Aurender A10 network music player/server Measurements

Sidebar 3: Measurements

I measured the Aurender A10 with my Audio Precision SYS2722 system (see the January 2008 "As We See It"), using the Audio Precision's optical digital outputs, and data stored on the A10's internal hard disk and sourced from a NAS on my network. The serial number of the sample I'd been sent for measurement was ASA4A0096A10, its system software was v.5.10.16, and the Conductor app running on my iPad mini was v.2.8.6 (1730).

The optical inputs accepted data sampled up to 96kHz, the internal drive and the network connection files sampled at up to 384kHz. The A10's maximum output level at 1kHz was 4.04V from the balanced output jacks, and 2.02V from the unbalanced jacks with the output level set to Fixed or with the volume control set to its maximum. Both sets of outputs preserved absolute polarity, and the output impedance was an extremely low 1 ohm or lower at all audio frequencies, regardless of the impedance setting in the Conductor app (the options are Max current, Less current, and Min current). Channel separation was superb, at >130dB between 40Hz and 5kHz, and still 120dB or better at the frequency extremes. The A10's noise floor with 24-bit data was also very low, with no power-supply–related spuriae visible (fig.1). When I increased the bit depth from 16 to 24, the drop in the Aurender's noise floor with a dithered 1kHz tone at –90dBFS was around 21dB (fig.2), implying that the A10 offers resolution of close to 20 bits, which is superb. Consequently, the Aurender's reproduction of an undithered tone at exactly –90.31dBFS (fig.3) was close to perfect, with the three DC voltage levels described by the data clearly evident and the waveform superbly symmetrical.

118A10fig01.jpg

Fig.1 Aurender A10, spectrum with noise and spuriae of dithered 1kHz tone at 0dBFS with: 24-bit data (left channel blue, right red) (20dB/vertical div.)

118A10fig02.jpg

Fig.2 Aurender A10, spectrum with noise and spuriae of dithered 1kHz tone at –90dBFS with: 16-bit data (left channel cyan, right magenta), 24-bit data (left blue, right red) (20dB/vertical div.).

118A10fig03.jpg

Fig.3 Aurender A10, waveform of undithered 1kHz sinewave at –90.31dBFS, 16-bit S/PDIF data (left channel blue, right red).

Harmonic distortion with a 50Hz tone at full level was very low. Even into the punishing 600 ohm load impedance (fig.4), the highest-level harmonic, the third, lay at –106dB (0.0003%). However, with a full-scale 1kHz tone, I was puzzled to see sidebands developing around the tone and its harmonics, even into the benign 100k ohm load (fig.5). These sidebands disappeared when I reduced the signal level by 3dB (fig.6) but not when I reduced the A10's output level by the same 3dB, so I wonder if they are due to mathematical limitations in the A10's digital signal processing rather than to power-supply limitations. Tested for intermodulation distortion with an equal mix of 19 and 20kHz tones, with the signal peaking at –3dBFS, the Aurender performed well, the difference product at 1kHz lying below –126dB and the higher-order products at –130dB (fig.7). However, even though this graph was taken with the factory-default reconstruction filter, labeled Short Delay, Sharp Rolloff, the aliased images of the two high-level tones are suppressed by just 12dB or so, as I would expect from a slow-rolloff filter (see later).

118A10fig04.jpg

Fig.4 Aurender A10, spectrum of 50Hz sinewave, DC–1kHz, at 0dBFS into 600 ohms (left channel blue, right red; linear frequency scale).

118A10fig05.jpg

Fig.5 Aurender A10, spectrum of 1kHz sinewave, DC–10kHz, at 0dBFS into 100k ohms (left channel blue, right red; linear frequency scale).

118A10fig06.jpg

Fig.6 Aurender A10, spectrum of 1kHz sinewave, DC–10kHz, at –3dBFS into 100k ohms (left channel blue, right red; linear frequency scale).

118A10fig07.jpg

Fig.7 Aurender A10, Short Delay, Sharp Rolloff filter, HF intermodulation spectrum, DC–30kHz, 19+20kHz at –3dBFS into 100k ohms, 44.1kHz internal data (left channel blue, right red; linear frequency scale).

Tested for its rejection of word-clock jitter using 16-bit J-Test data sourced via TosLink, the A10 reproduced the odd-order harmonics of the low-frequency, LSB-level squarewave at the correct levels, as shown by the sloping green line in fig.8. However, a pair of sidebands of unknown origin can be seen at ±3.2kHz. The higher-frequency sideband also has some frequency smearing evident.

118A10fig08.jpg

Fig.8 Aurender A10, high-resolution jitter spectrum of analog output signal, 11.025kHz at –6dBFS, sampled at 44.1kHz with LSB toggled at 229Hz: 16-bit TosLink data (left channel blue, right red). Center frequency of trace, 11.025kHz; frequency range, ±3.5kHz.

The A10 offers five different reconstruction filters, as well as the MQA filter. I examined their behavior using S/PDIF data. Fig.9 shows the impulse response with data sampled at 44.1kHz for the Sharp Rolloff filter. It is a conventional finite impulse-response (FIR) type, with symmetrical ringing evident around the single sample at 44.1kHz. This filter's ultrasonic rolloff with 44.1kHz-sampled white-noise data is shown in fig.10 (red and magenta traces); the rolloff is very steep, and there is almost total suppression of the aliased tone at 25kHz associated with a full-scale tone at 19.1kHz (blue, cyan, footnote 1). Fig.11 shows the responses of this filter with data sampled at 44.1, 96, 192, and 384kHz. The ultrasonic rolloff conforms to the same basic shape up to 20kHz, with then a sharp rolloff evident at the lowest rate just below the Nyquist frequency (half the sample rate), but a more gentle rolloff at the three higher rates.

