We carry the Aurender Music Servers at Pearl Audio Video. We wrote a check to buy them too, and it frankly took a little convincing for us to move away from our custom built super hotrodded mac mini computers with all their way-cool music enhancing software.
So I thought I'd list a few things. I like lists.
Why buy a music server instead of a Mac Mini or Laptop?
It absolutely, positively sounds better than a Mac Mini. We tried it.
Aurender comes with Aurender Conductor, an extraordinarily well done iPad app for playback and control.
Supports Tidal streaming, DSD128, FLAC, AIFF, WAV + more.
USB for attaching external drives. Copying music from your USB drive and backing up are easy as pie.
Aurenders support USB playback to your USB DAC, but also act as a superfast (SSD Caching!) network music server. We found the Aurender sounds audibly better with our Linn DS Streamers.
A lot easier to use with a lot less to go wrong.
The big reasons the Aurender sounds better are:
Built in (model X100H) 2TB Hard Drive cached by a 120GB SSD Cache Hard Drive. Music files are copied to the SSD then played back from that. The SSD can serve the music files with fewer timing errors, so your music sound better.
Noise Free USB output for your DAC which is electrically isolated so computer noise stays out of your dac. A computer USB port, in most cases, supplies the actual 5 Volt power to the USB on your DAC. This 5V is heavily polluted by your high noise computer, which was never designed to supply a nice quiet, low noise power feed to it's USB output - why would it be?
Low Noise high end audio power suppy which does not pollute your electrical power (a big big deal!). It's been a common hodrod trick to put a low noise power supply on a Mac Mini ($800-$1500). This one has it built in.
Purpose built, proprietary high-end audio computer motherboard. This means it is born and bred to serve your high end audio DAC or DS with low-jitter (timing errors) playback while keeping electrical noise out of the air (EMF - note thick aluminum panels), out of the Network Connection, and out of the USB connection.
Purpose built, proprietary high-end audio operating system. This means the OS is built to have zero unnecessary features or processes which can slow down or interrupt the jitter-free serving of music to your DAC or DS player. (Note: This is why year 2007 Mac OS X 10.5 is actually better sounding than successive OS X's. OS X 10.5 has fewer overhead processes taking up CPU/Memory and throwing off the timing of it's digital music output).
Aurender is located in South Korea with US Offices in Anaheim California.
Pearl Audio has been an Aurender dealer since 2015.