Auralic Aries G2 Wireless Streaming Transporter

tmallin

WBF Technical Expert
May 19, 2010
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The latest firmware version for the Auralic Aries G2 adds a number of features. For one thing, the unit now has on-board DSP equalization capability in the form of up to 20 parametric, shelf, or bandpass filters. I haven't used that feature yet since I use a DSPeaker Anti-Mode X4 to do my system equalization for both the G2 programs and those sourced from discs or files via my Oppo UDP-205.

Another added feature is the ability to upsample/resample programs which are input to the G2 via Airplay. For those who prefer the sound of upsampling/resampling can no apply that everything processed through the G2.

As mentioned in posts above, I previously preferred the sound of upsampled/resampled programs through the G2,. However, perhaps because of system changes, in recent weeks I've come to prefer to let my Benchmark DAC3 HGC do the upsampling/resampling (it upsamples/resamples digital inputs to 110 kbps), leaving the G2 in native mode for all programming material. While the G2's upsampler makes the soundstage more spacious and larger (especially vertically), it reduces the specificity of imaging and staging. There is a better feel of instruments and voices performing in front of you and a better feel for the hall dimensions without the G2's upsampling/resampling kicked in. The G2's upsampling/resampling also sounds a bit brighter than life through my system. Long-term, I'm finding the more natural tonality of having the G2 use the native sampling rate of each program to be the overall best-sounding option, but I'm sure others may prefer the upsampling/resampling option.

For more information about the new 6.0 firmware for the Auralic Aries G2, see Xianqian's comments at the following Auralic Community page: https://community.auralic.com/t/6-0-firmware-eq-interface/2316
 
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tmallin

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May 19, 2010
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I'm cross-posting this from another thread since it applies to several threads I've written. Until the last few weeks, I had not used the USB output of my Auralic G2 streamer for many months. I had never before used the USB input of the DSPeaker Anti-Mode X4. Now I'm using a USB connection between the Auralic and the X4.

A couple of weeks ago I got around to experimenting with using the USB output of my Auralic Aries G2 streamer rather than its coaxial SPDIF digital output. The differences were of the same nature I'd heard before, but minus the large change in tonality and irritating brightness from USB connections. I'm speculating that the combination of my recently added UberBUSSes and Triode Wire Labs power cords (talked about in My Clean Power Adventures thread) must have eliminated RFI and other noise interference which were causing the tonal brightness with USB connections before. As before the USB connection sounds more three dimensional, has greater imaging stability, blacker background, and is seemingly cleaner/less distorted than the SPDIF connection. The tonality is still not exactly the same as the SPDIF connection, but certainly is no longer too bright to sound natural.

One reason I hesitated doing this experiment was that I'm not able to use USB all the way from my source to my Benchmark DAC3 HGC in this system. The path is interrupted by my digital equalizer, the DSPeaker Anti-Mode X-4. The X4 has a USB input, so I can go from the G2 to the X4 via USB, but then must use the coaxial SPDIF digital output of the X4 to feed my Benchmark DAC since the X4 has no USB output. What got me to experiment were the excellent results I'd recently achieved with a USB connection straight from my desktop computer to a new Benchmark DAC3 B(asic) in a separate headphones-only system.

I ordered a P.I. Audio Group/Triode Wire Labs Discrete USB cable in the recommended 1.5 meter length. The results I describe above are with using the same USB cable I found to be best of the bunch I'd tried before: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00R2R77JG/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 reviewed in TAS at https://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/oyaide-neo-d-class-a-usb-20-cable/

Now that I've received, installed and burned in the new Discrete USB cable from P.I./TWL, I can only say, yes, this is definitely the best USB cable I've heard, and by a significant margin. It maintains and enhances all the qualities of the Oyaide cable I was using before and totally returns the more natural, easy, full and warm sound of the SPDIF connection.

