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T.H.E. Show 2022: Innuos & Aurender Audiophile Music Streamers

Two brands of digital music streamers dominated T.H.E. Show 2022. Innuos & Aurender seem to have a strangle hold on the top end.

Innuos Statement vs. Aurender W20SE Flagship Music Streamers

Sometimes it’s a single room at a show that really makes an impression; EIC Ian White still can’t stop talking about the DeVore Fidelity room by Common Wave HiFi and some of the feedback we’ve heard from attendees bolsters his claim that it was the runaway winner for “best sound that people can afford.” When you add everything up, it’s still an expensive investment but the speakers definitely lived up to the high praise.

Affordability was not a trend at T.H.E. Show 2022. No way.

What stood out the most were the two brands of network players and streamers that kept showing up in the best sounding rooms. Aurender and Innuos were seemingly everywhere in Long Beach.

Innuos Zen Mini MK3 Music Streamer Front
Innuos ZenMini MK3

We’ve included the Innuos ZenMini MK3 in our “Best Streamer” list twice in recent years and after Long Beach — it’s pretty obvious that the rest of the lineup probably belongs on that list as well.

Different models from both brands kept showing up on almost every rack; when I noticed the trend, I went back and started counting.

Innuos Statement Music Server at T.H.E. Show 2022 Black

The Innuos Pulsar, Zen, ZenMini MK3, Zenith, and flagship Statement were all in use. The very expensive Statement was used in multiple rooms; including the excellent Boenicke W8 system that everyone seemed to love.

I counted 8 different Aurender streamers at the show over the weekend;

Differences in the models come down to bigger hard drives, CD-ripping, S/PDIF vs USB outputs, the number and type of network connections, and reclocking capabilities but all share some common ground too and it is that common ground that explains the popularity of these two companies streamers.

Aurender Music Streamer

The feature that both Innuos and Aurender offer that grabbed my attention was the ability to stream tracks from different sources effortlessly and the ability to switch between those sources within a single playlist. 

Both brands offer the ability to stream songs from a local hard disk, TIDAL, Qobuz, and other network devices and also to search all those devices through very strong interfaces. The Innuos streamers are Roon-Ready devices so you can use Roon if you want — but its interface is rather solid on its own.

I’ve mentioned it before that I find streaming services of somewhat limited value since I have a fairly extensive library of music on CDs and ripped to FLAC. As such, most of the time when I listen to streaming services, I’m looking for new music.   

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Aurender Music Streamer at T.H.E. Show 2022

I know right now a lot of readers will look at the features set and comment that a lot of high-end streamers/network players do this for less in some cases; I’m sure Bluesound NODE users will comment that it does all of this for less than $600.

The NODE is excellent and our review highlights all of things it does really well.

Unlike the Innuos streamers, it can’t rip CDs to its internal hard drive. That capability is rather important to a lot of listeners.

A Scott Walker Audio representative was nice enough to spend some time talking me through the Aurender Conductor app and allowed me to hear tracks from three different sources; TIDAL, Qobuz, and local storage back to back to test its ability to switch almost seamlessly between platforms.

The longest delay between the last note in one track and first note of the next was about one second and had I not known in advance the tracks were coming from different sources, I couldn’t have told the difference by listening. 

Innuos Statement in rack at T.H.E. Show 2022

I did some of the same testing with an Innuos Statement thanks to Common Wave Hi-Fi, and again their Sense app proved up to the challenge with materials from alternate sources having little or no delay between tracks.   

I found both systems to be very capable and with prices in the $10k to $25K range for the Innuos and Aurender being tested, they are expected to do well. I will concede that the sound quality from both brands is rather superb and I’ve been told by more than a few members of the eCoustics team that both connected to DACs in the $1,500 to $3,000 range are capable of very impressive performance.

EIC Ian White thinks the Innuos Zen Mini Mk3 connected to the HoloAudio Spring 3 KTE DAC is audio nirvana for less than $5,000 USD.

What is now of interest to me is whether the power of those top models is needed in order to deliver that seamless performance or if the Zen Mini Mk3 from Innuos ($1,400 USD with 1TB HD) or an Aurender ACS100 ($3,500 with user added internal storage) are capable of performing equally well with a mix of tracks from various sources. 

Aurender W20SE Music Streamer
Flagship model: Aurender W20SE Caching Music Server and Streamer

I know the smaller models will give up some of the high end feature set of the Statement and W20SE but if they can deliver the seamless integration between network, local, and streaming services at a more attainable price point, I suspect the entry level models have a much larger potential market out there.   

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. ORT

    June 16, 2022 at 3:01 am

    Hail and well met, Brother Jennings!

    For me, a color (colour?!) display is a requirement for the purchase of any InterWebs Tuner. A digital out of either type (or both) is also nice but honestly, I can not begin to pretend I hear a difference between Coaxial, Toslink and analog out puts.

    Affordability is also nice. These are not what I and those I know and love would remotely consider affordable. Afford Able. Able to afford. I own two of Grace Digital’s Link Interwebsian Tunerizers and they work just fine. Make that grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreAt! No. Really. They work great. They are very affordable and just as with you and several other of the Ecoustic folk, I have met a few of the good people of Grace Digital.

    Their product is not just “entry” level it is on the level. Think about that. No false promises made, not a single chance at self-loathing for falling for fAd Copy nonsense. Just music and a buttload of presets. I think it’s 10 on the unit and a total of 30 or more on the application that I have used for YEARS now on my Android and fApple phones.

    I believe I have said this before but it bears repeating. If I do not see you lads (and if Emiko is reading) lasses test one of these devices soon, I may just have to buy one and send it to you. I know how well it works because I have been a paying customer for over a decade now. This unit works as does their excellent radios. Good people creating not only a good product for a very fair and reasonable price but also creating jobs for good people.

    And nope. As far as I can recall, Grace Digital ain’t Romper Roon Ready (R³). And neither am I. Roonatics abound but I have no need of software trying to give me a stiffie over how easy-peasy-mac-n-cheesie their stuff is to do what simply pushing a button or using the app to select on my (*GASP*) own, a preset station.

    The Grace Digital Link is that good. That affordable. That easy. I have two in my home and have given away at least…Ummmm… 5 more to family and friends. I want people to be happy and listen to the soundtrack of their life. That is far more enjoyable that fapping out over some supposed two-bit-bit-rate BS.

    And NO mqa. Take that Blob Stuart!

    Be well, my friend! Check with Ian. I am serious about sending one of these to youse guys to use and keep. I do NOT buy and give JUNQUE (cool spellin, huh?). Grace Digital is not junque. Neither is the stuff you wrote about. It is just waaaaay too much for every one I know to shell out to listen to the ocean.

    Think about that one and remember the kid inside of you and you will know the wonder I was referring to.

    ORT

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