118A10fig09.jpg

Fig.9 Aurender A10, Sharp Rolloff filter, impulse response (one sample at 0dBFS, 44.1kHz-sampled S/PDIF data, 4ms time window).

118A10fig10.jpg

Fig.10 Aurender A10, Sharp Rolloff filter, wideband spectrum of white noise at –4dBFS (left channel red, right magenta) and 19.1kHz tone at 0dBFS (left blue, right cyan), with 44.1kHz-sampled S/PDIF data (20dB/vertical div.).

118A10fig11.jpg

Fig.11 Aurender A10, Sharp Rolloff filter, frequency response at –12dBFS into 100k ohms with S/PDIF data sampled at: 44.1kHz (left channel blue, right red), 96kHz (left gray, right green), 192kHz (left cyan, right magenta), 384kHz (left green, right gray) (1dB/vertical div.).

The Slow Rolloff filter has a very short impulse response (fig.12), with a high-frequency rolloff that starts around 12kHz, and very little suppression of the 25kHz aliased tone (fig.13). The Short Delay, SuperSlow Rolloff filter has an even shorter impulse response (fig.14). The spectrum with white noise has nulls at 44.1kHz and 88.2kHz and the output at 100kHz is down by just 30dB (fig.15). The Short Delay, Slow Rolloff filter is a minimum-phase type (fig.16) similar to Ayre Acoustics' Listen filter, with its ultrasonic rolloff similar to that shown in fig.11 (fig.17). The Short Delay, Sharp Rolloff filter has a conventional minimum-phase impulse response with 44.1kHz data (fig.18) with, as expected, a sharp ultrasonic rolloff (fig.19, red and magenta traces).

118A10fig12.jpg

Fig.12 Aurender A10, Slow Rolloff filter, impulse response (one sample at 0dBFS, 44.1kHz-sampled S/PDIF data, 4ms time window).

118A10fig13.jpg

Fig.13 Aurender A10, Slow Rolloff filter, wideband spectrum of white noise at –4dBFS (left channel red, right magenta) and 19.1kHz tone at 0dBFS (left blue, right cyan), with 44.1kHz-sampled S/PDIF data (20dB/vertical div.).

118A10fig14.jpg

Fig.14 Aurender A10, Short Delay, SuperSlow Rolloff filter, impulse response (one sample at 0dBFS, 44.1kHz-sampled S/PDIF data, 4ms time window).

118A10fig15.jpg

Fig.15 Aurender A10, Short Delay, SuperSlow Rolloff filter, wideband spectrum of white noise at –4dBFS (left channel red, right magenta) and 19.1kHz tone at 0dBFS (left blue, right cyan), with 44.1kHz-sampled S/PDIF data (20dB/vertical div.).

118A10fig16.jpg

Fig.16 Aurender A10, Short Delay, Slow Rolloff filter, impulse response (one sample at 0dBFS, 44.1kHz-sampled S/PDIF data, 4ms time window).

118A10fig17.jpg

Fig.17 Aurender A10, Short Delay, Slow Rolloff filter, wideband spectrum of white noise at –4dBFS (left channel red, right magenta) and 19.1kHz tone at 0dBFS (left blue, right cyan), with 44.1kHz-sampled S/PDIF data (20dB/vertical div.).

118A10fig18.jpg

Fig.18 Aurender A10, Short Delay, Sharp Rolloff filter, impulse response (one sample at 0dBFS, 44.1kHz-sampled S/PDIF data, 4ms time window).

118A10fig19.jpg

Fig.19 Aurender A10, Short Delay, Sharp Rolloff filter, wideband spectrum of white noise at –4dBFS (left channel red, right magenta) and 19.1kHz tone at 0dBFS (left blue, right cyan), with 44.1kHz-sampled S/PDIF data (20dB/vertical div.).

I then reexamined the behavior of the filters using the same test files stored on the A10's internal drive, and immediately ran into problems. The Short Delay, Sharp Rolloff filter still had a minimum-phase impulse response (fig.20), but it was much shorter than it had been with S/PDIF data. Its ultrasonic rolloff with 44.1kHz-sampled white noise (fig.21, red and magenta traces) was very different, and actually resembles the behavior of the MQA filters that I have measured in other processors (footnote 2). (This was why the A10's HF intermodulation result in fig.7, which I'd measured using internal data, was anomalous.) Fig.22 compares the wideband spectra of the A10's output when it decodes 44.1kHz-sampled white noise with S/PDIF data (green and gray traces) and internally stored data (blue, red). It looks as if the MQA filter is being applied to conventionally encoded PCM files when they are stored internally, but not when the A10 is decoding the same data via its S/PDIF input. Something was very wrong.

118A10fig20.jpg

Fig.20 Aurender A10, internal data, Short Delay, Sharp Rolloff filter, impulse response (one sample at 0dBFS, 44.1kHz-sampled S/PDIF data, 4ms time window).

118A10fig21.jpg

Fig.21 Aurender A10, internal data, Short Delay, Sharp Rolloff filter, wideband spectrum of white noise at –4dBFS (left channel red, right magenta) and 19.1kHz tone at 0dBFS (left blue, right cyan), with 44.1kHz-sampled S/PDIF data (20dB/vertical div.).

118A10fig22.jpg

Fig.22 Aurender A10, Short Delay, Sharp Rolloff filter, wideband spectrum of white noise at –4dBFS with internal data (left channel blue, right red) and S/PDIF data (left green, right gray), with data sampled at 44.1kHz (20dB/vertical div.).

I repeated all of this testing using data sourced from the NAS drive on my network. Again, regardless of which filter was being selected with the Conductor app, the MQA filter was being incorrectly applied to non-MQA data. I halted the testing and contacted Aurender's US representative, to let them know that there seemed to be something wrong with not only my sample of the A10 but also with Jason's.

