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Connecting an Auralic Aries to BeoLab 90

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politician
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politician posted on Mon, Apr 15 2019 8:31 PM

I've decided to add an Auralic Aries (the original model with the dual Femto clocks; not the LE, Mini, G1 or G2) to my system to enable streaming and make file playback easier. I've ordered an optical cable from Steve at Sounds Heavenly to connect it, but on checking the Technical Sound Guide for my BeoLab 90s, realised I'd got it the wrong way round – it's the S/PDIF input that supports 192/24, whereas optical only supports 96/24. This completely defeats the point of connecting the Auralic Aries, which is designed to play high-res files.

I could connect the Aries via USB-Audio, but I recall Geoff Martin writing on here that a firmware update had changed its behaviour, meaning that it would no longer play 44.1/16 files via the BeoLab 90s. However, if I use the S/PDIF input for the Auralic Aries, how will I digitally connect my CD player (a Beogram CD 5500, which currently uses that input)?

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seethroughyou
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I’m using USB into BL5 from my MacBook at 16/44.1, 24/96 and 24/192 and they all work fine.

My favourite is the optical Toslink into the BL90.

I’ve spent hours testing 24 bit 96khz versus 192khz and I can’t here any difference at all. They both sound gorgeous. In fact I can’t often tell the difference between CD quality 16/44.1 versus 24/192.

The quality of the recording and mastering is the biggest factor by far.
politician
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Thanks for the input. Apparently the Auralic Aries worked fine via USB until a firmware update removed its ability to instruct the BL90 to process 44.1/16 inputs via that format. I suspect there isn't a huge difference between 192/24 and 96/24, but since the Aries is designed to handle the former it seems silly to use an input that won't go above 96/24.

Jeff
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Jeff replied on Mon, Apr 15 2019 10:37 PM

Doesn't the Auralic also have a coax digital out? Is there some limitation on its output that would keep you from using it or is it that the BL90 doesn't have a coax input?

Jeff

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politician
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The Aries does indeed have a coax (S/PDIF) output and the BL90 has a coax input, which can handle 192/24. The issue is that the coax input is currently being used by my CD player (Beogram CD 5500), so the question is how to connect that if the Aries takes over the coax. I want a digital connection for superior CD sound, but the 5500 doesn't have an optical output, and hence can't use the optical input on the BL90.

Jeff
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Jeff replied on Mon, Apr 15 2019 11:28 PM

How much do you play CDs? I ripped all mine, lossless, and store them on a SSD inside my Auralic Mini and never touch discs.

Jeff

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politician
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I play CDs almost daily, and don't have the time or inclination to rip all of my 10,000-odd CDs, so removing the digital connection from the CD 5500 isn't really an option. I need a solution where I can play both 192/24 and 44.1/16 files via the Aries whilst still having a digital CD input. Is it possible to connect the Aries via both optical and USB-Audio simultaneously, using the former for 44.1/16 and the latter for 192/24 files?

Steve at Sounds Heavenly
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Hi politician,

Thanks for your cable purchase, which is on its way to you.  I have emailed you directly with a full reply, suggesting trying the optical output of the Aries at 96/24 as this should be indistinguishable from the 192/24 output in real world use.  If this give a good quality output then it keeps the S/PDIF connection on the speakers free for your Beogram CD, without needing any external convertors which could impact on the sound quality.

Please let me know how you get on and I will be pleased to assist further.

Kind regards, Steve.

Steve.

www.soundsheavenly.com

Sounds Heavenly are proud to sponsor BeoWorld!

politician
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Thanks Steve! As I mentioned in my email, I'm also going to see what happens if I connect it via both USB-Audio and optical – the Aries may be able to select the most appropriate output for each file format.

Jeff
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Jeff replied on Tue, Apr 16 2019 8:45 PM

Could something like this work?

https://www.ramelectronics.net/280565.aspx

Take the coax out of the Auralic and convert it to optical?

Jeff

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seethroughyou
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politician:

I've decided to add an Auralic Aries (the original model with the dual Femto clocks; not the LE, Mini, G1 or G2) to my system to enable streaming and make file playback easier. I've ordered an optical cable from Steve at Sounds Heavenly to connect it, but on checking the Technical Sound Guide for my BeoLab 90s, realised I'd got it the wrong way round – it's the S/PDIF input that supports 192/24, whereas optical only supports 96/24. This completely defeats the point of connecting the Auralic Aries, which is designed to play high-res files.