Not only that, but with the Discrete USB Cable I'm now back to using the upsampling/resampling function of the Auralic Aries G2. Before, adding the upsampling/resampling may have enhanced clarity, but it also further increased brightness heard via either the USB or SPDIF outputs of the G2. Now the upsampling/resampling just enhances the positive qualities of the USB connection without altering the tonality in any undesirable way.
 

tmallin

WBF Technical Expert
May 19, 2010
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In prior messages in this thread I've talked about the sonic effects of various routers, modems, and cable entry grounding on what I hear from the Auralic Aries G2. Based on my experiences of the past few months, I'm no longer sure if any of that matters much. What REALLY matters is the quality of my internet connectivity.

For the past few months I've been bedeviled by intermittent internet service drop outs. For no apparent reason at all the service, several times a day, would go from gigabit speed to a "no internet" message. The outages usually lasted about 10 minutes and then resolved themselves without my doing anything, although lately I've had to manually reboot the modem more and more to temporarily resolve the issue. Throughout these problems, my TV service sailed along at high quality and rock-solid connectivity and no problems whatsoever.

I've had innumerable conversations with Comcast/Xfinity telephone support, as well at several technicians visiting my home to try to resolve the problem. I've also tried various modems (Netgear CM1000, CM1200, and two different Arris SB8200 units) as well as various routers (Netgear X8, X10, XR500, and two different samples of the Xfinity Advanced Gateway modem/router). Technicians eliminated a faulty and unneeded line amplifier in my house, replaced all my splitters, and replaced all the wiring from the cable entry to my modem, as well as the wiring from modem to router. None of these fixes eliminated the intermittent service drop outs. I was starting to consider changing cable services even though I've been with Comcast for more than 20 years.

Finally, most recently, an Xfinity line technician replaced all the wiring from Xfinity's main cable feed high up on the telephone pole in front of my house to the cable entry--the portion of the wiring usually referred to as the cable drop. This line tech said that when he sees the type of intermittent internet connection problems I was having, combined with no TV problems, his approach is to replace the cable drop first since it's subject to the most weather-related wear and tear. Our Chicago winter was unusually terrible this year both in terms of low temperature and precipitation (we had eight inches of snow on the final day of AXPONA in April). The tech said that eventually water will get into the cable drop and can cause such intermittent internet dropouts with changing weather conditions even while the TV connections through the same wire remain stable .

I think that replacing the cable drop finally did the trick. Blazing fast internet connectivity speeds with no more drop outs. Hours of uninterrupted music streaming!

Not only that, but on both the main system with the Aries G2 and my new computer desk electrostatic headphone system (more about that later in another thread) the sound quality definitely improved several notches, with blacker backgrounds, more expansive (larger and more three-dimensional) staging, more focused imaging (especially center stage) and even more natural tonality. And this is using Xfinity's rented Advanced Gateway which is a combination modem and router.

While I replaced my third-party modem and router equipment primarily to get Comcast/Xfinity to fully own up to responsibility for my service interruptions and allow the company to fully diagnose the issue, I'm not inclined at this time to switch back to my third-party equipment. The Xfinity Advanced Gateway gives me comparable WiFi coverage and measured speeds throughout the house, the XFi app and its GUI is the best, and in terms of actual use of my equipment, everything seems speedier than ever before. That includes the responsiveness of the Lightning DS functions of the Auralic Aries G2. For example, programs change more quickly in response to commands from the Lightning DS app on my iPhone X. Plus, the Xfinity Advanced Gateway is small and elegantly handsome, with none of the angular creepy look or exposed antennas of the Netgear routers.
 

tmallin

WBF Technical Expert
May 19, 2010
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Chicagoland
Until recently I was happily using the Auralic Aries G2 as my music streamer of choice. I've written extensively on my experiences with it in this thread. The sound quality has only improved with further system changes such as the installation of A/V Room Service EVPs, power line enhancements from P.I. Audio and Triode Wire Labs, and the move from coaxial digital to USB connection to my downstream DSPeaker Anti-Mode X4 equalizer courtesy of the Discrete USB cable, a joint project of P.I. Audio and Triode Wire Labs. The Aries G2 sounds truly excellent in my system with left little to be desired, sonically. The sound quality I achieved from it streaming from internet sources could only be dreamed of a few years back.