The e-mail exchange that followed was frustrating. Aurender's engineers in Korea didn't appear either to be able to repeat the problem or to comprehend the issue I was raising. I had no option but to postpone the review from the December 2017 issue to this one. Then, in mid-September, I received an e-mail from the US rep explaining that:

"We discovered that prior to applying the MQA firmware update earlier this year, MQA had recommended that we adopt using MQA up-sampling for all content in order to eliminate possible issues with click or pop noises when switching between non-MQA and MQA content. After some discussion with Alan at MQA about this, he had the following comment: 'The MQA decoder provides an optional up-sampler for PCM to simplify implementation and to enable a smooth, clean, click-free user experience. The reason this is offered is that the implementer may not know if the incoming stream is MQA and so the decoder is used to detect MQA and to provide a seamless switch to the usually higher output rate. By using Upsample Always, the user-experience is guaranteed to be accurate from the first sample of an MQA song and also to be free of clicks and pops if the user skips within a song or if there are cross-fades between songs.'

"As of our firmware update earlier this year, using the Upsample Always option in the MQA decoder is the current implementation in the A10. Alan's other comment was that when MQA upsampling is enabled you can still change the over sampling filter in the DAC during PCM playback, but as the DAC is being supplied 8x, the difference made by the different DAC filters will be harder to measure unless you can make a very fast digital capture.

"Our overall thinking is that for all intents and purposes, the filter selections are no longer valid, so we have removed the option to select the optional digital and analog filters from the Aurender Conductor App. We will be releasing a public update to the App to remove the filters on the Advanced tab so that the review can commence as planned."

Travel plans and other commitments meant that I couldn't get my sample of the A10 back on the test bench until the beginning of October 2017. When I did, and connected it to my network, the first thing the A10 did was to update its system software to the latest version, v.5.10.34. I resumed the testing and found that, despite what I had been told, the Filter options were still there in the Conductor app, which had also been updated to the latest version. The next thing I found was that that while the five different filters were still available for S/PDIF data, and measured identically to what I had found in my earlier testing, once again the MQA filter was incorrectly applied to non-MQA data when it was sourced from the A10's internal storage.

Its measured performance suggests that the A10's analog output stage is of high quality, and my experience with Aurender's N10 server makes me a fan of how the company's Conductor app organizes the user's music library. However, the A10's misapplication of the MQA reconstruction filter to non-MQA files stored on its internal drive means we must withhold a full recommendation for the A10 until this problem has been corrected.—John Atkinson



Footnote 1: My thanks to MBL's Jürgen Reis for suggesting this test to me.

Footnote 2: See, for example, fig.9 here.

COMPANY INFO
Aurender Inc.
US: Aurender America Inc.
2312 NE 85th Street
Seattle, WA 98115
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
georgehifi's picture

"However, the A10's misapplication of the MQA reconstruction filter to non-MQA files stored on its internal drive means we must withhold a full recommendation for the A10 until this problem has been corrected."

This to me smells, to hobble anything that's non MQA.

Good on ya JA for not withholding it.

Cheers George

Archimago's picture

And a nice example of the importance of objective analysis when it comes to making sure things are working as expected.

spacehound's picture

....for warning us never to touch this thing with a 10 foot bargepole, let alone buy it.

First try it didn't work properly.

Second try it's interfered with by external equipment and still doesn't work entirely as advertised.

And also it is infected with the curse of MQA:
"due to how the A10 processes MQA, filter choices were no longer an appropriate option for this product. Therefore Aurender had removed the option to select the optional digital and analog filters from the Aurender Conductor app"

Value: I've got a Cambridge Audio near equivalent.
It costs less than a thousand dollars (though it does lack an internal hard disk, which I could buy for around 100 dollars or so and connect externally), sits directly on top of an operational two-piece dCS stack to which it is connected via its 'internal DAC bypass function', has a choice of three filters should you wish to use the internal DAC, works perfectly, and 'sounds' perfect simply because with their DACs bypassed these type of boxes don't have a 'sound quality'. And thankfully it doesn't have MQA.

Also I too thank JA (and JVS) for their honest comments.

(Note I have no connection with Cambridge Audio or dCS other than as an occasional customer.)

tonykaz's picture

You stopped me "dead in my tracks" when you said: "bargepole"!

This proves you're a Brit, where else are people owning Bargepoles or living on Narrowboats ? ( I immediately looked-up on eBay to see their cost and availability ).

Hmm, but then, perhaps Philosophical bargepoles are part of everyday life for "all" Brits ( since the beginning of the Canal era going back to the Romans).

Do Audiophiles, in the UK, have "bargepoles" as part of their "kit"?, can you recommend one ?

I hope you don't mind me having a bit of observational fun with all this. After-all, this is the historic origin of my life culture and I've loved all the quickness of England since my too brief stay in Norfolk Broads ( 1980s ).

can you help me with understanding the "10 foot" part, it seems a bit long to take into a Hifi Specialist Shop. ( maybe they collapse like a camera tripod leg ).

I probably should mention that I'm relocating to Venice Florida and will have something floating on the Intercostal Waterway, sooooooo, bargepoles could be useful for all manner of.... ( even shopping for Hifi )

21st Century Tony in Michigan

ps YouTube has a wonderful weekly series : CruisingTheCut

spacehound's picture

That I've never actually seen a bargepole. I assume they are similar to a 'boathook' but lacking the hook :):)

As for canals, they are only used by 'enthusiasts' now but I believe they are mostly kept open by the 'state' because it's good for the tourist trade and because 'English Heritage' has to spend the taxpayers money on something more than just Stonehenge and the probably imaginary King Arthur to justify its existence.

BTW: I was thinking some more about speakers. You might have a look at Spendor, assuming they are available in the US. They are 'traditional' rather like the classic Tannoys, and are very highly thought of by those who don't want 'emphasis' in any one area. They are mostly derived from BBC designs (the long-term but now retired designer was a BBC sound engineer for many years) but are 'modernised' to eliminate the rather limited requirements (mostly 'near perfection' for the male speaking voice) the BBC liked at the time.

