechanism and reduces the built-in CD transcription function. If you don’t require CD transcription storage, then the A20 is a great choice.
Convenience is the top priority for most users who choose network digital streaming players, and the A20’s internal hard disk, digital input, and analog output make it an incredibly convenient option. With a volume control that allows direct connection to the power stage and a headphone output for late-night listening without disturbing the family, the A20 boasts almost no shortcomings in functionality. Ease of use is the primary concern for over 80% of users when selecting a digital device, and the A20 delivers on that requirement.
In addition to its hardware capabilities, the Aurender A20 boasts an intuitive and feature-rich control app. Aurender has continuously updated its app, adding new features and improving its usability. In addition to basic operations like selecting and playing music, the app allows users to share files with other Aurender equipment, adjust DAC settings, adjust gain levels, choose file upscaling options, and connect to online cloud music service providers.
One of the most notable features of the Aurender Conductor app is its support for MQA options. With complete MQA decoding already built into the A20, users can enjoy high-quality streaming audio without purchasing additional decoding functions. Furthermore, controlling the app is no longer a simple selection and playback process. With its many functions and options, the Aurender Conductor app offers a highly customizable and immersive listening experience.
Aurender is committed to providing users with a highly customizable listening experience through their device’s app. As technology evolves, the device’s design becomes increasingly user-friendly and streamlined. Gone are the days of complicated paper manuals. Aurender’s innovative approach to tech support means that any issues can be quickly resolved through remote repair services from their headquarters in South Korea.
The internet’s widespread availability has revolutionized our world and how we listen to music and interact with our devices. Aurender has adapted to these changes, providing users with a seamless listening experience that fits perfectly into their modern lifestyles.
Aurender has always been a personal favorite of mine due to its exceptional sound quality. Many people are curious about the difference between Aurender and other brands that produce digital streaming devices. In my experience, Aurender’s sound quality is unparalleled, with a rich and full-bodied sound that audiophiles crave.
The sound is dense and substantial, with a warm, analog-like quality that creates a clear and realistic soundstage. These sonic advantages are crucial for music lovers who prioritize sound quality. When listening to the A20, the analog output directly feeds into the integrated amplifier, delivering the purest possible sound.
Aurender’s sound quality is exceptional, even in popular music from online sources. For this test, I used Qobuz, which is widely regarded as the gold standard for online music quality. I listened to Passenger’s “All the Little Lights,” which features the hit song “Let Her Go.” Despite the singer’s slightly flat and occasionally sharp vocals, which can sound thin on other devices, Aurender A20 delivers a precise, soft, and gentle rendition of the song.
The singer’s breath and phrasing convey exceptional detail and nuance, bringing the music to life. The Aurender A20 also excels at playing pop music from various artists, such as Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, John Mayer, Keane, Billie Eilish, and Ed Sheeran, with a balance that never feels overly loud or distorted. If you enjoy pop music, you will go right with Aurender A20.
The Aurender A20 excels at conveying the weight and power of the keys when playing classical music. When listening to Emma Lin’s rendition of the first movement of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, the musical lines are both beautiful and expansive. The Aurender A20 can capture the strength of the keys, which brings out the full richness of the composition.
In particular, when the full power is unleashed during the fast 16th notes, avoiding a sense of urgency in the playing can be challenging. However, Argerich’s handling of this section is masterful, and the playing sounds precise and regular. The beat points in each measure are clearly defined, which provides a sense of direction that leads the listener through the piece.
The Aurender A20 offers exceptional sound quality when listening to orchestral music. In the first half of the piece, the orchestra’s powerful sound contrasts the piano’s bright melody, which highlights the composer’s personal style. The Live version recording captures the ambiance of the performance, including the audience coughing and the clear distance between the stage and the audience. The sense of space and distance in the sound field is remarkable. You can hear Argerich’s touch on the keys, which produces a strong, soft, and light sound pattern. Her playing and the conductor’s direction create a sense of perfect energy throughout the piece.
As I continued to listen to American jazz singer Cassandra Wilson, I became more and more captivated by her magnetic voice. While it may not have been immediately ear-catching, the sound of her voice was nonetheless impressive and had a distinctly personal character. The thick, rich quality of her singing was made all the more charming through the transmission of the A20, and the bass performance particularly struck me. The bass felt like a big rock sitting calmly on one point, with a depth and steadiness that was both impressive and immersive.
But it wasn’t just the vocal performance that stood out. As I listened to the instrumental accompaniment, I was drawn in by its richness and complexity. Initially, the instrumental music would be a foil to Wilson’s vocals. Still, the A20 brought the sound of the instruments to the forefront, making them a central part of the listening experience. The toughness of the guitar playing, for example, was something that I had never heard before.
Through processing the A20, I could listen to how tightly the sound was packed together, with a powerful and compelling rhythm. The wind instruments, too, had a solidity and fullness of sound that was truly impressive, with each note and phrase contributing to the overall sense of musical energy.
In many ways, the performance of the instruments was a way of simulating singing.
There were complete changes in the slide and the timbre, with each instrument seeming to have its unique voice and character. And through the A20, the big part of the overall music was made even more prominent, allowing me to focus more deeply on the music’s themes and emotions.
All in all, listening to the Aurender A20 was an incredibly satisfying experience. The richness and complexity of the music, coupled with the power and precision of the A20’s sound, provided a truly immersive listening experience that left a lasting impression. Whether you’re a fan of jazz, blues, or simply good music in general, the Aurender A20 is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a high-quality, audiophile-grade listening experience.
Furthermore, the A20 also manages to capture the subtleties of the performance, which adds a touch of emotional depth to the song. The guitar accompaniment is also well rendered, with a clear separation between the different strings and a good sense of the instrument’s resonance. The soundstage is wide and spacious, giving the impression of being in a small, intimate venue. The instrumentation is well balanced, with each element occupying its space in the mix. The dynamics are well controlled, with no harshness or distortion, even during the louder passages.
Overall, the Aurender A20 does an excellent job of reproducing music’s intricate nuances and complexities, allowing the listener to appreciate the subtle details that might otherwise go unnoticed. Its ability to deliver a wide soundstage, precise imaging, and fast bass response makes it an ideal choice for audiophiles and music enthusiasts who value detailed and accurate sound. Whether listening to classical, jazz, or pop music, the A20 delivers an immersive and engaging experience that will please even the most discerning listeners.
In conclusion, the Aurender A20 is a high-end digital music player with exceptional sound quality and performance. It can reproduce various music genres, from classical to pop, jazz, and blues, with remarkable accuracy and precision. The device’s advanced technology and intuitive user interface make it easy to use and control. At the same time, its sleek and modern design adds an element of sophistication to any home audio setup.
One of the most impressive features of the Aurender A20 is its ability to bring out the finest details in music, which makes the listening experience more immersive and enjoyable. The device’s ability to efficiently handle different types of music, whether acoustic, electronic, or vocal-heavy, makes it an excellent choice for audiophiles who demand the best possible sound quality.
While the Aurender A20 is not the cheapest music player on the market, it is a worthwhile investment for those serious about their music and value top-tier performance and sound quality. Overall, the Aurender A20 is a top-of-the-line digital music player that sets the standard for high-end audio equipment and provides an exceptional listening experience.