AURALiC update ARIES firmware to v4.0

Computer audio. One of the key advantages in buying into hardware from the conscientious manufacturer is ongoing software updates. Sometimes we see bugs squashed and improved functionality. On other occasions, we net an uptick in sound quality. If we’re lucky, the update arrives free of charge.

Hitting all three bullseyes this week are China’s AURLALiC with news of brand new firmware for their Tesla hardware platform – not to be confused with the Lightning DS app that controls it.

Firmware v4.0, now available as a free download to owners of the Aries, Aries LE and Aries Mini, lands with an overhauled v2 playback engine complete with 100,000 lines of re-written code. The promise from AURALiC? Better sound quality.

How so?

Here we meet v4.0’s first new feature: memory cached playback. Each track (or portions thereof with Mini) is now pre-loaded into system memory – 512B on the Aries/LE, 64Mb on the Mini – facilitating the disabling of unused processing threads and hardware. The implication is lower electrical noise.

Memory Cache is applied automatically to Lightning DS playback (and any other UPnP based control software) but not Roon Ready, AirPlay, Internet Radio, Songcast or Bluetooth.

Next up is Party Mode. Teased heavily by CEO Xuanqian Wang at Munich High-End 2016 the Aries’ incoming multi-zone capabilities permit synchronisation of numerous devices with “one tenth the error of any existing wireless multi-room solution”. 

AURALiC also claim that their multi-zone implementation is the first to support PCM up to 32bit/384kHz and DSD256, bit-perfectly and without downsampling. That’s a boon for hi-res fanatics. Screenshot below.

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Press talks: Xuanqian Wang at Hong Kong High-End 2016

Lastly, Aries firmware v4.0 introduces a new software re-sampler better suited to DACs that don’t support DSD or PCM sample rates above 96kHz or 192kHz.

With Lightning firmware v3.3, disabling ‘DSD over PCM’ DAC delivery saw the bitstream up-sampled to 24bits before being down-sampled to 24bit/352.8kHz – too high for many a ‘vintage’ D/A converter. The new re-sampler has been set to convert DSD to 24bit/88.2kHz PCM, ensuring the Aries’ DSD playback workaround talks to a wider range of DACs.

Moreover, it sounds better according to AURALiC CEO Xuanqian Wang.

Via email, Wang also reported that PCM-to-DSD up-sampling is also in the works but was keen to stress that this will be ready when it’s ready.

Elsewhere, Wang said: “Firmware v4.0 was initially used on ALTAIR – AURALiC’s Streaming DAC product. After 4 months of beta testing, we are very excited to bring these latest developments to existing ARIES customers.”

“The firmware is now live, delivering by area. Everyone will receive the update notice within 24 hours.”

There you go – something for nothing. Have at it, Aries people.

Further information: AURALiC

multizone

Written by John H. Darko

John lives in Berlin, Germany. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also a very occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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14 Comments

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  1. John- thanks for the update. I tried to update the Aries but it seems the v4.0 is not yet available for upload (at least in France). Am I doing something wrong?

  2. Nice to know my ‘vintage’ Bryston BDA-1 isn’t going to through hiccups!

    Still holding out for some Android compatibility again… But BubbleUPNP is it for now?

    • William,

      I laboured with the Android app for a long time and then my phone upgraded to Marshmallow which broke it completely. I was lucky enough to get hold of an old IPhone. The whole experience went from frequent frustration to enjoyment. Don’t hold out for Android – it will not happen! There will be a web-interface coming at some point (maybe the end of this year?) that will allow people using any platform to get access and setup to their Auralic.

      • I wholeheartedly agree, I use an iPad mini for the main remote. Mostly just nice to be able to skip track etc with my phone (HTC One M8) or if the iPad is out of juice.

        Web interface would be handy though!

        Cheers,
        William

  3. Having down quite a bit listening with the V4.0 firmware, I can only concur with Xuanqian – it really does sound good. I’m hearing a much more liquid midrange / treble now with the Sabre RCA outputs. I have yest to try the USB or SPDIF coaxial outputs though.

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