If I was buying new speakers they would be near the top of my 'must audition' list.

tonykaz's picture

Hello from a chilly ( very chilly ) night of building a shelf.

I once owned some LS3/5a from Spendor, I was Importing the "Best Selling" little Rogers version. The Linn Kann also sold quite well. I kinda loved the ProAc Tablette.

Spendor make their own transducers as well as everything else they build. I have to give them "Fullish 5 Stars" for it as well as the other few i.e. Sennheiser, Genelec, Focal , DynAudio annnnnnnd hmmmm, who else ?

Thanks for reminding me.

Tony in Michigan

Gumbo2000's picture

"The A10's all-in-one design and $5500 price should make it especially appealing to budget-conscious audiophiles."

What alternate universe do you live in?

funambulistic's picture

I salivate at the idea of spending $5500 on a complete system, let alone a malfunctioning *budget* media player...

georgehifi's picture

"I salivate at the idea of spending $5500 on a complete system, let alone a malfunctioning *budget* media player..."

This has to be a facetious comment? I hope.
Even at $2k I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole, unless it could play standard PCM without being molested with MQA filtering to make it (maybe on purpose) sound worse.

Cheers George

PAR's picture

An appropriate time of year for what appears to be a turkey.

dreite's picture

Maybe the unit was malfunctioning? I see nothing in the Manufacturers Comments area from Aurender. JVS and JA can update regarding this, hopefully.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

All manufacturers receive pre-prints of our reviews, complete with John Atkinson's measurements. At that time, which is the first time that they are made aware of our assessments, they are given the opportunity to submit comments for publication. If those comments do not appear in the print / digital editions - they are not reproduced online - then they were either not submitted, or not submitted in time for publication. More about this I do not know, because those comments are submitted to John Atkinson, not to the authors of reviews.

dreite's picture

Much thanks for the elaboration. In this case, it's an interesting data point that will no doubt raise the eyebrow of MQA skeptics (of which I am one) since this appears to be a manufacturer with their finger tipping the scale.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

It appears to be a software glitch that was not addressed fully in the last update received before the review was submitted.

John Atkinson's picture
dreite wrote:
Maybe the unit was malfunctioning? I see nothing in the Manufacturers Comments area from Aurender. JVS and JA can update regarding this, hopefully.

Aurender declined to submit a comment for publication.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

rt66indierock's picture

Aurender also has a software licensing issue they need to solve by the end of the redemption period, December 31.

rustybutt's picture

Jason, I know you're not exactly a member of the 1% who think nothing of dropping $5500 on something like a music server, but that really isn't a price point you'd associate with "budget-minded audiophiles".

If you're the kind of person who picks and chooses between Mercedes, Lexus, Tesla, BMW and Audi when buying your 2nd car, then I suppose $5500 for a music server is the kind of thing you'd look at. But "the rest of us" don't have that luxury.

I've always said that "Today's $5000 wonder is tomorrow's $3000 white elephant." Products like this Aurender music player which reviewer tout as being a budget item at $5500 will be on Audiomart in 18 months with sellers hoping to get $3000 for it. Not gonna happen.

I think it would be interesting for Stereophile to research the budget level its readers have. Clearly there are many for whom products at this price point, and higher, are where they go. But what percentage of your readers are there?

Clearly y'all have been in business long enough to know that reviewing products like this is sufficiently entertaining for your readership that people keep subscribing, but really. Is this just entertainment for those who lust for things they can't possibly afford? The great majority of those I see buying outboarded DACs and the like rarely would consider dropping more than $500 for such a thing, let alone $5000 or more.

Sure there's a readership who are keenly interested in products like the Aurender, but it's a bit of a slap in the face for the vast majority to call this something for "budget-minded audiophiles".

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

I thank you for your feedback. I acknowledge, upon reading your comments, that "budget-minded" was a poor choice of words for a $5500 all-in-one DAC/music server with built-in volume control that, while hardly inexpensive, costs significantly less than many stand-alone premium music servers. I have now made a mental note to choose my language more carefully when it comes to discussions of price and value.

For the record, I drive a '94 Toyota Corolla DX that I bought used in 1995. My husband drives a 2006 Lexus that he bought used after conducting scrupulous research via Consumer Reports. (Well, mostly scrupulous. He seems to have missed the fact that it only takes premium gas.) Ms. Daisy Mae Doven is often seen at the wheel of both cars, but she is always reminded that, top dog though she may be, she is not Driving Ms. Daisy.

rt66indierock's picture

Nothing wrong with breaking a few things (like hard drives) or getting tangled up in cables. You are just "making fine tuning adjustments" to quote the Roadkill boys. Because after all you are going to be Roadkill or roadkill.

Good job on completing the review. I had one in my office to test. It didn't get through my first reference album Pet Sounds. No point for me to go any further.

Happy New Year from the most dangerous man in audio.

Stephen

spacehound's picture

Afte reading this review it wouldn't even get out of my local hifi shop, let alone to my 'office' or my home.

Not at ANY price, let alone 5,500 Dollars (which as it happens I can afford).

rt66indierock's picture

We have shootouts and testing in my office. Just pull back the conference table and listen. Pass away those 115 to 118 summer days in The Valley of the Sun.

tonykaz's picture

and educated as well as bumping 50ish, with disposable incomes.

It takes serious money to participate in Audio.

As far as JVS and his old car collection, is this an attempt to emulate Jay Leno?

Geez, Jason prompts me to think that we need some Cadillac Adverts featuring Elton John, maybe even having Ellen DeGeneres driving and doing some sort of interview, something like James Corden has done.