In addition, the Lightning DS app used to control the Aries G2's streaming has many nice features which are important to me. It has an excellent GUI and is maximally informative about the quality of the stream playing at any given time, displaying bit rate, sample depth, streaming data rate, and track and disk title, even with most internet radio stations. The V-Tuner internet radio service built into the G2 has by far the most comprehensive internet radio station selection of any such app I've encountered and always seems to allow tuning and favorite-ing of the best quality streams for any given station.

I would have stayed with the Auralic Aries G2 for quite a bit longer were it not for a few very annoying recent developments:

First, the Lightning DS app, at least as it operates on my iPhone X, is not the most stable thing. It operates much better on the iPhone X than it did on my prior iPhone 6, however. The stability has only decreased over time, especially as to internet radio station playback. The app frequently closes for no apparent reason, usually when switching programs or stations. The music continues to stream, but the app closes. Rebooting takes only a few seconds, but toward the end this was sometimes happening about once every four or five times I changed channels or programs, an annoyance for a "channel surfer" like me. I lived with this problem for most of my time with the G2. If this were the only problem, and if it had not become progressively worse, I would not have sought an alternative streamer.

Second, with the addition of the P.I. Audio UberBUSSes and TWL power cables, a USB connection between the G2 and the downstream DSPeaker Anti-Mode X4 became sonically superior to the coaxial digital connection I'd been using. The addition of the PI/TWL Discrete USB cable further enhanced that sonic superiority. The upsampling functions of the G2 also now sounded clearly superior in most cases to native playback.

HOWEVER, with any sort of USB connection downstream, the G2 began to exhibit connectivity problems upon changing programs. The Lightning DS app would give me a message about not being able to connect to my DAC. This problem with USB connections from the G2 has been encountered by other G2 users but, to my knowledge, neither the cause nor the cure has been determined. See this thread at the Auralic Community forum. A hard reboot of both the DSPeaker Anti-Mode X4 and the G2, by pulling the plugs on both and then powering up first the X4 and then the G2 (a solution suggested by Auralic) would fix the problem for about five or ten program changes, but then it would reappear and get gradually worse until sometimes it would take retrying the program change five or ten times before connection was achieved.

While I eventually was able to at least temporarily cure this USB connectivity problem, I'm not sure what I did to fix it! I think it involved the hard boot procedure plus using the Lightning DS app to change the G2's active output from the USB output to coaxial digital output and then back again after another hard reboot, but I'm not sure, and I did not want to experiment further, lest the connectivity problem reappear.

Third, while I had not yet ripped my CDs to files when I purchased the G2, I did subsequently rip my CDs to files and now play those files instead of the CDs from a USB stick as discussed in another thread. The G2 has a USB port labeled HDD which theoretically should support playback of files from such a stick. However, at least with the other USB port (labeled DAC) in use to stream internet program material from the G2, adding the USB stick to the HDD port wreaked havoc with the Lightning DS app, making it either extremely slow to respond, crashing it altogether, or producing program selection errors.

Now, I could just continue to play the files on the USB stick from my Oppo UDP-205's USB slots—that always worked fine. However, a recent firmware upgrade of the G2 added parametric equalization. I wanted to be able to experiment with that equalization and apply it to all program material playing through the G2, including my CD files on the USB stick. Who knows—that equalization might even be better sounding than that applied by my DSPeaker X4. Playing the files from the USB stick attached to the Auralic would also allow me to upsample the 44/16 CD files to 176/24, something playback via the Oppo does not allow.

