"The Aurender W20SE is a significant advance over what was already a reference-quality music server." -Robert Harley
Aurender W20SE review in The Absolute Sound
Since its launch in 2013, the Aurender W20 has occupied the enviable position of “the music server others are judged against”. Revised and refined in 2019, the new W20SE (Special Edition) raises the bar again in both user experience and absolute audio performance.
W20SE is the music server of choice for the finest audio systems in the world. Designed to be used with high-performance digital-to-analog converters, the Aurender W20SE is one of the few music servers to provide support for external word clocks used in professional audio and recording studios. Additionally, a dual-wire mode AES/EBU used by some reference grade digital-to-analog converters to allow separate transmission of left and right channels for better fidelity. However, even without using an external word clock input or dual AES/EBU outputs, W20SE’s battery power supply provides a dramatically lower noise floor for a totally silent background. With a 4TB internal SSD and a 1TB SSD caching drive for playback, the W20SE is the ideal solution for even the most extensive high-resolution music collections.
The W20SE is not really an SE version in the traditional sense of high end audio in that it's not just a parts-swap on the same design, but rather an evolution of the model including significant changes to the hardware design and meaningful new performance features.
The list W20 to W20SE improvements include:
1. The mechanical drives have been replaced by 4 TB of solid state memory. This brings about a lower chassis vibration and removes additional circuitry and power supplies needed.
2. The 240 GB of cache memory is now 1 TB, which is enclosed in an interior metal isolation chamber.
3. CPU board now has lower noise linear power supply instead of switching.
4. New lower jitter output clock. This and new FPGA phase locked loop provide more precisely clocked digital output.
5. Double isolation LAN Ports.
6. Native DSD output up to DSD512.
7. DoP support to DSD128.
8. PCM Upsampling to 88/96/176.4/192/352/384K.
The PCM Upsampling is breathtaking - Pearl Audio's W20SE is worth its weight in gold for this feature as it makes our streamed services - Tidal & QoBuz sound significantly more analog, lifelike and organic - you can turn the feature on/off so it's easy to hear what it's doing. The PCM upsampling works for the AES, TOSLINK, and SPDIF outputs.