Tony in Michigan

ps. those Toyota cars are likely to last you lads for the rest of your lives, the Corolla is the biggest reason for General Motors difficulties during the 1990's and 2000's. Keep them maintained and you'll see 300,000 + miles from each of them.

supamark's picture

Did you guys have a "come to Dr. Deming" moment, or was it a long process of figuring out why Japan's automakers (who all followed a total quality mgmt system and its culture) had better results? I understand if NDA bars you from saying anything.

Also, to an earlier comment, Boston Acoustics used to make their own drivers too and I'm still rockin' a fully functional pair of T-1030's that I've owned since new. It's a shame that they couldn't continue as independant company, I was able to replace all my woofers in ~2006 before they were sold thankfully.

tonykaz's picture

GM invested in Automation ( in the 1980s, spending 80 Billion $ ), thinking that robots were better than people. The Japanese were non-automated.
It wasn't until Steve Ratner fired our defective managements ( in 2008 ) that GM finally turned around and started winning J.D.Power awards.
Management was the problem and the solution, Japanese have superb managers .

I'll give you a 'taste' of Japanese Management : Scrap is repaired by the Plant managers. ( imagine a Plant Manager, Works Manager or a Plant Superintendent coming out to the Shop Floor to repair a Scraped Engine Block ! ) You'd see that kind of thing in the Japan that built those 1992 Honda Accords or those 1995 Toyota Camrys .

An even more significant factor in Japanese Car success is their 'Philosophy' for their Automotive Products having a "Durable-Good" life of 16 Years ( American Auto Industry 'Standard' is the 1950s designed 11 Year service life ). American Auto Industry is built around re-cycling car materials every eleven years.

So, if Jason's little Toyota was a early 1990s Ford, it would've been re-cycled at least twice by now. Of course I'm meaning : Sold twice as NEW, re-financed twice, insured new twice, etc.....

Well, Toyota is one of us now.

Tony in Michigan

supamark's picture

I've only owned 2 American cars - a '76 Chevy Malibu Classic that I liked but sold to buy a 1980 Mazda RX-7 when I was 17 (you can imagine which was more fun to drive at that age) and an '83 Ford Mustang 5.0 w/ 4 speed manual (car after RX-7) which was the biggest POS I've ever owned by a wide margin. I swore off Ford after that car - the only car mfg (Ford/Lincoln/Mercury) from whom I'll never buy another car.

Any car mfg that wants my business nowadays has to offer a manual transmission in the car I want (I just don't like automatics, even modern ones), which mostly limits me to non-US cars... and no, tubes and vinyl ain't my primary or generally preferred source(s) lol.

tonykaz's picture

Stick Shifts. Yesssssssss !!!!

You might be a 6 Cyl. BMW type guy. ( maybe a older one where everything is driver controlled ).

The 1990s Accords could also delight Neanderthals like us.

Shifting engages the mind and requires the driver to actually drive the car ( I think intelligently ).

You'd better find one of those greats and plan on keeping it because we're about to transition to Electric-Driverless transportation devices ( which I'll be using, in the form of Taxi Cabs ).

You are right about the "POS" cars we made ( all of us ), it paved the way for the Japanese.

Tony in Michigan

spacehound's picture

Intelligent? No.

Anyone who believes this box will sound any better than a 300 dollar PC with a low cost DAC attached has got to be a bit dumb.

And the same goes for all this 'high end' cables, Paul Pan power supplies, anything from Synergistic Research and their ilk, PC caused jitter, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum are dumb too.

Bits ARE just bits, there is no timing information in a file so the timing can't be wrong thus PC induced jitter can't exist, USB uses NRZI coding so 50% of the bits you detect with your 'accurate reference voltage' won't have 'leading edges' to detect, etc.

'Sound quality' starts at the DAC. Nothing in front of it matters.

The people who fall for all that garbage and the 'reviews' that talk about it all HAVE to be dumb as they are wilfully rejecting the maths and science that got them into their privileged position in favour of witchcraft.

It's why hifi is laughed at by GENUINE scientists and engineers.

tonykaz's picture

There are folks that are 'Believers' , I'm not one of em.

As an Electrical Engineer I could prove that Wire is a hoax. That is until I had some Brisson stuff in my hands and tried to prove that it's garbage, I also had my peerage working on proving that wire doesn't move the Audiophile needle.

MH-750 took us down, all of us, phew.

Of course we were working with my highest level audio gear.

The point is, I think, everything has an effect on High performance audio gear & high performance gear is affected by everything.

Building a super high performance Audio system is an expensive hit or miss proposition. I went thru thousands of dollars worth of manufacturers products trying to build a Line of Products to represent. ( many products in a Company's line were duds )

Oh well...
...this conversation has been going for 4 decades now ( or more ). I suspect that we all are trying to defend what we've already learned and promote what we hope for.

I'd like to hope for Audiophile performance from the iPhone and to then migrate to WiFi Active Loudspeakers. I'll be happy to leave all my "Hair Shirt Audiophile" tendencies far behind me.

21st Century Tony in Michigan

ps. LG just announced it's partnership with MQA, for a presumed application in the Video marketplace. Phew, here it comes! Now, all MQA needs is the Movie Industry.

spacehound's picture

...for all practical purposes or a filter, which actually means it is inherently faulty..

And I've never seen a 'physics' equation with price in it.

The makers of these snake oil cables don't even know how they 'work' so it's just 'mumbo-jumbo'. Many so-called 'USB' cabls aren't USB cables at all as they don't meet the specification, as demonstrated by their not being allowed to put the USB logo on the connectors.

You can put it all down to some French guy many years ago who wrote a deliberately nonsense article about the 'sound' of cables.

As for LG, they have had this MQA 'partnership' for some time. To date their first (and only) product with MQA is an expensive and unsuccessful in the marketplace Android phone.
And they did MQA incorrectly so it doesn't actually work. Almost a year later they have not bothered to fix it.

georgehifi's picture

I believe that was a second updated firmware "fixed" unit. Which didn't fix it.