A possible solution is to follow the Auralic G2 manual's's suggestion for best sonics and to plug the USB stick into a powered USB hub (such as this one) and plug that hub into the G2's HDD slot. The idea is that putting power demands on the G2's internal power supply because it has to run the external stick may degrade sonics. Using an active hub to supply power to the USB stick relieves the Auralic Aries of the need to supply power to the stick. Really? A $4,000 unit's power supply can't power a USB stick without sonic degradation? Of course, Auralic also recommends turning off functions you aren't using—such as AirPlay, Roon, Spotify Connect, etc.—for best sonics and I CAN hear that having those functions enabled does in fact slightly degrade the sonics of the core Tidal, Quobuz, and V-Tuner streaming functions. Okay, I could try using an active USB hub, but that would inject another noisy wall-wart switch mode power supply plus no-name USB cabling into the equation. It also would not fix the USB connectivity problems via the DAC USB port which feeds my DSPeaker X4 equalizer and/or Benchmark DAC3 HGC.

These three issues may seem like inconsequential problems given the sonic excellence of the Aries G2. And for awhile that's the way they seemed to me. But, for me at least, niggling problems like these tend to grow in significance rather than recede into the background. Thus, I began to look at test reports and online commentary in hope of finding a sonically equivalent unit, with similar functionality, and with firmware and software which has proved rock solid.

If you are a current user of the Aries G2, have encountered problems similar to those I've described, and want to try to work around them rather than moving on to another unit, here are suggestions you can try:
  • Try using a dedicated iPad to run Lightning DS rather than an iPhone. This may help the stability of the Lightning DS interface. It definitely will aid the visual aesthetics of the app.
  • Try feeding the Auralic from a "wired" TP Link connection to see if that further stabilizes Lightning DS.
  • Abandon the USB output of the G2 and revert to an SPDIF connection between the Aries G2 and your DAC or other downstream digital component.
 
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zonto

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Apr 13, 2017
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Arris SB8200 Modem

Based on some online discussions among modem cognoscenti at DSL Reports, I decided to try the Arris SB8200 modem, which is a competitor for my Netgear CM1000 gig-speed modem. There seems to be some perception that the Arris modem is better built and seemed to provide yet quicker navigation among websites even though the measured speed and other characteristics of the Arris and Netgear are more or less equivalent. In addition, the Arris SB8200 (along with the Netgear CM1000 and Motorola MB8600) are the three modems certified by Comcast to work with their gig-speed service which I have.

I was able to automatically activate the new Arris SB8200 modem via Comcast/Xfinity's activation webpage. No phone call to support was necessary. The activation process went smoothly and completed in less than two minutes.

Measured wireless (the way I connect the Aries G2) speed at my house is faster with the Arris SB8200 than it was with the Netgear CM1000. I also think page to page navigation is in fact a bit quicker now with the Arris modem, including with the Lightning DS software. With the DumaOS software of the Netgear CR500 router and various internet speed tests, it also seems like the latency has been further reduced. Sure enough, the sound seems yet further improved with a yet-larger audible space and increased high frequency smoothness.

The SB8200 does run a bit on the warm/hot side, but since it is not in a fully enclosed cabinet, that does not seem to be a problem. Many will want to cover the front panel lights, as I have, with a few layers of white electrical tape to reduce the distractingly bright glow of the front panel lights. While black electrical tape is more efficient at light blocking, the white is better in this application because the modem case is all white and thus the tape is almost invisible.

Now if I can just get Comcast to fix their lines to correct some of the unusual errors I'm seeing in my modem logs as well as figure out how to ground the cable at the point of entry without losing some of the great sound quality I'm now getting, I'll REALLY be in business . . . .

Thanks for your many posts in this thread regarding the different cable modems you've tried. I saw an updated post where you mentioned that the issue with your sound quality and connection generally was related to the Comcast line itself and not your equipment. What are your thoughts on sound quality between the different modems now that Comcast has addressed the faulty line?

