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Auralic Aries Mini

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Auralic Aries Mini – streaming audio made affordable. £449

The Auralic Aries Mini came home with me this weekend. This is essentially a streamer in a box that is not much larger than a CD case. It offers an extremely capable Streamer and decent quality DAC all in a compact and affordable package.

ARIES MINI is a wireless streamer designed to plug into your existing audio system. To this end, ARIES MINI has a pair of high quality analog outputs which are powered by a ESS Sabre DAC chip: ES9018K2M. It has 2 USB connections, an ethernet connection and a digital output in addition.

What also makes the ARIES MINI extremely clever is the space to fit internal storage. It accepts any 2.5-inch hard drive or solid-state drive, which can be used to build your personal music library. We put a 2TB hard drive in our at a cost of £85. Enough space to rip thousands and thousands of albums.

ARIES MINI can stream high-resolution music extremely fast over a WiFi signal at virtually any sampling rate, even for the latest Quad-Rate DSD and DXD. It is powered by AURALiC’s proprietary Tesla hardware platform including a Quad-Core ARM Coretex-A9 processor running at 1GHz, 512MB DDR3 onboard memory and 4GB internal data storage. The Tesla platform has a calculation ability of 25,000 MIPS, more than enough to decode a vast spectrum of audio formats, including AAC, AIFF, ALAC, APE, DIFF, DSF, FLAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, WV and WMA.

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‘We are trying to create something that is affordable for most music lovers, not just the audiophile,’ said Xuanqian Wang, the CEO of AURALiC. ‘ARIES MINI is exactly the right product for anyone who is eager to experience the wireless high-resolution streaming technology but don’t want to spend a lot of budget on a dedicated DSD DAC or a NAS drive. It is the real DSD streamer for everyone.’ He’s right too; this box costs only a little more than Sonos and yet it offers far higher levels of performance and the onboard storage makes it practically unique at this price.

Through Lightning DS, AURALiC’s control software, ARIES MINI can stream music stored on network attached storage, USB disk and optional internal storage. It also supports TIDAL, Qobuz and WiMP lossless streaming services. The other streaming sources are vTuner Internet Radio, AirPlay from Apple devices and Songcast for Windows and Mac system.

The Bluetooth 4.0 interface allows you to connect your existing Bluetooth enabled devices to the ARIES MINI, giving the ultimate in audio flexibility for the home.

“When you consider the compact size
of the chassis and how easy it is to
stow in a confined space, this is a
streamer that offers a huge amount
of capability without much in the way
of compromise. While the best results
are undoubtedly gained with the
external power supply in place, you
could buy the Aries Mini without it
and budget for it further down the
line. Doing so will allow you to get
your hands on one of the most
accomplished affordable streamers
I’ve yet to listen to”

Have a Spotify account ? – No problem, simply Airplay Spotify from your iPhone/iPad directly to the Aries Mini, and let the immense processing power of the Aries Mini release the full potential of your Spotify music selections.

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The inputs of the ARIES MINI includes Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac dual-band WiFi (inc 5G), USB input and optional internal storage such as a 2.5’ hard disk or solid-state drive. The outputs are USB audio, and this is compatible with DACs, which do not require a driver to work on a Mac system. The digital audio outputs include Coaxial and Toslink with maximum supported sampling rate up to 24Bit/192k. The single-ended analog output is driven by an internal DAC which supports all sampling rates up to Quad-Rate DSD and DXD.

The dimension of ARIES MINI is 13.5*13.5*2.8cm (W*D*H), it weighs in at about 800 grams depending of course on the chosen internal storage option. It is available in two colours: white and black.

Listening to the Auralic Aries Mini

As mentioned, I elected to fit a 2TB drive into the unit to enable me to copy a lot of music from the work library for evaluation purposes. Fitting the storage was simple and I have to say that setting up and installing the unit into my home system was as simple as could be. I’m using it wirelessly and it handles even 24/192 with ease. Auralic say they prefer wireless as not having a physical connection reduces noise potentially generated by a router.

The App is called Lightning DS and it’s free. It makes set up and browsing music a doddle. I set it up on my i-Phone and followed the quick set-up wizard.

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Since I plugged the Auralic in I’ve not stopped listening to it. For £449 plus £80 for storage this is a canny and superb sounding solution. I’ve been so impressed with playback that I haven’t even contemplated using my CD player. It handled all the music in the library and even coped with the one album I have in MP3.

There is an upgraded power supply unit but I am using this with the standard one. I am also at some point going to investigate this through a Chord 2Qute DAC. But for the moment I am transported by the Aries Mini. I can’t think of many audio components that pack this much punch for this cost.

I own a much more expensive streamer and certainly it is a little better. I suspect that the reason for that is the DAC. I’ll know better when I’ve used a better DAC. But even saying that the streamer I have is over five times the cost of this and the difference between the two simple isn’t massive. That means the Auralic Aries Mini really does offer an affordable route to streaming losslessly.

“The results are as
good as anything
you are likely to see
for under £1,000″ – Hi-Fi Choice

‘ When you consider the compact size of the chassis and how easy it is to stow in a confined space, this is a streamer that offers a huge amount of capability without much in the way of compromise. While the best results are undoubtedly gained with the external power supply in place, you could buy the Aries Mini without it and budget for it further down the line. Doing so will allow you to get your hands on one of the most accomplished affordable streamers I’ve yet to listen to’ – Hi-Fi Choice

Some more reviews can be found here;

http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2016/02/audiophile-grade-streaming-with-the-auralic-aries-mini/

http://www.avhub.com.au/product-reviews/sound-image/auralic-aries-mini-wireless-streaming-node-review-419443

http://www.audiostream.com/content/auralic-aries-mini#oJpuBEXO3dt7uZsa.97

A better insight into streaming can be found here.