Cheers George

XenonMan's picture

Who in their right mind would refer to a $5500 piece of gear that is only really good for casual listening as

"The A10's all-in-one design and $5500 price should make it especially appealing to budget-conscious audiophiles.

This is an insult to those of us who read this mag for informative commentary. It sometimes makes me feel like you have lost your perspective on what gear is affordable to most of us. Remember we don't get all the high end perk junk that manufacturers send to you for inclusion in your reviews.

spacehound's picture

.....to anyone at all after this review :):):)

tonykaz's picture

can't resist, can you.

:):):)

indeed.

If you were editing this, would you let this review go to print?, why?

Tony in Michigan

spacehound's picture

I like a steady income every bit as much as the editor and staff of Stereophile do ):):)

Any commercial magazine in any field depends far more on advertising revenue than it does from sales. But of course they have to demonstrate sales (on a website 'clicks') or they won't get the advertising revenue.
So:
They must try not to offend any one manufacturer or the industry in general.
There are two ways to achieve this. One is not to report at all on stuff found to be 'bad' when it is reviewed. This is the most common method. They 'excuse' this practice by saying we don't want to read about bad stuff, choosing to ignore that putting a potential purchase on our 'avoid' list is every bit as useful as putting something on our 'must audition' list.
The other is to say everything is wonderful, which sooner or later gets the magazine a reputation of being nothing more than an industry 'shill' so circulation (or 'clicks') and thus advertising revenue goes down.

Jason and the editor have chosen a more honest course for this box. Even so, it is obvious than Jason is, in his replies, making up silly 'excuses' for the problems he found, both originally and still having some problems after the first 'fix' did not fully solve all the problems.

I genuinely believe no sane person will buy this box if he has read the review.
Even more so as Jason said, in effect, that this 5,500 Dollar box is ok for casual listening but probably won't satisfy the more 'dedicated' listener.

John Atkinson's picture
spacehound wrote:
One is not to report at all on stuff found to be 'bad' when it is reviewed. This is the most common method. They 'excuse' this practice by saying we don't want to read about bad stuff, choosing to ignore that putting a potential purchase on our 'avoid' list is every bit as useful as putting something on our 'must audition' list.

While this was how Stereo Review operated when the late Larry Klein was technical editor - he admitted this at an AES Conference in 1990, in a seminar on audio magazine reviewing - at Stereophile we publish a review of every product we are sent for review, regardless of how it performs. We also report on every problem we encounter - see the "Letters" pages in the same issue as this review.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

tonykaz's picture

...after 70 years. ( about dam time )

It's now : Sound & Vision

Editor is Rob Sabin, previously from the Absolute Sound Mag.

Learn all about the rapidly evolving HDMI 2.1 "Standards" and all things TV. ( I haven't owned a Tv since the 1980s )

Inform yourself by watching "Pixels & Bits" where Sabin & Gutenberg "Spotlight" interesting things we all might as well 'try' to understand.

I, for one, won't be touching TV with a "10 foot Bargepole".

Tony in Michigan

spacehound's picture

Via our excellent 'free to air' 1080i digital broadcasts which have about 100 channels. And that's a very early morning UK fishing programme. On a 15 year old flat TV which supposedly converts everything to 720p, and the sound of which goes through my hifi system.

(BTW: I replied to your 'loves' post but once again it doesn't appear as a 'reply')

tonykaz's picture

Zoffinger on YouTube.

A fascinating fishing series by Marty Zoffinger that combines a financial train wreck, kayak fishing around Tampa Florida, two dogs, losing a house to foreclosure and then living on a derelict ChrisCraft boat.

The Series begins in 2009 and keeps picking up steam and viewers. It's strictly one man project by an "able bodied" man who migrated from New York to Tampa Bay Florida.

Marty takes you into his life and into his kayak fishing adventures, all low buck, all cobbled up cheap stuff, all wonderful fun. Geez, I can do this kinda stuff.

Zoffinger takes you with him, along with 125,000 thousand others.

It's a hell-of-an-everyman-adventure !

This is about the best dam present I could give anyone, a realizable dream.

Tony in Michigan

ps. I just got a full Cancer clearance so I too will be on that Florida Intercostal in my Hobie kayak. The other option was : Oakwood Cemetery

spacehound's picture

And in addition to 'Stereo Review' admitting it both the UK 'HiFi News and Record Review' and 'HiFi World' have admitted doing it too.

So that's three out of the four you and I have 'checked' so far.

tonykaz's picture

on the 'Chopin-Liszt' day afta xmas. ( the happiest day of the year )

Dear Sir,

Some of us ( the socials ) kinda live by the Say'n : "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" . ( my mom preached this )

conversely

We analyticals kinda live by the concept : "say'n things accurately is being nice, there's no other way"!

But then again, the quickest way to hurt someone's feelings is to tell them the Truth !!! ( my mom preached this too )

I suppose we'll always need Editors to soften the sharp edges of an ugly truth, won't we ?

Reviewing is a difficult thing.

My desert island gear loves are :

Sennheiser HD series headphones ( any from 580 to 800 )

Electrocompaniet Electronics

ProAc Tablettes

Magnaplaner MG2

Bruce Brisson MH750 Speaker Cables

iMac w/iTunes for the front end.

retired ;

all Koetsu phono carts,

any VPI record player,

21st Century Tony in Michigan!

spacehound's picture

That only applies to wives, girlfriends and similar. We don't have to live with hifi magazine editors nor they with us :):)

My hifi 'loves'
I don't use headphones but did buy some 50 Dollar Sony ones out of curiousity. They sound fine but seem hard to drive, only my Chord Mojo out of the assorted boxes I've got will drive them properly.

