Media Servers

WideaLab Aurender S10 Music Server

ARTICLE INDEX

Design and Setup of the WideaLab Aurender S10 Music Server

The Aurender S10 is a one-piece music server and HD storage system. Among its many features are Solid State Drive (SSD) playback; a customized computer, equipped with WideaLab's proprietary sound card, that runs the Linux OS; clocking and re-clocking modules that use OCXO oscillators (oven controlled crystal oscillators); up to 2 terabytes of memory; easily upgradable software and firmware; and playback of WAV, FLAC, AIFF, Apple lossless, and other formats of music up to 24-bits, 192 kHz sampling rate.

The unit sports a very large AMOLED display that is switchable between two views. The view I used almost exclusively displayed information about the music being played. In the case of long titles that include composer and title, that information is constantly streamed in large characters that scroll from right to left, as if they were news headlines on the bottom of your TV screen. This view also shows information about bit depth and frequency, as well as file format.

The alternative view shows two side-by-side source level meters that display decibel levels for 24-bit audio and 16-bit playback. The two are sometimes differentiated by their blue and yellow backgrounds, although that doesn't show in the photo. Trusting my ears to set sound levels, I didn't make much use of these meters.

While the display's readability from across the room is a major plus, I found the constantly moving light show for the long audio track titles typical of the classical music I play extremely distracting. Thankfully, the display can be turned off by iPad remote. That's exactly what I did.

WideaLab claims that the unit's OCXO oscillator is far superior to those used in other units, and results in greater accuracy and less jitter. Among the unit's other touted attributes are fan-less operation, and the quiet and faster playback of its solid-state drive. During playback, once selections are cached in the SSD, the HD "falls asleep." This, WideaLab claims, eliminates problems with sonic and electromagnetic noise from the spinning HD.

The S10's switching mode power supply is isolated by a thick aluminum wall, with its linear power supply reserved for "critical" components and applications. To further lower noise, additional thick aluminum walls isolate the CPU and HD drive. All this makes basic good sense. It also makes for an extremely well thought out, solidly built unit that does not fail to impress.

While the front of the server has four square buttons on the right side that control play/pause, forward, reverse, and display toggling, I basically relied on my iPad remote whenever possible. Cue up and play was extremely rapid, faster than it takes my PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport to load a CD.

In order to use an iPad as a wireless master remote control, the Aurender must be connected to a wireless router. For purposes of my review, WideaLab furnished both the router and iPad. I connected the S10 to my 24/192 capable Theta Gen. 8, Series III DAC/Preamp via its AES/EBU digital output. Care was taken to use the same astoundingly effective Magico QPod supports under both the Theta and the Aurender S10. Although I never availed myself of the S10's online support guide, which I encountered after the fact, it is quite detailed.