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AURALiC firmware v5.0 adds DSP engine, web browser control

Five-oh! Call the police – major update underway. Version 5 of AURALiC’s streaming device firmware is set to roll out “soon” and with a bounty of new features in tow. Yesterday, the Chinese manufacturer gave public beta participants a first taste.

Let’s tease out some of v5.0’s most interesting features:

1) After almost two years of AURALiC saying Roon is never coming to the Aries Mini, Roon is coming to the Aries Mini. Grab the update and bam: Roon Ready Aries Mini.

2) A new HTML-based Lightning DS interface allows for setup and control of any AURALiC streaming device from any device running a web browser. Greetings Android users! Company CEO Xuanqian Wang says it’s “100% responsive, optimized for mobile device.” 

And with echoes of Slim Devices / Logitech’s Squeezebox server software development, AURALiC intend to open source their web browser interface from next quarter.

3) A new DSP processor engine whose first feature will be an onboard up-sampler. With v5.0 firmware installed, all AURALiC streaming devices become capable of up-sampling PCM to 384kHz. Not the Aries Mini though – it remains restricted to downsampling.

On this new processor engine, Wang says, “It can not do DSD at the moment but we are going to optimize it and introduce new functions like a crossfader and room correction”

But then there’s this DSP-based wizardry….

4) Pseudo-MQA support. Pseudo? Details are somewhat opaque but there’s this from the beta change log: “Add MQA decoding support. Note: The MQA decoding method integrated by all AURALiC streaming device is solely developed by AURALiC using AURALiC’s proprietary resampling and de-blurring method. This process is not an MQA-created or MQA-licensed process.

Here’s Wang with more information:

“This pretty much means we at AURALiC are saying no to MQA. We are no longer interested in their technology. We want to keep everything open but they want to keep it closed. We are not in the same boat. I don’t believe the very High End will benefit from MQA as it only degrades sound quality, not improve it.”

“We do not use any MQA technology, this is not MQA certificated or MQA licensed. We are up-sampling the file using our algorithm, applying our own in-house developed filter, to optimize sound quality, not just for a particular DAC but all devices.”

“There is a MQA pass through function which allows you to output an untouched signal to an MQA-certificated DAC. I suggest you compare our decoding and MQA decoding but only after the final firmware release. The current version is only a test version as we are still optimizing its sound quality, especially the resampling plug-in.

When will that be?

“The typical time period between first beta version and final release is a month. We are expecting a much shorter time period for this update as we have already done a lot of internal testing”, says Wang.

Existing AURALiC users can get their public beta fix by following this guide.

We’ll be catching up with AURALiC at Munich High-End next month where further details on the company’s MQA-aping DSP optimisation are expected to spill. Until then, let the collar-pulling intensify.

Further information: AURALiC

Written by John H. Darko

John H. Darko

John is the editor of DAR, from whose ad revenues he derives an income. He is also an occasional contributor to 6moons and AudioStream and currently resides in Berlin, Germany.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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32 Comments

  1. I’ve got 5.0 beta up and running and I’m very happy with the result! Thank you Auralic for this very nice free upgrade!
    (Not using MQA though, I tried MQA with my Mytek Brooklyn and Tidal and did not hear an improvement, it’s different but not better or worse than a high res flac)

  2. Does the beta version seem stable? I really want to have web-control, but I normally do’t want to run beta SW on something like this (Aries Mini).

    • Take the plunge! You always can opt out of the beta and roll back to a previous FW if you don’t like the way it behaves.

      • Thanks John. So I did the update yesterday, but to me it seems like it’s only web-based setup and not web-based control? At least I can’t seem to get beyond the setup interface in my browser (which I have to admit does look very nice though 😀 )

        • Yes – I noticed the same thing when I tried it for the first time. I’ll be asking Xuanqian Wang for more info on this when he and I chat next week.

  3. MQA – Vinnie Rossi also decided not to consider it in the new DAC to be released soon. He could not provide much detail due to the nda he signed.

  4. Interesting. If Auralic can do this legally it could have implications for the future of MQA as they will not be getting Licensing fees from DAC manufacturers. I guess they will still get royalties from streaming companies etc.