I ask because I've used a Netgear CM600 (DOCSIS 3.0, 24x8 down/up) for years and just switched to a Netgear CM1100 (DOCSIS 3.1, 32x8 + 2x2 OFDM, similar to the CM1000 you've used), but see the Arris SB8200 mentioned often as well. There was also one post in the Cable Modems thread from a user who stated the Netgear may have sounded better than the Arris (source), but your post above says the opposite!
 

tmallin

WBF Technical Expert
May 19, 2010
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Chicagoland
It actually took a year of at least monthly service calls to Comcast to finally diagnose and eliminate the problem with increasingly intermittent service which had plagued my home for a couple of years. At one point Comcast refused to help anymore since I was using third-party equipment which they could not control or service (the high-end Netgear and Arris modems and routers I talk about in this thread). Thus, to get to the bottom of the issue, I dispensed with all the third-party gear, upgraded my service to Comcast/Xfinity's best residential Gigabit service, and began using their Advanced Gateway as my combination router/modem. I had to be persistent and keep complaining, but I also modified my set up to force the company to take ownership of the problem.

Surprise, surprise, even before the intermittency problem was fixed, the sound via the Comcast/Xfinity Advanced Gateway was as good as ever, even though perhaps the Wi-Fi speed was slightly slower in some more remote parts of the house--it was still just as fast in my audio room however.

Once I had all Comcast equipment, Comcast took ownership of my issues and technicians actually witnessed the intermittent dropouts occurring at my home. First they replaced the Advanced Gateway (for free of course since it's their equipment which I rent from Comcast), then at no charge over a series of service calls they replaced all the RG-6 wiring, jacks, amps, and splitters in my house. When that still didn't work, they looked for any neighborhood problems. Finding none, the only possible remaining problem was the wire drop from the top of the telephone pole outside by home to the service entry to my house. Once a line technician replaced that wire run outside and into my house, my problems vanished and I've had zero problems with intermittent service since then. I was told that this line, while high quality Comcast issue was quite old and that even the best cable is subject to wear and tear from the extreme weather changes in my Chicago area. Eventually a bit of water will get into the line and wreak havoc with connectivity on an intermittent basis. This sort of problem never goes away, it just gets gradually worse, as I had in fact observed.

I'm now no longer relying on Wi-Fi for streaming in my audio room. I still use the Comcast/Xfinity Advanced Gateway, but connect to it via about 100 feet of shielded ethernet cable to my audio room. See My Current Audio Systems thread for my current system description.

Just before my streamer I was eliminating noise on this lengthy ethernet line by using a fiber optic connection from my Cisco switch to my Lumin X1 streamer exactly as Lumin recommends at Lumin's Fiber Networking page.

But just yesterday I pulled out that fiber optic link and substituted the GigaFOILv4 Inline Ethernet Filter discussed in this thread on the AudioShark forum. I'll be writing about the GigaFOIL in a separate thread once I take its measure. Right now I'm powering the GigaFOIL from an iFi SMPS instead of its stock SMPS. I'm still using the Cisco switch but will soon be switching that out for a Netgear Nighthawk S8000 low-latency managed switch aimed at gamers which I just won in an eBay auction.

That new switch will allow me to put the internet connections to my Dutch & Dutch 8c speakers on a low priority with connections to the Lumin X1 streamer, Roon Nucleus+, and my Advanced Gateway at critical priority. I also have on order a Keces P3 LPS to power the Netgear switch and the GigaFOIL. I already use the Keces P8 LPS to power my Nucleus+. I also have aftermarket DC cables from Gotham Audio on order from Ghent Audio.

My system is always in transition, it seems . . . .
 
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dan31

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Jul 22, 2010
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Persistence pays off. Glad you went the route of making Comcast take ownership and fix the line. After your lease term ends and the system is stable you are free to use alternate equipment. Lots of hard work. In a way it makes my vinyl based system look easy. Enjoy!
 

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