AURALiC launch Aries Mini streamer at Munich High-End 2015


munich_high_end_2015_logoDon’t be fooled by blue-toned light. The intense illumination found within the AURALiC’s room piled more degrees on to an already warm M.O.C. At his Thursday afternoon press conference AURALiC’s CEO Xuanxiang Wang introduced new software and hardware.

One of the hitherto weak points of AURALiC’s Aries streamer is the Lightning DS control app being iPad only and not without minor quibbles; some users have complained about slow library scans, slow-loading cover art and the UI’s landscape-only orientation.

The less than stellar news is that the iPhone app is still TBA.

Android users on the other hand should feel free to punch the air: Lightning DS 1.0 will hit the Google Play Store next week. It’s been designed from the ground up to facilitate landscape and portrait views. The latter being useful for people like me who prefer to operate their phone with one hand. Unlike the beta version that’s been doing the rounds, the final release will see proper Tidal, Qobuz and WiMP integration.

AURALiC’s Xuanqian Wang introduces the Aries Mini streamer.

Lightning DS on the iPad will hit 2.0 status next month (June 2015) for which Wang promises a radical overhaul. In numeric terms, 5700 coding hours has birthed 40000 new lines of code. What are the implications for the end user? Cover art load time is down by 75%, the app will run AURALiC’s own DLNA-pushing Lightning Server, first time users are to be greeted by a setup wizard and search will encompass local and cloud libraries.

Software announcements out of the way, the big news of the day (show?!) is the Aries Mini: a network streamer capable of parsing PCM up to 24bit/384kHz, quad-rate DSD as well as Tidal, Qobuz and WiMP. That’s not all. The Aries Mini arrives with a built-in DAC (ESS’s 90182KM) and a slot into which the end user can drop an HDD/SSD (see photo). Those demanding Femto clocks will still want the Aries proper. Everyone else should take a long, hard look at this product. Say Zài jiàn to NAS drives and music servers without breaking the bank.


Whilst the playback demo conducted by Wang – Aries + Vega vs. Aries Mini – showed junior to sound a little more strident than the considerably costlier separates, it’s more than good enough for the entry level. More than likely mooning the Sonos Connect, Audiostream’s Michael Lavorgna and I agree that this is possibly the first product to fill the enormous entry-level crater left by Logitech’s abrupt discontinuation of the Squeezebox Touch.

The Aries Mini will be available in black or white finishes in Germany, Sweden, Norway and UK from late July and the USA from September. Pricing? Are you sitting down? US$399. Oof.

Warm room, hot product.

Further information: AURALiC



Munich High-End 2015 coverage sponsored by LH Labs:


Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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  1. It’ll be fascinating to see how the Mini sounds as a transport rather than relying on its own DAC. Aries + Vega vs Aries Mini +Vega will be very interesting.

  2. I’m sure they will sell a ton of these. Perfect entry device to digital audiophillia for a main system. Perfect for a desktop or second system.

    And for $400 it sounds fairly close to the$5000 Aries + Vega combo. Can’t beat that.

    Lot’s of speculation on the Web that Auralic’s next product will be exactly that: a high end Aries/DAC combo to replace Aries+Vega as separates.

    If I wasn’t already looking for something much more high-end, I’d be all over this.

  3. It still has digital and USB out, it looks like, correct? I’ve been waiting for an affordable streamer, but don’t need a budget DAC…

  4. “…the first product to fill the enormous entry-level crater left by Logitech’s abrupt discontinuation of the Squeezebox Touch” – very nicely put. 🙂

    So far the only thing that came even close to the SBT was the Cocktail Audio X12, but at a higher price-point due to all the extra hardware (CD ripper, amplifier).
    At $400 the Aries Mini looks _very_ interesting, even if you have to add a tablet for control purposes – at least the Android variety can be dirt cheap.

  5. I’d be curious to know how this option stacks up, in terms of both sound quality and usability, against the Bluesound Node which I’m looking at. Any thoughts John? Also, have they got Lightning DS interface for Windows OS yet? That’s quite an attraction of the Bluesound interface.

    • I’ve zero experience with the BlueSound so impossible for me to comment I’m afraid. No Lightning DS for Windows yet. iOS iPad v2 is out soon. Ditto v1 for Android. After that, I assume AURALiC’s next software priority will be iOS iPhone.

