Auralic Aries Mini as "Endpoint": one experience

@andybob, there are a few posts on another forum I use, where users have contacted Auralic about the mini becoming RoonReady, and the replies were pretty much dodging the question.

This is of course pure hearsay and conjecture, but their hunches as to why echo Darko’s comment….

Andybob, Steve above had more info than I’ve seen. However, I’m going to go ahead and break my silence on a point that I’ve feared for a long time, and that - as stated - we will never see the Mini as an EndPoint because it would canibilize other sales. Not sales of Lightning DS, but the sale of the higher end Aries line. In fact I suspect that Auralic’s even offering any RoonReady Aries now is a “pact with the devil”, in their eyes.

The full Roon experience IMO is a direct competitor to the entire Aries line using Lightning DS. Sure, there are some differences. But the biggest reason for getting an Aries - streaming digital music, and selecting it with a nice interface - is exactly what Roon does. And Roon appears to do it as well sonically, and better graphically. Why would Auralic want their products to help that product? They shouldn’t, unless it is a realization that they cannot stop Roon, and may as well make what shekels they can off the Roon phenonoma with the RoonReady upgrade. To that line of thought, keeping RoonReady off the mini makes perfect sense. People that are attracted to what they hope will be superior sonics will shy away from products like my Sonicore SonicOrbiter SE, and invest in what-they-hope-will-be a sonically superior non-Mini Aries product. Now here’s the opposing argument…

The pricing of the Mini is currently artificially high. If they drop the built-in Tidal subscription (presumably reducing cost to Auralic to sell the Mini), and price it closer to the SonicOrbiter SE (as the Mini was originally supposed to be priced), and make it RoonReady, THEN you’d have a competitive Roon EndPoint product. Heck, with Auralic’s reputation for superior sonics, such a Mini could become the go-to endpoint product. Sure, it would cannibalize some sales of the pricier Aries line, but it would also open Auralic sales up to a large set of people that would (could) never pay $1,000 USD (or $1,500+) for the higher end Aries.

My prognostication? Auralic will drag their feet on the Mini upgrade, trying to milk the market of any Roon user willing to pay the premium for the higher priced Aries line. When that market appears to be saturated, they’ll dust off the RoonReady upgrade for the Mini, and announce it with much hoopla and celebration, eager for the additional revenue it will bring.

Ahh… I left out one major point.

Once Auralic milks the market of Roon users willing to pay the premium for the more expensive Aries, and makes the Mini RoonReady to pull in the portion of the RoonReady Endpoint market with less money to spend, they’ll also be tapping into a market that may very much be attracted to the DAC in the Mini. For those people, the ones that want a Roon EndPoint, AND prefer the Mini’s DAC to whatever they have (if anything) a RoonReady Mini could be an outstanding value vs. SonicOrbiter SE AND having to buy a DAC.

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I fear you are right and it’s sad. I would have thought that Auralic would maximise profit by upgrading their devices to take all popular inputs, the capacity to do that was a big factor in my purchase of the Aries. I thought it would be the last bridge I would need. I was also pleased to see the Mini when announced as a Roon endpoint and DAC combination. Even with the price increase I would have reccomended others check it out. Now Auralic has limited their Mini market to people who want an inbuilt DAC and don’t use Roon or HQP.

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I know the Auralic thing’s unconfirmed, but it crops up with other brands too - Devialet for sure, Naim are rumoured… there are others. What do manufacturers actually gain from a closed ecosystem? I sense I’m missing something.

When I look at devices with restrictions, I tend not to buy - learnt that the hard (expensive) way over the years, and not just in audio. To me, choice and customer focused features/updates are a draw.

From a manufacturers POV, even if they already have an established ecosystem, chances are not everyone will like it and not everyone will want to be restricted to it. Others might be looking at hardware that only supports certain things. By offering both they please everyone. In Auralics case, if someone’s in the market for a mini, they’re unlikely to pay the extra for a higher model for RoonReady, if they can get a similarly priced/specced device elsewhere. If they loved the manufacturers control ap or ecosystem anyway, they wouldn’t be considering Roon so it wouldn’t be a factor. Equally, if all they wanted was Roon, they’re unlikely to buy one at all if it wasn’t compatible.

I suppose once you get into multi-room, or lots of boxes, things are more complicated, but I still don’t see how you wouldn’t gain as many customers as you’d lose by offering choice.

Apart from brand ‘pride’ I can’t see the issue?

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I know the Auralic thing’s unconfirmed, but it crops up with other brands too - Devialet for sure, Naim are rumoured… there are others. What do manufacturers actually gain from a closed ecosystem? I sense I’m missing something.