The rest:
Chord Mojo. When attached to my hifi it's indistinguishable from the 20,000 Dollar dCS Rossini so is vastly better than any of the other DACs I've owned or heard. And it only costs 500 Dollars. Sadly it's not really practical in a 'home' system as its three inputs have no switching but work on a 'priority' basis so you have to disconnect higher priority ones you aren't using at the time. And it gets extremely hot if you use it and charge it simultaneously. Chord say that's fine but I'm not convinced.

I don't have an opinion on Electrocompaniet, Pro Ac, or Magneplanar. stuff.

Any cable costing more than around 20 Dollars is a rip-off as a cable is either 'perfect' or some kind of filter. Mostly I use Belkin or ones with a fake Japanese-sounding name which are the 'top' ones from our Radio Shack equivalent.

Macs are fine in themselves but they are rather expensive and lack a good choice of software for almost everything. iTunes is terrible.

We agree on Koetsu but pricewise I drew the line at a 'Black' which is still in my now rarely used SL1200. The stylus is still fine as neither the Koetsu nor the SL1200 have ever seen much use.

VPI are among the best and sell quite well in the UK. But I don't have one and won't ever be buying another turntable.

The German 'Avantgarde' horn speakers.

Ongaku Ongaku Ongaku!!!! The real one, not the phony British copy.

tonykaz's picture

I agree, there's nothing like a Horn.

Those Germanic Avantgardes seem wonderful in their incredibly effortless Power.

But, size tips the scale in favor of the LS3/5a. Small, polite, capable, family friendly.

Klipsch would demo their "Klipschorn Corner Speakers" with a 3 Watt Tube Amp. ( in the 1950s ).

I took a pair of Rosewood Klipschorns in trade for a pair of Meridian M10s ( also in Rosewood ). ( back in 1984ish )

Tony in Michigan

spacehound's picture

So they will sound powerful.

A wealthy acquaintance has zero knowledge or experience of hifi, he buys on price. He has an Ongaku and a pair of the largest Avantgarde horns.

It all sounds pleasant enough but he doesn't realise that with the powered bass units (which go quite high) the Ongaku is rendered somewhat pointless.

If he had any experience or judgement he would have matched the Ongaku with a pair of the biggest Tannoys.

(Both the LS3/5A and most Klipsch speakers seem to encourage extreme views.)

tonykaz's picture

it's a beautiful SET design which I'd imagine will be delightful sounding, especially with Horns.

But, "imagine" is as close as I'll ever get as I'm told they cost $121,000.

I just had a look at AVcompanytours visit to Audio Note's factory somewhere in England. Phew is all I can say!

Audio Note make a Cie loudspeaker ( based on a Snell design ) which they sell for mucho dinero. ( $100,000 I think )

This is "Duke" territory, certainly not "Lord" or below.

That Peter Qvortrup tells an interesting story, dresses modestly, invests profits back in the Company and seems to have a cozy little working group of lads. They remind me of J.Purdy & Sons

A funny thing is how all these super high priced electronic outfits insist on putting their designs on the floor ( as if they can't afford a proper cabinet or beautiful plinth ). I'll be hiding the electronics from sight and controlling with an iPad .

Tony in Michigan

spacehound's picture

....except he shouldn't be using Kondo's 'Ongaku' name for one of his amps.

Russellbobby's picture

My plan was to first listen to the A10 by itself for an extended period of time. Once I was clear on how it sounded as an all-in-one unit, I would compare its DAC section's sound to the Brooklyn's

spacehound's picture

Is not a good choice for comparison as it passes everything, MQA or not, through the MQA filters, thus degrading the sound.

And as Aurender has deleted its usual filter choices from the A10 it may be doing the same thing.

If it is you will be choosing from two deliberately degraded DACS.

John Atkinson's picture
spacehound wrote:
Is not a good choice for comparison as it passes everything, MQA or not, through the MQA filters, thus degrading the sound.

If you look at the measurements that accompanied our review - see www.stereophile.com/content/mytek-hifi-brooklyn-da-processor%C2%96headphone-amplifier-measurements - you can select other filters, not just the MQA filter.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

spacehound's picture

I'm not saying you are wrong, and I'm certainly not claiming that I'm infallible. So here goes:

I'm not personally familiar with the Mytek Brooklyn DAC and I don't know how many switchable filters it has because their website doesn't say.

The measured response on the website I got my information from refers to the Brooklyn's "standard" filter, (whatever that it supposed to mean). The site's measurements show the "standard" filter and MQA filter 1 as being identical.

I looked at your measurements and I see you show impulse responses, which you recently said are "illegal".
Of course they are, as they violate Nyquist/Shannon so the pre-ringing displayed is merely a 'false' artifact caused by impulse testing violating the Nyquist/Shannon theorem.

So I'm stuck.
Cheers.

John Atkinson's picture
spacehound wrote:
I'm not personally familiar with the Mytek Brooklyn DAC and I don't know how many switchable filters it has because their website doesn't say.

The filters and how they differ from one another are discussed in the Stereophile review I linked to earlier.

spacehound wrote:
. . . The site's measurements show the "standard" filter and MQA filter 1 as being identical.

But as the Stereophile review showed, there are other filters apart from these two.

spacehound wrote:
I looked at your measurements and I see you show impulse responses, which you recently said are "illegal". Of course they are, as they violate Nyquist/Shannon so the pre-ringing displayed is merely a 'false' artifact caused by impulse testing violating the Nyquist/Shannon theorem.

With respect, you are reading too much into the term "illegal" with respect to these impulse response measurements. The single-sample-high signal I created and use is diagnostic when determining what kind of digital reconstruction filter is used. The "ringing" actually maps the filter's coefficients, so you can immediately tell from the measured impulse response whether the filter is linear-phase or minimum-phase, whether the stop-band rolloff will be steep or slow.

The impulse response measurements in our review of the Mytek Brooklyn reveal that your statement that "it passes everything, MQA or not, through the MQA filters, thus degrading the sound" is incorrect.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

spacehound's picture

And I must accept that it has switchable filters as you have actually used one of these things.

