AURALiC Aries Music Streamer
I know this is a lousy picture but it doesn't matter because the important product in it, the new AURALiC Aries Music Streamer (second from the top) is a prototype and it is housed in an enclosure borrowed from the AURALiC Vega DAC (top of the stack) recently praised by JA in the February issue. The Aries ($999) is the link between the NAS where you store your music files and your USB DAC. It is the first implementation of AURALiC's Lightning streaming protocol, based on 802.11ac Gigabit WiFi and capable of gapless play of all current formats, in stereo, up to 32/384, DXD, and DSD128 as well as all common lossy and lossless formats. The Aires has built-in Internet radio and is compatible with all major platforms and many other streaming protocols, including UPnP and DLNA.
Moreover, with its powerful CPU and 1G of SDRAM, it stores the playlist on-board and sports its own very snazzy user interface, but it can be integrated into a multistreamer/multiplayer system with real-time synch between all system elements. A Spring 2014 release is planned and, by then, additional enhancements/upgrades will already be included. More free upgrades are planned (eg, Airplay, DSD upsampling, room acoustics correction, etc.) for a product that appears to have a major impact on file-based music systems.