  6. Thanks for the update on Lightning DS John. That seems to be one of the biggest challenges for streamer manufacturers – ensuring an awesome app *and* browser interface is ready to go along with the hardware capabilities. It’s a tough juggling act but makes a huge difference to enjoying the experience – especially having browser access on those occasions when your smart device battery is on “usb life support”!

  7. It’s surprising that no one mentions the Heos Link (Denon). It replaced my modified squezzebox Classic. It has a great app and gives me native Pandora, spotify and Tidal, not
    To mention usb input, and will stream from a hard drive.

    I use it in a schiit/fi/shindo/ hornshoppe system and am VERY happy.

  8. I like some of Auralic’s products… Used to own an Ark MX+ and it was a pretty amazing decoder. Pixar level color saturation and it had warmth and dynamic drive that had me recalling childhood memories of power wars era receivers and 2×12″ drivers . . And the Vega is probably the handsomest decoder under $5k of the last few years. But I don’t see the value of another box between file storage and playback equipment. At the entry level price point a dedicated streaming box seems a bit redundant to me.

    I would think running an old latop, Mac or Windows tablet headless with server software would do the same thing but give you CD Ripping, onboard storage and wireless. If someone was of the mind that their computer absolutely cannot be part of the chain or bricked their Squeezebox and needed a new solution. My knee jerk response would be the Cocktail X10 or X12. It’s a bit pricier but includes 2TB+ of storage on board, CD ripping (and playback), digital out, USB host mode that can write files to external USB and flash drives. And it all comes packaged in a small black box with a touchscreen. Those are the arms I see Squeezebox widowers running to.

    But I have an aversion to controlling playback equipment with my phone… Something gets lost to me in that process. To each his own. I like the Auralic people though. I met them in Newport and thought they were very sharp and kindly so I hope they do well with it.

    • In terms of form and function of these devices your points are valid. Sound-wise less so: the SB Touch doesn’t sound as good as a tricked out Mac/PC which in turn is bested by the AURALiC Aries. It doesn’t have a touchcrseen but the Aries Mini might best the old SB Touch on SQ.

      Re. Cocktail X10. My Dad has one but he complains that it doesn’t sound anyway near as good as his 20 yr old CD player.

  9. I hear you Darko… I gather it all falls under the category of chasing the sound quality dragon and the fact that Aries mini has slot loading for storage on board is a good thing. In light of that I suppose it isn’t very redundant. It’s the separate NAS storage bays to separate streamer hardware configurations seem unnecessarily complex to me. Caveat to that being multi zone integration. Then I get it.

    I just haven’t found app based playback very satisfying.
    I think a huge part of the draw with Squeezebox was its control interface. Thats where the X10 or X12 mirror the SB experience with the added functionality of storage and ripping capability… But I’m assuming most any audio hobbyist would want to tap the digital outs and forgo the inbuilt dac and amp on the Cocktail boxes.

  10. As a long time Squeezebox user, none of these DLNA only solutions will hold a candle to the performance of a LMS server. Load up a 6k album collection on nearly 3tb of disc space and watch DLNA crawl compared to LMS.

    Plus, you can now load up a $35 RPi player with something like PiCorePlayer (using squeezelite) and stream 192k 24b audio (including DSD) to your DAC of choice via USB or with an add-0n DAC such as the DigiBerry Plus board for about $45.

    All of these new products just reinvent the wheel with the much slower/cumbersome DLNA protocol for a lot more money.

    The original Squeezebox inventors (Sean Adams, et al) got things right the first time and no one has equaled or surpassed since.

  11. Sound quality aside, in terms of app functionality, I still haven’t found anything that comes close to sonos, it has android/ios/windows and osx apps that all run seamlessly and without errors or crashes. It really seems hard to believe that it could be so difficult for Auralic to design a decent cross platform applications in this day in age?

    Heres to hoping sonos releases an audiophile option =P !

    • It’s funny you mention Sonos and audiophiles. Guess what I bought this very weekend?

      • Let me know what you think! I sold a quite well regarded server just this week and stuck to my trusty sonos. There was a bit of a difference with the server, but really not huge (dac/amp made a much bigger difference), and hires aside it is just so easy to use!

        Are you using it with reclocker also? I’m yet to try that…

        • Re-clocker? You’re one step ahead of me once again, MMV. Yup, will be using the W4S Remedy.

          • Cool. Let me know how it sounds with and without? Would love to know if its a worthwhile investment – or whether I’d be better changing to something like the aforementioned Aries!

          • I’ll be writing a full article on it later this week or early next so be sure to check back then. 🙂