Using a standard Mac or PC as a network streamer – WiFi/Ethernet in, USB out – will only get you so far on sound quality. So too will patching the Mac or PC’s electrically noisy USB output with filters and/or USB re-clockers. Adding a linear power supply to a desktop PC might bring an audible improvement but it doesn’t bypass (or disable) the noisy switching power supplies and regulators running on the motherboard.
For extracting better performance from our downstream DAC, we need a network streamer that has been built to satisfy audiophile sensibilities: a motherboard and digital outputs with lower electrical noise and lower jitter. (I’m starting to think that noise is a bigger problem that jitter).
Into the Aries G1 network streamer (US$2199), AURALiC have dropped a pair of ‘Pure Power’ low noise linear power supplies, one to fuel each one of its Femto-clocked digital outputs – USB, coaxial, TOSLINK and AES/EBU – and one to juice the streaming (mother)board that plays catch on incoming streams from the home network and the cloud.
Inside the Aries G1 (and G2) we find the latest iteration of AURALiC’s Tesla platform – the motherboard of this digital audio computer – where we note a 1.2GHz Quad-core CPU that’s 50% faster than inside the outgoing model. There’s also twice the system RAM (2GB) and 8GB of SSD storage for the AURALiC’s in-house developed Lightning DS software platform to store its library index data. Here we can stream from a LAN server, from a USB hard drive connected to the G1’s rear, from Tidal, from Qobuz or from vTuner Internet radio.
"...The ALTAIR g1 is a versatile product that is loaded with features and performs all its functions competently. Coupled with its refined sonic performance, the ALTAIR G1 offers substantial value at its price point."