Part of me thinks they do it to promote customer lock-in by using software to create a dependence on their products. That or they just refuse to acknowledge the deficiencies of their systems. To me it is a very shortsided view that may make the company a flavor of the month but sacrifices longterm and repeat business and the next thing comes along. While i don’t personally like Apple products i can recognize how good they are for many people and lets face it there is no one remotely comparable in this space that does both hardware and software at a very high level.

The other part of me realizes there are a lot of different types of people in this hobby and those who have the money and don’t even recognize (or care about) the limitations of closed box solutions have a lot more buying power as a group that people like us do. I agree with you 100% on not being locked into an ecosystem that limits both hardware and software. I won’t do it either but there must be people who will based on what is offered.

The good news, imo, is that i think our group is growing and the other is shrinking quickly. I really do think at some point soon many of these companies who are insistent on their ecosystem with be forced to adapt or will go under as the younger generations increase their buying power.

Apart from brand ‘pride’ I can’t see the issue?

Again i just think that it is hard to see that right now the larger market is the person who wants the simple solution because that is not the consumer you or i am.

I think the problem for Auralic is that by the time they enable the Mini as a Roon endpoint there will be much better and cheaper products out there. In the meantime people (like me) who purchased the Mini with the expectation that it would fully support Roon will have abandoned the brand for another and be lost forever as an ongoing customer. I thought Auralic were a bit better than this but I guess I am naive to think they are any different to their competitors.

Lets face it, once you have used Roon there is no way you would choose to use Lightning DS.

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Jumbuck - IMO good point, and I doubt many here would disagree with you. I know I don’t. However, my intent was to set this thread up evaluating the Mini as an Endpoint, not it’s interface/jukebox functionality. I’m assuming we all agree Roon is superior for displaying/queuing/exploring music. However, it MAY still have high value as a Roon endpoint, if they actually make it RoonReady.

With my particular equipment, it appears that the value of “RoonReady” - which translates to the device using RAAT - is high, when using UBS as the transport between endpoint and DAC. I’m sure other people’s mileage will vary. But for me, there is no comparison between Airplay devices, and a network endpoint device that uses RAAT. It’s probably because I’ve got your basic well regarded $1K DAC that RAAT’s benefits are so clear (particularly over hi-res content) vs. Airplay, where the DAC does not drive the data exchange process. So for me - when using USB to the DAC - there’s little benefit to using the Mini vs. cheaper alternatives. However…

I’m not sure this case is closed. The previously mentioned benefits ONLY accrue to USB to DAC connections. S/PDIF and S/PDIF derivatives are a completely different story. In their case, they do NOT allow the DAC to control the timing of data exchange. So a burden of superior timing is placed on the network endpoint. In such case, it’s entirely possilble that the Mini is a superior Roon endpoint over a SonicOrbiter SE. I’m not suggesting that it is, but bringing it up as a possibility that should be tested. It’s possible that either of the two S/PDIF connections on the Mini are superior to the Toslink connection on the SOSE. This video would certainly indicate that it’s a high quality connection.

So where does that leave us? I KNOW that with a USB connection to my Musical Fidelity MX DAC limited by AirPlay limitations, there is no difference between the SOSE and the Mini. So for price alone, the SOSE wins. And when we compare the RoonReady mode of SOSE to Mini Airplay, the SOSE wins hands down. But do I know the USB connection to the RoonReady SOSE beats a good S/PDIF connection to the Mini? No. But until that connection to the Mini does not have the 16/44 limitations of ApplePlay - meaning I’m waiting on RoonReady status on the Mini - I’m not even going to waste my time on that comparison.

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Seems like the “no RoonReady coming to the mini” situation’s now more or less confirmed in this article?

Thanks for sharing that Steve. Fascinating article.

However, I don’t think it is conclusive. It’s just a journalist doing the same thing I recently posted about - detailing good reason’s why RoonReady for the Mini seems unlikely. The key difference between our opinions is that Darko seemed to be indicating this would be a permanent position by Auralic, where I’m inclined to think it might change over time.

Either way… It appears to not look good in the short term.

Thanks again for posting that. Great article.

Well, I kind of figured that since he had an official quote from Auralic, and he commented on it, he was probably in the know - even if he couldn’t say ‘officially’ - that’s how I read it anyway. Like you say, its probably not good in the short term either way - not for current owners who were hoping to use it, but also for Auralic who will no doubt lose out on a load of sales to something like the SonicOrbiter SE.

Steve, I think that’s a reasonable assumption. But let’s take the assumption game a little further.

So, what do we know?