    Will be interesting to see how it ends up sounding. I am looking at getting a new DAC and the MQA thing is giving me some pause.

  5. Good for Auralic. Another company that cares about giving value to customers and not just getting more cash out of them. I don’t own anything of theirs, but like what they do.

  6. I have been a beta tester for a while and was greeted with the update via TestFlight the other day. As an added bonus, after my Lightning DS music library was rebuilt, it became available to stream to my Oppo Sonica DAC via the Sonica app.

    Roon question: I previously used Roon Server on my Mac before I purchased the Aries Mini. I have since removed my music library from my Mac. It is now stored on an internal drive in my Auralic Aries Mini. In order to use the Aries Mini as a Roon Endpoint, I imagine I will have to install Roon Core or Roon Server on my Mac and then point it to the Library in the Aries Mini. I will then use the Roon app on my iPhone to control playback.

    Is there a way I can eliminate the Mac from the equation and run Roon Server from the Aries? (I realize I can run Roon Server from a NAS but I want to explore other options). Thanks!

    • Nope – you gotta pull the Mac out again to run Roon. Roon Core won’t run on the Aries Mini.

  7. What’s most interesting to me about this announcement is the addition of a web-based control option. This is the approach that Bryston has taken with their Manic Moose web interface and I wish NAD would offer this on their latest TOTL player rather than a downloadable software interface (i.e., Bluesound). The use of a web based controller would mean I no longer have to be a system administrator when I want to listen to music. It also means that any bug fixes would be taken care of without requiring any user involvement. This is the way to go, in my opinion.

  8. Awesome news!

    Hardware makers like Auralic and PS Audio are opening a new dimension to the value proposition with updates like these.

  9. I’m not buying their MQA story but it is nice to see Roon coming to the Aries Mini.
    The Bluesound Node 2 will give me both Roon and MQA to my Kef wireless.

  10. As an owner of the Auralic Mini, Roon Ready is a pleasant surprise. It gives me an additional option down the road as Roon matures with ROCK and getting closer to putting together a Roon server that is closer to a turn-key solution. But in all honesty, the Lighting DS player software is fantastic for my needs. The Mini with Lighting DS is a simple and easy to use turn-key solution. I did add a SSD drive and copied my locally owned FLAC files to it. I also use a Tidal hi-fi subscription. As Roon server gets closer to turn-key setup with proper NUC and ROCK, I will consider integrating it with my two Auralic Mini’s. In the meantime, with updates like this, I’m glad I’m an Auralic customer.

    • Jeff

      I suppose you know that the SonicTransporter i5 already gives you possible the best Roon core implementation available.

      There has not been claimed any SQ benefits with ROCK, as I understand it.

  11. Wang’s words regarding MQA sort of jive with my own skepticism, and, mostly, lack of understanding. Can MQA technology be improved upon in the future or is this is it, no updates, super 24/96 is what you get because that’s the mastering, end of story?

  12. Room correction?! How will this be implemented? I’ve been looking at Mnidsp’s Dirac offerings but this could be cool.

  13. Running the 5.0 beta firmware on the Aries Mini right now. I would like to test out the pseudo-MQA support but I have two questions first:

    1) I assume the pseudo-MQA support works when using the Aries Mini as a streamer (i.e., it is connected via USB to my Ayre QB-9 and I am not using the internal DAC) and is not just enabled for the regular Aries. I selected pseudo-MQA support in the Web control page. Do we have to manually disable the MQA switch when playing non-MQA material, or does the firmware auto-detect the presence (or non-presence) of MQA?

    2). Are there any sites where we can download mainstream music that has been encoded with MQA (the regular Warner catalog, etc.), or us that only available through streaming services? Thanks.

    • I don’t know enough to answer 1) other than yes, the firmware autodetects MQA content and applies a slightly different filter than to non-MQA content. If you’re not using an MQA-certified DAC you want MQA pass through turned off.

      As for 2) – HiResAudio.com *was* selling MQA donwnloads of mainstream content. Now, I’m not so sure. Check ’em out. I’m not aware of any other possible MQA content vendors.

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