But how am I (or anyone else) to know WHAT to believe? The source I quoted said one thing, another source which I now can't remember, stated 'positively' that everything goes though the MQA renderer process, and another, though merely an 'enthusiast' in the tiny field of hifi, is one of the most professionally respected 'digital' engineers on the planet (who in addition to his other abilities, was one of the small IBM team who made fast fourier transforms actually possible), says testing 'digital' filters with impulses is totally pointless as it is merely testing algorithms known to be approximations and which DON'T allow for impulses, with test inputs that don't actually happen in 'digital' audio.

And as I don't intend to comment further on this subject, because the Brooklyn is merely an 'aside' from the A10 topic, I will say this:

Pre-ringing is impossible as it violates causality. So it can only be an artifact of our measurement methods. And deliberately using such an artefact to measure anything about digital filters when they are not designed to cope with such inputs is a nonsense. There are far more accurate ways to measure filters, even though they take longer. And something is either valid or it isn't. There aren't 'degrees' of invalidity.

It doesn't matter. Nobody would be here at all, nor read your magazine, if you stayed away from 'controversial' subjects. Your magazine/website are far more than just a 'buyers guide'.

John Atkinson's picture
spacehound wrote:
Pre-ringing is impossible as it violates causality.

Apologies for sounding like I am beating a dead horse, but it is not impossible when you have control over time, which you do in a time-sampled format. I described how a linear-phase, sinc-function filter reconstructs the analog signal in an article soon after I joined Stereophile in 1986 and repeated it in my 2011 Richard Heyser Memorial lecture to the Audio Engineering Society. Scroll down the page to the color waveform diagram.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

spacehound's picture

Though I admit I don't understand all of it so will pursue it further until I do.

And as for the comments on your linked article most of them are so off topic that "they aren't even wrong" to coin somebody else's phrase :):)

I see you refer to Keith Howard's "listening to sound quality". I have long held that it is not 'legitimate' to do this as we don't know how the final release would sound if played in the studio (or wherever they decided) on the studio's (or record label's) equipment

On this I have just been using Tidal (on a 10 day free trial) to listen to some MQA and non-MQA pieces using my recently 'upgraded' to MQA DAC.

On most I can't tell much difference, if any, but on some, notably some Tom Petty pieces, I prefer MQA. But they sound 'exaggerated' compared to the non-MQA ones. Although I prefer them I have no way of telling if they are genuinely more 'realistic' or just plain exaggerated.

Vinylfan3's picture

Not sure who's shown greater gross negligence and stupidity : JVS or Stereophile online commenters.

Unplugging the A10 while it's on? Who does that to ANY computer? And then complaining that it took a touch too long to reboot & rescue itself? Aurender themselves sets it up for JVS, but he's still flummoxed. There's buttons to access to online guide and another in the app to conjure remote dedicated support : but JVS is still flummoxed. JVS : did you make any effort? Are you completely computer illiterate?

Should we believe anything JVS says after that display of gross incompetence. JA himself has an Aurender N10 as a reference piece. Not too hard to operate for him, is it? Michael Lavorgna does a review of the Aurender N100H (which is half of an A10) : gives it "Greatest Bits". Obviously wasn't too difficult for him. In fact : "Thankfully, the Aurender app is to my mind one of the better apps out there..." he says in his review. Why does JVS have such a hard time? And if so, why does JA allow him to continue with the review....?

Oh yeah, and then JVS : let's hook up an Mytek, which is better, but wait : maybe it sounds too warm. Which is it? If he can't decide on that, why should we believe ANYTHING he says about the sound of the A10, which he damns with faint praise saying it's ok for "background music". Really - are you so dumb you think it's just a pricey Sonos?

JA get's his panties in bunch over the MQA upsampling - even though Stereophile thinks MQA is great - oh and by the way - his measurements say the A10 seems great - even with the MQA upsampling PCM the time and frequency performance is great. And now : lo & behold : MQA can be defeated in the conductor app with a new update. Shouldn't you have waited for that?

Stereophile really needs to print a formal written apology to Aurender. EVERY other review of the A10 has been a rave. Every other review of every other Aurender piece has been very strong from Stereophile. But now they hand the A10 to review to someone grossly incompetent to review it & on top of that make a huge deal out of a technicality that was quickly resolved.

And of course, then Stereophile's usual mongrel calcavade of idiot and troll commenters delight, not knowing or understanding ANYTHING. YES : a top flight computer audio transport is every much as important as a top flight CD transports - and has many of the same technical problems (and many more) to tackle, and therefore deserves to be thousands of dollars - and when it also includes a top flight DAC as well - offering near reference class quality for $5500 - YES - it's a GREAT deal. If you don't understand that, shut up and go back to your (soon to fail / skip) CD players.

JVS / Stereophile : STOP being apologists for the price of these things. Just DELETE those comments. Very good things are EXPENSIVE - full stop. Don't like it? Buy something else cheaper - or better yet - just shut the hell up and get another hobby.

I'm REALLY disappointed in Stereophile. It's been a while since I've trusted it's writing on things digital - much less computer audio. From a gross hodgepodge of "recommended components" in digital with no rhyme or reason price or otherwise - to handing digital products to digital haters like Michael Fremer to review : every review "sounds ok for digital : but not as good as my continuum colibrium turntable." Digital seems to be a threat to his very existence - let's hand him a digital piece to review. WTF?

BUT : this "review" / hatchet job, was really the LAST straw. Stereophile : get your shit together. Digital / computer audio needs to be reviewed only by your staff who is qualified to review it. And when some stupid technical snafu arises, you OWE it to both the manufacturer AND readers to more reasonably resolve them. That is your OBLIGATION as PROFESSIONAL journalists.

And to handful of sad & ignorant Stereophile online commentators : shame on you as well : you're complicit in the mendacity and mediocrity as well!

X