  1. Darko is passionate about Roon
  2. Darko loves the Aries Mini
  3. Darko had quotable conversions with Auralic’s CEO on multiple Aries Mini topics, but…
  4. Darko posted no Aurelic quotes that related to Roon and the Aries Mini
  5. To date, Auralic has made no conclusive statements indicating a commitment to make the Aries Mini RoonReady (that I’m aware of). Though some statements could be interpreted that way.

So I’m willing to assume the following.

  1. Darko asked Aurelic about Roon’s future with the Aries Mini
  2. Darko was provided no information that Auralic was willing to be quoted on, or…
  3. Auralic provided no information on the RoonReadiness for the Mini topic
  4. When Darko asked, the Auralic CEO knew he had the opportunity to go on the record about the subject, and chose not to.
  5. Auralic chooses allow the subject of RoonReadiness for the Mini to remain unclear because they have not yet decided, or…
  6. They see short term advantage of being non-committal.
  7. That short term advantage is to drive sales to the more expensive Aries’, but…
  8. They are keeping the door open to making the Mini RoonReady when (if ever) they think the time is right.

Well I sold my Mini and went for a SOSE. Auralic have lost me as a future customer by their decision to cripple the Mini in regards to Roon. I must say the SOSE is a brilliant little device and SQ is fantastic.

Sounds like a good call to me Jumbuck. And I’d be hard pressed to disagree about the SOSE!

Thanks for sharing. And enjoy the tunes.:relaxed:

my tuppence worth … rumours abound. Manufacturers get burned by announcing anything that is not about to ship or already out there. When there is no confirmation or denial when a question is asked, it usually means that someone is working on it but has not got something ready.

Reviewers make assumptions all the time and sometimes get to speak directly with software or hardware engineers. They do get information from marketing more often. Reviewers are human - they make calls based on limited information and attribute motivations that they guess about.

… interesting discussions but hardly wise to overlay assumptions etc with further ones and base key decisions on that. IMHO … of course

My two cents:
I was waiting for RoonReady and held off on an end-point purchase to see what would actually become available. My plan was to buy an Auralic Mini. When announcements were made I contacted Auralic and was given a communication that I was advised was strictly confidential. The result was that I then waited for a non-Auralic solution to materialise ideally with a DAC. I finally purchased a SOSE and a USB DAC in the absence of any integrated device at a comparable cost.
You can draw your own conclusions as to the content of my communication with Auralic by looking at my actions.
It may also explain why others are not able to explicitly communicated what Auralic has told them.
In my opinion, it also shows just how little support has materialised for RoonReady. If you ask why Naim, Linn and others have not switched to Roon and RoonReady the answer may not be that they are in thrall to their own software but that Roon is a) not terribly successful in the broader context that these companies operate in and/or b) complicates their client relationships and support. UPnP and Songcast still looks much more compelling by comparison.
The Roon story is not finished but it is not yet compelling in terms of hardware support or software capability. How many Roonies have tossed out their tag editors, library managers, multi/user multi/library family solutions?
You and I may be in a pretty small minority - at this point.

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That’s the first time I’ve ever seen uPnP described as “compelling”. :slight_smile:


I agree at a technical level, but look at the market footprint of UPnP as a so-called standard. For those firms who have made UPnP work for them, why would they care about RoonReady?
Roon has refused to support UPnP but it does support Airplay and now Songcast so it is not as if Roon is holding a line on what is best for it’s customers. Auralic Aries Mini supports Airplay and not Roon so they too are being expedient. Roon-Roon server client looks like a rarity at this time. No?

[quote=“PNCD, post:36, topic:5619”]How many Roonies have tossed out their tag editors, library managers, multi/user multi/library family solutions?

Roon has never purported to be nor paraded as a tag editor. The only other competent and robust library manager out there is LMS. Yes, I’ve tried JRiver etc… My family is very comfortable using Roon as a multiuser, multi-room system. I truly don’t see the need for something like an Auralic device to sit between Roon and my DACs…Squeezelite takes care of that at present and Roon Bridge will in future. In time at least some DACs will support it directly.


@evand I am not familiar with LMS - I assume it means Library Management System but I cannot find it in a search. So in your case you use SqueezeLite rather than RoonReady or UPnP or AirPlay or Songcast. We are all using something between Roon and DAC. My point, if there was one, is that it seems to me RoonReady has not yet gathered a sold mass of support from network music players. Roon has done what it can by incorporating some of the already-existing communication protocols, like your SqueezeLite. In the end it may be that Roon succeeds by being a skillful integrator of these pre-existing protocols rather than as a promoter of its own standards.