I could connect the Aries via USB-Audio, but I recall Geoff Martin writing on here that a firmware update had changed its behaviour, meaning that it would no longer play 44.1/16 files via the BeoLab 90s. However, if I use the S/PDIF input for the Auralic Aries, how will I digitally connect my CD player (a Beogram CD 5500, which currently uses that input)?

Can I ask as to whether you can really hear any difference between different streaming devices costing different amounts with the same music file. Would a 24bit/96khz file played through Core versus MacBook versus an Auralic sound different or better. I’d be surprised to find a difference. I remember asking Geoff Martin such a question but relating to whether the same file fed to BL90 where one is an analogue output versus digital output from a Core into BL90 and he said they can’t hear a difference at B&O. I did a comparison between Analogue output of a B&O CD player versus the Digital output of the same CD player and couldn’t hear any difference. The ADC and DAC May be so good in the BL90 that it makes no difference. If so, what is point of spending all the money on an Auralic versus a Core feeding a BL90 with the same music file?
Jeff
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Jeff replied on Tue, Apr 16 2019 9:49 PM

I think the Auralic not only offers more in the way of things it will do (internal drive of files, etc.) I know that even their lowly Mini is reliable and has bullet proof wifi. Given B&O's performance with wireless lately I would trust the Auralic much more, and if you're going to have something of the magnitude of BL90s, having a SOTA digital suite isn't a bad idea, if only for bragging rights and to make sure you feel comfortable about it.

I agree with you about the inaudibility of most of the digital hoopla though.

Jeff

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politician
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@Jeff:

I don't think that would solve the problem, as it's the BL90s' optical input that can't handle 192/24, not the Auralic itself or the cable. My dealer and I were chatting about this today, and think the solution might be some kind of splitter for the S/PDIF input, so long as it doesn't degrade the sound.

@seethroughyou:

I'll let you know whether the Auralic outperforms my MacBook when I've hooked it up tomorrow and tried out out via S/PDIF, optical and USB-Audio. Certainly, I was surprised when I ripped a CD to my MacBook and played it directly via AIFF into the BL90 – it was slightly inferior to playing the original CD, even though conventional wisdom suggested it should sound better,

I can certainly hear a difference between a CD player connected to the speakers via digital or analogue, with digital being significantly superior. I can also hear clear differences between different B&O CD players used as transports, even though they're merely outputting 0s and 1s: my Beogram CD 5500 (very similar to your Beogram CD 7000, but with a slightly superior brushless spindle motor) outperformed my BeoSound 9000. I was of the "bits are bits": persuasion until I tried it myself. and now I realise that jitter can affect musical performance.

politician
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@Jeff:

Actually, the piece of kit you suggested could indeed solve the problem – I could use it for my CD transport, which is presumably what you were suggesting. I was a bit slow on the uptake there! Will report back tomorrow when I’ve tried the Aries out via the different connections. 

Mr 10Percent
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politician:

@seethroughyou:

I'll let you know whether the Auralic outperforms my MacBook when I've hooked it up tomorrow and tried out out via S/PDIF, optical and USB-Audio. Certainly, I was surprised when I ripped a CD to my MacBook and played it directly via AIFF into the BL90 – it was slightly inferior to playing the original CD, even though conventional wisdom suggested it should sound better,

Just some disposable comments here. 

1. USB MacBook is incredibly noisy. A box of tricks is required to clean-up that signal (5V trace) when going into the 90s. Think PS Audio Landrover or similar divices. Electronic noise is the new digital evil!!

2. Im going down the route (shortly) of the Auralic Aries or Vega G2/Leo (clock). I need to test them progressively to see where the optimum cost/benefit is. A lot of third party gear is difficult to control (with the 90s) and getting a killer app is not as common as you may think it is when looking at B&Os offerings.

3. My Oppo 105D with SPDif trounces the BL90/BV combo (analogue powerlink) when playing music of my network and my overall perception is that B&O are going backward in terms of Audio Systems - not because of black plastic boxes - all in favour of that but because their current offerings are reminiscent of the old BeoSound 2/6. Like when 1Gb storage was a 2 year-old out-of-date standard and the new iPod did 16Gb lossless flac and gapless. B&O have to be competitive to sell even if telling the difference is now difficult between sound qualities. 

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